Colonel Lyon’s Letters.
Nov. 3, 1864.—To give you an idea of the way business runs with me, I will give you my experiences after tea Sunday evening. I sat down in my room thinking that everything was quiet and promising myself a comfortable night’s sleep, when a messenger galloped up with a dispatch saying that the rebels had opened with a battery on our troops at Whitesburg, which you know is in my command. I immediately went down to post headquarters, sent couriers to Whitesburg with orders, and was making other dispositions to prevent the enemy from crossing the Tennessee river there, when a man rushed into the office pale and almost breathless, announcing that the rebels were near the city on the New Market road in heavy force, and that they were burning every combustible thing as they advanced. Looking in that direction, sure enough the flames of several burning buildings corroborated the story.
I immediately strengthened my picket lines and sent out scouts to ascertain what was there, gave directions for the disposition of public property, assigned their positions to what few troops I had, went to the fort and made the necessary arrangements there, and returned to headquarters to await further developments.
In due time the scouts returned with the information that the force was only a raiding party of guerillas and citizens, who had burned some houses occupied by colored people connected with the contraband camp here—and the excitement was over. But all of this took from one until two o’clock in the morning. In the meantime I received information that two gunboats had arrived at Whitesburg, so I went to bed feeling easy. There were no further demonstrations there.
The next evening (Monday) I felt sure that all was quiet; when just as I was leaving the office to go to bed, a dispatch from the commanding officer at Larkinsville came, saying that he was attacked. It turned out to be nothing serious, but to find out that, and to make preparations to meet it should it prove serious, took half the night.
Tuesday night we were moving some troops and had to wait for trains, so the Adjutant remained up all night and I got a good, undisturbed night’s rest. Last night for the first time since the rebel army approached us we both slept all night. Yet, for all this, I keep perfectly well. How long our quiet will last I can not even guess. Hood moved down the river from Decatur, but I have no idea where he is. We have had reports that he crossed the Tennessee river to the north side of Florence, but these reports are not reliable.
Large numbers of troops have gone forward to Decatur and Athens within the last three days, and I feel quite confident that the tide of war has rolled by us once more without striking us. The General has given me more troops here on the river and on the railroad, and I am feeling quite stout. The non-veterans will leave in about a week for Nashville to be mustered out.