HEADQUARTERS NINTH OHIO VOLUNTEER CAVALRY,
Near Manchester, Ky., May 21, 1863.
Commanding District of Central Kentucky, Lexington:
GENERAL: As you have been informed through Colonel Gilbert, I was very much detained by our train, bad roads, &c., and found it [the road] impracticable to this point via McKee. I arrived here on Sunday morning, May 10, after a march of six days, and received notice through Colonel Gilbert to send back for supplies, and await further orders. I find the people very generally loyal, and very glad to see us. They immediately brought in their horses, which had been hid in the mountains, and began to plant their corn and spring crops, at which they are still working with a great deal of vigor.
Last week rumors were constantly coming in as to rebel forces in the section known as the Red Bird settlement, variously estimated at from 300 to 2,000 scattered in different localities on the borders of Clay and Harlan Counties.
On Thursday last I was informed by reliable citizens that 1,300 of the enemy, under Colonels [Campbell] Slemp and [B. E.] Caudill, were advancing upon Manchester to drive me out. I immediately sent out a scouting party of 20 men to watch their movements, and selected a very strong position 5 miles in advance of my camp, upon which to meet them. After an absence of thirty-six hours, the scouts returned, having gone 30 miles into the localities where the enemy were reported. They ascertained that there had been a force of about 300 horse-thieves pillaging in the vicinity, but who fled upon hearing of the approach of our men, and, from the best information I have at present, there are no rebel troops stationed in Harlan County.
Slemp's Sixty-fourth Virginia Regiment crossed Cumberland Mountains at Crank's Gap, near Jonesville, on Friday last, as I learn from a couple of spies whom I caught last Tuesday, of whom I will speak hereafter.
I have found grass to last for ten days or two weeks yet, and some 300 or 400 bushels of corn, and this morning I hear of some more. The citizens are anxious for us to stay, and are doing all in their power to find us supplies. I have sent six wagons to Lexington for corn. I have fifteen days' rations for the men on hand. I sent 120 men to Cumberland Ford yesterday morning to co-operate with the Forty-fourth. I have not heard from them yet.
The two men I arrested two days ago attempted to pass through the lines, and, when brought in, pretended to be first-class Union men, &c. One produced a paper signed by Colonel Strickland, authorizing him to recruit for the Fifth Tennessee Regiment; but I examined them separately, and their stories didn't agree at all. I had learned some facts from other sources, and in the end made them acknowledge that they failed to tell me truth in everything, and that one of them had been through here ten days ago as a spy for Colonel Slemp, and that he did report to him upon his return to his regiment the condition of the country and the number and condition of the Union troops in this locality; but they now claim that this time they ran away from the rebel service in reality; that although they have belonged to the regiment, and about one year, yet they never liked it, &c., and embraced the first good opportunity of deserting.
Their stories have been very inconsistent and contradictory, and, in my opinion, the young one especially richly deserves being shot. In
23 R R-VOL XXIII, PT II