Along the line above designated the roads are good, somewhat sandy in Florida, but hard in Alabama, nowhere intersected by rivers, it being throughout the water divide. The country from Hickory Hill upward is rich and productive. Men and horses could subsist upon the country and find everywhere good fresh water in abundance.
The people on the designated line from Hickory Hill to Columbus are tired of rebellion and anxious to return to the Union, and the woods being full of deserters, I am confident that by starting with 2,000 men I would strike at Columbus with double that number.
I beg to inclose (Sub-A*) a table of distances, going by water 120 miles and by land 452; time required, sixteen to twenty days. A glance upon the map of the United States shows, and the past conduct of the rebellion proves, that the Mobile, Montgomery and Columbus Railroad, with its tributaries and connections, is one of the main and vital arteries of the rebel Confederacy, and the only undisturbed line of communication between Richmond, Savannah, and Charleston with the lower Mississippi regions and the Gulf States, and it seems beyond a doubt that the destruction of such an important railroad line at seven different pints, as within contemplated, with the destruction of numerous engines, valuable rolling-stock, and all other rebel property above alluded to, would certainly be a stunning blow upon the hydra of this wicked rebellion. I therefore most respectfully request the commanding general's sanction to make the raid, and his orders for the use of a cavalry force of 2,000 for the time of the one month only. At present I have but one company of cavalry mounted, Company M, Fourteenth New York Cavalry, numbering 80 men and 59 horses. The Florida cavalry, already six companies strong, have no arms and no horses. The men all entered my lines from rebeldom and enlisted in the U. S. Army with the fervent desire to revenge under the Union flag all the wrongs inflicted upon them and their families by the rebels. They are all good horsemen, all good marksmen, and perfectly familiar with the country and people throughout Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. Thus their services in the field, if well mounted and armed, would prove more efficient here than of any veteran cavalry regiment. I beg, therefore, to inclose duplicate of requisitions already forwarded for arms and horses, respectfully requesting the commanding general's approval and orders, and I confidently hope that the 500 Florida men when mounted will each, in les than a month, bring an additional horse from rebeldom into their camp.
For the present I am restricted to my small infantry force, ad although without proper land and water transportation, I will make an infantry advance in a few days up to Perdido with the view of doing considerable harm to the rebels.
Very respectfully, major, your obedient servant,
This comes rather informally but is worthy of consideration.
General Asboth underrates the force of the enemy, and his estimate of the cavalry force required to perform the work he has in view is too small.
ED. R. S. CANBY.