General H. Marshall was reported to be advancing from Tazewell Court-house with 2,500 men. I immediately dispatched an order to Colonel Moor to leave half a regiment at French's and march rapidly with the remainder of his force to the Wytheville Cross-Road and hold them at all hazards. Meanwhile I kept patrols active on our right and front to ascertain the enemy's movements in those directions. Colonel Scammon reported the enemy still in force in his front, and no apparent change except he was in receipt of reports of considerable re-enforcements reaching them. About 2 o'clock p. m. a cavalry patrol on the Wyoming road 5 miles from Princeton was fired into by a party of the enemy's horsemen. Two companies of infantry and part of the troops at Princeton were immediately sent out, under Major Ankele, Thirty-seventh Ohio Volunteers, to feel the force of the enemy advancing in that direction. It soon became evident that the force which had been met by Colonel Moor's detachment at the Wytheville Cross-Roads was advancing by the Wyoming road, having made a detour to their left to reach it. They advanced cautiously, and were firmly and gallantly met by Major F. E. Franklin, Thirty-fourth Ohio Volunteers, and Major Charles ankele, Thirty-seventh Ohio Volunteers, with the detachments of those regiments which garrisoned the post, and Captain Frank Smith's troop First Ohio Cavalry. Our troops behaved with great steadiness, retiring slowly from point to point as they were outflanked by the superior numbers of the enemy, and maintained the unequal contest for more than three hours.
About 5 p. m., suspecting, from my examination of the advancing force of the enemy, that the principal body of Marshall's command had passed the Wytheville Cross-Roads, I gave orders to Major Franklin to hold the town as long as possible, and if driven from it to retire by the road to French's, sending back to stop trains advancing by the Raleigh road, and then moved my headquarters and baggage upon the Trenchville road, and proceeded immediately to Colonel Moor's headquarters. I there found that, owing to the difficulty of the roads and slowness of communication, he had not yet been able to carry out the order to move his command to the Wytheville Cross-Roads, but had sent to Lieutenant-Colonel von Blessingh six companies of infantry, under Major Bohlender, Twenty-eighth Ohio Volunteers, making the force at the Cross Roads ten companies of infantry. I immediately ordered the remainder of his command under arms, consisting of three half regiments-the Twenty-eighth, Thirty-fourth, and Thirty-seventh Ohio Volunteers, and a section of Simmonds' battery of artillery-and put them upon the march for Princeton. I ordered Colonel Scammon to move up half a regiment to French's for the night, and to follow at daylight with his whole command, to join me at Princeton. The detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel von Blessingh was notified that, should the enemy appear at Princeton by daylight, he was to move forward from the Cross-Roads in that direction and endeavor to take them in the rear by a simultaneous attack.
I arrived at Princeton at daybreak of the 17th and immediately led forward the whole of Colonel Moor's command upon the place. The enemy made no resistance, but retired before us to the wooded range of hills south and west of the town. We attacked and drove them with considerable loss about the distance of a mile to a strong position commanding both the Wytheville and Wyoming roads, and where they could only be reached by ascending a steep ridge heavily covered with timber, where they had also placed a howitzer battery. On the left of their position they had a rifled 10-pounder and smooth 6-pounder