troops (First Battalion Seventh Ohio Cavalry) at Heard's, on Goose Creek. I then found, to my surprise, that the whole force amounted to only about 980 men, and of that number a considerable portion were in the field for the first time. The marches, owing to the roughness and narrowness of the roads (being mere bridle-paths along the banks of creeks and over steep and rugged mountains), were, of necessity, slow and tedious, and their length had to be governed by the distance to the several points at which forage could be obtained.
It was not until about meridian of the 28th ultimo that we reached the foot of the Cumberland Mountains (on the north side), opposite Crank's Gap, and 12 miles to the south and east of Harlan Court-House. The horses were there fed, a day's forage prepared, and the pack train sent back under charge of a detachment of the Kentucky State Guard. A little before sunset we reached the summit of Cumberland Mountains, and had the field of our operations, with its mountains and valleys, spread out before us. I there held a consultation with the officers of the command, and it was the unanimous opinion that the force was entirely too small to venture on a division, according to the original plan. This decision seemed to be the more necessary, from the new we had received through East Tennessee refugees at the foot of the mountain, relative to the disposition of the rebel force along the line of railroad.
Soon after dark, the advance commenced the descent of the mountain, hoping to make a long march before sunrise, but, owing to the steepness, narrowness, and roughness of the way, the rear of the column did not reach the foot of the mountain until 10 p.m., having consumed four hours in the descent. Here I was told there were some 400 rebel cavalry in the vicinity of Jonesville, 5 miles distant. As it was important to move through Lee County, Virginia, without exciting suspicion, I moved down Cove Creek, crossing through a gap in Poor Valley Ridge, and crossed Powell's Valley, about 5 miles east of Jonesville. On leaving the valley road, our guides were at fault, and valuable time was lost in finding the way. The march was continued through the night, and at daylight we reached the top of Walker's Ridge, 22 miles distant from the foot of Cumberland Mountain, and halted to feed the horses. Thus far we had advanced without giving any alarm, or even exciting any suspicion as to our character. The village of Stickleyville lay immediately below us, and, but for the imprudence of some of the officers in allowing the men to visit the village, we could have passed on as rebel cavalry. A number of rebel soldiers, belonging to Trigg's battalion, came within our lines, supposing we were their friends, and were captured.
In a short time we were again in the saddle, passed through Stickleyville, across Powell's Mountain, and through Pattonsville. Before sunset we crossed Clinch River, 12 miles from Estillville, Scott County, Virginia, and halted for a couple of hours to feed. News of our approach had gone before us, but few of the rebels were inclined to credit it, believing it impossible that a Government force would venture so far within their territory.
Upon arriving at Estillville, at 10 p.m., we were told that a considerable rebel force was in possession of Moccasin Gap, prepared to resist our passage. I could not afford to lose time. The Michigan battalions were dismounted, and, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, a portion were deployed and move through the gap. Being unacquainted with the ground, and having to guard against an ambuscade in this strong pass, which could have been held by a small force of determined men against greatly superior numbers, we advanced with