HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF FLORIDA, Barrancas, July 4, 1864.
Major C. T. CHRISTENSEN,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. div. of West Mississippi:
MAJOR: In compliance with General Orders, Numbers 3, headquarters Division of West Mississippi, I beg to report regarding affairs in this district and its vicinity. Most of the rebel troops in West Florida and Alabama have left to re-enforce Johnston at Atlanta and Polk, Forrest, and Roddey's army, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, in Mississippi. Refugees and deserters report the balance of rebel troops in my neighborhood distributed as follows: Mobile, militia only enough to do the guard duty; Fort Morgan, 600 men; Camp Withers, two companies cavalry; Camp Andrew, at Bonsecours Bay, four companies infantry, guarding salt-works; Camp Powell, near Perdido River, one company cavalry; at Pollard, five companies infantry and the Fifteenth Confederate Cavalry, Colonel Maury commanding, under marching orders; at Fifteen-Mile Station, on the pensacola and Pollard Railroad, 500 cavalry and three pieces artillery; between the Escambia and Chattahoochee Rivers, three companies of cavalry; at and around Milton, one-half company at Elba, one-half at Abbeville, one-half at Newton, and one at Marianna.
Considering the comparatively very small number of rebel troops thus scattered in West Florida and Alabama, in twenty counties, comprising more than 20,000 square miles, I beg respectfully to recommend a cavalry raid as far as Columbus, Ga. Possessing the most minute information, I am confident that 2,000 men, well mounted and armed, would be sufficient to do the work safely and obtain brilliant results of vital importance, facilitating greatly the success of our armies in Virginia and Georgia, and while much reducing the rebel resources in general, forcing, especially, starvation upon Mobile, thus rendering one of the most formidable rebel strongholds comparatively helpless. If enabled by the commanding general to make the raid, I would enter Saint Andrew' Bay on steamers, land near Bethem's Mill, at McCormick's Landing (15 feet depth), and destroy the numerous salt-works, with a daily produce of 500 bushels of salt for the so-called Confederacy; take the Hickory (Orange) Hill road, and, leaving Marianna, Abbeville, and Fort Gaines on the right, enter Newton (a rebel depot for bacon and corn), strike the terminus of the Macon and Georgetown Branch Railroad at Eufaula, destroy the railroad and telegraph line, and leaving Union Spring to the left, cross the railroad at Silver's Station, and destroy the Mobile and Girard Railroad, enter Columbus, Ga., destroy all the Government machine-shops, factories and manufactories, and fifteen warehouses full of cotton; destroy also the Columbus and Macon, Columbus and Opelika, and West point and Montgomery Railroads. From Opelika I would continue on the north side of the railroad to Wetumpka, a military prison, with over 3,000 Union prisoners, and, liberating the, march upon Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, and destroying the railroad around the city, with the Government machine-shops and cotton warehouses, proceed on the public road east of the railroad down to Pollard; there also destroy the railroad, numerous engines, and very valuable rolling-stock, and return from Pollard via Fifteen-Mile House and Pensacola to Barrancas.