Ohio regiments dispersed, and of some that came through to this place officers and soldiers put themselves on the cars and went off in contempt of authority until they were stopped by the provost-guard. But this condition of things, I feel assured, is changing. I have found it necessary to make some summary examples, and have instituted courtsmartial and board of examination, which will work some good results at least.
In none of the armies of the Government is there so great a lack of experienced officers in every branch of the service. One of greatest voles I have to contend with is the ill-judged interference of the State authorities for what they erroneously consider the welfare of their troops. A system of direct communication and administration has been going on between them. Agents of various descriptions are sent among the troops, and the effect is in the last degree ruinous. It originated, perhaps, in a want of the proper means of administration on the part of the Government at first, and will, I have no doubt, soon case. In fact, I think is already in a fair way of disappearing.
The plan which I propose for the troops here is one of defense on the east and of invasion on the south. For the latter I think it will not be necessary for me to do more than suggest that the force ought to be increased rather than diminished. However, a timely and efficient cooperation from other quarter will materially affect this question. For the former I do not think a large force is necessary. An inroad (I should rather say a raid) is now threatened by the way of Prestonburg and Whitesburg. The numbers are variously estimated by rumor. My supposition is that there may be 3,000 men at Whitesburg, and that there probably are 2,000 near Prestonburg. I have no fear that either of them will make any considerable advance into the State even against a week opposition, but they depredate upon the frontier counties and produce suffering and alarm.
I have now one squadron of Ohio cavalry and one Ohio and two Kentucky regiments of infantry at the mouth of the Sandy to move on Prestonburg, and three squadrons of Kentucky cavalry and one regiment of Ohio Infantry moving in the same direction by the way of Paris and Mount Sterling. My orders, on the return of General Nelson, were for one regiment to remain at Prestonburg, and that at the time was supposed to be sufficient, and perhaps would have been if it had remained there; but it was withdrawn to Louisa by the State authorities, to be mustered in, and recently, on the appearance of the force at Prestonburg, retired to the month of the Sandy.
It has been so inconvenient to take extraordinary precaution against invasion from the east that I considered it wiser to trust to the chances that they would not be necessary. If I had the means I would put an efficient brigade to operate towards Whitesburg, though it will probably not be necessary if the operations towards Prestonburg are entirely successful, because that will endanger the rear of the rebel force at Whitesburg.
In the absence of such means as I would wish I do not despair of getting together some force that will answer the purpose in a less satisfactory manner, if necessary. I have a new, but I am told a very good, Ohio regiment at Lexington, which can operate in either direction, and hope soon to have more Kentucky regiments that I can use for the same purpose.
The brigade which I had organized in the Cumberland Gap route has been partially deranged by the unauthorized call of General Schoepf on it to re-enforce Somerset. I shall reinstate it as soon as possible.