my small force I could not think of another attack on the enemy, now thoroughly on the alert, so I busied myself to cover Major Foley's retreat and draw off the pursuit. I assumed the title and functions of a brigadier, and, after ordering the infantry and artillery of a fictitious brigade to advance, and giving the enemy time to hear of the formidable force on their flank, I retreated to Barboursville, and the next day to London, where I met Major Foley, and we lay expecting the enemy, who, however, seemed to have been deceived, and afraid to pursue.
On the 30th, at midnight, I reached Richmond, and, delaying there a day to shoe my horses, joined the brigade on the night of January 1.
I cannot speak too highly of the devoted and unflinching patriotism of the citizens of Whitley and Knox Counties. Hundreds of them lead the life of wild beasts, lodging in caves and skulking through the mountains, seldom visiting their houses, and all having the certainty of the gallows if they fall into rebel hands. Their only defense against a pillaging and murdering foe is their rifles and an unconquerable love for their homes and their Government. I was implored by numbers of them to represent to headquarters that bushwhacking was with them an inexorable necessity in their present unassisted condition., which could and would cease with the presence of efficient aid.
I have to report the roads to Barboursville good for the season, and practicable for amy teams; also a good road, with the exception of two or three points-in my opinion, easily remedied-from Boston to the mouth of Big Poplar Creek-better, I am inclined to think, than the road laid down on the maps, or that leading by the Pine Mountain and Lanman's. There is also a direct road, reported very good, from Boston to London, crossing the Cumberland at Evans' Mill, effecting a saving of 12 to 15 miles, as compared with the route through Barboursville.
My retreat was by Evans' Mill, crossing the Cumberland at that point, recrossing at McNeil's Mill, and entering the main State road 5 miles south of Barboursville. I have observed inaccuracies in the published maps, too tedious, and perhaps unimportant, to mention here. If considered desirable, I can point them out.
My horses suffered much from fatigue and the weather; several died, and others had to be left in the hands of Union men, to be collected by authorized agents of the Government.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN MASON BROWN,
Major Tenth Kentucky Cavalry, Commanding First Battalion.
Colonel SAMUEL A. GILBERT,
Comdg. Second Brigadier Second Division, Army of Kentucky.
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
London, Ky., December 25, 1862.
JOHN MASON BROWN,
Major Tenth Kentucky Cavalry:
SIR: The detachment of cavalry from Danville not having arrived, in pursuance of orders, I will return to Richmond, and you will assume command of the forces now here, excepting the detachment of Forty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. They will turn over their horses to you, and you will mount them with armed volunteer mountaineers that you may induce to accompany you. You will also procure of Lieutenant Jacobs, commanding said detachment, fifteen canteens, and fill them
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