Thus it is apparent in addition to my having no force at my disposal adequate to the pursuit and expulsion of Forrest from the neighborhood, that result was not desirable. The whole matter was settled by my superior officers, in whose comprehensive plans the one act transpiring here was but a disturbing incident. Satisfactory information reached me during these disturbances of an attempted co-operation between the rebels and persons in sympathy with them in Illinois. Signal rockets and beacon lights were displayed on each side of the river between Cairo and Metropolis, evincing a common design. Spies and suspicious persons were found in the neighborhood of Mound City and Cairo seeking access to public property and shipping. A report came in that an officer in Forrest command was actually organizing an armed band in a neighboring county. A party went out and broke up the band, the rebel officer escaping across the river.
On the night of the 16th, a gun-boat patrolling the river near Metropolis, captured a trading boat on the Illinois shore, having concealed a quantity of new rebel uniforms, and other evidences were found of its being used as rebel recruiting station for receiving volunteers from Illinois. A gun-boat was fired upon by guerrillas opposite Mound City. It became necessary to order to seizure and destruction of all ferries and craft used in crossing the river. Thus the crossing of armed bands, spies, and contraband goods was checked.
On assuming command I found the railroad operated from Columbus to Union City, 26 miles, at the expense of the Government, and used to carry out supplies which went mostly into disloyal hands or were seized by Forrest. The road from Paducah to Mayfield was operated by its owners. Enormous quantities of supplies were carried to convenient points and passed into the hands of the rebel army. I found this abuse so flagrant that I issued a general order stooping all trade. I furnish a copy marked F. I may safely assume that these supplies were intended for the enemy. Without them that large force could not have remained so long, and probably would not have come at all. The presence of that force brought Western Kentucky again under insurrectionary control, and so it still remains. The disloyal citizens are open and avowed in their determination to kill, plunder and expel from their homes all loyal men, and freely declare that none but such as sympathize with themselves shall take any part in the approaching elections. I saw that unless protected in their efforts to protect themselves these loyal men of Western Kentucky must five way, and the country remain, not dead to the Union, but alive with active effort to destroy it.
These few loyal Union men have been sorely tried. Their fidelity to their country and flag, like the faith of the early Church, has withstood the fires of relentless persecution Reverencing a faith shown by such works, and wishing to save to them their right to life and property and home, and their right of suffrage, I caused to be organized, under proper military regulation and restraints, such of them as wished to be enrolled and armed for the purpose of destroying the bands of robbers and guerrillas that infested their neighborhoods. Accordingly a company was formed at Paducah, and another at Columbus, and they are doing good and gallant service. Their committees report this policy carried out and they sustain d, they will drive out the armed marauders, silence their sympathizers, and hold Western Kentucky to its allegiance.