which proceeded within three miles of Athens, where it was attacked by such a force as to render it expedient to return, our forces returning the fire and preventing the capture of the train. Two of our men were slightly wounded; no other injury. I ordered 300 of the First Ohio Heavy Artillery from Knoxville, and on their arrival had 200 of the same regiment at Loudon ready to go on the train, supposing this number sufficient to meet the enemy. Proceeded very cautiously, and two and a half miles east of Sweet Water discovered a bridge in front on fire at 6 a.m. August 20. The trains were halted. Lieutenants Clark and Firestone, with 130 men, all under command of Captain Gatewood, First Ohio Heavy Artillery, accompanied by Lieutenant N. A. Reed, jr., Fiftieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, aide-de-camp on my staff, were sent forward to make reconnaissance and ascertain the position, numbers, &c., the other troops ready to act as circumstances might require. Precautions for the safety of the train were taken. The detachment had not proceeded more than half a mile met a strong skirmish line, which, under our fire, fell back to the houses, their numbers constantly increasing. The fire was kept up until 9 a.m. killing 3 of them without sustaining any injury ourselves. The detachment behaved admirably. I was satisfied the enemy numbered several thousand, with some artillery, and, seeing some moving to the right and left, I ordered the troops to the train and the train to return to Loudon, as the number was too great for my force, and Loudon must be defended. The troops were taken off at Loudon and the train sent to Knoxville. As there was no cavalry, I pressed horses and mounted about thirty men and sent them under Captain Preble, First Ohio Heavy Artillery, toward Philadelphia, to observe the enemy and gain information. This detachment, although badly mounted, met the enemy, had a sharp skirmish, killed 3, wounded 2 severely, captured 1, and brought him to camp, but unfortunately 3 were captured, 2 of whom made their escape and returned to camp. The enemy moved on the roads from Sweet Water and Philadelphia toward Davis' Ford, on the Little Tennessee, crossing there the night of the 20th and the morning of the 21st of August, to the number of 4,000 or more, with from four to eight pieces of artillery. Small parties from Loudon harassed the rear and stragglers the 21st of August. No prisoners taken, but several rebels reported killed. We sustained no loss in these skirmishes.
Scouts reported the enemy crossing the Holston at Louisville in force the 22nd of August. These reports were not true, as only a small force crossed at that place, went to Concord, cut the wire, and returned to the south side the 23d.
I returned to Knoxville with troops on train August 24, and on arrival learned that the enemy was crossing the Holston below Strawberry Plains, and that there had been some spirited affairs. For particulars please see reports of General Tillson, Major Smith, and Captain Standish, herewith transmitted. The enemy then moved toward Blain's Cross-Roads, took the Emory road, and crossed the Clinch at Lee's Ferry. Lieutenant-Colonel Melton, Second Tennessee, with infantry, was sent on the Clinton road the night of the 26th to harass the rear at or near the river, and met the enemy the morning of the 27th; had a brisk skirmish; reports that he killed 2 or 3 of the enemy; that 1 of his men was severely wounded, and that the enemy moved rapidly to join their advance. After cross-
47 R R-VOL XXXVIII, PT II