Pegram's force numbered about 2,600 men, also mounted, and six pieces of artillery. The data for this report are all derived from official reports and other documents in my possession.
I had received information, through spies, as early as March 18, that the enemy was concentrating a mounted force in Wayne County, variously estimated at from 3,000 to 5,000 men.
On the 21st, Colonel Wolford, First Kentucky Cavalry, who held the front, and whose scouts were in Pulaski and Wayne Counties, telegraphed me from Stanford as follows:
The rebels, under Scott, numbering 3,500 men, are at Stigall's Ferry, ready to cross the Cumberland River near Somerset. There is no mistake in this. My scouts were not deceived.
Also that the enemy had seven pieces of artillery. I had at that time but 1,000 effective men south of the Kentucky River, of which only 600 were mounted. There were extensive hospitals and quite a large amount of valuable stores at Danville to be protected.
I at once ordered re-enforcements to the front, and sent Brigadier-General Carter forward to take command, with verbal instructions to send the sick and the stores back from Danville if he thought the place could not be securely held by him. He was to make Dick's River his line of defense, while securing the safety of the public property by transferring it to the north side of the Kentucky River.
The enemy, under General Pegram, crossed the Cumberland River March 21 and 22, drove in our pickets to within 3 miles of Stanford, and were reported by Colonel Wolford's scouts to comprise 7,000 cavalry and three regiments of infantry. They advanced in two principal columns, one on the Waynesburg and the other on the Crab Orchard road.
On the 24th, General Carter telegraphed to me from Danville that the enemy was trying to flank him, and that he was falling back to Dick's River. There had been some brisk skirmishing. At that time he had a train of 150 wagons to protect, which he brought safely to the north side of the Kentucky River, over Hickman's Brigade. I re-enforced him at this place on the 25th with 600 mounted infantry, under Colonel Runkle, Forty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who came from Richmond by way of Lancaster and Camp Dick Robinson.
The most trustworthy information which we had at that time fixed the strength of Pegram's command at 3,500 men (all mounted) and six pieces of artillery. At this juncture the rebel Colonel Cluke was roving about in the vicinity of Mount Steerling with about 750 men, and General Humphrey Marshall was near Hazel Green with 1,500 men, both commands being mounted. To oppose these mounted forces, numbering, in the aggregate, nearly 6,000 men, I had 2,300 mounted men, many of them very badly mounted, too.
Some of the worn-out horses were hastily replaced by better ones, and, on March 27, I telegraphed to department headquarters at Cincinnati, requesting authority to leave Lexington, which was the headquarters of my district (Central Kentucky), with a view of taking command in person of the troops on the Kentucky River, and forcing Pegram to fight or retreat before he could form a junction with Cluke. I received the following reply:
CINCINNATI, OHIO, March 27, 1863.
Move Carter's force across the Kentucky River to-night or early to-morrow morning, and tell him that he must attack the enemy vigorously. We ought to capture or disperse the whole of Pegram's force. I have ordered Boyle to concentrate a force at Lebanon, to co-operate with you, and have also ordered him to have a force at Leba-