cavalry, under Colonel Davis, to be backed by the militia of Monroe and Greenbrier, guarding the passes from Fayetteville, Gauley, and Summersville.
I was very reliably informed last evening that the enemy in the valley had no orders to proceed farther than Gauley as yet. He will scout in strong force to Fayetteville and Summersville. I have ordered axmen to block his way at Bunger's Ferry and on the Big and Little Sewell Mountains. As soon as I refresh and refit my men here I will return in force to the Meadow Bluff, and go on westward as far as our forage and supplies can be had. The first 30 miles this side of Gauley is very poor, and destitute of both. I am fully informed of all the passes and roads. General Loring will have to look out on the road from Summersville by the Birch Mountain.
To defend the Central Railroad was not the main object of my leaving Kanawha Valley. Had I remained there, I should have been shut in, cut off, or driven down through Berkeley and Princeton to Wytheville. The valley was conquered by the enemy already when I got there from Charleston to Point Pleasant. The treasonable population themselves are worse than the invaders. It was rotten with infection in it and all around it so as awfully to expose a minor force. In the second place, if Lewisburg, or the Warm Springs, or Covington was reached by the enemy, we were isolated and cut off from supplies, ammunition, and re-enforcements. In the third place, I would have been jammed at Gauley or driven to the southwest, where forces are not for the present needed, when if I fell back I could be re-enforced or re-enforce. In the fourth place, most of my men from the east and most of the western men are from Greenbrier, Monroe, Alleghany, Rockingham, & c., who desire to defend their own homes. These considerations governed General Cooper, I presume as well as myself, in ordering to fall back to Covington. It was well I did so as early as I did, for McClellan's forces are augmenting largely every day at both Gauley and Weston, and they are spurring eastward, converging at Summersville, where now they have large advance parties. Their force at Charleston is at present 1,000 and at Gauley 3,500, with re-enforcements coming up the river from Gallipolis every day. Positions at Lewisburg or Covington will not cut them off from Newbern. If General Floyd move up this way, he ought at present to tend towards Fayetteville, whence he may unite with me at any time on the Gauley turnpike or Old River road, if the enemy moves towards Summersville.
But to answer your questions. There are several very strong positions in front of Lewisburg, which I can hold against 5,000, without re-enforcements from General Floyd; certainly with them, and especially by his moving towards Fayetteville. The people of the county next to Gauley are against us, and are fully demoralized. I have got pretty correct information of the movements of the enemy. Beauregard's victory and my escape and McClellan's call to Washington have staggered them to a stand-still. But I am sure their next move will be, after strong re-enforcements, from Weston and Gauley, to converge on the Summersville road, to re-enforce Huttonsville very powerfully. He may try, I repeat, to fall on General Loring's rear, and if he does, General Floyd and I may fall on him. I can reach the Huntersville road from here or via Lewisburg. To be sure of the safety of my column, I must be allowed to remain here a week or ten days to organize, to refit, and refresh my very worn men, and to procure for them blankdts, shoes, tents, and clothing, and to get arms fit for service. I implore you, sir,.
49 R R - VOL V.