War of the Rebellion: Serial 029 Page 0127 Chapter XXXII. CARTER'S RAID INTO E. TENN. AND SW. VA.

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place. On the 29th I received your dispatch dated 10.15 p.m. at 11.30 p.m., bearing information that the Federal cavalry were within 45 miles of Bristol at 10 o'clock, same date, 4,000 strong, and were marching on that place. I communicated at once to Lieutenant-Colonel Clay, at Three Springs, 4 miles distant, according to your instructions, and ordered scouts upon all the roads. At 2 a.m. 30th, two reliable messengers came to Lieutenant-Colonel Clay's encampment and reported the enemy on the Estillville road, 35 miles distant, at dash the night before. This information reached me at or near 3 a.m. I rode immediately to the telegraph office at Bristol to communicate to you the information. The operator could not be found; the battery and all his instruments concealed, which delayed my information to you until near 8 a.m. No special engine could be had, from the fact that the commander of the post had sent them all off before my arrival, and could not have conveyed you information earlier by horseback. At 8.30 a.m. I received word from Lieutenant-Colonel Clay that the enemy had turned in a southeast direction from the Abingdon road in the direction of Blountsville, Tenn.; forks of the road 13 miles distant; Clay situated on Abingdon road, 4 miles distant; scouts had captured two stragglers near forks of the roads. Enemy reported at Blountsville at 10 a.m. My regiment was then 373 strong, available men, and about 100 men, consisting of citizens and a company of about 50 under Captain Troy, at the post, the latter with very common arms and but very little ammunition. This composed my infantry strength. All the cavalry present was Lieutenant-Colonel Clay's battalion, consisting of about 250 men for duty. This makes my available force at that time but little over 600 men. When it was observed that the enemy had left the Abingdon road at Blountsville, Clay's force was brought upon the Blountsville road, that our whole force might be united for the defense of Bristol, it being the point ordered to defend, and the road by Blountsville being direct to Bristol. At 11 a.m. the enemy was reported within 3 miles of Bristol; we took a position for the defense of the town. At 11.30 a.m. scouts reported the main force gone by way of Union Depot, where one of the bridges was burned, and a picket in force upon the Blountsville road, the enemy in all numbering about 2,000 strong, partly armed with five-shooters. A special train was then ordered to move my infantry to Union, when two scouts came in and reported the bridge burning at 12.15 p. m., and enemy making threats upon Bristol from that point. Cavalry was thrown forward upon the road, and an infantry picket upon a special train to advance as far as possible without being surprise or taken, and to the bridge, if possible. They did advance as far as the bridge, and found it nearly burned down, and the enemy moving in the opposite direction. Bridge fell in before they left. As our force was too small to divide against a superior force like the enemy, at their approach I communicated, through the commander of the post at Bristol, to the commander of the post at Union upon the news of the enemy's advance, to throw scouts forward upon the road from Blountsville to Union, and to be on the alert, stating the circumstances. We received no information from him until late in the evening, stating he and his men (70 available) were surrounded before noon, captured, and paroled. My picket returned between 4 and 5 p.m., and reported Major [Thomas] Johnson arrived with 80 men for duty (mounted). I prepared the command to move in the direction of Blountsville, notwithstanding it would have been hazardous with my inferior force, all not amounting to 800, and two-thirds infantry; but receiving information that you were on the road to Bristol with re-enforcements, I awaited your arrival, which was between 11 and 12 p.m., being delayed