I started this morning with all of the available force of this detachment, and will find their hiding place, if such a thing be possible. The men have no rations, and I send by bearer a provision return for same rations as before.
Colonel, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain, Commanding Detachment.
Colonel C. R. WEVER, Comdg; Post, Huntsville.
SLEDGE'S PLANTATION, ALA., April 13, 1864.
COLONEL: I have not been able to learn anteing from the 3 men who were captured on the 11th instant. I found the trail of the robbers tat Whitter's, on the Fayetteville road, 8 miles southeast of that place, at 10.30 a. m., April 12. I learned from a citizen that they had with them but 4 mules and 2 horses, and no prisoners. What has become of the 3 men and 2 mules I was unable to learn. I sent a detachment to the place where we left them the night of the 11th, but owing to the rain they were unable to find any trace of them. The citizens around there declared they had not seen a rebel since Wheeler passed.
I followed the trail that I found about 20 miles through the most barren and desolate country that could be imagined. The robbers used every precaution to prevent being followed, and in many instances I was compelled to dismount and follow a single track until they all joined again. Notwithstanding all the trouble we had to make out their trail we gained on them. When we first struck their trail they were three hours ahead of us, and when we were compelled to give up the pursuit they were not an hour ahead of us. From all appearances where we were bewildered there must be a large force in that vicinity. The ground was marked in all directions with innumerable tracks, quite fresh. It was impossible to tell from whence they came or where they went.
After spending the day in a fruitless search I returned to camp. I believe that a certain citizen named Benjamin Griffith knows more about the destruction of my wagon than he is disposed to tell. I sent a wagon to his house some time since for some bed clothing belonging to some negroes who had left him, and he was heard soon afterward to make the remark that he "would have that wagon captured and burned," and the deed has been performed. The nearest house is this same Griffith's. I have sent a detachment to-day to take the back trail from where I found it, and try and learn something of my men.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain Fifth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.
Colonel C. R. WEVER, Commanding Post, Huntsville.
APRIL 11-13, 1864.-Reconnaissance from Rossville to la Fayette, Ga.
Report of Colonel Carter Van Vleck, Seventy-eighth Illinois Infantry.
HDQRS. SEVENTY-EIGHTH ILLINOIS VOL. INFANTRY,
Near Rossville, Ga., April 13, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report my return with my command from the reconnaissance to La Fayette.