500 strong, will go down Sequatchie Valley to-morrow evening or next evening. Colonel Lay commands. It will, I am informed, penetrate as far toward Bridgeport as it can to observe the enemy and take advantage of any opportunity that may offer to harass them. Be on the alert to aid him in any way you can. Could you not, with a couple of 24-pounder rifle guns or even a battery of 6-pounder rifles, make the ground about Rice's house too hot for Colonel Harris and his men, and induce them to get out of the way and let Colonel Lay pass if he should penetrate so far? I can send the 24-pounders, but no horses. Captain Freeman's horses may be used to put them in position. From your reports I judge that the enemy has a very small force at Bridgeport and no large force near there. If so, the piles of commissary stores which Robinson reports to be at Bridgeport are somewhat exposed. I am told there is a ford near Bridgeport by which at the present stage of water infantry may pass. If so, and Lay's cavalry can pass Rice's house, could you not, by throwing over a couple of infantry regiments and any cavalry you may have available by that ford, pick up the commissary and any other stores and perhaps the guard? I throw out these suggestions for your consideration. You are on the spot and know the country far better than I do. Communicate with me by the bearer or by telegraph. The train is about to start and I have no time to make myself more clearly understood. Colonel Crawford, with his regiment of cavalry, left this morning to report to you.
Respectfully, yours, &c.,
HEADQUARTERS CONFEDERATE FORCES, Barboursville, Ky., August 24, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: Carrying out the plan of operations reported by me to the department in my letter of the 12th [11th?] instant, I commenced the passage of the Cumberland Mountains on the 16th instant. The column under my immediate command, comprising Generals Churchill's and Cleburne's divisions [6,000], crossed at Rogers' Gap. Marching near 60 miles in fifty hours, crossing two ranges of mountains over a most difficult route, the command surprised and took possession of the town of Barboursville on the morning of the 18th instant. Some 50 prisoners, a train of near 50 wagons, and a few stores fell into our hands. Colonel Scott's cavalry, marching from Kingston, surprised a regiment of the enemy's infantry at London, Ky., on the 17th instant, capturing a train of some 130 wagons and considerable supplies. General Heth's division, with the artillery and supplies, crossed at Big Creek Gap, but owing to the almost insurmountable obstacles encountered on the route the head of his column did not reach this point till the 22nd instant. We now occupy the enemy's line of communications. General Stevenson has closed up on his front, and the reduction of his position is reduced to a question of time and supplies. The force under General Morgan, from the most reliable information we can obtain, numbers about 7,000 effective, and is rationed for twenty days. His position at the Gap with the force under his command is impregnable. This country has been drained of provisions. To draw supplies from Tennessee across the Cumberland Mountains in sufficient quantities to maintain my command