the Louisa Fork of Sandy. These boats were in charge of a strong guard, and were intended to furnish a complete outfit for a force deemed sufficient for them by their commander to march upon and destroy the salt works in Smyth and Washington Counties. I determined at once to attack this train, and from its distance, being more then 40 miles off, it became necessary to send mounted men. Besides this reason, I found it inconvenient to move the infantry in that direction, on account of the number of prisoners with we were encumbered. The cavalry and mounted men were put in motion within an hour, and proceeded upon the march, which was uninterrupted, day or night, until the enemy were overtaken, attacked, and routed.* Our people captured ten of the enemy's transports boats laden with valuable supplies. A great deal of these supplies was distributed among the men, and much of them was brought off; but a very large amount of most valuable supplies was necessarily destroyed for ant of transportation to bring them away. A train of 100 pack-mules would have brought away a very large amount of extremely valuable stores, which were committed to the fire and the river.
The night following the captured of these boats (indeed, just twelve hours after the attack upon the boats), our forces engaged that of Colonel John Dils [jr., Thirty-ninth Kentucky,], posed in an extremely strong position on the summit of a mountain, on the road leading from Prestonburg to Pikeville. This position was taken and held without any knowledge on our part, and, as the attack was made after night and entirely unexpected, we were taken at a great disadvantage; but our men behaved with great steadiness and resolution, received the attack, and charged the enemy, driving him from his position and dispersing them entirely. The rout was complete, and the post at Pikeville, consisting of 1,000 men, was entirely broke up. The prisoners and the Union people in that neighborhood reported Colonel Dils as killed in the fight that night. For more detailed statements of this expedition, I refer you to the report of Colonel Clarkson. In our operations through the country we made a number of recruits in the counties of Cabell, Wayne, Logan,&c.
My object in this campaign was, as far as possible, to prevent the occupation by the Yankee forces of the country between the Kanawha Valley and the Kentucky border, as well as to destroy the military organization of the country under the traitor government at Wheeling. Both objects were fully attained as long as I was able to remain in the country. The military organizations, very numerous and well appointed in every particular, were almost entirely destroyed, and the attempts to set up the spurious government were entirely foiled. I was compelled to leave the country, held by me for more than three months, alone for the want of quartermasters' supplies. We were without tents, or clothing, or cooking utensils, or axes, and, after the inclement weather of winter sent in, we could no longer remain in the field. With these stores supplied, I would have remained in that country throughout the winter moths. We were able to procure food (meat and bread) in the country; nearly all of it taken from the enemy.
The campaign from first to last was one of hardship and privation, but the were borne without complaint by the men, who are unsurpassed in hardiness, activity, and capability to endure privations. They deserve great praise for their constancy and general good conduct.
The officers generally deserve commendation, but to Colonel Clarkson
*See, December 4-5, 1862, "Capture of transports,etc.," Series I, Vol. XX, Part I, pp.31-34.