War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0542 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter LI.

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No. 14. Report of Major General Nathan B. Forrest, C. S. Army.


Corinth, October 17, 1864.

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the action of my command during the recent operations in Northern Alabama and Middle Tennessee:

Pursuant to orders from Lieutenant General R. Taylor I moved will my command from Verona, Miss., on the 16th of September and arrived at Cherokee on the 18th. Cherokee is the eastern terminus of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and at this place I had concentrated everything necessary for the complete outfit of my command preparatory to the contemplated move. My men being provided with ten days' rations, and everything in readiness, the command left Cherokee at daylight on the morning of the 21st. The artillery, ordnance and wagon trains were placed under the charge of Major C. W. Anderson, of my staff with instructions to be ferried across the Tennessee River at Newport, where boats had already been sent for that purpose. With my troops I moved down the river to Ross' Ford, or Colbert's Shoals, and forded with but little difficulty. The artillery and wagon trains were safely and rapidly ferried over and joined the main body of the command five miles WEST of Florence. The command encamped at Florence, having crossed the river and traveled about twenty-five miles during the day.

On the morning of the 22nd I moved in the direction of Athens, Ala. At Shoal Creek, six miles east of Florence, I was joined by General Roddey's troops, under the command of Colonel William A. Johnson, who had been previously ordered to cross the river at Bainbridge and to join me at this place. My entire force now consisted of General Buford's DIVISION, composed of Colonel Bell's and General Lyon's brigades, and Colonel Kelley's brigade with General Roddey's troops, commanded by Colonel Johnson, who reported directly to me. These commands constituted an available force of 4,500 men. About 400 of these were dismounted, which I moved with my command on foot, with the expectation of being able to mount them on horses captured from the enemy. After moving on to Masonville I halted and ordered up the wagon train for the purpose of furnishing Colonel Johnson's troops with ammunition and rations. About 10 o'clock at night I ordered the Twentieth Regiment Tennessee Cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jesse A. Forrest, and the Fourteenth Tennessee Cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel White, of Kelley's brigade, to move during the night to McDonald's Station, between Decatur and Athens, and there capture a Government corral said to be located near that place, and also to destroy the railroad and telegraph line.

On the morning of the 23rd the march toward Athens was resumed, which place was reached late in the evening. The enemy's pickets were developed about one mile from town and rapidly driven into the fort, when the enemy opened upon us with two pieces of artillery. The whistle of the locomotive was heard at the station, and I ordered the Second Tennessee, commanded by Colonel Barteau and major Anderson, of my staff, to take my escort and move rapidly to the north side of town and cut the railroad and telegraph wires. This order was promptly executed, after which the same troops captured about 100 horses and some other property, then moved to the station, and returned