devolve upon them. To those at Abingdon I have notice to hold themselves in readiness, and I sent a picket of mounted men from a squad waiting at headquarters to Worley's (at the ford of Holston, 7 miles back of Abingdon), with orders to send vedettes down the river road, similar to those I have already detailed. My plan, as you will see, was to accept Abingdon as my post; to adopt the road to Pound Gap as my line of observation, as it ran transversely to every road leading from the direction of Pattonsville to the salt works and the upper country; to throw out my scouts upon those roads, and to learn, before I undertook to move, where the enemy was, so that I might mass my disposable force in his front. At the same time by dispositions in the direction of Bristol, assumed to be on the other face of the parallelogram that certainly embraced the enemy, I observed him in like manner and with a similar intent to guide my own future actions. After a full opportunity to review what was done, and how it should have been done, I see no reason to regret the determinations I made, or how I could have been more prompt.
On the morning of the 30th, hearing that Major-General [J. B.] Floyd, of the Virginia State Line, was in Abingdon, and had some force near Saltville, I at once addressed him the following note:
ABINGDON, VA., December 30, 1862.
I think it proper to inform you that I have dispatches which render it more than probable the enemy is making a raid in this direction. It will be well to inform your forces near Saltville of the fact. It will afford me great pleasure to co-operate with you in movements for his arrest and chastisement, to which I think my own force is probably equal, and our united forces will be ample.
Brigadier-General, Provisional Army, Confederate States of America.
Ascertaining that General Floyd had gone to Saltville, I dispatched to him the information I possessed, which he courteously acknowledged the same night. I did not telegraph to Knoxville because, my own dispatch coming by Morristown, I did not doubt the same had already been communicated to headquarters at Knoxville. This was the case, in fact, for the dispatch was sent to both places at the same time, and was received at Knoxville as soon as I received it in another military department.
Early in the morning I learned that the railroad cars had left Bristol in the preceding night about 3 a.m., transporting Government stores to Abingdon for safety, and that they were then at Abingdon. I expressed to the men who had given me this information, and who brought the cars to Abingdon, my gratification that they were at hand, and requested the conductor to remain, for that during the morning I might desire their return to Bristol with ammunition and troops. I understood him to signify his assent, and, indeed, I did not think it probable there would be any inclination on the part of any of those concerned to return to Bristol, unless under my positive orders to do so. At a later hour that morning I had a supply of ammunition for Bristol put on those cars, and I remember that some one called at my room to say to me that the ammunition was aboard the cars, and they were ready to proceed again to Bristol, and they wanted to know if I had any other orders. I replied to this that they should wait a little and I would attend to it, for I was at the time busy with dispatches. They did not wait, but left for Bristol without my knowledge, and so caused me very serious disappointment, and prevented me from reaching Bristol at a time when,