HDQRS. SEVENTH DIVISION, ARMY OF THE OHIO,
Cumberland Gap, June 22, 1862.
COLONEL: On the 28th of March last I was assigned by Major-General Buell to the command of this division, and directed to concentrate my force at Cumberland Ford and to take Cumberland Gap. At that time the roads leading from Crab Orchard and Mount Vernon to Cumberland Ford were almost impassable, and from 3 to 4 miles a day was the ordinary distance made by small trains of twelve wagons. On my way up I came from Lexington in an open buggy, in order to move forward as rapidly as possible. At many places the narrow roads, walled in by the mountains, had become torrents, and sometimes the horses were obliged to swim. It was the rainy season, and these facts are only mentioned to convey some idea of the difficulties this command has had to overcome.
On arriving in the Cumberland Valley I found the country entirely exhausted by the occupation of Carter's brigade and by the ravages committed by the enemy. It was necessary to haul forage for 30,40, and 50 miles, and at last from a distance of 80 and 90 miles. It was under such circumstances that I concentrated and organized the Seventh Division. I found six guns, and increased the number to twenty-two, four of which are Parrott siege guns. A floating bridges was built upon the Cumberland River by Lieutenant Edge, of the Sixteenth Ohio, under the supervision of Colonel De Courcy, and means were adopted to supply the troops with fresh meat, which some of them had not tasted for several months, and they were threatened with scurvy. Regiments were armed with guns of various calibers, and there was a scarcity of ammunition even for them. A new distribution of arms was made; worthless ones were replaced by effective weapons, and a supply of ammunition was obtained.
I reached Cumberland Ford on the 11th April and made a reconnaissance of the enemy's position at Cumberland Gap. It was evident that the enemy had grouped too many works on their left and depended too much on the natural strength of their right. Six hundred yards to the right of Fort Pitts I observed a knob which commanded that fort and Fort Mallory, and I was satisfied that that hill once in our possession, and occupied by siege guns, the gap was ours. I made a requisition for and obtained two 20 and two 30 pounder Parrott guns, but before their arrival I ordered an armed reconnaissance to be made by the brigades of Carter and De Courcy, with directions to avoid an exchange of shots if possible. However, the enemy attacked the reconnoitering party, and a skirmish ensued, in which we lost 1 man mortally and several slightly wounded. The loss of the enemy was 7 killed and 8 wounded. The rebel papers announced that our loss was 150 killed and 300 wounded and that their loss was 30. This statement was untrue both as to their loss and our own.
Before the arrival of our siege guns Engineer Lea, of the rebel forces, constructed a strong work, protected by rifle pits, upon the summit, to the right of Fort Pitts, and convinced that the position could only be carried with immense loss of life, with keen regret I abandoned all idea of attacking the place from the front, and resolved to execute a flank movement and force the enemy to abandon his position, the strongest I have ever seen except Gibraltar, or fight us in the field. Such a movement was full of difficulties. It was universally believed that the route through Cumberland Gap was the only one practicable within a range of 80 miles for the march of an army with cannon, and as it was, our horses were frequently without forage and the troops on