Through any of these, and at such distances apart, the enemy may pass his column from Kentucky into this valley, and so on far to the west of Cumberland Gap. You may run lines of general parabola to the road and mountain range as I have roughly laid them down, and trace, going southward, Powell's River, Powell's Mountain, Wallen's Creek, Wallen's Ridge, Clinch River Mountain, Holston River, the railroad, &c. Such is this country within 28 miles of where I now write. High mountains ranges, low, narrow valleys, inferior ranges of hills, intersected by creeks and branches, rocky, flinty, producing some corn and some hay, but holding few slaves, and the men nearly all, as they say, gone to the army; those who are at home too old to fight, deformed, maimed, or against us.
I must claim the indulgence of the Government and the chief of the department, if I cannot obtain all they desire under such circumstances. My force is very small, considering the country over which it must be spread, for it is 100 miles from Cumberland Gap to Pound Gap.
I understand the enemy is said to be massing his cavalry for another raid, and to be massing it at Crab Orchard. This indicates to me nothing of his course afterward, for he may be going southwest or southeast, and may demonstrate just as well through Somerset and Jamestown as through the mountain passes in these more lofty mountains.
I find 350 men in the Sixty-fourth Virginia on parade to-day, and about 300 in the Fifth Kentucky. I cannot calculate on more than 600 infantry for any occasion. These I shall keep together, with the section of artillery I have with them now, and the rest of Davidson's battery when I can get it up. [B. E.] Caudill's regiment has about 500 at Whitesburg, Ky., on the other side of the mountains, and some of my mounted men are over there, too. My men are as low as Salyersville and West Liberty, in Kentucky, in small parties, and I hear from that section frequently. General Cranor has about 1,500 men at Louisa, on the Sandy, and a force of 500 at Peach Orchard, 10 miles below Paintville.
Whenever it shall suit the general to say to me that I am at liberty to pass the Kentucky border with my forces, I shall feel that I have gained a point, and may find employment and gather more force than I shall ever be able to do in Virginia.
I am, respectfully, &c.,
HDQRS. HARDEE'S CORPS, ARMY OF TENNESSEE, Tullahoma, January 26, 1863.
General BRAXTON BRAGG:
GENERAL: I send you by my engineers, Captain [J. W.] Green and Lieutenant [George M.] Helm, a map of the country immediately around this place. The engineers will explain whatever the map may fail to show, respecting the topography of the ground it is proposed to fortify. I desire you will indicate to them what points you wish fortified, the nature and extent of the fortifications, &c. This would seem to be your province rather than mine. It is too important to be intrusted to a subordinate. Your wishes being known, it will give me pleasure to execute them with all the ability and dispatch in my power. It will be seen by the map I send you that this position offers few, if any, advantages for defense. It can be turned, not only by the direct road leading from