men had nothing to eat, and I could not tell that they could obtain it by returning with a fight against heavy odds between us and our chance of food. By sending horses forward to Martin's mill, on Beaver [Creek], I procured meal and brought it back to my troops, who were engaged in crossing my train over the mountain dividing Middle Creek from Beaver Creek. The fact is I could not pursue the enemy, and the enemy, being already repulsed, never had any idea of pursuing me.
The enemy represents that he took several prisoners. I assure you he never took one upon the field of battle. He did take Captain Conner a prisoner afterwards at Prestonburg, and that achievement should not be permitted to pass without its history. Captain Conner was ill with fever. He had been sick for some time and left Paintsville in a wagon. He had become delirious, and was in that situation two or three days. The physicians, after consultation, determined that it must cost his life to carry him farther in a wagon, and he was therefore carried by them to Prestonburg and committed to the care of an estimable lady, who promised to nurse him, and whose husband is our friend. Sick almost unto death and probably out of his mind with the disease, Captain Conner was in his sick bed made a prisoner and was taken off in a steamboat to Paintsville. The other prisoners taken were people not in the Army and who had never been in the Army, but who have been running ever since the war began like frightened hares, afraid to take arms, afraid to offer a single effort of resistance, and who, if pressed to it, would submit to having their ears cropped to show they have a master. Were I to make such consequent I might fill a gazette with them every week. The impression such representations make on my mind is as unfavorable to the chivalry of the officer who can make them as it is to his departure from truth. I hope I have your confidence sufficiently for you to know that I give no hue to the transactions of my command that is not properly belonging to them.
I think one of two things must occur-I must be re-enforced or I must retire from this part of the State, for my command cannot procure subsistence in the mountains. Forward it becomes plenty and cheap; but to go forward I must have 5,000 men. I have not 2,000 fit for duty. I want 2,000 cavalry in addition to the 5,000 infantry, and, in my judgment, I can with that force accomplish a work which will have a most material bearing on the fortunes and destiny of Kentucky and of the grand result of the war. I have heretofore delineated that idea to the proper authority. I ask the service if the force can be given.
I believe, sir, this comprises nearly all I have to communicate. My command is now in very bad health. Measles and mumps are passing through Williams' regiment. I think some 400 of that corps are now on the sick list. I shall have to be as quiet as possible until the diseases have run their course.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
General A. SIDNEY JOHNSTON,
Bowling Green, Ky.
RICHMOND, January 24, 1862.
General HUMPHREY MARSHALL
Fall back to Pound Gap and report dispositions there made. Letter will go by Captain Wade.
Adjutant and Inspector-General.