Decatur and vicinity coming from the direction of Athens. Whatever force was at Huntsville has been removed ot the vicinity of Decatur also.
My forces are stationed on the river above to the river below Decatur, scouting daily to within a short distance of that place and keeping the enemy well closed in. I also picket the river as far down as Florence. I will keep you advised of all reports and movements of the enemy.
I would suggest, in consideration of the fact of the scarcity of forage and subsistence, that all scouting parties from your command be withdrawn from this section, as I think that I can impart all the information that they could obtain, and of another reason, that it accredited and who are not. To guard against imposition I would suggest that all scouting parties and secret-service men sent ot this section be ordered to report ot these headquarters, and that they also be accredited, through the proper channels of communication (say by courier-line), with description and also with the signatures of the parties sent inclosed. I think this precaution very important-as an instance, a party of Federal just before the last raid into this section, dressed as Confederates and purporting to be from Forrest's command, passed unmolested and unsuspected through the country and gathered all the information they desired. The same party returned afterward with the raiders. Prior to my return to Northern Alabama, parties having what seemed to be genuine orders from Wheeler, Forrest, and yourself, as scouts, passed out lines and were afterward known to boast in Huntsville, Athens, and other places that hey had been to General Polk's and other headquarters. In view of all thee facts I have issued orders that no one not having my authority shall be permitted to pass my lines.
Much complaint is made of a Lieutenant Harvey, commanding a party of 50 or 60 men, purporting ot be sent here by General Armstrong. From all the information in my possession, he has authorized the illegal seizure of private horses for his command, stating that the horses of his men had broken down and died on the road, a very goon proof to my mind that the worst-mounted men of his command were brought for the purpose of mounting them anew. He has defied authority in one instance, and refused to return horses taken form citizens who were nearly broken up by the enemy during the last raid, saying that he reported to no one, and was responsible to no one but General Armstrong, and wheat he had done he would do again if necessary, if he was cashiered for it.
As all citizens have been nearly stropped of all their stock, and as they are willingly and cheerfully doing all in their power ot support an army by raising produce, and as it is impossible for an army nothing in the impressment act that can be so construed as to allow the seizure of private property for the private uses of his men, I have, in view of all the circumstances, ordered the arrest of Lieutenant Harvey and his command wherever found, they and their horses to be held until the property so unwarrantable and illegally seized shall be returned to its proper owners. The conduct of Lieutenant Harvey I consider ot be prejudicial to the good of the service and unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. To some parties he gave informal receipts for horses and to others none.