I aroused the camp, ordered horses saddled, and ammunition issued to all who had arms (there being about 75 men without arms.) As soon as ammunition was issued to Company A, I ordered it out on duty, with orders to scout rapidly the three roads leading from Estillville, by which the enemy might approach my camp, and find out his position and watch his movements, my camp being between the enemy and Bristol. The scout on the road known as the Reedy Creek road, upon which I was encamped, had not advanced more than 6 or 7 miles before they met three of the enemy's cavalry-one, a sergeant. Two of them were made prisoners by the scout, and the other shot from his horse by Major [Thomas] Johnson who had just overtaken my scout on his road from Abingdon to join his command. Concerning this affair I inclose the lieutenant's report to me,* who was in command of the party, and upon which you can rely. The 2 prisoners were sent to camp, accompanied by Major Johnson, who was very much excited, and yet holding his pistol in his hand. This was about daylight. I questioned the prisoners, and learned from the sergeant on had stopped to fix something about his saddle, and that he (sergeant) had stopped back to bring them up to their command, having been place in rear of his company by his captain for that purpose. It seems from after developments that these prisoners had fallen in rear of their command just before it had reached the forks of the road, 8 miles from my camp, and that the command had taken the right-hand road, which leads to Union, via Blountsville; that these three men in their hurry to rejoin their command passed this road unnoticed, and ran up to my scout, thinking it a part of their own command. I immediately ordered tents struck and wagons loaded, ready to march at a moment's warning. Thinking that the enemy would make a demonstration on Bristol with his whole force, or a part, by the road upon which I was encamped, I ordered the train and sick to Bristol, and determined to hold my position, or, by skirmishing with him, detain him until you could send a sufficient force to Bristol to defend it with complete success, knowing Slemp's regiment insufficient to do so, as he had reported it to me as only 400 strong.
This brings us up to 7.30 a.m. About this time there rode into camp three citizens, one of whom was introduced to me as Colonel [Major I. B.] Dunn by Major Johnson, who gave me some information in regard to two roads leading from Blountsville to Bristol, and suggested that the enemy would likely approach Bristol by one or both of these roads, and proposed to go as a guide with my scouts on these roads. These roads entered the main Bristol and Estillville [road] between my camp and Bristol. I, therefore, ordered Captain [James] White to take his company and scout these roads as far as Blountsville, with all speed, which was promptly obeyed. Colonel Dunn accompanied Captain White a short distance beyond his house and then returned to his domicile.
At 11 a.m. I received a dispatch from Captain White, who was then 1 miles from Blountsville, stating that the enemy had left that place and gone in the direction of Union; that the greater portion had passed the point that he was then at before daylight; that they remained only a short time at Blountsville. This information I telegraphed you at Abingdon, and sent to Colonel Slemp, at Bristol. About this time Johnson's command arrived, I think about 80 strong. Finding that the enemy's whole force had passed to my left, I called in my pickets from my right and moved my command with Johnson's (which was advancing) to Bristol, and covered that place with pickets and scouts in
*See Numbers 9, p. 122.