War of the Rebellion: Serial 029 Page 0100 KY.,MID. AND E.TENN.,N.ALA.,AND SW.VA. Chapter XXXII.

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Blounstville. The road up Beaver Creek comes from Hull's directly to Bristol, without passing by Blountsville, thus:

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There is a country road (a by-path) leading from Hull's across the country to the Kingsport road; thence crossing Eden's Ridge, at Sheaver's Falls, into the road leading out to Estillville, by Moccasin Gap.

A second and a third dispatch from Captain Baldwin informs me the enemy is encamped at Hull's, though it is believed a part of his force has gone to Kingsport to destroy Johnson's camp. The force of the enemy is reported everywhere at from 1,700 to 2,500. If I move upon Blountsville to intercept his passage by that place, he may move from Hull's to Bristol by a different road; so while I go out to catch him, he may come in and catch me. If I move all upon him at Hull's, he clearly passes off at Moccasin Gap and escapes. I give my own reflections as to the situation. I determine to move my whole infantry force, with a section of artillery, to Blountsville late in the evening; to retain my mounted force until the cars come in, so as not to uncover Bristol until a force I expect from Salem shall have arrived.

At 7 p.m. Baldwin reports from Blountsville that he had reconnoitered the country around that place, and the enemy is still in camp at Hull's, though some 1,500 of his force have crossed the Eden's Ridge. Captain J. G. Bedford, who was on picket at Union, reports at 7.15 o'clock that he has crossed from Union to Blountsville, and the enemy has taken the direction of Kingsport without coming to Blountsville. I thought it was now plain that it was a race between us for Moccasin Gap, and that if he had gone by Kingsport-making a detour of some 6 miles to the west of the gap, in order to rescue the 30 East Tennessee we had captured the day before in trying to go to Kentucky, and some 8 or 10 of his cavalry my men had picked up-I could gain the gap before him with my mounted force, and check him until my infantry and artillery could come up and make the engagement definitive between us. My whole mounted force was advanced rapidly to Moccasin Gap, passing my infantry and artillery at midnight at Blountsville, and gained Moccasin Gap (19 miles from Bristol) before daylight on the 1st. I saw the force from Salem arrive in the cars at Bristol, put Colonel [Ambrose C.] Dunn in command, and, with my mind easy about Bristol, rode on to Blountsville, put my infantry and artillery en route for the gap, and passed on myself to the cavalry force, which I was now informed had reached the gap before the enemy. Scouts from the direction of Kingsport come in early this New Year's morning, who tell me the enemy entered Kingsport after night and stopped awhile, but again moved in the night, and had taken down the south side of the Clinch Range, in the direction of Rogersville, Tenn.

There are several gaps practicable for cavalry to lead over within 12 miles of Kingsport; so, resting my infantry and artillery to hold Moccasin Gap, I took all my mounted force and took down the north side of the same range, intending to meet the enemy should he try the experiment of leading over the mountains, and to intercept his egress, if possible, by whatever route he might go. Passing Estillville, 2 miles behind Moccasin Gap, I took the road to Speer's Ferry (where the enemy