Riley's Creek was found to be a very rugged stream, difficult and of little importance.
My scouting forces reported men from Johnston's army up Raccoon Creek valley, scouting for information. Also, that Davenport's and Wintherspoon's men were maneuvering through that section.
At 8.15 p. m. we arrived at Larkin's Landing, where we halted for the night. I here found the Fifty-fifth Illinois and two sections of artillery, and the post commanded by Lieutenant Colonel D. C. Coleman, Eighth Missouri, with whom I communicated, deriving from him information (based on reports of scouts and refugees) that the rebels had a continuous chain of pickets from Lebanon ranging on the south side of Town Creek to Guntersville, which village was to picketed by Captain Smith's force of about 100 men. Their next location in body was opposite Whitesburg. Lieutenant-Colonel Coleman had been informed several days previously that rebel cavalry had been seen moving from the neighborhood of Town Creek and Guntersville toward Decatur; also that tow divisions of cavalry were at Gadsden, 20 miles southwest of Guntersville, and that Roddey and Wheeler were in command; Wheeler had been in Guntersville the week before.
Starting at 6.50 a. m. on the 13th, having been prevented moving earlier by a heavy fog, we passed through the pontoon below Larkin's Ferry. In South Santa Creek we found but two boats, which were required by Colonel Coleman's command; at Roman's Ferry found one boat. Reached Seven-Mile Island at a 40 a. m., and found a mail-route across the head of it. We broke up the line by sinking the boat used for it moored in the bushes. No other boats were found on the margin of the island, but we discovered one at Buck's Island, and also at Law's Ferry. From this point beyond we found a continuous chain of mountains on our left with arable land on the river banks, and heavy swamps and morasses between it and the foot of the mountain. Many farms were under cultivation, but the majority of the laborers fled from the fields toward the rebel pickets as we approached, and several fine cotton plantations were visible, one near Guntersville and one opposite Buck's Island. I notified those who remained of the restrictions upon boat-building.
We discovered a slough running from the rive about a mile before reaching Town Creek, which debouched semi circularly tot he mountain base and found outlet at Gunter's Landing. Farther beyond on the north side was another small inlet, leaving a narrow peninsula in the stream, and on the south side opposite was a succession of estuaries, bayous, and indentations which were encountered frequently beyond Guntersville, covered with heavy underbrush. The enemy could, with these morasses between them and troops landed upon the thickly wooded banks, possess every advantage of position; and in them boats could be secreted beyond the possibility of perception, without minute search.
We ran up Town Creek and examined it to near its junction with Black Oak Creek, and also some distance up Short Creek, finding 2 scows and a canoe. Proceeding thence to Guntersville, found the river picketed with cavalry, which extended from Lebanon along the south bank of Town Creek, crossing Short Creek to Guntersville, which we reached at 10 a. m. A body of rebel cavalry was drawn up on a hill to the south of the town. Having landed a detachment of infantry and thrown out skirmishers toward Guntersville and the mountains to its right, witch orders to advance so as to