Colonel Oliver soon arrived, and in a conversation with him the following information was elicited: That 80 men were sent to Guntersville, the remainder employed to guard the bridge over Town Creek, and the ford over Short Creek; that the force at Guntersville consisted of two and a half companies of Home Guards and a company of Confederate cavalry, the whole consisting in his opinion of 200 or 300 men; that the could have gone in, in daylight, but that he did not think it any object as they were apprised of his coming.
I learned from two British subjects from Atlanta, who stopped a day or two at Guntersville and left there on the night of the 1st, the forces there consisted of about 40 men. This estimate was corroborated by several citizens, and from all the facts I could gather I think 60 or 70 men a large estimate of the force. Entering the town at night with only a part of his force and riding over the bridge would almost of a necessity make a failure of the whole expedition, as mounted infantry are not going to ride through the fire of an enemy and into their ranks without the means of either attack or defense.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
GILES A. SMITH,
Brigadier General MORGAN L. SMITH,
Commanding Second Division.
Numbers 2. Report of Colonel John M. Oliver, Fifteenth Michigan Infantry (mounted).
March 3, 1864.
SIR: I find since my return that it is necessary to see Major-General Logan in relation to the muster of my regiment. The horses I have had out are quite jaded, having raveled 50 miles yesterday and over 20 to-day. General G. A. Smith said he should try and repeat the expedition at once.
I write this to know whether your intend doing so within two or three days. If you do, I shall remain to accompany the expedition; it not, I shall go up to Huntsville in the morning. Please inform me by bearer.
The expedition was not a success. I had about 160 men and officers. General Smith took 26 of those to Gourd Neck. I had to guard Town Creek bridge in my rear and the ford across Short Creek. Reached the vicinity of Guntersville at twilight; advanced, crossed bridge over Little Creek, and reached the edge of the town, but were driven back, having no guide. Both advance and main body crossed on their horses; they were ignorant of localities. After recrossing the bridge they formed line and fired away. The rebels had an old levee to the left of the bridge on Brown's Creek, and could not be hurt at that time of day; and remembering your caution, "better do nothing than lose," I ordered all back.
The enemy have no force of consequence at Guntersville. Two companies (Smith's and May's) and part of Dillard's company, with one company of regular soldiers, is the garrison the place under Colonel Newman. They have one company at Warrenton, 5 miles