The disastrous contingency to which you refer and the consequences which would result from it have not been overlooked, and I still hope that they may be averted. Every effort has been made to strengthen the command of General Smith. General beauregard was requested to send back the regiments which were sent to him by General Smith, but he failed to comply with the request, stating that he could not spare a man. All the troops which could be spared from other quarters have, however been sent forward to General Smith, in whose skill and judgment I have the utmost confidence.
By an energetic and prompt use of your influence among your people to induce as many as possible to take the field in aid of the force which is now defending your State you can contribute most efficiently to that defense and render most valuable service to the cause. I entertain no doubt that you will use your best exertions to that end, and I have strong hope that they will be attended with success.
General Bragg has succeeded General Beauregard, who left the command for the benefit of his health. If it should be in his power to aid General Smith he will not fail to do so; but I fear there is little hope to that.
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
KNOXVILLE, TENN., June 21, 1862.
Major W. H. TAYLOR,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Richmond, Va.:
MAJOR: On the morning of the 18th instant General Stevenson evacuated Cumberland Gap. The enemy had succeeded in turning the position and occupied Powell's Valley in force. On the night of the 18th, with twenty regiments and a large artillery train, they approached from the rear and took possession of our abandoned works. The enemy expected to have captured the garrison, which had moved out that very morning, taking all stores and munitions, with the exsection of some old tents left standing, and five siege pieces, which were first disabled and then thrown over the precipices. The enemy, under command of General Morgan, with five brigades, still occupy the Gap. My own force, distributed along the line of railroad from Morristown to Loudon, is in position to be concentrated at any point on which the enemy should advance. He moves cautiously and may not make any serious demonstration for several days, and then probably in co-operation with the force in Middle Tennessee. The abandonment of the Gap, by bringing my forces in hand an enabling me to concentrate readily, has strengthened my position. I am, however, seriously alarmed for the safety of this department, the defense of which now depends upon a decisive battle. The possession of this road and valley is of such vital importance to us that I feel it should not given up without a struggle. I have so telegraphed General Bragg, and now inclose a copy of his dispatch to me. Could I be re-enforced in time a victory would be secured, where a defeat would entail the loss of the salines on one side and store-houses and arsenals on the other. My line of retreat would be by Cleveland or Chattanooga into Georgia, but with an enemy threatening my flank at Kingston and Chattanooga a defeat would I fear proved complete and disastrous.
I renew my request for a brigadier-general of sufficient rank to take