I sent the following message to be forwarded to Grant and Halleck.
EASTPORT, MISSISSIPPI, October 31, 1863
I have your dispatch of the 24th, through General Crook. I had three divisions in Tuscumbia, and drove Lee’s cavalry beyond Town Creek, but the Muscle Shoals had too much water for us and I had to fall back to Eastport and Chickasaw, where I had crossed one division (Ewing’s), which is now at Florence. Another (John E. Smith’s) is nearly over, and it will go forward at once. I will start tomorrow with these two divisions rapidly for Athens, the effect of which will be to make the enemy believe all my army is there.
I have heretofore been working in foul weather, with a single coalbarge, decked over; but this moment have arrived a ferry-boat, three transports, and two more gunboats, so that my progress will be more rapid. I think I can have all the Fifteenth Army Corps over tomorrow, and Dodge ought to follow with his division the day after. I can cary ten days’ rations, and will draw liberally of meats and corn on the country. The country is full of cavalry and guerrillas. We have had numerous skirmishes, and thus far have had the advantage.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
I sent another message to General Crook in case my other message does not go through:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Waterloo, Lauderdale County, Ala., October 31, 1863
Brigadier General GEORGE CROOK,
Commanding Second Cavalry Division, Georgetown:
SIR: Corporal Pike came through safe, also a private, today. Lieutenant Fitzgerald came through with your letter of the 27th. One of my divisions is nearly over the Tennessee, and will be at Florence tomorrow night. Two more divisions are on the other side of the Tennessee, and will cross a fast as possible. At first I only had a coal-barge to cross the command, but today a ferry-boat arrived and three transports, and the work moves faster. We have also had some villainous weather, but this is also over, and now I hope to be in Athens in four days.
I have sent message to Cairo to be telegraphed to General Grant, but I wish you would cause the substance of this to go to him. We drove the enemy’s cavalry below the Tennessee beyond Town Creek, but Roddey’s cavalry returned and is hanging round Iuka. I think Wheeler has gone back to Bragg, and that Lee has gone back to Okolona.
There are small bands of guerrillas in every direction, but they give us a wide berth. As soon as the head of my column reaches Athens I will send forward to advise you, and would be pleased if you would advise me in the meantime of your whereabouts. Also, what is the best road from Athens to the Stevenson road. That from Huntsville, via Bellefonte, to Stevenson used to be very bad.
I have received General Grant’s dispatch of October 24, inclosed in yours.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General