HQ, Second Cavalry Division
Maysville, Ala., November 5, 1863

MAJOR: I have the honor to report that on the 23d of September I was ordered by the commanding general of the department to proceed to Washington, Tenn., with my command, numbering about 2,000 effective men, for the purpose of guarding the fords along the Tennessee River for a distance of some 50 miles. The roads leading to the different fords and ferries were in many cases 5 miles apart. Between these points there were practicable fords almost every half mile. It was impossible to patrol along the bank of the river between these roads, and to go from one to the other required us in many instances to make a détour of 10 and even 15 miles.

It was at one of these intermediate points that the enemy, dismounting his men, crossed and established himself on the north bank of the river, with a force far superior to mine, commanded by Major-General Wheeler. I immediately informed General Rosecrans of the fact, who ordered me to gather all the cavalry and mounted men and pursue the enemy, who had crossed the river for the purpose of making a raid in the rear of our lines. Learning the enemy was crossing Walden's Ridge opposite Smith's Cross-Roads, I collected together the First and Second Brigades of my division, commanded respectively by Colonels Minty and Long, and Captain Stokes' Board of Trade battery, and ascended the mountain some 5 miles south of Smith's Cross-Roads, directing Colonel Miller, commanding brigade of mounted infantry, to join me on top of the mountain that night; but he did not join me until next morning, when I resumed the march, entering the Sequatchie Valley at Pitt's Cross-Roads. Learned here that the enemy had divided his force, one portion under General Wharton ascending the Cumberland Mountains at Pikeville, while the remainder, under General Wheeler, had passed down the valley, and would ascend the mountain at Dunlap, concentrating at some point beyond the Cumberland Mountains and then move on McMinnville. I also found here that the enemy had some fourteen hours the start of me. I took the intermediate road, Robinson's Trace, and, although the mountain was very bad to ascend at this place, I succeeded in getting up my entire command that night. Next morning, after marching some 10 miles, I struck Wharton's trail where he came into the Robinson Trace. I did not meet any of his force, except some stragglers, until I arrived at the descent of the mountain, where he had left some sharpshooters to oppose my advance. I dismounted part of the Fourth Michigan, it being in the advance, and drove them before me, they leaving 5 of their dead and 1 wounded on the field.

After descending the mountain I found the country rocky and brushy, no place for cavalry to operate. As soon as I could get my infantry down the mountain I dismounted them, sending them so as to completely surround their force, holding my cavalry as a support. In this way I had Colonel Crews' Texas brigade completely surrounded in a space not over 10 acres, my men under cover and his exposed. My men poured several volleys into them, but by this time it had become so dark we could not tell friend from foe. Under cover of darkness they broke through my lines, my men not firing for fear of shooting each other. The fight lasted for a couple of hours after night, the remainder of Martin's division coming to Crews' support.

My loss was 46 killed and wounded. The enemy's loss is not definitely known. We found some 10 of their dead close by the road, and a good many of their wounded scattered along the road in houses. I pushed on after them early next morning, and could not ascertain their loss. I left instructions with the citizens to collect them and give them all proper attention. I saw nothing of the enemy until within a couple of miles of McMinnville, where some of his scouts fired into us.

On arriving at McMinnville I found that the garrison had surrendered without making any resistance. The enemy sacked the place, destroying a great deal of public and private property, and left in the direction of Murfreesborough. I was also informed by an intelligent Union man that he counted 4,000 of the enemy, and saw enough more that he was unable to count to make up fully 6,000.

