I have digressed into a long detail apart from the subject in which I proposed to write, and shall reserve my views of policy for another paper, which I will write without delay.
Your, truly, &c.,
Secretary of War will please show this to Lieutenant-General Smith. the conduct of the railroad agent and of the telegraphic operator requires notice.
General Marshall's charge that I committed a grave mistake in releasing Operator [J. C.] Duncan is without foundation. I declined releasing Duncan until General Marshall's charges should be received. I have taken no action in the matter. In passing through Bristol I found that the commander of the post had extended the limits of Duncan's arrest to the town. The commanding officer (General [A.] Gracie, jr.) at Cumberland Gap at the time of the raid reported only about 1,400 effective (infantry). A demonstration at the time being made in his front, and six regiments being reported on march to attack him I directed him not to endanger the safety of his post by detaching too large a force from his command.
E. KIRBY SMITH,
JONESVILLE, VA., January 31, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to state that your note of the 13th instant, covering a letter from Major Isaac B. Dunn to Mr. [J. R.] Tucker, was delivered to me while I was en route for this place. I required of my subaltern officers to make reports of the movements of their commands having relation to the late raid into this country by a force under General [S. P.] Carter, and I have now the satisfaction to submit them herewith. As my action in relation to the same affair has been made the subject of public criticism by persons wholly uninformed of the facts, as well as by others whose desire to pervert the facts is unmistakable, I have concluded, as it is in my power to do so, to lay before you all the dispatches, orders, and information which from time to time were given or received by me, so that, with these before him, the President may form his own judgment upon the points to which it has been his pleasure, through you, to direct my attention. I shall by the same means best answer the allegations of malevolence, and blunt the shaft of impertinent criticism, or enable those who seem sedulous to hold my action up to censure, to justify, from my own mouth, their animadversions.
On the night of December 29, 1862, being at Abindgon, Va., I received, between 9 and 10 p.m., the following telegraphic dispatch:
PATTONSVILLE, SCOTT COUNTY, VA.,
December 29, 1862-12 m.
General [HUMPHREY] MARSHALL:
There are 4,000 cavalry of the enemy marching on Bristol. They were in 45 miles of Bristol at 1 p.m. to-day.
S. P. LARMER,
My first though was that if the telegram was true at all, it was not possible for Captain Larmer to know where such a force of the enemy