War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0053 Chapter XVII. EASTERN KENTUCKY.

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MARTIN'S MILL, FLOYD COUNTY, KY.,

January 20, 1862.

GENERAL: It seems the enemy and I have parted company for the present, he having fallen back to Paintsville and Louisa, I having come to this place for food, which is to be obtained in very limited supply.

I have commenced and will execute a movement with the view of subsisting my command and of offering another front and line to the enemy, on which we shall both have marching to do, and on which he will be compelled to draw off from his water transportation. It is the occupation of the line of the Kentucky River above the three forks of that stream. With this view, I have sent Colonel Trigg, with the Fifty-fourth Virginia and Jeffress' battery, to the head of Rock House Creek, to descend that stream to the Kentucky at Brashearsville; Moore and a part of Williams' regiment to Carr's Fork of the Kentucky, to descend that fork; Colonel Williams, with the other battalion of his regiment and 200 mounted men, up Jones' Fork to Beaver Creek, with orders to descend Troublesome Creek, pass through Breathitt County, and to ascend the Kentucky and join me at Hazard, in the country of Perry, where I propose to concentrate my whole force, and to be ready to receive any re-enforcements it may be in your power to send or to receive such instructions as the Department may choose to give.

The force under my command is in bad condition. The Virginians, instructed, I incline to think, by the success of Colonel Stuart and others in getting away from this mountain service, are hopeful and really impatient to go into winter quarter quarters and beyond the mountains. Their argument has great force in it. He who undergoes the task of gathering the corn from the fields and preparing it himself for bread finds little time for military maneuver, and I can attest that the wastage of energy and health is enormous. But my Kentucky troops, though suffering under measles, mumps, and fever, and nearly reduced a half by the diseases incident to their severe exposure through the fall and winter, are as impatient, whenever a transfer to any point out of the State is mentioned. Here in Kentucky they want to serve, and here they want to keep the field. From this quarter they want to be led forward "to the blue-grass" before they are anxious for any repose at all. I suggested in my letter two or three days since that in the event the Department should decide to withdraw the Fifty-fourth Virginia from the mountain service, I the ought the First Kentucky Infantry, under Colonel Taylor, might supply its place, and so let me increase the Kentucky force in the column. I think it now proper to add that personally my feelings coincide with those of my Kentucky comrades; but I have thought it a duty to lay before the Department the wishes and views of the Virginia troops under my command, as also the difficulty of this service, and leave the Department to judge. I hope and wish and ask that I may have the re-enforcements to carry out views I have heretofore submitted to the President, and which, I am informed by Major Hawes, you have been put in possession of. I feel a through conviction that it will exercise more influence upon grand results in Kentucky than any other movement that can be made with 2,000 cavalry anywhere, and that the result will be a general rising of our friends in the State. If this is not the result, I shall despair of rousing them at all. I hear that the enemy expects to post about 6,000 men at the base of the mountains, to keep me out and the young men of the State in. This is their programme, and they perfectly know my effective strength. I have felt it due to myself to tell you that I cannot move down with a force of 1,500 or 1,600 men; if I do, I shall but march in to be marched out again, and