HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Chattanooga, Tenn., March 1, 1864.
I will have 400 men at work on the railroad between here and Ringgold to-morrow. The reconnaissance toward Dalton demonstrated that the enemy was still there in force. I have since heard from different sources (all confirmatory) that Johnston had received orders to retire behind the Etowah and send re-enforcements to Selma or Mobile. One informant, Brown, reports that some of the troops had already started, but that our demonstration had brought them back. He is now in Dalton and will report to me immediately any changes Johnston makes. I have signified to General Schofield my willingness to transfer to him all the East Tennessee troops under my command if he will release the Fourth Corps and McCook's division of cavalry. I am entirely crippled for want of cavalry. I am pushing forward the works for the defenses of the railroad between this and Nashville. When they are completed I am in hopes I can order to the front Howard's entire corps and perhaps a part of Slocum's.
Did you place General Hovey in command of the District of Kentucky? If so, I think General Johnson would like to exchange duties with him.
GEO. H. THOMAS,
Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, FOURTEENTH CORPS,
Ringgold, March 1, 1864.
Major General G. H. THOMAS:
GENERAL: I am here still with the equipment for a three days' reconnaissance, and of course unable to make such returns, &c., as I otherwise would. I like my post very much, for there are many advantages in being in front, and would like to remain here, but I must represent to you that my position is precarious, provided the enemy should choose to pass around my flanks and cut me off from General Davis. My right, for a distance of 8 miles, is watched by Colonel Harrison, who will give me timely warning, but on my left is Parker's Gap, through which I send a patrol of 10 men daily, the road being as good as the streets of Chattanooga, by which a force could pass to Graysville and thence to the Pea Vine before I would know it. I have not force enough to guard this pass. I have but twelve regiments, and have to put six on guard daily, and will put on a larger force as soon as the One hundred and first Indiana, now at Rosseville, arrives. I have asked to have it sent forward, and also the Fourteenth Ohio as soon as it arrives. It is very important that both of these regiments should come up at once. Two days ago General Palmer directed me, in view of a continued occupation of this place, to retain Davis' brigade, but it had already gone back part of the way, so I referred the matter to General Davis. I learn to-day that the brigade is marching toward his camp away form here. I only mention these facts that you may understand exactly how I am situated. I do not think the enemy will attack me, but if he chooses to do so he certainly can with 8,000 or 10,000 men cut me off