companies of the Ninety-second Illinois Volunteers being ordered forward soon engaged them, and revealed the fact of considerable force being there. the whole command was soon dismounted, and advanced upon the enemy in a piece of woods and some old buildings. After a brisk fire on both sides they broke in confusion, and left their dead and wounded in our hands.
The rebel commanding officer of one of the battalions was killed. I took possession of his orders, whit other papers. These, and what I could learn form prisoners, convinced me that the object was to attack Athens. I also learned that a force of two regiments strong of dismounted cavalry was to cross the river at Brown's Ferry and aid in the expedition. As soon as I could collect my wounded and get them in ambulances,a nd those of the enemy in a house close by, and leaving their dead-15 in number-on the field, I started for Athens, a distance of 40 miles. Just at dark, after going back a distance of 4 miles, I came upon the camp of Lieutenant-Colonel Phillips, Ninth Illinois, who is in command at Athens. After stating to him what my impressions were of the enemy's movements, he at once prepared and started back to Athens. He was to send scouts in advance to the ferry and report back the facts.
I fed my stock and started at midnight for Brown's Ferry or Athens, as I might deem best on the information I would receive on arriving at Rogersville or Lamb's Ferry.
After marching 20 miles Colonel Phillips reported that he had gone in camp at Rogersville; that he could learn nothing of the enemy being across the river, though should such be the case he would inform me at once.
On the information I went in camp at 3 a. m., 26th. At 9 a. m. Colonel Phillips returned with his command, designing to carry out a scout set on foot by General Dodge before I reported to them on January 24.
At 11 a. m., January 26, a courier reported that Athens was attacked by 1,500 infantry and 2 pieces of artillery. I was then 30 miles from Athens and 25 miles from Brown's Ferry, where the enemy had crossed. I returned at once. After crossing Elk River. Colonel phillips whit his command (Ninth Illinois and Eighteenth Wisconsin) was sent upon the river road. I kept the main Athens road. On arriving at the ferry we found the enemy had recrossed.
The enemy did little or no damage at Athens, only capturing 5 prisoners, and did not disturb the bridge on the railroad. I much regret that we did not capture them, which we most assuredly could have done had we not been misinformed or had received information from those who knew the facts.
The force that crossed consisted of a part of Roddey's command. they cross and recross the river from day to day for the purpose of obtaining forage. The main force being at Florence, 45 miles distant, I did not deem it necessary to send a force after them as they can readily recross the river, and could immediately return upon our leaving.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. O. MILLER,
[Brigadier General W. D. WHIPPLE,
Chief of Staff.]