Ping arrived with his command. During the evening I employed all my force, together with the engineer corps encamped here, in constructing breast-works and digging rifle-pits on each side of Swamp Creek, protecting the railroad bridge and water-tanks. At about 9 o'clock, having ascertained that a large body of the enemy were very near us, I sent out two men mounted on mules, on each road leading to the town, so that we might be notified of their approach in time to prepare for them. Scarcely five minutes elapsed before eight musket shots were fired in quick succession just across the Connesauga River, distant about 300 yards. I immediately formed my battalion and prepared to receive the enemy, which I supposed would attack us at once. One of my mounted men, Corporal Doan, Company C, returned at this junction and reported a heavy force across the river. He and his comrade had ridden past several rebels hidden in the angles of the fence beside the road, and when very near the reserves were halted. They at once wheeled around and started for the river under the fire above mentioned. Corporal Stafford, Company C, was thrown from his mule and captured. Finding that the enemy did not contemplate an immediate attack, I had thirty men of the engineer company posted on the bank covering the main ford of the river. At about 12 o'clock the rebels were heard crossing the river a considerable distance below the regular ford, and I immediately sent out Company H, Lieutenant Swearengin commanding, to skirmish with them providing they advanced upon us. Captain Browne, with his company (F), was also sent out on the Dalton road for the same purpose.
At about 1 a. m. of the 15th, we could plainly hear the enemy destroying the railroad about one mile and a half below us. This continued for perhaps two hours, during which time the pickets at the main ford of the Connesauga exchanged occasional shots with those of the enemy (in which they mortally wounded a captain and sergeant of the Fourth Georgia Cavalry), showing that they were still there. We could hear them to the north and east of us, and I concluded that to divide my small force (about 240 muskets) and attempt to save the railroad, would not only leave the bridge, block-house, and tank insufficiently guarded, but would doubtless result in very severe loss, if not the capture of the entire command. I therefore kept my command inside the works. I have since learned that the rebel force numbered over 3,000 (General Martin's division of Wheeler's cavalry corps), and that they came here for the purpose of destroying the bridge, tank, and block-house, but were deceived by misrepresentations of our strength, and therefore did not attempt it.
Captain Snodgrass, Company I, and Captain Craig's company (H) were captured on the morning of the 15th instant, and paroled on the 16th by General Wheeler, eight miles northeast of Spring Place. It was impossible for them to report to Colonel Laiboldt as directed, as the rebels were in strong force between the tank and Dalton.
For further particulars I refer you to the accompanying report of Captain Snodgrass, commanding the detachment.
S. M. ARCHER,
Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Seventeenth Iowa Vet. Vol. Infty.
Captain W. W. McCAMMON,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, 2nd Brigadier, 3rd Div., 15th Army Corps.