upon Carter were both difficult and dangerous, and were executed with skill and energy. The narrow mountain roads were cut into gullies by the brigades which had already gone forward, and there might have been a descent from Cumberland Gap.
On the 10th instant the brigades of De Courcy and Baird encamped on the north side of the Cumberland Mountains, and on the following day, after well-conducted marches, they descended into Powell's Valley, and bivouacked in a dense forest, which entirely masked their position. Colonel De Courcy, whose brigade led the advance, displayed throughout the entire march skill and ability of a high order, and removed blockades and made roads for the passage of the other troops.
On the 9th instant I directed General Spears to clear the blockade from the Big Creek Gap, and to advance by the Valley road to join me at Rogers' Gap. On the 10th instant I instructed him to send a party of 200 men under a cool-headed and daring officer to burn the railroad bridge over the Tennessee at Loudon. The expedition was undertaken, but was not successful, as Loudon was occupied by two regiments of the enemy. However, the party fell back without loss.
On the 9th instant I received at Lambdin's a telegram from Major-General Buell, informing me that Negley was fully employed in Middle Tennessee and could give me no assistance; that he was opposite Chattanooga, but that his stay could not be depended upon, and that the force now in Tennessee was so small that no offensive operations against East Tennessee could be attempted, and therefore that I must depend mainly on my own resources. I replied that it was too late to change my plans; that my advance guard was already at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, and that a bold and determined policy on my part was the only prudent one.
On the 11th instant I descended the south side of the Cumberland Mountains with De Courcy's advance guard. The entire day and the day following were occupied in making the passage of the mountain ridge-miscalled a "gap"-and at dark on the night of the 12th instant some of the cannon had not yet reached the summit of the mountain. On that night, while in the act of giving directions as to the destruction of the railroad bridges at Strawberry Plains and Mossy Creek, I received the second telegram of General Buell, dated on the 9th instant, as also that of the date of the 10th instant. It had been my intention to have advanced against Cumberland Gap on the following day with the brigades of Spears, Baird, and De Courcy, but I no longer felt at liberty to do so, and ordered a countermarch upon Williamsburg. I dispatched three couriers to General Spears, one of whom reached him, ordering him to fall back.
On the morning of the 13th I was again at Lambdin's, to which point I hastened to meet Carter's column. Soon after my arrival I received a note from Colonel De Courcy (whose brigade had not been able to leave Powell's Valley in consequence of the narrow road being blocked up by the 30-pounders, which had not yet descended the mountain) saying that there was a rumor that the enemy was evacuating Cumberland Gap. I also received a telegram from Major-General Buell, dated on the 11th instant at his headquarters, beyond Corinth, stating that Mitchel was instructed as far as possible to threaten Chattanooga, but that I would "have to depend mainly upon my own ability to beat the force opposed to me." Acting upon this information and the telegram last mentioned, which I constructed into a permission to act on my own discretion, I determined to resume the offensive. Carter was still at Lambdin's, but the head of his column was 12 miles in advance. I instructed