Your warn me at the same time that this position is threatened from the New River, and you conclude by saying:
Thus you have to guard the turnpike. By ready to move with all your force to Carnifix Ferry, and to take commanding position against the enemy in the opposite direction.
This raises the question, "Have you more than force enough to do any one of these essential services?"
In reply, I beg leave to state that the strength of the three regiments of infantry and of the artillery comprised in my command.
at Dogwood Camp is this morning reported at 1,386 privates and non-commissioned officers present and if for duty. Colonel Davis, commanding the cavalry, who, as you are aware, does not report to time, told me yesterday that the horses were so worn with scouting, and had suffered so much from want of shoes, that he had only 50 efficient cavalry. Of these, 5 were killed and wounded yesterday endeavoring to aid Colonel Jenkins in his unfortunate skirmish. Less than 1,440 men, with five guns, is, therefore, as far as I am aware, the total force here present at your disposal. Undivided, by the aid of artillery used in positions where artillery is available, and with the assistance of position, this force is sufficient, by the exercise of great vigilance, to effect one, and probably two, of the objects you specify, and partially to cover them all. I mean that of guarding the turnpike road and preventing the enemy from getting on our rear by crossing the New River. This, in my opinion, can only be securely done by occupying Dogwood Gap. If driven thence, or compelled to abandon this position, all the other objects you specify might, and probably would, be frustrated; that is to say, the defense of the Lewisburg road, the safety of your command, and your ability to succor General Floyd or cover his rear in case of reverse to his arms, or even otherwise, would be jeopardized.
I learned from you to-day that by otherwise accounts the enemy had about 1,000 men at Gauley Bridge; 1,000 up the turnpike; 700 at the.
Hawk's Nest, and 500 at Cotton Hill. This information has since been confirmed to me, with the addition that the force at Cotton Hill is 1,000 men.
The enemy, I am satisfied, is perfectly cognizant of our strength, or rather weakness, and immediately informed of all our movements. The movement we abandon Dogwood Gap, or leave it in a defenseless condition, even if the had received no further re-enforcements, he may, and doubtless would, advance along the turnpike and occupy or force the gap and hold it. In this case our communication, if we moved to Carnifix Ferry, or that of such portion of our force as moved thither, and also the communication of General Floyd with the turnpike, would be cut off, and the Legion, or a portion of it, starved into dispersion, while the remainder would become abortively week. On the contrary, by holding Dogwood Gap, which with the present force my be successfully defended even if attacked in front and rear (considering that an attack from the rear could not be carried on for more than two or thee days, even if General Floyd's column was cut off from the ferry), the Legion would be strengthened every day. In the first place, reconnoitering and slight entrenchments will so strengthen the position as to require less force for secure defense. In the next few days rest for men and horses will much increase the efficiency of the now exhausted force, to say nothing of its augmentation by re-enforcements under way and of sick returning to their companies and collecting already on the road. .