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[360] five thousand men from the District of the Etowah, Major-General J. B. Steedman commanding, crossed to the north of the Tennessee river, to check Forrest's movements and protect and keep open the communication by rail with Chattanooga.

Newton's division, Fourth corps, was ordered from Atlanta September twenty-sixth, and replaced Steedman's command at Chattanooga on the twenty-eighth. Morgan's division, of the Fourteenth corps, started from Atlanta for the same purpose on the twenty-ninth of September, and to reinforce the troops operating against Forrest.

In compliance with verbal instructions from Major-General Sherman, I left Atlanta with Morgan's division to take immediate charge of affairs in Tennessee, and reached Nashville October third.

On the withdrawal of Forrest's troops from Athens a garrison was sent to reoccupy the post by Brigadier-General R. S. Granger, commanding District of Northern Alabama, who also sent a scouting party from Huntsville toward Fayetteville to locate the enemy. This party ascertained that Forrest passed through Fayetteville on the night of the twenty-ninth, and moved toward Decherd. After passing Fayetteville, however, he divided his forces, part going south through New Market toward Huntaville, and the remainder, under Forrest in person, moved through Lynchburg toward Columbia. The first column, four thousand strong, under Buford, appeared in front of Huntsville during the evening of the thirtieth, and immediately sent a summons to the garrison to surrender, which the latter refused to do. The enemy remained throughout the night in the vicinity of the town, and repeated the demand for its surrender on the morning of October first, and meeting with an answer similar to the one received on the night previous, he moved off in the direction of Athens, which place was attacked by him at about three P. M., without effect, the garrison holding its own nobly. The second column (under Forrest in person, and estimated at three thousand men), made its appearance near Columbia on the morning of the first, but did not attack that place.

During these operations of Forrest in Middle Tennessee, small parties of the enemy made their appearance in the neighborhood of McMinnville and Liberty, but made no serious demonstrations.

Morgan's division of the Fourteenth corps, which started from Atlanta on the twenty-ninth of September, reached Stevenson during the morning of the first of October, and pushed on toward Huntsville immediately, reaching that place during the night, and set out for Athens at an early hour on the morning of the second, repairing the railroad as it advanced. The enemy, under Buford, resumed the attack on Athens on the second, but was again handsomely repulsed by the garrison, consisting of the Seventy-third Indiana, Lieutenant-Colonel Slade commanding. Failing in this second attempt, Buford moved off toward Elk river, pursued by a small force of our cavalry belonging to General Granger's command. The other column, under Forrest, started from near Columbia on the morning of the third, and moved off in the direction of Mount Pleasant, paroling all his prisoners before his departure. During his stay in the neighborhood he destroyed about five miles of railroad between Carter's creek and Spring Hill, including three bridges. The enemy's intention to make good his escape to the south side of the Tennessee river being now evident, directions were given to General Morgan, at Athens, to move with his division toward Bainbridge and endeavor to secure the crossing at that place in advance of Forrest, while General Rousseau, already on the way to Columbia from Nashville with a force of four thousand mounted men, hastily collected together, was to push after the enemy through Mount Pleasant and press him in the rear. Croxton's brigade of cavalry started from Farmington, and moving through Louisburg, pursued a southwesterly course toward Lawrenceburg. The above was the position of the troops on the morning of October third. On the same day information reached me that Major-General Washburn, with three thousand cavalry and fifteen hundred infantry, was moving up the Tennessee river to participate in the operations against Forrest. Directions were sent him on the fourth to leave his infantry at Johnsonville, move with his cavalry by water to Clifton, and thence across the country toward Pulaski, joining General Rousseau's command at that point. Lieutenant Commander Forrest, United States Navy, commanding the naval force on the upper Tennessee, was requested to send some gunboats down the river to Florence, Alabama, and endeavor to prevent the enemy crossing in that vicinity, if the high stage of water then prevailing in the Tennessee would admit of his crossing the upper shoals with his gunboats.

Morgan's division reached Rogersville daring the evening of the fourth, having been delayed by high water in crossing Elk river; and on the same night Forrest passed through Lawrenceburg. A report was received to the effect that Buford's command succeeded in crossing the Tennessee river at Brown's ferry on the third instant.

On the sixth General Washburn reached Waynesboro, still moving eastward, and on the same day General Morgan came up with the enemy's rear guard at Shoal Creek bridge, and skirmished with it slightly, but still not in time to prevent the main body of the enemy from safely effecting a crossing of the Tennessee at Bainbridge. Thus both columns of the enemy succeeded in escaping, although closely pursued by our forces. On the eighth directions were sent to General Rousseau to destroy all ferryboats and other means of crossing the river,

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