Wytheville road are designed to be the paths of the invasion. Of course the salt Works and the railroad are the objects of the enemy.
I send you a letter received by Colonel Williams yesterday from Piketon, as he says, "one part written by a lady and the other by a gentleman, both reliable;" also Major Thompson's report as from a scout as to the intent and state of preparation of the enemy and as to the absolute necessity of sending forward men and supplies.
I have had great delicacy in ordering anything since I recrossed the mountains. I suppose my force is in the geographical district of some other commander, and that it is proper that the regulations proper to be prescribed for the intercourse of the people in Virginia and Kentucky with each other over the lines of the mountains should come from the commanding officer. It is true Piketon and Pound Gap are both on that indefinite frontier to which I was assigned with a separate command, yet indeed I am ignorant of the extent of territory over which, under the orders, I should attempt control. I am satisfied the enemy should be driven to the Ohio River and out of the Kentucky mountains, but I cannot add emphasis to what I have already written on that point.
As to supplies, they can be had by bringing them 50 miles in sufficient quantity to subsist 5,000 or 10,000 infantry until 1st May, for the latter, say, 12,000 bushels of corn and 5,000 bushels of wheat, and this will cost at the point of purchase, say, $15,000 or $16,000; also some 500,000 pounds of meat, besides fresh beef, &c. The transportation should be put at the minimum. The organization of an effective column of resistance should be begun at once, and the lines should be manned so as to mask our intentions until we are ready to strike, unless he strikes first.
This matter has to be attended to sooner or later. Is it not best it should be done on my plan? Behind Clinch River supplies could easily reach a camp of preparation, which can be located so as to cover both roads and the Salt Works, should you be enable to send forward ben to do the work immediately. Between Piketon and Cumberland Gap you must have a division. If we can go down into Kentucky we can get men. I am sure of it, and I am so informed; I cannot be mistaken; but we must open the ways for them to come out ot me or they cannot come; and when we go we must have arms ot give them or be able to send them to a point where they can be supplied with arms.
I presume you have seen Colonel R. C. Trigg, of the Fifty-fourth Virginia Volunteers, as he left his camp when his regiment crossed Clinch River and it is said has gone to Richmond. His object was to obtain of preserving any Virginia regiment in this difficult and unwelcome service after the success of the Fifty-sixth Regiment in getting away from it. I do think, however, when the frontier of Virginia herself is the line of contest, her sons had as well take the snows of her mountains as any other troops. A good many of Colonel Williams' men have deserted rather than cross the Cumberland Range and come out of Kentucky.
I have prohibited the disbursing officers of this command from giving more than 75 cents per bushel for corn, 40 cents for shelled oats, $1 for wheat, rye, or barley. I have directed that where there is a surplus beyond the wants of the farmer, that surplus shall be taken, if not sold, at the prices above stated, and a certificate left of the amount taken, so that the Department or Congress may fix the rate of "just compen-