Tennessee. The duty is of the greatest importance, and requires the utmost vigilance on the part of all under your command.
You will assign the force under your orders to the various works. The engineer's estimate is larger than the force I can now furnish you, but I would suggest an assignment of the troops at the respective stations in about the proportions judged best by him, as modified by our own judgment. The cavalry and Indian force should not be permanently fixed at any point, but used as scouts, and to re-enforce points threatened by raids.
In addition to your other duties, you will attempt to organize, amongst the patriotic elements of the people, such volunteer companies as are authorized by the act of Congress approved October 13, 1862.
In addition to your local duties connected with the defense of the public works, you will employ such of your force as may be available for suppressing any armed bands which may infest the departments, but you will enforce the most rigid discipline amongst your troops, and forbid every act that may be construed into the oppression of those misguided citizens whose unprincipled leaders have brought them into opposition to our country.
Respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
S. B. BUCKNER,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE,
Knoxville, May 19, 1863.
General BRAXTON BRAGG,
Commanding Dept. Numbers 2 and Army of Tenn., Shelbyville, Tenn.:
GENERAL: I have received your letter of the 15th instant, and appreciate what you state in reference to the intimate relations between our positions.
My force is disposed as follows: Preston's brigade (late Marshall's) in Southwestern Virginia and the mountain passes of Southeastern Kentucky. His total is not much over 2,000 of all arms. I do not say effective, because it is half disorganized. Twelve hundred infantry and cavalry, with field pieces at the various bridge defenses, are stationed along the railroad. This is a small brigade assigned to that special service. The rest of my infantry force, which does not exceed 6,000 effective, constitutes my active field force. It is divided into three brigades, and is much scattered, but generally with a view to concentration on the line of railway. About 1,000 of these troops are at Cumberland Gap; the rest, in nearly equal parts, at Greenville. Morristown, Knoxville, Clinton, and Loudon. My cavalry force number about 3,500, about half of which is with Pegram, at Monticello; the rest covering the front and recruiting animals in rear of front. Its quality is indifferent. Leaving minimum garrisons for the bridges and Cumberland Gap, I could not from my whole force concentrate at any one point more than about 4,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry, and the requisite artillery; most of them troops who have not been in action.
The country in front of the Clinch River is almost literally a desert. This fact constitutes at present our strongest defense in East Tennessee.
My information from Pegram to-day is, that on the 17th the enemy had fourteen regiments at Somerset, and that their troops, previously about Jamestown, had retired in the direction of Columbia, Ky.; it is not unlikely with a view to concentrate at Somerset, Ky., by a better road. They have from two to three regiments at Barboursville.
I have no information from Eastern Kentucky, by way of Pound Gap;