convinced that the matter was worthy of notice. About this time, on the tenth instant, I was informed by a courier that there was a party of about forty men some five or six miles toward the mountains trying to come to us, and that about the same number of the enemy's cavalry was between them and Decatur, trying to intercept and capture them. As my orders were to defend the town only, I did not feel at liberty to send out assistance to the Union men without further orders, and there being no telegraphic communication with you, I at once informed Gen. Buell by telegraph of the circumstances, whereupon I received the following reply:
Owing to a storm that was passing over the telegraph-lines, the above was not received until near three hours after I sent Gen. Buell the first despatch; but as soon as I received the above instructions from Colonel Fry, I at once ordered three companies of my regiment to cross the river with their arms and full forty rounds of cartridges. This was done in the least possible time, but just as the three companies were in line ready to march, another courier arrived stating that the Alabama boys had succeeded in avoiding the rebels, and had got within our lines. But a short time elapsed before they arrived. Such were the manifestations of joy and gladness exhibited by them, that all doubts were fully expelled from my mind; whereupon I resolved to go to the assistance of those who were left behind, providing I could get permission to do so. Consequently, I telegraphed the following:Union men in, and drive off the rebel cavalry, and see that they are not playing a trick to draw you out by these reports.James B. Fry, Colonel, and Chief of Staff.
Nothing was heard from the foregoing despatch till about two o'clock P. M., the next day, (July eleventh,) when Captain Leonard handed me the following communication from Col. Fry to Gen. Wood, with verbal instructions to carry out its provisions:Decatur, Ala., July 10, 1 o'clock P. M.sir: I have the honor to report to you that the party of Alabama volunteers has just arrived, and forty of them have been mustered into the service of the United States. Their accounts of the hardships endured are sufficient to enlist the sympathies of the hardest heart. They report that there are several hundred who would come, but for the danger of passing from the foot of the mountains here, some twenty-five miles distant. If you will give me one company of cavalry to take with my regiment, I am fully satisfied that I could, by going, say fifteen miles toward the foot of the mountains and then sending out a few of these new recruits to notify their neighbors, bring back with me at least five hundred volunteers. If you will allow me to make the experiment, my word for it, I will return safely with my command. I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
Upon the receipt of the above I proceeded to get my command in readiness for the expedition as quickly as possible. Four days rations were ordered, and one camp-kettle to each company. The haversacks holding only three days rations, we filled the kettles and buckets out of the remainder, and decided to get along as best we could under the circumstances. The guides were selected to conduct us to the Union settlement, who were also to act as couriers to inform their friends of the nature of our mission. There were but sixteen men and the Captain of company D, First Ohio cavalry, at Decatur, who were also put in readiness to march. In accordance with these arrangements we moved off at daylight on the twelfth inst., in the direction of a place called Davis's Gap, some nine miles south-east of Danville, and twenty-five south of Decatur. The cavalry were thrown out in the advance a suitable distance, to give notice of the approach of an enemy, and a strong advance and rear-guard was at all times kept in readiness for immediate action. When we had proceeded some twelve miles on our way, being unable to hear any thing of the enemy, I ordered the captain commanding the cavalry to proceed with his command in advance with three of the guides, and escort them as far toward Davis's Gap as he should deem safe, so as to allow the guides to give the information to the Union people that we were coming. I gave him the most positive instructions to make diligent inquiry relative to the enemy, and to go no further than he could with perfect safety, and as soon as he arrived near enough the mountains to enable the guides to get through, he should fallColonel Streight reports that there are several hundred men about twenty-five miles south of Decatur, who are trying to come on to join our army, and Col. Streight is anxious to go with his regiment to bring them in. You can order an expedition of this kind. In doing so it will be necessary to send another regiment to take Col. Streight's place near Decatur. It will not be practicable for you to cross cavalry over to send, but the Colonel can take any cavalry that may be at Decatur. Instruct Colonel Streight to be cautious, and not expose his command to ambuscade or surprise, or to attack from superior force. He should not be gone more than three or four days, and must take no baggage. He must be careful, and not let the people suppose that his presence indicates a permanent occupation, and thus lead theta into demonstrations for which the rebels would make them suffer after our withdrawal. Give such orders for the details and precautionary instructions as the case may seem to you to require.James B. Fry, Colonel, and Chief of Staff.