and Irish Bottoms, and in the fork of Big Pigeon and French Broad Rivers; also, still more extensively with wagons in the fork between French Broad and Chucky. All these rivers are now fordable, and there is no ice running in them. The guards sent along with the wagons are light, but in consequence of the river being fordable at various places between Dandridge and the mouth of Pigeon, and Morgan's and part of Armstrong's cavalry divisions lying within a short distance of the river bank at Denton's Ford and Dr. Boyd's, it is risking rather too much for my small command to go so far up. There are also 150 cavalry at Gorman's, near Newport, on this side of both French Broad and Pigeon. I earnestly recommend that one brigade of cavalry be sent here to-night, crossing at this ford, which is now in good order. If artillery be sent, we have a ferry-boat here to cross it. They should come down the Mutton Hollow road to Shady Grove (from Flat Gap), thence 2 miles across the river to this camp; total distance from Mossy Creek to my camp, 12 miles. They should not leave Flat Gap till about dark, so that information of the movement may not reach the enemy above Dandridge. Two or three roads, including the Maryville road (from Shady Grove to Dandridge), lead off from the Mutton Hollow road toward Dandridge, and small picket posts should be placed on each of these to prevent any citizens from carrying information of the movement. There are also three or four houses on the way that should be guarded. These will be pointed out by the guides, of whom I send you 6 herewith, to be used with the column if it is decided to send it.
These guides also know the ford well, and there will be no danger in night fording. The ford is 30 yards wide and with a smooth bottom. The force can get a good feed here of both corn and hay, and start to-morrow with my command for the wagons and foraging parties. All the fords can be guarded as we go up, although if the Cavalry Corps makes its movement toward the French Broad to-morrow the attention of the rebels will be so much engaged that they will hardly attempt to cross to this side, even if they hear of our going up, which is doubtful. If they should cross a large force to menace us, it will be all the better for your command on the other side of the river; they can never catch us in these woods and mountains, as we have the whole population to guide and picket for us. If the plan is accepted I think we can take many prisoners and wagons and bring them off, thus crippling their facilities for foraging permanently. If they should cross the river at about Denton's Ford to intercept us they will probably send a smaller force than ours, as they will deem it improbable that a brigade has got on the south side of French Broad without their knowledge. We would in that event have the smaller force at our mercy. There would be no risk to your main force in sparing this brigade, as our force of cavalry is certainly that much larger than the enemy's while theirs is scattered from mouth of Chucky to Denton's Ford.
If the general movement to-morrow is prompt, some large foraging parties with wagons can probably be caught in the bend of the river at Swann's Island above Dandridge, by taking the Ellett's Ferry road; they are foraging there to-day with one regiment of cavalry.
You had probably better retain Lieutenant Miller and Lieutenant McGuire, of Ninth Tennessee, who accompany this, as guides, to come with the main body when it starts; they are acquainted
6 R R-VOL XXXII, PT II