Doc. 43. report of Major-General Thomas.
Operations of the Army under his command, from September 7, 1864, to January 20, 1865.
headquarters Department of the Cumberland, Eastport, Miss., January 20, 1865.Colonel: I have the honor to report the operations of my command from the date of the occupation of Atlanta, Georgia, as follows: From the seventh to the thirtieth of September, the Fourth, Fourteenth, and Twentieth Army Corps, composing the Army of the Cumberland, remained quietly in camp around the city of Atlanta. The enemy was reported posted in the neighborhood of Jonesboroa. During the greater portion of the above-mentioned period an armistice existed between the two armies for the purpose of exchanging prisoners captured on both sides during the preceding campaign. About the twentieth of September the enemy's cavalry, under Forrest,crossed the Tennessee river near Waterloo, Alabama, and appeared in front of Athens, Alabama, on the twenty-third, after having destroyed a portion of the railroad between the latter place and Decatur, Alabama. Considerable skirmishing took place, and the garrison, Colonel Campbell, One Hundred and Tenth United States colored troops commanding, withdrew into the fort. By night-fall the town was completely invested, and the quartermaster and commissary buildings destroyed by the enemy. On the morning of the twenty-fourth the enemy opened on the fort with a twelve-pounder battery, firing from two directions, north and west, which was answered by the artillery of the garrison. Later two flags of truce were received, demanding a surrender, which was declined by Colonel Campbell, when he was requested to grant Major-General Forrest a personal interview, and complied with the request. At this interview Colonel Campbell allowed himself to become convinced by the rebel commander that it was useless to contend against the largely superior force of the enemy confronting him, and was induced to surrender his command. The garrison at the time consisted of four hundred and fifty men belonging to the One Hundred and Sixth, One Hundred and Tenth, and One Hundred and Eleventh United States colored troops, and about one hundred and fifty men of the Third Tennessee cavalry. Thirty minutes after the evacution of the fort reinforcements, consisting of the Eighteenth Michigan and One Hundred and Second Ohio regiments, arrived, and after a severe fight were also forced to yield. Forrest then moved toward Pulaski, destroying the railroad as he advanced, captured the garrison at Sulphur Branch Trestle, and skirmished heavily all day of the twenty-seventh with the garrison of Pulaski, but withdrew toward nightfall. Major-General Rousseau was present at Pulaski during the engagement, having collected such troops as he could spare from other parts of his command to assist in staying the progress of the enemy in the destruction of our railroad communications. On the twenty-ninth Forrest withdrew from the immediate vicinity of the railroad, after having thoroughly destroyed it from Athens to within five miles of Pulaski, and on the same day the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad was cut near Tullahoma and Decherd by small parties from his command sent out for the purpose; but the road was again in running order on the thirtieth. As Forrest changed the scene of his operations from the Decatur railroad over to the one leading to Chattanooga, General Rousseau moved rapidly by rail around through Nashville to Tullahoma and prepared for his reception. On the same day (twenty-ninth September)  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