CAM NEAR THE POUND, February 18, 1862.
[General HUMPHREY MARSHALL,] Gladesville:
GENERAL: I send you Major Thompson's note. I have not a day's supply of bread.
Two of my companies are on heard of Cumberland. The scout of Major Thompson is here; he says the 1,400 mentioned in the note came up Elkhorn, and that the main force is coming up Shelby, with their wagons, &c.
POUND GAP, February 18, 1862.
The enemy stays 6 miles below Osborne's to-night. My scouts just came in and gave me the news. They aim to take Osborne's Gap to-morrow. Send an express to General Marshall; I have not a horse, or I would.
JOHN B. THOMPSON,
Major, Virginia Volunteers.
The number below Osborne is 1,400; they except to meet the main body at Shelby Gap. Be on the alert.
JOHN B. THOMPSON.
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., February 20, 1862.
Major General LEONIDAS POLK, Columbus, Ky.;
SIR: I have received your several communications from Captain Williams, and he has been detained a day or two, to enable us to obtain such information of the late engagement at Fort Donelson and the movement of our troops as would authorize a definite decision as to our future movements. We have been disappointed in receiving reliable dispatches; but yesterday a telegram arrived from General Beauregard to the following effect:
Columbus, with present defensive resources, must meet the fate of Fort Donelson, with loss of entire, as all ways of retreat by rail and river can be cut off by the enemy's superior forces from Tennessee; a hazard contrary to art of war. Therefore should now decide whether to hold Columbus to the last extremity with its garrison (say 3,500 men), withdrawing other forces for subsequent use, or the evacuation of the place and new defensive position taken. My health is too feeble to authorize me to assume command, but I shall advice with General Polk.
To this dispatch, communicated to us in cipher, I replied, by the President's instructions:
Evacuation decided on. Select defensive position below. Look to safety of artillery and munitions. A fleet of boats should promptly be sent from Memphis to aid the movement.
This correspondence, which has probably been communicated to you by General Beauregard, will no doubt have already caused you to commence the movement, and I have nothing to add. I have only to request that you will, as promptly as possible, use every endeavor to save the cannon and munitions of war, which we cannot replace and