pickets fall back upon the roads they were respectively posted upon toward McMinnville, to redouble his vigilance, be prepared to collect his pickets, and send the information to the Georgia pickets. In a few moments I received information that the chain picket had been pierced at two places and part of two posts captured; that a heavy force of cavalry, accompanied by artillery, was rapidly advancing upon the road to Jacksborough, and another force of cavalry advancing upon a country road nearly unused, and which led into my camp. My horses were nearly unfit for service, having been on constant service with very scant rations for several months. My instructions were to fall back, when compelled to retreat, in such a way as to protect the road to Chattanooga.
Upon receiving that information, I ordered Major [J. P.] Austin to move the regiment to the junction of the McMinnville and Woodbury and McMinnville and Jacksborough roads. I ordered Captain Hines to fall back rapidly nearer McMinnville than my camp, to prevent being cut off by any of the numerous roads that intercept the main road between Mrs. Galascock's and the tan-yard. I ordered Captain [W. P.] Roberts, with Company I, to scout the country toward, and, if possible, beyond, Jacksborough, and sent a small scout toward Short Mountain. Captain Hines had scarcely time to obey my order when my camp was entered in four directions. Indeed, the rear guard of Captain Hines' detachment was cut off, and but for the coolness of Captain [F. G.] Hill and the few men under him, they would have been captured. I in person collected together the pickets and the men out of camp upon various excuses, and a few with good horses, and re-enforced Captain Hines. The cavalry force of the enemy was so much larger than my own, the condition of my horses was so deplorable, that it was impossible for me to either check their advance but for a moment at a time or to send a scout around them. To prevent being cut off from the Chattanooga road, to give timely information to you and the Georgia pickets, and to protect my own regiment, were all I could hope to accomplish. The enemy advanced nearly to Mr. Hopkins', are there prepared an ambush for me. Captain Roberts returned, reporting no enemy at Jacksborough, and that force returning toward Woodbury. Before his return I left scouts in front and upon the left of the enemy, with orders to report every movement, and keep me well informed, while I feel back slowly to the regiment, to prevent the enemy from cutting my command in two. Had I been left without instructions to protect the Chattanooga road, I would have remained close to the enemy, and, when cut off from McMinnville, fallen back toward Smithville. The enemy received, by some Union citizens, information of some movement in his rear, and fell back in the early part of the night, followed by my scouts, who followed him closely to his encampment near Readyville. Whatever information I received, I reported, either in writing or in person or by my adjutant, to you.
I lost 6 prisoners, captured by reason of the poor condition of their horses. The enemy lost 1 killed and 6 wounded, besides several horses.
I need not say how chafed I was that the condition of my regiment prevented me from punishing this advance, as I might easily have done under other circumstances.
I have the honor to be, &c.,
WM. C. P. BRECKINRIDGE,
Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
Major E. S. BURFORD,