HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Cumberland Ford, Tenn., October 19, 1862 - 12 p. m.
General BRAXTON BRAGG,
Commanding Department No. 2:
GENERAL: I arrived at this point after dark this evening. On the morning of the 17th, the day you left London, I ordered one brigade to halt at Little Rockcastle, and another at Pitman's, 6 miles in advance, for the support of the cavalry engaged in resisting the enemy's advance upon London. I also ordered the rest of the army to halt for twenty-four hours - Cheatham's wing at Big Laurel and Hardee's at Barboursville. These orders were given in consequence of information from General E. K. Smith to the effect that he could not retire his army without the protection and support of mine. I held the position between Wild Cat and Little Rockcastle, and aided in holding that between Wild Cat and Mershon's Cross-Roads until General Smith's column had come up to the latter place and passed into the road indicated for him by you, leading from that point to Flat Lick. General McCown's forces having been ordered to proceed along the Big Hill road as far as to Pitman's were halted there and required to furnish two brigades to replace those of the army of the Mississippi posted at that point and at Little Rockcastle. The brigades relieved were ordered to join their commands at Big Laurel and both of the wings of this army ordered to resume the line of march . General McCown was ordered by me to fall back on this road, following the Army of the Mississippi, and Colonel Wheeler directed to cover his rear. Colonel Wharton, on arriving at Big Laurel, was directed to take the left and aid in protecting the rear of General E. K. Smith's column, retiring by the way of the Raccoon Shoot road. I remained at London until all of these dispositions were completed, and have been in constant communication with the rear and with General E. K. Smith ever since.
I am pleased to say tht thus far everything has been well secured and is moving forward satisfactorily. All of the trains of the Army of the Mississippi have either passed this point or are encamped here with me to-night. General Hardee, with his wing, troops and trains, will encamp at the Gap to-night. General Cheatham's troops, with the exception of two brigades forming the rear guard, are encamped around me here. Those brigades are a short distance in the rear. A large number of General Smith's wagons have also passed this point. General Smith himself came forward to-day and met me shortly after I reached Flat Lick. The rear of his army, he informs me, under the command of General Stevenson, will be at Flat Lick on to-morrow night, the whole of his trains being in advance of his column. At Flat Lick the troops under General McCown will join him, and the whole column (mine and his) will be covered at that point by Wharton and Wheeler, which will secure the safe retirement of both armies with all their trains. By General Smith I am informed Morgan's cavalry was detached by him to make a circuit of the enemy to cut off his trains and harass his rear. Buford's cavalry being raw I have been unwilling to trust them. Ashby's command was too small to do the work required, and i deemed it safest therefore to direct Wheeler with Wharton to cover and bring up the whole of the rear. General Smith will direct Morgan and Buford to perform the duty you have assigned them when he shall have passed through the Gap. He will leave a force to hold possession of the Gap when he shall have passed his army though it.
Thus far I have managed to secure forage for the Army of the Mississippi,