| Corinth, April 29,
| I have made diligent
inquiries relative to the paper you handed me yesterday. I return
it, and inclose therewith the statement of Lieutenant Webb, a
Government telegraph operator, who was there at the time.
The regular operator,
Martin Pride, had received permission some time before to go to
Fayetteville on personal affairs, but by Mr. Hopper's order he left
Huntsville about Wednesday noon, the 9th of April, together with J.
G. Heap, a tinner by trade, who was employed as a spy or scout to
get information of the enemy's movements.
| The two were taken into
Fayetteville by the Federal pickets and detained some four or five
hours. After being released, to avoid detention, they went northeast
about 3 miles and turned back, reaching Brownsborough, some 10 miles
east of Huntsville. Pride took passage on a gravel train and
proceeded to Stevenson. From there he came to Corinth, to report
himself to Mr. Ross, superintendent of the Memphis and Charleston
Railroad. Notwithstanding he warned the engine-driver, he believes
the train returned back to Huntsville, taking Mr. Heap along. Pride
does appear to be suspicious of these preliminary movements, but he
now sees the apparent rascality at Huntsville.
| The Federals were at Shelbyville on the 8th; they
reached Fayetteville on the 10th, and marched into Huntsville on the
| Mr. A. J. Hopper is
assistant superintendent of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. The
person who took Pride's place at the depot station is Charles E. [J.
Howard] Larcombe. He was employed as clerk in the machine-shop, and
is represented to be an excellent operator. There is an office
uptown connecting with the through circuit. The operator is Mrs.
Larcombe. Unless her office is cut off at the depot she can read any
dispatches passing east. Indeed, intelligence was known by the
citizens in town of the fight at Shiloh before Mr. Pride thought of
Mr. Webb made inquiries in Huntsville regarding L. and wife, and he
believes they are both Lincolnites and Yankees, as well as many
other parasites there. He believes, from the fact of Hopper ordering
him away and the latter failing to obey Ross' order, that H. is not
I heard last night of persons lately from Huntsville that Larcombe
had been appointed railroad superintendent by General Mitchel.
|Very respectfully and truly,
|Corinth, April 28, 1862
| I was sent to Huntsville,
Ala., by Mr. M. J. Waldren about the 31st March or 1st April, and
ordered to report to Mr. A. J. Hopper, superintendent of Eastern
Division of Memphis and Charleston Railroad, which I did. I remained
in the office as assistant telegraph operator for purpose of
attending to running of trains for the Government, remaining there
until the 11th or 12th April.
| Mr. Pride, the regular
operator, was sent by Mr. Hopper, so I was informed by Pride, to
Shelbyville, partly to see his parents and partly to find out the
position of the Federals. The day after Pride left Mr. Hopper
informed me he thought I had better go to Corinth, as I could
be of more service there than at Huntsville. I immediately
left the office and removed my baggage to the hotel, intending to
take the cars for Corinth the next day. A Mr. Larkurn, or Larkin,
took my place in the office as operator. Mr. L.'s wife had charge of
the office uptown; they both I believe are Northern born, and
several citizens informed me they were not sound on the Southern
| Some four or five days
previous to my quitting the office I delivered a message to Mr.
Hopper from Mr. Ross, general superintendent of the road, to send
all the rolling stock of the road at Huntsville to Corinth
immediately. The night of the 14th (or the night before the Federals
entered the town) several couriers arrived, stating the Federals,
some 4,000 or 5,000 strong, were at Meridianville, some 8 miles from
Huntsville, and advancing. About 11 o'clock at night I telegraphed
to General Beauregard the facts, stating I considered it reliable. I
gave the dispatch to the lady who has charge of the office uptown,
and requested her to send it immediately. The following morning the
Federal cavalry, numbering about 150, entered the town at 6 a.m. and
took possession of the two telegraph offices immediately; a short
time after a force of infantry entered and captured sixteen engines;
in the afternoon three more regiments arrived, making the force
something between 5.000 and 6,000 strong. They posted pickets on all
the roads leading from town immediately on their arrival in the
morning. Being dressed in citizen's dress, myself and four others
made our escape the day after the Federals entered the city.
| This is a statement to the
best of my knowledge, as I now remember the facts.
|Jno. M. Webb