On the 1st of October I moved upon Spring Hill, capturing at that place and in the neighborhood several Government horses and wagons, besides the stage running from Columbia to Nashville. After proceeding four miles along the pike road toward Columbia I turned abruptly to the right, ordering Colonel Bell to send one regiment on the pike road to develop the enemy and to watch his movements. After leaving the pike road running from Spring Hil upon the railroad twelve miles from Columbia. Here I found four block-houses, four bridges, an unusual amount of wood, an extensive Government saw-mill, several wagons, and about twenty head of cattle. The enemy made a feeble resistance and retreated to his fortifications. The usual demand to surrender was made, and after much hesitancy the demand was reluctantly complied with. One hundred and twenty prisoners surrendered. Immense injury was inflicted upon the enemy at this point. Four block-houses, three railroad bridges, wood-yard, and saw-mill were all consumed by fire. One block-house refused to surrender. I had not a single piece of artillery with me and could not force a surrender; but at night Colonel Bell called for volunteers to burn the bridge commanded by the block-house. Ten gallant men were marched forward, and in the face of the murderous fire applied the torch, which burned the bridge enough to make it useless, and to make the construction of a new one indispensable. The night was dark, but my command marched until 10 o'clock by the light of the burning ruins, which illuminated the country for miles.
On the morning of the 2nd I proceeded toward Columbia, eight miles distant from where I encamped the previous night. Six miles from town I ordered Colonel Wheeler to advance and drive in the enemy's pickets. I followed close upon his rear with my whole command. Colonel Bell's brigade was ordered to move upon the northern part of town, General Lyon was ordered to throw his brigade on the west, but south of Mount Pleasant pike. The reasons that prevented my storming and capturing Pulaski now existed with redoubled force, for I had not a single piece of artillery, and only half of the troops I had with me at Pulaski. Not intending to make a formidable assault I did not press the enemy. My object in making this demonstration was to take observations for future operations. Satisfying myself of the strength and position of the forts and fortifications, I returned toward Mount Pleasant, at which place I camped during the night.
On the 3rd I camped eleven miles from Lawrenceburg. On the 4th I halted eighteen miles from Florence. On the 5th I reached Florence. Here I found the river, which my troops forded two weeks previous, swollen by recent rains. The enemy was reported advancing on the Athens road. I ordered Colonel Windes, of General Roddey's command, to Shoal Creek with his regiment, and to hold him in check while my troops were crossing. The boats at Bainbridge were ordered down to the mouth of Cypress, at which place many of my troops were ferried over; but the next morning, the enemy making his appearance in Florence, the boats were dropped still lower down the river. The winds had made the river so rough that it was hazardous to ferry it, but the boatst. But the enemy were pressing upon my rear, which was greatly endangered. At this critical juncture I ordered all troops on the north side of the river of the river, with the exception of one regiment, to mount their horses and swim them across a slough about seventy yards wide to a large island, which would afford them ample protection and from which they could ferry over at leisure.
Colonel Wilson was ordered to remain with his regiment and to skirmish