MARCH 2-3, 1864.-Expedition from Larkin's Landing to Gourd Neck and Guntersville, Ala.
Numbers 1.-Brigadier General Giles A. Smith, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade, Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps.
Numbers 2.-Colonel John M. Oliver, Fifteenth Michigan Infantry (mounted).
Numbers 1. Report of Brigadier General Giles A. Smith, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade, Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps.
HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, SECOND DIV., 15TH ARMY CORPS,
Larkinsville, Ala., March 3, 1864.
DEAR SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the expedition under my command to Gourd Neck and Guntersville:
The forces, consisting of the Eighth Missouri and Fifty-fifth Illinois Infantry and the Fifteenth Regiment Michigan Infantry (mounted), together with Captain Latham's company, Alabama Cavalry, left Larkin's Landing at 10 o'clock on the morning of the 2nd instant, with two days' rations, agreeable to your instructions. I marched with the infantry and 35 mounted men to Gourd Neck and directed Colonel Oliver, commanding Fifteenth Mounted Infantry, to take the road leading from Coffetown to Guntersville, the object of the expedition being to capture the small force of Home Guards and such rebel cavalry as might be at that place.
At 2.30 o'clock on the morning of the 3rd instant, Colonel Oliver sent one of his officers to me with the following verbal message, viz: That he had entered Guntersville about dark ont he previous evening; that he had encountered a force of at least 4 to 1-600 men drawn up in line on foot, in the shape of a half-moon, at the end of the bridge over New Creek, near the edge of town-and been driven back with a loss of 3 killed and 2 wounded and captured that the had retreated over Town Creek, about 8 miles this side of Guntresville; that he could not enter the town without a larger force, and that unless he received orders to the contrary from me he should return to Coffeetown that morning at the usual starting time, 7 or 8 o'clock.
I had only 35 mounted men to re-enforce him with, had to march the infantry to Guntersville and return would involve a two and a half days' march on one day's rations, and the whole movement being then known would only have resulted in the enemy's quietly retiring before our advance and again reoccupying the town as we withdrew. With this view I decided not to send him any orders, but to return to the landing at 9.30 that morning. I afterward learned, however, that had I sent any and the messenger had been as long returning as he was coming to me-four and a half hours-he would not have been there to receive the, as I am told he broke up camp and started for the bridge before daylight.
I arrived at the bridge a short time before Colonel Oliver, and learned whit surprise from 2 of his men who had been sent ahead that only 50 or 60 men were sent to Guntersville; the remainder, with Colonel Oliver, remained at or near Town Creek, 5 miles this side. One of these men stated, in answer to my question of how many men he saw, that 50 or 60 mounted men was all he saw, and he did not think threw were any more seen by any one.