ing my recent operations in Middle Tennessee that it was by this route that the enemy received most of his supplies at Atlanta. While operating at this point, for the purpose suggested, I may be able to procure supplies from Kentucky. I shall exercise the utmost diligence in getting up the large number of deserters and absentees in Middle Tennessee. As fast as these are gathered up I would suggest that they be sent to you and placed at once in the infantry service. The facilities of these men for running away is much greater in the cavalry service, and they should be placed in positions remote from home. The great predominating, absorbing desire is to cut Sherman's line of communication. I did something toward accomplishing this result during my recent expedition, and I am anxious to renew the effort at some future day, but nothing can be done without a pontoon across the Tennessee River. I suggest that the railroad be repaired from Cherokee to Tuscumbia and Florence, and that a bridge be thrown across the river. This can be accomplished without much difficulty, as the columns or piles of the old bridge will furnish ample support for ropes. I presume it is the only place on the river that a bridge can be built. The distance from Cherokee to Tuscumbia is fifteen miles. The road for several miles has been destroyed, but the iron necessary for repairs can be procured on the WEST end of the road between this place and in the direction of Grand Junction. If this bridge was built I could strike the Tennessee and Alabama road or the Nashville and Chattanooga road at pleasure, and return when hard pressed in safety. My men and horses are greatly jaded by the labors of the recent raid. Both need more rest than I am able to give them at present. It will require a month to recuperate and place my command in proper condition. In the recent engagements I lost in killed and wounded about 400 men. I still have on the other side of the river able to cross over with a possibility of their being capses, with those ordered back to Georgia by General hood, have greatly reduced my command. General Chalmers' brigade of 500 men will probably swell my command to 3,400 troops. With this force I shall endeavor to execute your orders and do all I can to procure discomfiture to the enemy. My troops still across the river are under the command of a good officer who knows the country thoroughly, and I have every confidence in his ability to elude the enemy, but feel some uneasiness.
During my recent trip I killed, wounded, and captured about 3,000 of the enemy, and destroyed the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad from Decatur to Spring Hill. It cannot be repaired in sixty days, and the engineer captured by me gives it as his opinion that the road cannot be placed in good running order during the winter. I captured on the road upward of 1,000 negroes. I understand only about 800 have reached you. This matter should be investigates, and I shall endeavor to learn where the blame should rest and punish the delinquent. I find a few smith were retained here to shoe up my command, all of which will be reported to you and accounted for. The enemy is reported as attempting to cross the Tennessee River, returning from their recent expedition (after me) to Memphis. Washburn is commanding in person, and his force is reported to be 3,000 or 4,000. I have the river picketed from Eastport to Jacksonville, and will endeavor to intercept him, and will fight him wherever he can be found, without regard to numbers. I am, satisfied the enemy is on the smallest possible ration. The points captured on the railroad show this, and Rousseau's dispatches, intercepted by my couriers, confirm this, as the garrison at Decatur was on quarters rations. Not less than 18,000 troops were sent out to capture my com-