disposed to learn, and I hope to be able at an early day to make the body effective as a regiment. The regiment under Trigg is tolerably well drilled in the school of the battalion; the mounted force not yet drilled at all. They are generally armed with rifles or muskets or shot-guns. I have no regularly-armed cavalry as yet.
Finding that Colonel Williams was compelled to break up his camp at Prestonburg and was retreating on Piketon, I moved Trigg's force as rapidly as I could in the direction of Piketon from Wytheville, and ordered Colonel Moore to move to the Pound Gap from Abingdon, intending to offer re-enforcements to Colonel Williams, no matter where he might be.
On arriving at Jeffersonville I ascertained by courier from Colonel Williams that he had abandoned Piketon and was retreating by a country cross-road to Pound Gap. The road from Sandy to Jeffersonville, to the Salt Works and the Lead Mines, was now entirely open to the enemy, 6,000 strong, at the Kentucky line. There was no defense; for, at 70 miles to my right, when at Jeffersonville, General Floyd was at the moment pressed back from Cotton Hill (the confluence of the Gauley and New Rivers) and was moving to Raleigh Court-House, on a line perpendicular to the route from Wytheville to Jeffersonville. His force was reported at 4,000, Rosecrans' at 10,000. If Williams was able to reach Pound Gap and Moore should re-enforce him, he should have at the gap 1,800 or 2,000 men. Yet from the Abingdon road to the Tug Fork of Sandy there was not a single soldier except Trigg's regiment of 560 men and Jeffress' battery of four pieces.
In consequence of this I moved Trigg's regiment and the battery to a point 18 miles northwest of Jeffersonville, which covers the roads leading to the Salt Works from Sandy River, as also the roads to Jeffersonville.
Leaving Trigg's regiment there, to be sustained by the militia if necessary (for the brigadier-general in that brigade turned them all out to meet the supposed exigency after I declined to exert that authority) I cam over to this point (about 80 miles), to look to the condition of affairs here and to organize the forces here for the defense of Pound Gap, as well as to fortify it, and then it was my intention to return and lead Trigg's regiment on, if sufficiently re-enforced to promise any success.
I am gratified to say that on my arrival here reliable information was obtained that the enemy had retreated. I cannot give you any idea of the reasons which influenced the withdrawal of the enemy's force from Pikeville. Their retreat was precipitate from all directions east of the Olympian Springs, according to rumor, but I have only ascertained satisfactorily that the force has been withdrawn from the upper valley of the Sandy. It may be withdrawn to the lower levels of the country for more pleasant winter quarters. The withdrawal, be it from what cause it may, is eminently fortunate for us, as the provisions for this part of the country are absolutely exhausted, while they are said to be cheap and plenty in Kentucky.
It is my purpose to move my mounted force into Kentucky immediately, and to throw it forward at least as far as West Liberty, and, if possible, as far as the line from Louisa to the Olympian Springs, while my infantry force will be located upon a line from Whitesburg, in Letcher County, to Prestonburg, on the Sandy. There is a passable road from the one point to the other.
Trigg's regiment and the battery will occupy my right flank at Prestonburg, Williams on the head of Beaver Creek, and the regiment