War of the Rebellion: Serial 057 Page 0666 Chapter XLIV. KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA.

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posite, between Whitesburg and the mountains below, who were supposed to be building boats for early launching. A rebel brigade of cavalry lay encamped in a cove back of Lacy's Spring (the latter situation also rendered to me by a negro) and a still larger force was 5 miles back from the river. They showed themselves daily opposite Whitesburg in parties of from 15 to 30 behind the fork. No artillery had yet been seen by him. The rebels were extensively scouting and patrolling the country from Decatur to Paint Rock. The Federal side was picketed about a mile each way from this post, and beyond that ungraded to near Decatur. His patrols had reported the enemy occupying both sides of the river at Triana in large force on the south side, as though intending to effect a crossing for an expedition at that point.

At 4.30 p. m. we left Whitesburg, and discovered, a short distance above Indiana Creek, a column of infantry, about tow strong regiments, moving rapidly in a small vale on the south side toward a high rocky bluff, well fortified by nature, presenting a precipitous wall to the river, evidently intending to dispute our passage. We halted the boat and opened a warm fire upon them from the four pieces for fifteen minutes, and shelled a party which was already on the bluffs, and then ran past. Getting a south view of the hills, we found some of them had concealed themselves in the plantation huts and houses, which we shelled, driving them out. We moved but a short distance and were near Triana, when we found on the north side a force fully equal to my own, in line of battle with skirmishers out, in a low, swampy, secreted place, densely wooded, and a force much larger on the hills on the south side, with a piece of artillery about being put in position upon them. We were near enough to distinguish all this with the naked eye. They presented an insuperable barrier to the passage of so frail a boat, whose decks threatened to give way even at the rebound of our own pieces, and with boiler and engine exposed. The men were necessarily huddled together, and there was o shelter for scarcely a single man. The enemy had either crossed, bent upon our annihilation, below the bluffs, where we had destroyed a very large boat, or at Triana, or at both places.

It was inevitable that immediately in front of us, in our condition, was the useless sacrifice not only of the boat, but necessarily of many lives, for a single cannon-shot would go through her, and fully satisfying myself of the situation and of the impossibility of passing the narrows near Triana with the concentration of forces upon us, and being informed at the point where we got the boat that a full battery was hourly expected at Triana, and believing that the reconnaissance as far as made, about 110 miles from Bridgeport and within 14 miles of Decatur, came within the spirit of my orders, I resolved to regain the position at Guntersville before morning and if possible before the artillery, expected from the vicinity of gadsden to intercept us could reach that point.

I therefore directed the course of the boat up stream, and we reached Whitersburg shortly after dark. On the route we shelled parties of cavalry on the south side. I here informed Lieutenant-Colonel Hall of th position of the enemy, and learned that a force of rebels had been on the north side a few days before, having crossed at the mouth of Cane Creek into Flint River, at which place we had destroyed all the boats. Scouts also reported to me that those that had been sunk in Paint Rock River were all that could be found in it.