detachments from the Second, THIRD, and Fourth Tennessee Cavalry, numbering 550 men, which returned to camp at 12 m. yesterday:
I moved out from Decatur at 8 p. m. on the 17th instant and arrived at McDonnel's Mill, on the Somerville and Moulton road, about midnight, expecting to find the command of Colonel Patterson and some other detachments of the enemy near Oakville, then distant about four miles; but on my arrival at this mail I learned that the enemy had moved the preceding day to Pond Springs, near Courtland. I sent Major Pickens, however, with a detachment of the THIRD Tennessee Cavalry, to go by the way of Oakville, instructing him to reconnoiter the country and report to me the next day at Moulton at 12 m., which he did promptly. Moving immediately with the remainder of my command toward Moulton, about nine miles distant, I arrived there just before dayLight, surrounded the town, and disposed of my force so that the town was entered at all sides at once; but nothing was found there, except a lieutenant and enrolling officer, who was killed in attempting to escape. Major Stephens, of the Fourth Tennessee, was sent out on the Russellville road with 100 men, and engaged the enemy as soon as our picket-line was passed, driving him about four miles and a half, when he returned, having killed and wounded on his way out some 4 or 5 men and captured 1 prisoner. Having received information that General Roddey, with his command, was returning from Selma, Ala., that part of it had already arrived in the vicinity, and that Colonels Patterson, Biffle, and Nixon were concentrating their forces near Courtland, for the purpose of cutting me off from Decatur or capturing my command, I determined to retire from Moulton, and did so as soon as my scouting parties were returned.
On the afternoon of the 18th instant a portion of Colonel Patterson's command followed my rear from Moulton until I went into camp near Antioch Church, and afterward annoyed my pickets considerably. During the early part of the night the whole of the command arrived, making constant demonstrations on my picket-line until about 1 a. m. The enemy having collected his forces at a single point, made a sudden and furious attack on my camp, accompanies by heavy volleys of musketry, and the yells incident to such attacks. Having anticipated their intention, however, I was prepared to receive them, and their attack was speedily repulsed with considerable loss, 15 dead and mortally wounded having been afterward found on the field, and not less than 40 were supposed to have been carried off, and 11 prisoners captured, including, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 9 non-commissioned officers and privates, belonging to six different battalions and regiments. Having expected an attack during the night or very early in the morning I had so located my camp that all the firing of the enemy passed over my men and horses, doing but little damage, having during the engagement but 1 man wounded and a few horses killed. The attacking force of the enemy consisted, as nearly as cold be ascertained, of 500 men, under the command of Colonel Patterson. He retired immediately after his repulse, and reconnaissance at daylight led me to believe that he had returned to Pond Springs or Hillsborough. In the morning I moved to the forks of the Moulton, Decatur, and Hillsborough roads, seven miles from Decatur, intending to go from thence to Hillsborough, but as I was unable to find any forage in the neighborhood, and as my men and horses were very much exhausted, I determined to return to camp at this place.