of no railroad bridge in this vicinity. The people, negroes and others, say the road runs on a ridge, but if we do nothing to the road it will create a diversion.
CAMP NEAR VILLA RICE, July 15, 1864.
GENERAL: As I indicated to you in my last note, we completed the bridge (Moore's), and were ready to cross at daybreak yesterday morning, but before we essayed it a report came from Major Buck, in command of a battalion seven miles above, that the enemy had been crossing above him on a boat or a bridge, and that his pickets had been cut off. I, of course, made preparations accordingly, and found that the report originated in the sound made by the enemy crossing a bridge over a creek on the other side of the river, and nearly opposite to Major Buck. On attempting to cross the bridge, the enemy opened upon it with four pieces of artillery from the edge of the timbers on the opposite side, and made an endeavor to retake their rifle-pits near the water's edge. Deeming it inexpedient to push our endeavors further, and knowing that it was easier to retain the men long enough to burn the bridge than to get them back again after they had been driven off, I ordered the bridge to be burned and the boats that had been collected there for security destroyed. During the day I sent scouts down the river to within thirteen miles of Franklin, where there is another bridge, and found neither ford nor ferry-boats, and in the evening came to this point. We shall remain here and graze during the day, and in the evening move to the vicinity of Sweet Water town, or within eight miles of it. Colonel Biddle, who was left with his brigade at Campbellton, reports the enemy quite strong at that point, with two guns of long rang in each of the two redoubts on the opposite bluff, which are opened upon him whenever any of his men show themselves. We get plenty of forage for the horses, beef and blackberries and some bacon for the men, and are getting on finely. We want horseshoes and nails, and a little time where we can avail ourselves of a blacksmith shop to fit the shoes, to complete the cavalry and make it ready for any service. The artillery, however, want better horses and better ammunition, as the horses they have would be unable to make long consecutive marches, and the ammunition is but little better than solid shot. I was very anxious to strike the railroad, from personal as well as other considerations, but I became convinced that to attempt it would incur risks inadequate to the results, and unless we could hold the bridge, as well as penetrate into the country, the risk of capture or dispersion, with loss of animals (as I could hear of no ford) was almost certain. It is impossible to move without every step we take being known, women as well as men acting as scouts and messengers. I have sent to the rear about 40 prisoners, 1 of them the commander of the picket at the bridge on this side, and 16 or 17 of them pickets and scouts in the vicinity of the bridge. I am unable to say how much force is opposite to us, but from what can be seen and I can hear, I am convinced it is no inconsiderable one.
58 R R-VOL XXXVIII, PT II