Day before yesterday, when we commenced artillery practice at Decatur, the force west of there, on the Courtland road, came out in plain view of our cavalry pickets in line of battle and advanced toward the place a short distance. The officer in command of the picket judged there were about 1,500 in all.
The scouts that go to the rear report no scattering troops; that all are closed around Decatur, and we do not have much trouble in getting men around their entire command. From reports brought from Gadsden I am satisfied more cavalry are on their way toward us; whether it comes to Decatur or not we have not fully ascertained. General Veatch reports Hall's regiment picketing this morning within 5 miles of town; this is a new regiment and used to belong to Davidson's brigade, Martin's division. I inclose Colonel Rowett's report that came in this morning; if true, we will soon know it, as we have a number of men in the valley. It also seems impossible for Polk to move without my getting good notice, as I have men posted on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad about Columbus, Miss. Tuscaloosa, Selma, Fayetteville, &c., and all watching for his move. I do not believe the enemy contemplates an attack on Decatur right away; they have a lookout on the mountain 10 miles out, from which they can see every house in the town, our troops, &c., and they certainly would not attack with their and our present forces.
The officers at Decatur set their entire force at 7,000 men. I have figured closely on it and think it nearer 5,000 or 6,000; but this does not include any that may have reached the valley since day before yesterday.
Do the troops at Larkin's Ferry hear from the country south of them? All this cavalry must pass their front.
Orders in relation to transportation, reports, &c., received, and will be promptly carried out.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
Florence, Ala., April 23, 1864.
Captain J. W. BARNES,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Left Wing, 16th Army Corps:
SIR: I have the honor to report as follows:
I have reliable information that Wisdom, with Forrest's old regiment, is at Tuscumbia; three regiments moving through Iuka. Forrest was ordered to Okolona, but the order was countermanded on the 19th. Corn was being hauled from Okolona to Corinth for distribution to Forrest's command. Forrest is reported moving east with his entire command. I think his destination is Decatur, Ala.
I had a long interview with Calvin Goodloe, who came over by flag of truce this morning.
Received communication from Major Murphy complaining that Thrasher with his men are committing many depredations, and asking that Thrasher be ordered to report to him. Citizens make frequent complaints of the depredations committed by Thrasher's men.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Commanding Seventh Illinois and Ninth Ohio.