War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0536 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N. ALA., AND S. W. VA. Chapter XVII.

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be censured. I know it will be right if we whip the scoundrels and wrong if otherwise. More boats are excepted up. If we delay much longer the enemy will have time to bring his re-enforcements from Texas and Louisiana.

We have no cannon, and must rely on our rifles to take off the men from the boats. With one piece of artillery the boats could be torn to atoms or sunk.

Can you not send me a section of a battery? I have ordered your commissary to supply rations to the troops about to move.

Respectfully, &c.,

J. T. BOYLE,

Acting Brigadier-General.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE,

Somerset, January 7, 1862.

(Received January 8, 1862.)

Brigadier General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Commanding Eastern Division:

GENERAL: I have received your instructions of January 1, 1862, yesterday.

On the 1st I made a sketch of the enemy's position and a statement of my views of an advantageous attack. you having received from general Buell orders how to attack; I send you now not as a suggestion but as information of the country surrounding the enemy. The position at Somerset, while it may be regarded as a strong position for a force of 7,000 or 10,000 infantry, with one or two batteries, is assailable with a less force, from the fact that there is no one point of sufficient strategic importance upon which the whole force could be concentrated and command the surrounding heights. It is also rendered assailable from the number of approaches to the place, passable road for infantry, cavalry, and artillery leading into Somerset from every direction.

The same may be said of the position of the rebel forces stationed at Mill Springs, upon the south side of the Cumberland River, and at Beach Grove, upon the north side of the river. At Mill Springs the rebel force is represented as numbering 3,000, at which point they have constructed earth fortification upon three sides; the north angle of the square being fortified by the precipitous bluffs of the Cumberland River.

The area embraced within said fortifications cannot be less than 400 acres, making a line to be defended of 1 1/2 miles. The fortifications on the north side the river extend across a narrow neck of land between the main Cumberland River and White Oak Creek, and consist of entrenchments about 1 mile in length.

The timber upon the north of the entrenchments for a distance of three-fourths of a mile has been thrown so that there is no approach except by the narrow road in front, while the hope of a flank movement is futile, as the precipitous bluffs of the Cumberland upon the east and those of White Oak Creek upon the west render a flank movement of infantry impossible.

Had we a force of 10,000 men at at this place we could then station behind fortifications at the two crossings of Fishing Creek (Hudson's and Salt works), 2,500 each, while with the remaining force of 5,000 we could cross the Cumberland at Waitsborough upon coal-barges, with which a bridge could soon be constructed, and by a forces march of the 5,000 infantry and two batteries secure the position A, which commands both Mill Springs and Beech Grove encampments; also the cross