After leaving McMinnville I became satisfied, from the time occupied by his force in passing a given point, he had between 5,000 and 6,000 men, my own force at this time numbering about 3,500 effective men. I had not marched more than 2 miles on the Mur-freesborough road until I came upon his rear guard, posted in the edge of a woods, who commenced skirmishing with my advance. Being satisfied that the guard intended to detain us so that the main body could march unmolested, I ordered Colonel Long to send a regiment ahead to make a saber charge. The Second Kentucky, Colonel Nicholas commanding, with Colonel Long at their head, made a most gallant charge of some 5 miles, breaking through his lines, killing and wounding several of his men, capturing 11 prisoners, and driving the remainder into the main column, compelling him to turn round and give me fight. When I arrived with the main column I found the enemy drawn up in line of battle in the edge of a woods, a large field between us, with high fences intervening. I dismounted my infantry, and with my artillery drove them out of the woods, he forming in another thick jungle a short distance in the rear. The fight lasted for two hours, until after dark, when I camped in the field. Here, again, I was unable to ascertain the number of his killed and wounded, but left instructions for the citizens to collect them. I learned that it was the intention of the enemy to take Murfreesborough and then go to La Vergne, destroying the railroad between these two points, and that he had sent squads of men who were familiar with the country to destroy telegraphic communication between Murfrees-borough and Nashville, which they succeeded in doing. I tried to get a dispatch through to the commanding officer at Murfreesborough to hold out until I could get there, but the courier could not get through. At Readyville I crossed over on to the Liberty pike, so as to get between them and La Vergne, and also to prevent them from ambushing me on the road. By this move I drove them off in the direction of Shelbyville. I found every person at Murfreesborough in great consternation, and overjoyed to see us. They were momentarily expecting an attack from the enemy, and felt that their force was too weak to repel him. I found here an officer of the Engineer Department who was very kind and energetic, giving me all the assistance in his power. Through the want of proper attention to duty on the part of the assistant quartermaster and commissary of subsistence, I was unable to procure anything for my men and horses until nearly morning (although I had marched 41 miles that day and my men had had no rations for five days), greatly retarding my march. The next night I camped 2 miles beyond Guy's Gap.

From this point I sent my scouts in different directions, who brought prisoners from the enemy's camp. General Mitchell, with the First Cavalry Division, came up with us here.

Next morning I was ordered by him to march on the road to Farmington, south of Duck River. About 3 miles from Shelbyville I found Davidson's division encamped on Duck River, some 2 miles north of the road. The brigade of mounted infantry being in the advance, and seeing the enemy's ranks in confusion, I ordered them to charge on horseback. They drove the enemy a short distance into a cedar thicket, and I then dismounted them. At the same time I ordered Colonel Long's brigade to the front, and, headed by Colonel Long, it made a most gallant saber charge, driving the enemy 3 miles, killing and capturing a great many rebels. The enemy made another stand in a cedar thicket, where it was impossible for the cavalry to operate in. I sent the mounted infantry to the front as soon as possible, when they dislodged the enemy, who again made a stand on the main road, and were driven from this point, falling back toward Farmington, skirmishing as they retreated.

About three-fourths of a mile from Farmington I found him posted in force in a dense cedar thicket. I at once dismounted my infantry, deploying them on each side of the road. When I attacked Davidson's division in the morning, breaking through it, part of his column went to the right. Fearing that it would turn my flank I sent back instructions to Colonel Minty, whose position was in the rear of the column, to move to the right and anticipate them.

I supposed that Colonel Minty had carried out my instructions, but when I arrived at Farmington I learned from one of my staff officers, much to my chagrin and surprise, that Colonel Minty was not with me. The absence of Colonel Minty and some 500 men left at Mur-freesborough, having been dismounted during the march, left me but about 1,500 effective men. Finding the enemy vastly superior to me, I left one regiment of cavalry to protect my rear, holding the other two regiments as a support to the infantry, the country being impracticable for the cavalry to operate in. The enemy's battery was posted in the cedar thicket some 400 yards distant from me, pouring into me a heavy fire of grape, canister, and shell, and made one or two charges on my men, at the same time attempting to turn both of my flanks. At this critical moment I ordered Captain Stokes forward with his battery to operate upon the enemy. He could only find position for one piece, which was in full view of their battery, and not over 350 yards distant. They turned their fire from the infantry on to Captain Stokes' battery, mowing down his horses and men. The captain sighted his own piece, and in three shots he disabled one of their pieces, blowing up a caisson, and throwing their ranks into confusion. At this moment, my infantry making a charge, broke through the enemy's line, scattering them to the right and left, capturing four guns, some wagons, and several prisoners. The enemy then being in an open country, I ordered Colonel Long to the front to make a saber charge, but they had the roads barricaded so as to render it impossible. It now getting dark, I went into camp near Farmington.

