the probability is, I should have saved the damage to the railroad bridges that ensued. As the cars were on hand at Abingdon, I never thought of asking any one to send them there, and, as those who had them in charge promised to wait my orders, I never thought of asking Mr. [T.] Dodamead, at Lynchburg, to tell to do so. I had dispatched him the night before to give me transportation for my artillery, and had received no reply. By reference to his dispatch you will see he did not receive my dispatch until a later hour on the 30th than that at which I saw the cars at Abingdon from Bristol, and if the telegraph had done no better in conveying a dispatch to order those cars to stay than it did in procuring cars for my artillery at Wytheville, I should not have attained the object in view, or have been able to avoid the loss.
On the 30th, about 9 a.m., the following dispatches reached me at Abingdon:
DECEMBER 30, 1862-9.30 a.m.
Information received at 12 o'clock to-night is that the enemy were 10 miles beyond Estillville at dark, which is 31 miles from this place. The most reliable information is that the enemy is 2,000 in number. One man direct from there counted 490; said to be a detachment. They could arrive here early in the morning, probably at daylight. We will have about 500 infantry, and Clay's battalion; also Johnson's and Giltner's if they have received the information we sent them by courier. You can well see what we are in want of-more men; but we will fight them with what we have. There ought to be another regiment, at least, here, and I think we could thrash them decently. I would like that you could be here in person. More ammunition is wanted-musket-cartridges.
Also the following:
DECEMBER 30, 1862-7.30 a.m.
Enemy advancing I think, to Bristol; cannot tell which road. I caught 3 stragglers. Sent 7 miles from camp. Part of three regiments, perhaps, 1,500 or 2,000 strong.
E. F. CLAY,
I dispatched this reply to Colonel Slemp:
ABINGDON, VA., December 30, 1862-10 a.m.
Johnson ordered to join Clay. I think the enemy had divided his force, and may be trying to get to the salt works or to this place. Throw cavalry scouts well forward. You shall have artillery so soon as it arrives from Wytheville. Report every hour to me at this place. If attack on Bristol be certain, I will move Hawkins with 400 to join you in an hour.
As the morning advanced, I received the following additional telegrams:
BRISTOL, TENN., December 30, 1862-10.30 a.m.
Dispatches from Jonesborough state that courier had arrived, and stated enemy in 20 miles of this place last night. Three of their scouts were captured last night 12 miles from here by Clay's cavalry.
T. W. W. DAVIES,
BRISTOL, TENN. N, December 29 (30?) 1862.
We have 550 infantry and 300 cavalry. Can you send us two pieces
of artillery, with canister and shrapnel?
T. W. W. DAVIES,