OR, Series 1, Vol. 32, Part 3, Page 804

Chief Provost Marshal's Office, First Dist. Ala.
Mount Hope, Ala., April 21, 1864
Maj. J. C. Denis
   I beg leave through you to make the following statement to the lieutenant-general commanding:
   In a word, this district is almost destitute of subsistence for man or beast. There is not corn enough in this valley to support the citizens if there were no troops here, and cannot support the troops which are now here over one month and not that length of time without causing extreme suffering to the people.
   Many families are compelled to suffer or leave here if some means of transporting subsistence is not provided, for there are no teams to do it. This great scarcity was caused by Yankee raids carrying off a large portion of negroes and teams of nearly all the large farms, and the country being compelled to subsist a large number of our own cavalry who have been regularly stationed here. The enemy must be forced to fall back so we can get subsistence from the north side of the Tennessee, or this district will finally have to be given up if subsistence cannot be brought from some other place.
   With a view to the relief of the citizens who are now subsisting the troops which are or may be sent here, and of finally forcing the enemy to give up North Alabama, I would respectfully suggest to the general commanding the great necessity, propriety, and practicability of speedily repairing the Mobile & Ohio Railroad to Corinth and the Memphis & Charleston Railroad from Corinth to Cherokee, in Franklin County, Ala., 36 miles east of Corinth and within 18 miles of Tuscumbia, and the cars be placed on the same at the earliest day. If this can be done it will enable the citizens to procure subsistence to enable them to raise a good crop this year,  and will afford means of transportation sufficient to subsist, all the troops that will be likely to be sent into this section of the country. Cherokee is the key of the valley in going from the valley to North Mississippi or West Tennessee; would be a good starting point for any movement into West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, or to check any movement of the enemy south from Decatur or Huntsville. Cherokee is 61 miles from Decatur, dirt road in good condition; 11 miles from Iuka, and about 8 miles from nearest point on the river.
   In summing up advantages that would arise from repairing the railroad to Cherokee, it will not be amiss to note some danger and disadvantages that would have to be overcome and guarded.
   Corinth would have to be occupied, and the enemy could land a force at Eastport, 9 miles from Iuka, and cut the road at any time if not prevented, but this can be prevented by placing a few pieces of rifle cannon on the height below Eastport, which could sink any boat they have sent there for six months, as their gun-boats are wood.
   By preventing these boats from running above Eastport it will check the extensive trade that is regularly transacted between the Yankees and people of North Alabama in cotton, &c.
   In order to place the condition of the road and the amount of damage done to it before the lieutenant-general I have sent an officer to Corinth with instructions to minutely inspect the road from that place to Cherokee. He did so, and you will find his report herewith inclosed, which shows the road to be in much better condition than I supposed, and that it can be placed in order with but very little labor, compared with the inestimable benefits and conveniences which would result from its repair.
   The road from Cherokee to Tuscumbia, a distance of 18 miles, the track is at least one-half torn up and a great many of the ties burnt; from Tuscumbia to Courtland, 23 miles, is badly damaged, nearly all of the rails torn up and burnt and the ties burnt; from Court-land to Decatur, 22 miles, the road is but very little damaged.
   I hope that the general will give this matter due consideration, and will pardon me for intruding my suggestions upon his consideration.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Jno. W. Estes
Lieut. Col. and Chief Provost Marshal First Dist. Ala.
First indorsement
Office Provost Marshal General
Demopolis, April 28, 1864
Respectfully forwarded to Lieut. Col. T. M. Jack, assistant adjutant-general.
J. C. Denis
Provost Marshal General
Second indorsement
Demopolis, Ala., April 29, 1864
    Respectfully referred to Major Peters, chief quartermaster, for his information and recommendation in the premises.
By command of Lieutenant General Polk
Thos. M. Jack
Assistant Adjutant General
Third indorsement
Office Chief Quartermaster
Demopolis, April 30, 1864
   I recommend that the suggestions of Lieutenant-Colonel Estes be adopted and the road promptly and speedily repaired, for the reasons stated by him.
Respectfully, &c.,
Thos. Peters
Quartermaster, &c.
Mount Hope, Ala., April 18, 1864
Lieut. Col. John W. Estes
Chief Provost Marshal, District of North Alabama
   In compliance with Special Orders, No. 1, office chief provost-marshal First District North Alabama, I proceeded to Corinth, Miss., and inspected the Memphis & Charleston Railroad from that point to Cherokee Station.
   The road from Corinth to Burnsville, a distance of 15 miles, is in good repair. The bridge over Yellow Creek, 1 mile east of Burnsville, has been burnt; one-half of the timbers destroyed. Said bridge is about 80 feet in length and 10 feet high; could be repaired easily, as good green timber could be procured within 200 yards of the place. Three and one-half miles east of Burnsville there is a bridge 60 feet in length and 10 feet high, which has the trestle on one side cut, the remainder in good repair. One mile east of this place a bridge of some length; two trestles and 6 cross-ties burnt. Two miles west of Iuka, a bridge has been slightly damaged by fire; could be repaired in two hours. Three miles east of Iuka, the timbers of a cattle-pit, 6 feet in length, have been burnt. From Iuka to Bear Creek, a distance of 7 miles, the damage to the road consists of a trestle 6 feet high and 30 feet long, totally burnt; bridge over Clear Creek, 40 feet long, 20 feet high, partially destroyed; 19 crossties burnt and 3 rails torn up. Road in good order from that point to Buzzard Roost Creek, 1 mile east of Dickson; said bridge is supported by three trestles, one of which is gone; remaining timbers good. From Buzzard Roost to Cherokee the road is in good repair. Timber adequate to repair the damage above mentioned is contiguous to the road. A large number of cross-ties ready for use are at different points on the road. An adequate supply of water-tanks, in good repair, are on the road. General Sherman, in October last, repaired the road to Cherokee, since which time no damage has been done to the road except the bridges and trestles mentioned. The rails and cross-ties generally are in good condition. The citizens have repaired the road for hand-cars to Iuka.
Respectfully submitted,
F. L. B. Goodwin