the command. The whole force amounted to some 2,300 men. Proper guards were left at this place and in the several camps.
On the morning of the 21st we marched toward Cumberland Gap, with the hope of arriving there before the return of the rebel troops. But when we arrived within 2 miles of the Gap I was overtaken by a messenger (who had been sent to Claiborne County) with information that the rebels had made a forced march, and were by that time within their encampment. As my force was much too small to make an attack on their strong intrechments, protected by heavy redoubts, I determined to remain in front of their works for a day or two, and make as complete an examination of their works as practicable. We advanced on the enemy's right and drove in their pickets; moved close to their right line of defense, and bivouacked for the night.
On the morning of the 22nd threw out skirmishers and drove the enemy from the woods to the abatis, which covers the whole mountainside, inside the line of fallen timber. The rebel sharpshooters were well protected by rifle pits. The skirmishing on our part was admirably performed by companies of the Sixteenth Ohio. Quite a number of the enemy were shot by them. The rebels opened on our skirmishers with shrapnel from two 12-pounders, but without doing any damage. I moved the two Parrott guns and there regiments to a ridge in the front of the Gap, where the former were placed in position and soon opened on the rebel works, and continued cannonading them until the afternoon. Our fire was returned warmly from seven different works-one on the top of the Cumberland Mountains to the left of the Gap, which reared far above us; one on the side of the mountain, also on the left; one in the Gap, and four on the right or west side of the Gap. They threw 24-pounder solid shot, 12-pounder shell (spherical), 6-pounder solid, and 8-inch shell. Only the latter, which came from the gun on plode among their tents and others in their works, but I am not able to say what damage was done to them. They were several times driven from their guns, but as they had hill and deep trenches close at hand where they seemed to be securely covered, I doubt if they suffered much.
The Forty-ninth Indiana was deployed on our right (the enemy's left in the afternoon), when they discovered another battery, which opened on them with shell, and although they were in good range and many shell exploded about them, no one was injured. Although the rebel force was more than double ours, all of our efforts to draw them from their works were unsuccessful. This command bivouacked again just in front of the Gap, and as I had completed successfully the reconnaissance, I left in the forenoon of yesterday, and arrived in this place last evening. Some of the officers and men had narrow escapes, but not one was injured or lost. Officers and men behaved admirably, and will, I am sure, accomplish all that any equal number of men can. Inferior as they were in numbers, and notwithstanding the strength of the rebel works, I believe that every man would have cheerfully advanced to storm their works if the order had been given. Although we had snow-storms and sleet during both the nights we bivouacked in the mountains, as well as yesterday, I heard no word of complaint from either officer or man. The ammunition of Parrott guns, both fused and percussion, seemed to be defective, as very many of our shells were not seen to explode. I have ordered it to be carefully examined.
This examination of Cumberland Gap confirms the opinion given in a former letter that the place is very strong if attacked from the north