Richland Creek, 30 miles from Fayetteville, Tennessee
I am with Hugh Ewing’s division. JE Smith follows some 10 miles behind. My engineers are bridging Richland creek to shorten the march for Smith’s division. Heavy rain has fallen, the hills are exceedingly hilly, rocky and in some places muddy. Marching with wagons is difficult.
I sent this message to General Crook:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, En Route near Elkton,
November 6, 1863 9 p.m.
Brig. General GEORGE CROOK, Commanding Cavalry Division, Maysville:
DEAR GENERAL: Yours of November 5 is just received, and I thank you for the information conveyed.
I found Elk 200 yards wide, 4 1/2 feet deep, and running very swift. I could have passed horses and men, but artillery and wagons would have bothered me. To wait for a fall would have been precarious and to bridge would have delayed me, so I turned at Rogersville and came through by this route. But yesterday rain caught me down in the rugged valley of Elk, and I had to bridge Richland Creek.
I have two divisions here, and have sent back orders for the other three divisions to come round to Fayetteville by Pulaski. I will be at Fayetteville early the day after tomorrow, and unless I receive orders from General Grant to the contrary, I will move on to Winchester, and replenish my wagons with bread, salt, sugar, and coffee at Decherd. I have sent my aide, Captain Audenried, to Decherd to communicate with General Grant, and think if you have telegraphic communication it would be well to inquire of General Grant if he has heard from Captain Audenried at Decherd; and if not, inform him of my whereabouts, and the line I am moving on.
I can move rapidly to Huntsville from Fayetteville, or if I go on whenever I am wanted. If there be no pressing haste, it would be best for me to assemble my whole army near Winchester.
I heard today from General Blair, who is to my rear, and all is going on well. General Dodge was at Eastport, and crossing over last Tuesday and Wednesday. He will also come to Pulaski and Fayetteville. I would much have preferred to come to Athens, Huntsville, &c., but Elk was too serious an obstacle. Even as high up as Elkton where your officer passed it is nearly swimming to a horse. There is no bridge below Fayetteville.
I find plenty of corn, cattle, hogs, &c., on this route, but I don’t think there will be much left after my army passes. I never saw such greedy rascals after chickens and fresh meat. I don’t think I will draw anything for them but salt. I don’t know but it would be a good plan to march my army back and forth from Florence and Stevenson to make a belt of devastation between the enemy and our country. In the way of horses, I judge you have left little for us. Please inquire of General Grant if he has heard from my aide; if not, tell him I am moving steadily and as rapidly as possible to Fayetteville and Winchester; that I want 200,000 rations of bread, salt, sugar, and coffee at Decherd, and that with this I can move ten more days in any direction.
I only have 200 cavalry [Third Regulars] with me. Blair has the Fifth Ohio-about 400-and Dodge has two regiments of mounted infantry-about 700. My infantry is Fifteenth Army Corps, 16,000; Dodge’s division, about 8,000. I consider it a splendid force, and in good fighting trim. Too many wagons, but that will be no objection inland.
Truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN