cannon. During the attack in front made by the rest of the command the detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel von Blessingh, marching by the Wytheville road, attacked the enemy's right, but finding the position exceedingly strong and held by greatly superior numbers, they withdrew, and subsequently joined their brigade by a detour to their right.
From prisoners taken during the engagement of the morning we learned that General Williams had joined Marshall, and that the force before us consisted of two brigades-considerably more than double our numbers. This being abundantly corroborated by other information, I did not think it prudent to push the attack farther, but took my position on the outskirts of the town, and awaited the arrival of Colonel Scammon's brigade.
Toward evening Colonel Scammon's brigade arrived. He brought reliable information that the brigades of General Williams, Heth, Marshall, and Floyd were united in our front, numbering form 12,000 to 15,000 men; that their movement had been made in the expectation of throwing their principal force in our rear, moving by our right flank on the Wytheville and Wyoming roads, whilst we moved toward or left in the direction of Frenchville and Pearisburg. He also found that the force at The Norrows had promptly followed him up, occupying French's after he left that place, and throwing out outposts quite near those stationed by us on the Pearisburg road. Later in the night the officer of the day brought information that the artillery of the enemy was moving upon the Wyoming road toward our rear by the right, and this information later, taken with that before received, determined me to retire to this position till I could secure my trains, get forward supplies in safety, organize the transportation just arriving in the valley, and fully learn the movements and new force of the enemy. The movement was made at 3 o'clock in the morning of the 18th, and accomplished with the most perfect order and without the least accident.
Upon learning our movement, I am informed that the enemy's left wing abandoned the Wyoming road and turned off toward Tazewell Court-House. For two day prior to their attack on our lines communication had been interrupted and annoy by small parties cutting the telegraph wires, firing upon messengers and trains. My belief is that the concentration of the enemy's force must be temporary only; that they have drawn in all within reach in the hope of making a successful attack upon this portion of my command, and, having been foiled, that they will separate to guard other points than those immediately in my front. In my present position I feel entirely secure, and am making arrangements to open all communication with Colonel Crook's brigade by way of Pack's Ferry, Palestine, &c., to Lewisburg.
The reports of killed and wounded are forwarded herewith. The conduct of my command has been everything I could desire, and all the movements made with system and precision. The behavior of the detachment at Princeton, under Majors Franklin and Ankele, when the attack began, is peculiarly deserving of praise. They continued the defense of the place, retiring slowly from point to point for a period of six hour, and did not retire from the village until after dark.
I beg leave to call the attention of the commanding general to the fact that the character of this mountain country and the net-work of roads and paths in it is such that no advance movement can be made with entire security to the line of communication without leaving strong detachments at important posts along the line. To do this with my