constant warning to them that they must be ready to resist an invasion, and their fears make constant and heavy drafts upon the Government for troops for this purpose. The exaggerations of rumors are greater than in the inverse ratio of the square of the distance; therefore my force was rarely estimated at Louisville or Lexington as less than 10,000 to 15,000, calling for an opposing force of not less than from six to ten regiments, which at one point or another have been employed to keep me out. I have seen elaborate articles in the Kentucky leading opposing journals on the subject of my invasion, from which I learned that the enemy, when he left the Sandy Valley with General Nelson's command, supposed it to be impossible for an army to subsist on what he had left behind, and that the leaders of the Lincoln party in Kentucky had resorted to the wholesale spoliation which infamized Nelson's expedition, upon the idea of preventing our occupation of the valley by troops whose aim might be to assert the rights of Kentucky and to vindicate her true opinion.
The enemy has not attempted now to leave the immediate valley of the Sandy nor to ascend the river in any force beyond the scene of his conflict with me on the 10th of January. On the contrary, he has left only a part of his force at Paintsville, and has only paid a hurried and trembling visit to Piketon with 120 cavalry, which came up John's Creek, arrived Sunday evening, and left on Monday morning. I hear that the object of the visit was to block up the road leading by the Louisa Branch of the Sandy into Piketon, and that this was accomplished by Captain Childress, near the Kentucky line, to prevent an invasion again by that route or my use of that route to obtain supplies.
You will see from this that the probability is strong that the solicitude on the subject of an invasion is mutual. Should it prove that the object is only to mask preparation, so as to permit an invading force to gather supplies near Piketon, I shall keep myself advised, and will to the extent of my ability prevent its successful accomplishment. I do not think it probable the enemy will ever attempt an entry into Virginia in large force by the way of Piketon while you have a considerable force at Pound Gap, for the reason that the latter position would lie upon the flank of the advancing column and its command might in a day cut the line of transportation used on either side of the Cumberland Mountain range. In rear of Piketon (Virginia side) the county of Buchanan is mountainous and sterile, bare of supplies, and easily defended; in fact, one passes as here along a ridge or the water-courses flanked by mountain ranges. The danger and only danger is from a heavy cavalry force pressing in and destroying as it goes, and then retreating by a different road. This can be prevented by guarding near to the valued points and by having timely notice given at Pound Gap to the force which should be constantly kept there to cover the road which crosses the Cumberland Range at that place. It is a strong place into whosesoever hands it falls and the defenses on both side are equal.
POUND GAP, February 2-evening.
I resume my letter after riding here from my camp of last night. I have ordered the Fifty-fourth Virginia Regiment to fall back to Gladesville, and if supplies cannot be had in that vicinity to cross Clinch River, if requisite to obtain them. Colonel Moore's regiment is on the march from Whitesburg for the same destination. Simms' mounted battalion will be here to-morrow, and I shall send it to Clinch River without hesitation. Colonel Williams has not yet moved from the mouth of Rock House Creek, which is 16 miles below Whitesburg, but has been