The pleasant evening gave way to an equally pleasant March 24. Long before the bugles sounded, “Frank” Frankenberry rose from his bedroll, which was close by his horse. He found some water, made some coffee, and then packed up. The rest of the raiders did likewise and moved out at about 7:00 a.m. Stoneman and Gillem again set a casual tempo, probably to help the men adjust to campaigning. After all, many had not been in the field since 1864. A thirteen-man detachment of the 15th Pennsylvania remained in Morristown to wait for a following party and escort them to the regiment. George W. Madden, a member of the 10th Michigan, also stayed behind. Stricken with a worsening illness, Madden was to be transported back to Knoxville for treatment.
The day brought the raid’s first disturbing news: an enemy force was reported around Jonesboro. Although still more than thirty miles away, Jonesboro sat squarely on the raiders’ projected route. To deal with this possible threat, Stoneman resumed his old habits and divided his command. Once the column passed through Russellville and reached the old Bull’s Gap battlefield, Stoneman sent Colonel Miller’s all-Tennessee Third Brigade – accompanied by a telegraph operator to help with communications – riding rapidly toward Bristol. While Gillem’s division continued to Jonesboro and Tillson followed the main road to Greeneville, Miller’s goal was to march to the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad between Jonesboro and Carter’s Station. If Miller could reach that point, he would be squarely behind the enemy. It would also confuse Confederate defenders about Stoneman’s true destination.
In the event, it was Palmer’s First Brigade that had the campaign’s first brush with Rebel defenders. As they led the way on the Babb’s Mill Road toward Jonesboro that Friday morning, advance riders encountered a small enemy force. The Confederates scattered, but the raiders managed to collar a handful of enemy soldiers. Under close questioning, the Confederates identified themselves as members of the 61st Tennessee, a mounted infantry regiment serving in Brig. Gen. John C. Vaughn’s brigade. Routine returned in the aftermath as the journey continued through increasingly hilly terrain. At about 5:00 p.m., Palmer’s and Brown’s Brigades bivouacked several miles east of Bull’s Gap, near Lick Creek.
Across the countryside, troopers settled in for the night. Allen Frankenberry prepared supper and put up a shelter tent for the night. He then turned to his diary but had to set it aside when duty called. After stopping by Colonel Palmer’s tent to pick up a guard, the signalmen rode up a high hill to establish communications with Greeneville. Reaching the top of the hill, Frankenberry climbed a tall tree and saw the light he was looking for. Afterward the signalmen returned to camp, picking up a straggler on the way. A large supply of hay awaited the signalers and their horses.