I received this message from General Dodge on the Railroad from Nashville to Bridgeport:
HEADQUARTERS LEFT WING, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Pulaski, Tennessee, November 23, 1863
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Department of the Tennessee, Bridgeport, Alabama:
I am in receipt of your letter of November 18, written at Bridgeport. If a fight comes off at Chattanooga and we are not in we shall be sadly disappointed, but take it for granted that it is for the best. Burnside no doubt is fighting before now, as Longstreet and Hill left long ago.
The Tennessee is so low that Roddey fords the river; runs over and back. He has one regiment on this side, near Florence. As soon as I get my regiments mounted I will use him up. As it is, I have to watch all points from Decatur to Florence. It keeps my mounted men busy.
This country is loaded with corn, wheat, fodder, and meat. Not a pound of bread or meat do I draw, but run the mills, gather the stock, and, if you require, I could supply your command from here when cars run with all the forage you need.
I had failed until today to wake up anybody north of Columbia. I assumed command over that pioneer corps and told it to go to work. My bridges are all well under way, and had I had the tools when I halted here would now be done. I have sent a mounted regiment through to Eastport, to be gone eight or ten days. My infantry are so I can concentrate in twelve hours, and I at the same time hold the road from Columbia to Decatur. My troops are very healthy, only 7 really sick men.
I have picked up already stock to refit 350 teams, to remount one and nearly mount two infantry regiments, and have about 300 in corral. I will soon have all my teams driven by negroes, relieving 400 enlisted men. I have heretofore forwarded my prisoners to Nashville; got your order to-night and they will hereafter go to Cairo.
It is not safe to send couriers through to Eastport by Florence. I heard of a lieutenant and 5 men going through. I trust they got in, but fear they were taken.
I often hear from Bragg’s rear, but the news is eight or ten days old. They are evidently trembling and prepared to fall back. The products collected in Coosa Valley show that. They appear to fear an advance by Grant, by way of Guntersville or Decatur, more than any other way. The rebel forces on south side of the Tennessee are obliged to forage on this side, and we now have got most of their boats and several of their teams.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. DODGE, Brigadier-General