HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
Kingston, July 20, 1864.
LIEUTENANT: The expedition ordered out to recapture, if possible, the Government stock stolen by guerrillas left this place July 12, 1864, with eighty infantry and twenty mounted men. They traveled in the direction of Sparta, Tenn., FIFTY-two miles, where they took to the right, so as to get into the head of England cove, at which place the stock were reported to be. Just one mile this side of where they turned to the right, the advance guard was fired upon by one rebel, who made his appearance in the road before them. The guard returned the fire and the rebel fled into the woods. The command moved on till 10 p. m., and halted for the night upon the top of the mountain. At daylight next morning they descended the mountain and reached the head of the cove, through which the Calfkiller River runs. On some FIFTY rounds at them, which created quite an excitement in the valley, and all the men fled to the mountains. It was ascertained then that the stock had been divided among the captors and had been driven into different parts of the mountains and counties. However, some few of the stock were found in out-of-the-day places. The citizens would not give any information about the stock nor against the guerrillas, and denied of knowing that any had been brought into that valley. The major commanding found that the citizens were all aiders and abettors to the thieving band. So he commenced to show them the rewards given to such people, and had their stock (private) and everything that his command could consume seized, and plundered every house from there to Sparta, finding in all thirty-three guns, some ammunition, and many articles which could not be brought away. for a distance of fifteen miles down the valley every house where good stock, arms, or goods of a contraband nature could be found, the most unparalleled plunder was committed.
The command charged into Sparta at 4 p. m. July 15, but found no armed rebels. Martial law was at once proclaimed, and every man in town was arrested; then for two hours the cries of women and children were intense, for they all expected the town to be burnt up and all the citizens killed. After plundering the town and examining the citizens they were released, with a few exceptions. The command left that place July 16, 9 a. m., for Kingston with 9 prisoners for various charges and some 25 recaptured Government stock and about the same amount of stock which had been pressed from citizens who were out guerrillaing. The progress was uninterrupted from there back. Champ Ferguson has about twenty men, and commands them in person. His range is generally in the cove. Captain Clark has fourteen men, and his range is above Spencer, a small town twelve miles south of Sparta. Camp Kearsy has about thirty men, and ranges near Smithville; while one dunbar, up in Overton County, has about seventy-five, mostly of Morgan's disbanded crew from Kentucky. These are all the organized bodies now in those mountain ranges, and they are all regular desperadoes, taking no prisoners at all. The command exchanged some few shots with them, as they went down the valley, but no one was hurt. There is a small force of Federal soldiers at McMinnville, numbering about 200 men. They belong to the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, and owing to the small garrison, are afraid to scout out at any distance. It is thought preparations are being made by the guerrillas to concentrate and make a raid upon some point, though they are so sly that
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