you to-morrow morning from every rock, house, tree, and shrub in the vicinity, and feeling confident of my ability to succeed in my anticipated attempt, now bid you prepare yourself for the fray. I, however, cheerfully accept the proposition you made to Brigadier- General Buford, namely, to allow two hours of daylight to-morrow morning for the purpose of allowing non-combatants to remove beyond the lines. At the expiration of the THIRD hour of the coming day I shall commence offensive operations, unless another communication is received from you before that time.
I am, general, with great respect,
N. B. FORREST,
Major-General, Provisional Army, C. S., Commanding.
The garrison of Huntsville at this time consisted of detachments of the Eleventh Indiana, 400 strong; the Thirteenth Indiana, 700 strong; a small detachment of the Twelfth Indiana Cavalry; in all, 1,200.
About 8 a. m. on the 1st of October the enemy displayed a force of 2,000 cavalry two miles north of the city. He continued to demonstrate with his force, and deployed it across several roads, our small force of cavalry skirmishing with them, and a few shells being fired from the fort, wounding 2 of the enemy, taking off the leg of one and arm of another. About 12 m. it became evident that he was retiring on the Athens road, and by 2 p. m. the last of his forces disappeared. I am now satisfied, from information since obtained, that only a portion of Forrest's force, under command of Brigadier-General Buford, between 4,000 and 5,000 strong, was in the vicinity of Huntsville on the night of the 30th and morning of the 1st; that Forrest was himself on the Meridian road about six miles from the city, and must have left to join morning of the 1st. Colonel Thornburgh, who had charge of the cavalry, reports some of the enemy killed or wounded by his command. About 7 p. m. on the 1st General Morgan arrived at Huntsville with his DIVISION. I soon after called on him at the depot, and in a consultation reported that the enemy, who had been threatening the city, had moved in the direction of Athens, and suggested that he send forward a detachment of 600 men from his command to repair the road to Decatur, which I believed to be but slightly damaged (my command being too fatigued for that purpose, having been up and at work all the night before), and to move in direction of Athens as soon as it was repaired. General Morgan, however, was of opinion that Forrest was still in the vicinity of Tullahoma, and that this was a demonstration only to draw the forces from that road, and declined to move until he could receive further orders from General Thomas. About 11 o'clock on the 2nd I sent out a party myself to repair the road, and the last of General Morgan's forces left for Athens late in the afternoon of the same day.
On the 28th of September I reoccupied Athens with 200 of the Seventh-THIRD Indiana Infantry and 100 of the Tenth Indiana, and a section of Battery A, First Tennessee Artillery.
On the 1st 200 men of the Second Tennessee Cavalry reported to Lieutenant-Colonel Wade; on the evening of the 1st the advance of the cavalry, under General Buford, appeared in the vicinity of Athens, and on the morning of the 2nd General Buford demanded the surrender of the fort at that place, which demand was promptly refused by Lieutenant-Colonel Wade, and the enemy commenced his attack soon after, which lasted until 9 a. m., when he withdrew. The conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Wade and the troops under his command during this short siege was most admirable. I felt when I placed this officer in command of this post that we should not be again disgraced by a shameful surrender, and that is fort would not be given up without a most heroic defense.