composed of detachments of the First, Second, and Third Regiments, on the 3rd ultimo, in the direction of Pike County, Kentucky, and early on the following morning reached Prestonburg. At that place I was informed that several boats were on their route up the Sandy River, loaded with large supplies of ammunition and clothing intended for the troops stationed at Piketon, and that on the previous night they had stopped a short distance below the town. Without delay, I moved the column down the banks of the river, and discovered nine boats, attended by a strong guard, in readiness to receive my attack. The information of our approach had been carried before us by a Union man in that vicinity. After a spirited contest of an hour's duration, we succeeded in dislodging the enemy, numbering about 300 men, and utterly routed them.
In the fight we lost 2 men killed and 7 wounded. The loss of the enemy was at least 25 killed and about the same number wounded, besides 25 prisoners, which we have with us.
Our capture proved exceedingly valuable, consisting of a large number of Enfield rifles (500) and ammunition, with all the accouterments necessary for 800 or 1,000 men. It gave us sufficient clothing of every description to thoroughly equip the greater portion of the force under my command. The supply of sugar, coffee, and salt was large, and was nearly all brought off by the men. The men having appropriated all they desired or needed of the plunder, the boats were destroyed. The value of the captured property can safely be estimated at $250,000.
I am grieved to state that Captains Kessler and Findlay were painfully, though not dangerously, wounded. They are able, however, to be conveyed with us, and shall not be left to fall into the hands of the enemy. Lieutenant Levi Hampton was killed on the side of the enemy. Hearing that a regiment was stationed at Piketon, I directed my course on the evening of the same day toward that place, with the purpose of disbanding this force.
Colonel Dils, the commandant of the post, had received intelligence of our presence in the country, and we encountered him during the night on the road between Prestonburg and Piketon with a heavy force. A sharp skirmish ensued, in which the enemy were completely dispersed, with the reported loss of Colonel Dils. This report, though coming through his own officers, is not entirely credited. Here one of our men was killed instantly and two others wounded. At Piketon we met with no resistance, and captured there and in that vicinity about 25 prisoners. We used and destroyed the stores left at that point, and proceeded directly to this place, the mouth of Pond Creek, which we reached yesterday afternoon.
In the space of three days we have made a tour of not less than 140 miles through the enemy's country, over rugged pathways and roads; and, besides the captures above stated, we have brought off about 100 cattle, more than 150 horses, and many negroes. The population loyal to the South have ben reassured of our capacity to protect them, and many have joined our standard. A feeling of uneasiness and unsafely has been diffused among our enemies and those friendly to their cause. The organization of the enemy has been for the time destroyed, and the route for our friends to come to us is left open and unimpeded by the foe. I am gratified to be able to state that the men, in spite of long and tedious marches, in spite of privation and chilling weather, have displayed a spirit and determination worthy of high commendation.
3 R R-VOL XX, PT I