HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 21, 1864.
I have received your note and am glad of the fair prospect of things both at home and with us. Hood retreated with more precipitancy than I had first supposed, and I learn that the day you and General Cox moved out of Rome we stampeded the train back to Blue Mountain. I now have my infantry up to Little River and at Cedartown, and the mass about here. I will push cavalry well down toward Gadsden, and want a pontoon bridge at Cedartown. Send your spare one down with the knowledge that it will be destroyed when we are done with it. In as much as the boats may be fired on, I want you to send your cavalry and one or two brigades of infantry down by Vann’s Valley, Cave Spring, and the center road, to cover the movement.
As soon as I get the bridge I will occupy Centre, after eating out this Chattanooga Valley, which we find ripe in forage, and some potatoes, hogs, chickens, &c. I explain to the people that we have abundance of provisions at the North; that we have good roads to our rear, and that we design to supply our own wants; but Hood has broken our road, and we must live off the country. I think we can save enough forage to pay for the repairs. I don’t want too much accumulation at Rome or anywhere, for I design something else. We still send our trains into and though Rome to meet us elsewhere in a few days. Telegraph to Chattanooga to send all mails and express matter to this army via Rome. I have ordered a courier-line back. I want you to establish one forward, say to Coosaville.
Order the boats in descending to destroy or bring along all boats, canoes, floats, &c. Let them be armed and ordered to proceed with caution. Find out for me, if you can, where the steam-boats that are above the Ten Islands are now sunk. I may get them up or further destroy them. Continue to give daily budgets of news, and keep all the posts advised of our whereabouts.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
Elliott Reports from the Cavalry in Advance:
I met pickets from Wheeler’s command after crossing this river. At Yellow River his advance guard occupied a strong position; the crossing on both sides of the road obstructed by barricaded and abatis, from which it was driven. Every position susceptible of defense was held until he was flanked from them. He was driven to his chosen position, covering the several roads at Leesburg, where he had erected barricades of uncommon strength, from which he was driven, leaving his dead and wounded on the field. Prisoners taken represent several brigades; from them and citizens I have no doubt Wheeler’s entire force is covering the march of Hood to Gadsden. Hood left Roddey at Leesburg yesterday morning. Stewart’s corps marched via the iron-works; Lee’s and Cheatham’s united at Yellow River; the whole army marching for, or in the direction of, Gadsden. That road is obstructed by felled trees. It was too late to continue pursuit beyond King’s Hill. The enemy threw away forty to fifty guns during his flight. My casualties, as far as reported, 1 killed and 8 wounded; that of the enemy, 2 officers and 15 to 20 killed and wounded; 5 prisoners brought in.
The country over which we passed today has not been as much cultivated as that for the past two or three days. A detachment sent three miles beyond Yellow River, via the iron-works, reports only small parties on that road. The pontoon of he enemy was taken up and sent to the east side of the Coosa. If the armies remain a day or two Garrard’s Division needs provisions and horseshoes from its train.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, October 21, 1864. 11 p.m.
I have just received your note, which is perfectly satisfactory. The infantry advance is at Little River. Tell Garrard to send back for what he wants. I want the cavalry to hang on the rear of Wheeler to molest him all they can, and to follow till sure the enemy crosses the Coosa. I expect a pontoon bridge down from Rome tomorrow night, when I will throw a force across to Canton. You will find more open country as you approach Will’s Valley. Keep me advised.
General Thomas sent me a list of all infantry and its disposition & Reports from NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE:
All the cavalry is being mounted as rapidly as possible, and will be disposed of as you many direct. I wish, however, that you will leave with me all the cavalry except the 2,500 you wish me to send to General McCook, as I feel confident that I will be able to operate successfully against the enemy in West Tennessee with the Fourth Corps and a respectable body of cavalry. It will be necessary, however, to have a good force of cavalry and infantry to guard the railroad and the Tennessee River between Chattanooga and Eastport whilst I am absent with the Fourth Corps in West Tennessee. I know of no other troops to arrive in Tennessee, except two old regiments from General Pope’s command, but have not heard of their starting yet. Do you intend that I shall take charge of East Tennessee also while you are absent?
Schofield Reports from Deep Spring Georgia:
I will not be able to reach Gaylesville today. The troops will probably get to Ringgold Post-Office in Alabama or within two or three miles of that place. The cattle will hardly get beyond this place. I will move on and join the army early in the morning if I find you at Gaylesville. If your chase continues as rapid as it has been heretofore it will take me some time yet to overtake you, but, of course, I will waste no time. I met Colonel Warner yesterday with your dispatches, and got over onto this road last evening at Valley Store.