down the left bank of the Kanawha, and I set out without delay with all the force under my command, except the North Carolina regiment and the Fiftieth Virginia, which had been nearly annihilated by sickness, and the Wise Legion, which I found to be in such a state of insubordination and so ill-disciplined as to be for the moment unfit for military purposes. But with the fine regiment from Mississippi, under Colonel Russell, with Phillips' Legion, the Fourteenth Georgia, the Fifth first, the Forty-fifth, the Thirty-sixth, and Twenty-second Virginia able to march-inn all some 4,000 men-I left Sewell, and after a difficult march over the mountain roads passed New River, which is the name of the upper branch of the Kanawha. From the point where I now am I have one day's march over bad road to the Red Sulphur turnpike, which commands that half of the valley of the Kanawha in which I propose to operate. I hear of several parties of the enemy on this side of the river. The strongest, 800 or 1,000 men, are said to be encamped in the marches of Cove. If this is so, and if chance favors, I think I shall be able to destroy or capture this body. Their position, if correctly stated, is a great strategic error. They are distant 60 miles from Charleston, with the worst road in the world, while I shall soon have access to them by one day's march along the Red Suphur turnpike. If my reports are confirmed, I propose to take 1,500 men under my own command, and fall on them so soon as I get my troops over the hills to the turnpike. But it is now time to consider the proper disposition of the column under my immediate orders in winter quarters. I still adhere to my original purpose of wintering near Logan Court-House, for the following reasons:
1. If you will examine the map of Virginia you will perceive that the Kanawha River divides an immense tract of country, known as the Kanawha Valley, into two nearly equal portions. Charleston is its center, and the northern half partakes of the character of Northwestern Virginia, of which it is properly part. The people on the northern side of the river are generally disloyal to the South. The enemy have 15,000 men to keep at Charleston this whole winter, and the army now under my orders is not sufficient to drive them out during that season. But my presence on the other side of the river will effectually prevent them from extending their dominion to the southern half of the valley. It will also preserve the people of that part of the country in their present temper and opinions, which are excellent; while, on the other hand, if left to the mercy of the enemy, and exposed as they are to marauding detachments, who cross the river and carry off all the grain and cattle of the country, they may be next spring be subdued to the same submission which now characterizes the counties on the northern bank of the river.
2. The pretended new State of Kanawha, for whose existence a regular poll is soon to be taken, comprises the southern as well as the northern half of the valley. The presence of the Confederate troops in its territory will effectually destroy all appearance of legality inthe proceedings, and may be useful in preventing embarrassment in future negotiations and treaties which the Confederacy may hereafter have with the United States.
3. The southern half of the Kanawha Valley is that portion of Virginia which touches the State of Kentucky. The presence of my army in that quarter will exercise a good influence on that neighboring country. It may even become very useful to the strategic combinations of General Johnston's forces there. At all events it will be first.