Had Colonel Minty, with his brigade, been there at the time the enemy broke, I should have thrown him on the left flank, and as things turned out since, I would have captured a large portion of his command, together with all his artillery and transportation. I learned here that I fought General Wheeler with his entire command.

That night after the fighting had ceased, Colonel Minty with his brigade came up, stating that he had no orders to march with me. From this, together with a disposition manifested during the whole expedition to frustrate my designs in a covert manner, I deprived him of his command and sent him to the rear.(*) I sent my scouts out in different directions that night, and learned that a large portion of the enemy had gone toward Pulaski. Being satisfied that they were making for the Tennessee River, and that the portion cut off would join them by other roads, I the next morning pursued them on the Pulaski road, reaching that point that night. I found to-day that their retreat instead of a march was a rout. Their rear guard left Pulaski as I came in sight of the town.

On this days march I found that the night before a portion of those cut off came into the road ahead of us at Lewisburg. On the march the next day, another portion came into the road 6 miles south of Pulaski. I found that their men were deserting and scattering over the country, and learned of a great many wounded being left along the road and through the country.

The enemy left some two or three regiments at Sugar Creek, a strong position, to oppose my advance; but instead of fighting them at long range as they expected, I ordered a saber charge. The Fifth Iowa, Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick commanding, being in the advance, made a most gallant charge, breaking through their lines, killing 10, wounding 9, capturing some 70 prisoners, and scattering the remainder to the mountains.

From this on I met with only a few stragglers on the road. When within 8 miles of the river, although my horses were very tired, I galloped most of the way to the river, and there found that the enemy had crossed at a ford but little known of, and just above Elk River, where 12 could cross abreast. I went into camp at Rogersville, General Mitchell, with the First Division, coming up that night; and from that point I was ordered with the remainder of the cavalry to Stevenson, via Huntsville. On arriving at Huntsville, General Mitchell, learning that the rebel general Roddey was passing in the direction of Winchester, went in pursuit of him, but he escaped toward Athens. I was then ordered to Winchester, and thence to this place. I have since learned that General Lee, with 5,000 men, reached Courtland the same day that Wheeler crossed the river. Roddey, with about 1,800 men, had crossed to the north bank of the river at Guntersville, both he and Lee being ordered to join Wheeler, but the latter was driven out of the State and across the river before a junction could be effected. I have since learned that at Farmington the enemy left on the field 86 of their dead and 137 wounded, while many of their wounded were taken up by citizens through the country, of which I have no account.

The loss of the enemy from the time they crossed the river near Washington until they recrossed near Elk River, judging from the difference in the length of time their column [consumed]in coming in and going out, and other satisfactory evidence, I am fully satisfied is not less than 2,000 men. One entire regiment, the Fourth Alabama, deserted and scattered through the mountains.

My loss during the entire trip was 14 killed and 97 wounded. I regret to report the death of the gallant Colonel Monroe, of the One hundred and twenty-third Illinois, who fell while bravely leading on his regiment at the battle of Farmington.

It is hard to distinguish individual cases of bravery and gallantry, when all, both officers and men, did so nobly. Notwithstanding the fatigue and severe hardships under which the men suffered--having but three days' rations in twenty days, many of them nearly naked, and several times exposed to a cold, drenching rain--yet they never complained, but were always cheerful and ever ready to perform all duties required of them.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Submitted by Jim Davis