East Tennessee. A heavy column, with artillery, is reported at McMinnville, threatening Kingston, while Mitchell is advancing in force upon Chattanooga (his probable strength 7,000) and has pushed its advance to the mountains opposite Chattanooga. The force from Middle Tennessee, acting in concert with that on the Kentucky line and in communication by telegraph, places me in an unfavorable situation, and I fear involves the loss of East Tennessee, and with it the railroad. Cumberland Gap and Chattanooga, the two principal strategic points of this department, separated 180 miles with a difficult line of communication, are each threatened by a force superior to my whole effective strength . To concentrate at either point involves the abandonment of Cumberland Gap or Chattanooga. I have made the best disposition possible of my force to meet the advance, which, since the falling back of our army at Corinth, seems to be made in earnest upon East Tennessee.
General Stevenson, with 4,000 [men] and a good supply of munitions and provisions, holds the Gap in a strong and well fortified position. The force operating in Powell's Valley, under General Barton and Colonel Reynolds, 4,000 strong, has been removed. This command cooperated with General Stevenson, rendering any passage of the mountains dangerous, if not impracticable. The small means at my disposal rendered their withdrawal necessary.
Reynolds' brigade passes by rail to-day to Chattanooga. Barton's takes post at the terminus of the Kentucky road, 10 miles south of Clinton. My whole force, excepting the garrison at Cumberland Gap, can now be concentrated by rail at any point between Chattanooga and Morristown. Orders have been given for securing all the boats on the Tennessee. Holding the line of the railroad, I am prepared to do all that my little command admits of to meet the enemy as soon as his plans are developed. I have removed most of the stores from this department. The disposition of my command, should such a step become necessary, involves a retreat into Virginia. This is also in accordance with my instructions from the department.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. KIRBY SMITH,
Near Richmond, Va., June 7, 1862
Major General E. KIRBY SMITH,
Commanding, &c., Knoxville, Tenn.:
GENERAL: I am directed by General Lee to say that as he telegraphed you on yesterday, two regiments have been ordered from Florida, to report to you at Chattanooga without delay. He is in receipt of a communication from Colonel M. L. Woods, commanding regiment of Alabama Volunteers now in camp of instruction at Loachapoka, Ala., requesting to be assigned to the brigade under Colonel T. H. Taylor, said to be in your department. The general commanding desires to know if you have arms sufficient to arm it in whole or in part. There is also a regiment at Atlanta, Ga., under Colonel E. P. Watkins. It is not positively known whether it be armed or not. If not armed, can you assist in its armament? Both can be sent you can place arms in their hands. There are at present no arms in the possession of the Ordnance Bureau, and the only chance is to collect them from the country. If