HDQRS. DETACHMENT General ARMSTRONG'S BRIGADE,
April 29, 1864.
[Captain T. B. SYKES,
Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General:]
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report, to wit:
In obedience to orders, through Brigadier-General Armstrong, from General Jackson, commanding division, I left Tuscaloosa on the morning of the 19th April, with a detachment from Ballentine's regiment, commanded by Captain Blackwell, and one from the Twenty-eighth Mississippi, commanded by Captain Woods, in all abut 250 men. I proceeded, in accordance with instructions, to operate in Walker and Winston Counties, Ala., against the tories, who were reported to be depredating upon the property of loyal citizens. On the evening of the 20th of April I encamped in the edge of Fayette County, and had to scatter my command on account of the scarcity of forage. A young man from the Twenty-eighth Mississippi, who was in advance of the detachment some 200 or 300 yards was halted by 2 men, who were armed; he refused to halt, put spurs to his horses, and rode rapidly back to his command, procured re-enforcements and pursued them through the hills, where it became impossible to continue the pursuit farther.
On the evening of the 22nd I arrived at Jasper, the county seat of Walker, where I found Lieutenant-Colonel McCaskill, who had been sent to Walker and Winston Counties, by order of General J. E. Johnston, with a detachment of 80 men. Colonel McCaskill had made some 40 arrests prior to my arrival, 30 of whom were in the jail at Jasper. I assisted him in guarding the prisoners, as fears were entertained that their friends would endeavor to rescue them. Colonel McCaskill left with the prisoners on the 27th for Dalton, Ga. I made seven or eight arrests, two of whom were sent to Dalton, Ga. The remainder were brought to this place and turned over to the commandant of the post.
The rumors of those counties are greatly exaggerated. I was informed by reliable men that Walker County never voted at nay election more than 1,400 votes, and yet she has nineteen full companies in the Confederate service.
The scarcity of forage in these counties is a great drawback to cavalry operations, together with the unevenness of the ground. There are many places where it is impossible for a cavalryman to approach, cliffs so abrupt that nothing save a mountain goat or a deer would attempt to scale them. These fastness are the places sought for by deserters.
There is no scarcity of provision in these counties, and I would suggest that one or two infantry companies be sent there. It would be an easy matter to subsist them; let them build stockades in various portions of those counties contiguous to the tories, and send out small scouting parties every day and drive the woods as though they were in pursuit of game. They would afford permanent protection. An infantry force scattered about in those counties, particularly if they were furnished whit a pack of dogs, would be able to protect the country and drive out the last tory or deserter.
I am, captain, very respectfully,
W. L. MAXWELL,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Detachment.