but situated as I am it could only be made at the sacrifice of the railroad and department.
My reports from Cumberland Gap, and through other sources, indicate a large force on the Cumberland River, opposite the Gap. Their number is greatly exaggerated; but have a formidable column has been collected and that a forward movement may soon be expected from Kentucky is undoubted. The force originally under General Carter has been re-enforced by three regiments and a battery of artillery from Louisville, Ky. At least 7,000 Unionists from East Tennessee have joined his command within the last three weeks, and the Federal troops which were operating against Pound Gap are reported to have been ordered to the same point. By information received from Lexington, Ky., a large amount of transportation destined for Cumberland Gap had arrived there on the 11th instant, and the belief was prevalent among our friends that East Tennessee would be invaded from that point by a large force.
Re-enforcements should be sent to the department and arms for the unarmed regiments forwarded without delay. More than 5,000 men cannot be concentrated for the defense of any one point. The enemy seems preparing to enter East Tennessee with so formidable a column that, while every effort will be made on my part to oppose him, unless re-enforcements are sent the safety of the State and road will be endangered.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE,
Knoxville, April 26, 1862.
Brig. General D. LEADBETTER,
GENERAL: I am directed by the major-general commanding to say he has information that the enemy has commenced reconstructing the bridges on the railroad beyond Stevenson. He desires that the work upon Widden's Creek Bridge shall be quietly retarded as much as possible, without thereby inducing the belief that it will cease, endeavoring by continuing the work only to mislead the enemy as to our real intentions. You will hold yourself in readiness to follow the Twenty-third Alabama Regiment and Latrobe's battery to Knoxville at a moment's warming. It is not contemplated to separate you from your command.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. L. CLAY.
MEMPHIS, TENN., April 27, 1862.
Boats leave this evening with detachments to execute your order. Cotton will be burned. I will ultimately have brigadiers enough; I need two now.
I want Little as major-general. Do you want the regiment of Rust's brigade to remain above?
EARL VAN DORN.