under authority of the United States, holding the country. These Home Guards, as they were styled, were officered by Peirpoint, armed and equipped in an admirable manner by the United States, and constituted a local force amply sufficient to hold the country in complete subjection to the usurped authority extended over so great a portion of Western Virginia. These organizations were complete broken up and dispersed in the counties of McDowell, Wyoming, Logan, Boone, Cabell, and Wayne, in Virginia, and in all the Kentucky border from the county of Lawrence to the summit of Cumberland Mountain. At Piketon, in Kentucky, a formidable force had been collected and a military post established, then under an active, enterprising leader. We learned from a letter written by him to the quartermaster at Catlettsburg, that this force collected at this point was intended for a sudden descent upon the salt-works in Washington County. The writer spoke with great confidence of his ability to destroy the works. The loss of all his supplies and the dispersion of his entire command, and the breaking up of the post by our troops under command of Colonel Clarkson, put an end to the enterprise against the salt-works for some time to came at least.
These transactions of our small force, this hurriedly glanced at, go to show the sort of service which it was capable of rendering, as well as the manner of its performance. It has constituted a local force for local defense, and has been able to hold completely, after driving the enemy out, all the country embraced between Coal River and the Kentucky line, and Extending from within 50 miles of the ohio to the valley of Clinch River. The area covered by this force would have been much greater, and the services rendered more important, but for our destitution of quartermasters' supplies. I attempted in vain to procure a train of only 100 pack-mules, and we were almost entirely without axes and picks. We Were also without tents, except a few, and without one-third of the necessary cooking utensils for the men. For want of necessary clothing, which neither order nor entreaty could procure, many of the men were frost-bitten during the severe cold weather which prevailed up to the 1st of january, when we went into camp near the salt-works,
but the men bore every hardship without complaint. The defense of Western Virginia claims, and no doubt will receive, the earnest attention of the Legislature. A vast deal devolves upon them to do for the maintenance of our authority and the establishment of our laws and control, which is by no means involved in the general plan and conduct of the war by the Confederate authorities. It is theirs, no doubt, to meet the advance of large and powerful forces threatening to attack at such points as are likely to affect the general plan or conduct of the war; but no such movement as this, requiring the presence of a large Confederate army, may take place, and yet the local organizations of Home Guard, and the occasional advance of the enemy in small bodies to strengthen and assure them will be amply sufficient to set up un fact the usurped authority of the Abolitionists, and to expel from the country the loyal citizens. The country now held by the enemy in force,
and that capable of being reached by them without much opposition, constitutes fully two-third of the entire west or Trans-Allegheny country, as will appear by the bare inspection of the map. It would be national calamity to the Commonwealth for these people to become habituated to the usurped authority now extended over them while the possession of the country by the enemy seriously endangers all that lying contiguous to it, embracing the salt-works in Smyth and Washington Counties, the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, and the lead mines in Wythe. The great chain of mountains passing from northeast
70 R. R.-VOL XXI