ure also before nightfall, and, when last seen, were going west, in the direction of the railway. It was not known where he was then or what he intended to do. Pickets had been thrown out in every direction from Bristol before night, and one company was then on picket duty 10 miles from Bristol, at Union. I could learn no more, for they knew no more. I could add nothing to the arrangements they had made for the night, for they seemed complete, and were correct; nothing had been overlooked.
Before I slept, I ordered a courier to be sent to Major Johnson's camp, near Kingsport, Tenn., with an order to break up that camp instantly, and for that force, with the baggage and prisoners, to take the Reedy Creek road to Abingdon, and to make good their junction with Clay's camp, at the Three Springs, as soon as it could be done. I impressed on Major Johnson the importance of speed. I then thought it not improbable the enemy, hearing of that camp, which in his entry he had passed, might go from Carter's Depot to destroy it, release the prisoners my men had taken, and make our people prisoners, besides destroying our arms and public property. These duties being all discharged I retired to rest some time after midnight. I mention the fact of my retiring because that also has been made a subject of impertinent criticism upon my conduct by persons who, I suppose, would have had me talk the rest of the night over what had been done, and over what should be done on the morrow, without either they or I knowing that the enemy was then in 30 miles of us, or that he would ever be seen again. The train from Wytheville brought the ten pieces of artillery that night to Bristol, but the horses had not arrived with which to manage them.
Being a stranger to the country in which I might at any moment be called to act, the first thing to which my attention was directed in the morning was to obtain a room in Bristol where I might see and converse with gentleman in some degree of privacy. In this I failed, but after so long a time I secured a room in the hotel, and soon was introduced by Colonel James Preston to four gentlemen, who, he said, could give me all the information I required about the roads and water-courses in that section. There were Colonel McClelland, Major Dunn, Mr. Blair, and Mr. Sullins, of Jonesborough. I very soon explained to these gentlemen what aid they could furnish me, and Messrs. Dunn and Blair retired, promising to make a paper sketch of the country around Bristol, though they said they were not accustomed to the art of sketching. I was much obliged, and then Colonel McClelland agreed to ride to Blountsville, with a mounted company and observe for me a road which was said to lead from a point lower down the Holston than Union, in the direction of Kingsport. If the enemy intended to retire by the route he came, it was considered probable he might cross the country by that road. Colonel MClelland accompanied Captain [W. W.]Baldwin, a partisan ranger, whom I found at Bristol with some of his men, to discharge this duty. I was soon left alone, Mr. Sullins deferring to those who had undertaken to furnish me with the topography I needed. The locomotive, with a car attached, started, after breakfast, down to the point where one of Clay's companies was on picket. I received the following dispatch (the first of that day, I think) about 12 o'clock.
Lieutenant [E.] Hammond, of Clay's command, reports Federal camp 3 miles west of Union last night, and still there at 11 o'clock to-day. Will move toward Blountsville and for Kentucky. Federal scouts in Union this morning.
I inferred from this report that Mr. [Lieutenant] Hammond was reporting what he had heard at Union as coming from the Federal scouts