From Nashville you will put yourself in immediate communication with General Buell, and if you find that his command is not within two days' march of you, your command will not denmark, but fall back down the river some miles on the transports, and remain to form a junction with General Buell when he does arrive.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT,
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH BRIGADE,
Camp Brownlow, Picketon, Ky., February 24, 1862.
Captain J. B. FRY,
DEAR SIR: I arrived here on the 22nd instant, having already sent forward the Twenty-second Kentucky, the Fortieth Ohio, most of the Forty-second Ohio, and one company of McLaughlin's squadron of cavalry. The other company of the squadron is water-bound at Presstonburg.
The river was already swollen by the recent rains, and on the morning of the 22nd the rain began to fall in torrents an continued all day. Toward evening the river began to rise with great rapidity.
During the night we moved our stores to the highest point in the village. By daylight of the next morning the river had risen nearly 60 feet from its lowest water-mark. Two steamers were riding in the principal streets. The river was rushing with fearful current over the whole village. Our losses have been very serious. The tents and camp equipage of the Fortieth Ohio were nearly all submerged and many were swept away. A very large quantity of commissary and quartermaster stores were lost and much that was saved was seriously damaged. The citizens her heave suffered fearfully.
The steam saw-mill and flour-mill int his place, the only one in the county, was carried away, and I am supplying from the Government stores the few families until they can fall back upon the charities of their neighbors. We have large quantities of stores at Paintsville and Louisa, which I fear also have suffered injury. I greatly retreat that the Government has suffered the loss of any property in my charge, but I am sure that no ordinary foresight could have provided against it in this instance.
Our stores were 10 feet above the highest flood of the season before we moved them.
Thirty-five years ago the water rose into the village, which was the highest rise ever known in this valley. This flood was several feet higher.
We are now saving all we can from the devastion as the water goes down and are endeavoring to ascertain the extent of our loss.
Colonel Marshall's regiment has reached Ashland, and will move up the river as soon as the water will permit.
On the approach of the brigade to this point the remnant of Marshall's force is reported to have evacuated Whitesburg and retreat through Sounding Gap. There is said to be a considerable force now there on the summit of the Cumberland, where they have fortified themselves.
As soon as I can retrieve our losses by the flood I shall send forward a corps of observation.