command with General Starkweather's and try and save the railroad. [When] I reached Pulaski, which was at 9 o'clock at night of the 24th instant, Athens, Ala., and the troops at that place had been surrendered to General Forrest.
In accordance with orders from General Starkweather, I moved about 3 a. m. on the 25th instant for Elk River brred to assume command of all the forces between Sulphur Branch and Elk River. I arrived at Elk River about 8 a. m. 25th, and as soon as horses of the command were fed I moved to the support of Sulphur Branch, the troops at that place being very hard pressed. I had 800 men, composed of one battalion of Tenth Indiana Cavalry, Company I, Ninth Indiana Cavalry, and the effective force of the Tenth and Twelfth Tennessee Regiments Cavalry Volunteers. I arrived in the vicinity of Sulphur Branch trestle at 11 a. m. on the 25th instant, and found the enemy in strong force. I engaged them immediately with my small but gallant force, and after fighting about twenty minutes I learned that the fort near the trestle had surrendered. I therefore deemed it prudent to withdraw to Elk River. I camped at Elk River on the night of the 25th instant, intending to hold the bridge until re-enforcements should arrive, which were furnished that [night]. See copy of telegram No. 1. * In order to do this I withdrew the garrison of the stockade south of Elk River, and placed them in stockade at Elk River block-houses, making the garrison at these two houses about 100 strong. At 3 a. m. on 26th instant, re-enforcements not having arrived, and the enemy having driven in my pickets on my right, left, and (center) front, I deemed it necessary to move my cavalry out of such a position as soon as possible. Before morning I sent for the officers commanding the (colored troops) garrison at Elk River bridge and moved them to hold the block-houses at all hazards, also exhibited the dispatches (see copies Nos. 1 and 2*) in regard to re-enforcements. I told them also I would be obliged to withdraw my cavalry or Forrest would have me surrounded before daylight. They promised to hold the block-houses until they were knocked to pieces. Accordingly, I moved off gently in direction of Pulaski until daybreak, when I halted to learn the location of the country. To my great surprise I found that the negro soldiers and their officers that I had left to hold the bridge had abandoned the stockade and had been in advance of my cavalry all the morning, having evacuated the stockades without firing a shot. I arrested all of my colored soldiers and sent them under guard to Richland Creek bridge, that being the nearest block-house. At Richland Creek I found that the officer in charge block-houses had ordered the colored soldiers to pack their knapsacks preparatory to a move to Pulaski. I immediately sent directions to the captain in command of the block- houses to make a stubborn resistance, and also stated that I would support him and shoot every officer and soldier that I found deserting his post. Having received information that the enemy had moved to Elkton, I proceeded south on the Elkton pike for the purpose of intercepting them, at the same time sending Captain Donahue, with FIFTY men, back, with instructions to go to Elk River bridge, if possible. I had proceeded toward Elkton about five miles when a courier from Captain Donahue informed me that he had been driven back, and that the enemy was advancing in strong force along the railroad. I then moved back toward Pulaski and took a position at the junction of the Elkton pike and a road running parallel to the railroad, where I fought them until dark on the evening of September 26, when I was relieved by Colonel Jones, commanding a brigade of cavalry. I was allowed to camp