thought it possible the enemy might take a right-hand road at Burke's Garden, and come down Rich Valley to the salt-works. To guard against this, I ordered Colonel Peters back to the mouth of Laurel, and directed him to inform Colonel Crittenden at once, which was done.
I sent a courier to Colonel McCausland, at Princeton, informing him of the movements of the enemy. He at once took measures to prevent his escape through Rocky Gap or by the Narrows of New River. *
Every avenue of retreat was thus cut off, excepting by Jeffersonville, or by crossing East River Mountain at Henry Dill's, 16 miles from Jeffersonville. I thought General Preston's cavalry, a portion of which was within 12 miles of me, would arrive in time to intercept them at those points. I dispatched couriers again to Saltville and to Russell County, urging this cavalry to come straight forward to me, saying, I would capture the whole Yankee force. Major [J. B.] Holladay, who commanded the detachment of Preston's cavalry nearest me, replied that he had orders from Colonel [George b.] Hodge, in case of an approach of the enemy, to fall back to Lebanon, but that my request had been sent to Colonel Hodge, and a reply was hourly expected.
Late in the evening of Saturday (18th), a dispatch reached me from Colonel Hodge, saying that he had positive orders from General Preston to move to Saltville, but that when he got there, if Colonel Crittenden consented, he would come to me at Liberty Hill. This was the first intimation I had that any movement of Preston's cavalry had commenced. I sent a courier to Colonel Crittenden, at Saltville, instructing him to meet Hodge with a dispatch beyond Hyter's Gap, and directing him to come to me at once at Liberty Hill. The courier went, but a portion of Colonel Hodge's troops had already passed the Gap when he met them.
A dispatch from Colonel Crittenden (&. 30 o'clock) stated that 200 cavalry were starting, and that Colonel Hodge, with 600 more, would start to me in an hour and a half, and I thought we could certainly capture them.
In the meantime, Major May was pressing the enemy toward Wytheville. He came up with their tear guard at the foot of Walker's Mountain, 8 miles from Wytheville, and dashed into it, killing of citizens and negroes.
A few miles from Shannon's, the enemy sent a detachment of about 100 men on the road leading to Mount Airy. May's command was too small to divide, nearly one-half of his horses being completely exhausted. With 150 men he still pressed on the main column, in the hope of saving Wytheville, and was on their rear when they commenced burning the town. They soon began to retreat, and in turn were driving May. On the hill beyond Shannon's, they took the road to Crab Orchard, and our forces moved to Burke's Garden. They left the main road at Crab Orchard, crossed brushy Mountain, and fell on to Hunting Camp creek, which they followed to Wolf Creek; then up Wolf Creek.
May moved down Wolf Creek from Burke's Garden, hoping to cut
*Colonel McCausland received his orders from me, and acted on them. See my telegram to him of the 18th instant. *-SAM. JONES, Major-General. July 29, 1863.