KNOXVILLE, July 11, 1863.
General W. W. MACKALL,
Chief of Staff, Chattanooga:
I have received instructions to move into Kentucky for the purpose of a demonstration. To do this, concert with General Bragg is essential. Can he spare me two or there brigades? If desirable, I can call to see.
S. B. BUCKNER,
HEADQUARTERS PRESTON'S BRIGADE,
Abington, Va., July 11, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector GeneraL.
GENERAL: I learn that the exigencies of the service may require the union of the departments under command of General Bragg and Major-General Buckner. When your order me to relieve General Marshall in this department, you anticipated the difficulty of administering the affairs of the district instructed to my command, and authorized me to communicate directly with the Department. Major-General Buckner, to whom I reported, from a similar view, gave me planar authority in this district. I recall these facts, as in my judgment the difficulties will be greatly augmented if this portion of Virginia be insulted in the new department. The main vulnerable point here is Saltville, which produces 10,000 bushels of salt per diem, and which is of vital consequence to the Confederacy. The approaches are through Pound Gap and Louisa Gap, in Northeastern Kentucky. The enemy have already along the Sandy 4,000 or 5,000 men, menacing a raid on Abingdon and Saltville. The Tenth and Fourteenth Kentucky, Third-ninth Illinois,* and some Ohio troops, about 1,500 strong, are entrenched at the mouth of Beaver, between Pound Gap and Petersburg. They attacked and captured a picket of mine near Pound Gap. My force is not much more than one-halt of that General Marshall had for the defense of the district. Colonels Trigg's, Leyden's, and Moore's regiments the best disciplined and instructed troops I had, have been withdrawn. The remained are wretchedly, and have a large territory to guard. To atone, as far as possible, for these deficiencies, the only ready will be prompt and energetic action an my part, without waiting for orders from a remote point. Chattanooga is farther from me than Richmond. I fear that this portion of the department, if annexed to that of General Bragg, will be neglected.
No punishment of military offenders has even been effectual here, because before the order could be had to organize the count it would be dissolved or fail to assemble, from the movements of troops and the necessary absence of officers. If, therefore, the union of the departments should be ordered, I respectfully invoke your attention, general, to the considerations presented. I believe that it would be injurious to unite this portion of Virginia to the Department of Tennessee. Through nothing can be more agreeable than my personal and officer relations witch General Buckner. I think that it would be better that I should report directly to the Department, as recommended by General [A.] Sidney Johnston when General Marshall was in command, or to be attached to the department of Major-General Jones. I feel assured that
* Thirty-night Kentucky?