Doc. 140.-expedition to Huntsville, Ala.
Winchester, Tenn., July 23.On the twenty-third, Major-General Stanley, commanding the cavalry, returned from his expedition to Huntsville, Alabama. The object of the raid was to collect as many negroes as possible for service in the colored command, and all the horses and mules yet in the country, for the use of the army. The expedition, consisting of the cavalry divisions of Generals Mitchell and Turchin, started from Salem on the thirteenth instant. Colonel Long, with his brigade, took the advance on the twelfth, while Colonel Galbraith, on the same day, with the First Middle Tennessee and Third Ohio, took the road leading to Pulaski, by way of Fayetteville. The main column proceeded as far as New-Market, where a halt was ordered, and foraging parties were sent through the country to collect supplies — the command having started with the intention of subsisting off of the country. Irregularities and insufferable outrages in the way of foraging having been practised by soldiers on former expeditions, the General issued the following order before leaving camp:
Headquarters Chief of cavalry, Department of the Cumberland, Burk's house, five miles from Winchester, July 9, 1863.General orders, No. 63. Hereafter no soldier will be allowed to enter the house of any citizen in the country through which the command passes. Any soldier violating this order will be arrested at once and summarily dealt with. The manner of pressing mules and horses for the use of the United States has been repeatedly explained to this command. It is now repeated, that the taking of any horse or mule, or other property, without the receipt of a commissioned officer, is theft; and any soldier found in possession of a horse or mule not properly receipted for, will be guilty of horse-stealing, and, upon conviction, such soldier will be whipped, his uniform stripped from him, and be drummed out of camp.
On the night of the thirteenth, heavy rains so increased the volume of the streams that the march on the following day was seriously impeded and delayed. After an arduous march the column on the evening following entered Huntsville, leaving General.Turchin's division to guard the train at Beaver Dam Creek, eight miles in the rear. The town, perhaps the most pleasant one in the South, delightfully located and handsomely improved, was found almost deserted. The railroad machinery in the round houses have all been removed southward, and the citizens, frightened by the reports, heralded by the retreating rebels, that the “Yankees” were burning houses and devastating the country along their line of march, had quitted quiet homes and elegantly furnished dwellings, and fled farther southward. The panic throughout the country, causelessly excited, was intense. Jewelry and valuables of every description were secreted in the fields and covert places among the hills. Colonel Long, holding the advance, proclaimed to the citizens, on entering Huntsville, that the command had no provisions, and that to all those who would voluntarily contribute and bring to the village a certain portion of their provender, he would give protection papers, which should insure them against further seizure of property. On the following day, the fifteenth, large numbers of wagons were early wending their way to camp, with contributions of meat, corn, meal, flour, potatoes, and such other articles of food as could be spared. The opportunity seemed a favorable one to secure that protection which their principles would never procure, and wealthy planters, with overflowing granaries and groaning larders, imitating a poverty that they loathed in others, were seen drawing along to camp a mere handful of forage and provisions, which they would stoutly aver was all that the necessities of the family could permit a sacrifice of. Impostors of this character were invariably worsted, and their property levied on more heavily than if honesty, rather than deception, had been their chosen policy. Colonel Galbraith passed without molestation through Fayetteville and the country intervening between that place and Pulaski, until his advance-guard  had entered the limits of the latter village. Three hundred rebel cavalry entered the opposite side of the town just as Colonel Galbraith's command entered on the main road leading to Athens. A. fight ensued, which resulted in the killing of three of the enemy, the taking of fifty prisoners, and the precipitate retreat of the remainder. Among the prisoners taken is General Cheatham's quartermaster, who, detained by the charms of a bewitching young wife, to whom he had been married but a few short days, was spending a blissful honeymoon, besides collecting, for the use of the rebel army, all the horses and mules in the neighborhood. The fruits of his labors in the way of collecting animals were turned to good account. He was mercilessly torn from the arms of a loving wife, and, together with his booty, turned into Uncle Sam. Colonel Galbraith reached Huntsville by way of Athens, with two hundred horses and mules, and nearly two hundred negroes. There are numerous Union families at Huntsville, who were overjoyed at the coming of our troops, and who were untiring in their efforts to conduce to their comfort. Ripe fruits, green corn and vegetables, were found in abundance through the country contiguous to Huntsville, and on this most acceptable species of food the men fairly gormandized. On the sixteenth, Colonel Long, with his brigade, was sent to Athens, to scour the country in search of bushwhackers, who had been reported as lurking through that region, and, if any advantages offered, to continue his researches and captures until prudence dictated a return. On the seventeenth, Major Godley, with detachments of the Second and Fourth Michigan, was sent to the mountains near New-Market to rout out a guerrilla band supposed to be in that section of country. No enemy was found, and the force returned to camp with sixty horses and forty negroes. During these few days and the thirteenth, the General's quarters at Huntsville fairly swarmed with applicants for protection, and citizens seeking the return of some favorite servant or captured property, It was a thorough and trying test of the administrative capacity of the General and his faithful coadjutor, Major Sinclair. Many were the perplexing dilemmas from which it became necessary to escape without sacrificing the requirements of duty to those of a philanthropy that could not be fully subserved without disregarding in a measure the good of the service. On Sunday, the nineteenth, the negroes were permitted to assemble in their churches as usual. The presence of the Federals gave an impetus to the influx of pious contrabands, and the churches were filled to overflowing. The object of the expedition appeared to the authorities a justification for the procedure, and, impelled by the prudential policy that possessed the Romans in their seizure of the Sabine women, it was decided to gobble this collection of male piety for the good of the service. Guards were placed around the buildings, and when the service closed, the “bucks” found themselves prisoners in the house of God. The furore that this action created among the citizens was even greater than that which followed among the negroes. Women, with faces ruddy with oppressive excitement, were lying about, regardless of calico, and accosting every officer they met for assistance. The excitement was growing in intensity, and business accumulating in an equal ratio. It was concluded best by the General, to avoid trouble and perplexity, to return to camp, and orders were issued for a departure on the following morning. On the twentieth, the whole command moved out as far as Bell Factory. On the following day, General Mitchell came to Fayetteville; Colonel Galbraith, with the First Middle Tennessee, was sent to Shelbyville to rid the country of bushwhackers, and to recruit; while the balance of the command moved on to Salem. The expedition brought into camp, on the twenty-second, between five and six hundred negroes, and one thousand horses and mules. It is common to represent that expeditions prove entire successes; but this brought along the evidence, and it is so patent that it is unnecessary to mention that flattering success attended it.