short description of all the important roads leading from the Mississippi line to the Coosa Valley. Commencing on the west I make the initial point of each road where it can be easily, or without material obstacle, reached from any portion of our front.
First. The direct Tuscumbia and Columbus road runs southwest, passes through Russellville, crosses the headwaters of Bear Creek and the western most spur of Sand Mountain, avoiding almost entirely any abrupt rise or mountain road. It forks at Millersville, one branch going to Columbus, the other to Pikeville and Fayetteville, crossing the Black Warrior at Tuscaloosa by bridge. Forage, water, & c., are good on almost the entire road, especially after leaving Pikeville.
Second. The Tuscumbia and Tuscaloosa road, direct, runs due south from Russellville to Fayetteville, crosses mountains at right angles, is hilly and sparsely populated, lacks forage, and is seldom traveled, although it is passable.
Third. The Byler road leaves the valley at Leighton, runs up Town Creek, crosses mountain in Low Gap, and forks at New London, one branch going toward Columbus, Miss., and one direct to Tuscaloosa. It is an old road, well settled, well watered, fair for forage, crosses the streams high enough up to avoid much difficulty, and is one of the best roads over the mountains.
Fourth. Cheatham's road, the direct Moulton and Tuscaloosa road, runs due south from Courtland to Tuscaloosa, is hilly and mountainous, and forage scarce, but it is not what might be called a bad road. The first mountain is pretty hard to ascend, but the balance of the road is fair.
Fifth. Stout's road runs directly south from Somerville, crossing the headwaters of the Black Warrior. It forks at Elyton, one fork leading southwest down the ridge, between the Black Warrior and the Cahawba, the other fork leading direct to Selma and Montgomery, crossing the Cahawba by ferry. This is an excellent road, well provided with everything, avoids all large water-courses, and is mostly used. It forks near Day's Gap, one branch leading off by way of Blountsville into Coosa Valley, another to Gadsden; crossing of mountains good.
Sixth. Decatur and Gadsden direct road runs through Somerville, rises the Sand Mountain at Summit, where the road from Guntersville comes in, and falls sharply over the mountains into Coosa Valley. This is the nearest road, but two others nearly parallel to it, and known as the Upper and Lower roads, are nearly as good. This road is 10 miles nearer to Gadsden than the one by way of Stout's road, Day's Gap, and Blountsville, but is not so good.
Between the roads mentioned there are by-roads and mountain paths, over which cavalry can travel and probably light trains, but army transportation would stick. On all the roads, except, perhaps, the most westerly one, the rise of Sand Mountain is rather abrupt, but nothing but what a column could overcome in a day or two during good weather. After once crossing the mountains, and as we approach the level lands of Middle and Southern Alabama, roads lead in all directions and are generally very good. The Black Warrior is only bridged at Tuscaloosa, the Cahawba at no point that I know of, the Coosa only at Rome and Wetumpka.
The ferries on the Coosa from Rome to Greensport, head of the rapids, now in use are as follows:
First. Edwards' Ferry, near the mouth of the Chattooga River, 16