War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0955 Chapter XXXIX. EXPEDITION TO WYTHEVILLE, VA.

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me French's, Peters', and [H. M.] Beckley's regiments, but these regiments were not in existence. These three gentlemen had authority from you to raise regiments, but they had no troops. French was at that time a prisoner in the hands of the enemy. I felt greatly outraged by this order, and went immediately to see you, taking Captain Peyton with me, to be present at the interview. You stated to me most emphatically that the order assigning my regiments to General Echols was only temporary, and that you had no intention whatever of taking those troops away from me permanently. I went back to Saltville, trusting in your promises. Shortly after this, circumstances induced me to believe that you were not dealing candidly with me, and I went to see you again on this subject, taking Colonel John [D.] Morris with me, when in his presence you repeated what you had before stated in the presence of Captain Peyton. Colonel Morris thought your assurances satisfactory, but I was not satisfied. I went back to Saltville, feeling that my only chance to get a command was to raise it myself. I went to work as chief recruiting officer, and, in conjunction with Colonels May, Peters, Bowen, and Beckley, succeeded, after an incredible amount of labor, in raising three regiments and one battalion. During the time I was engaged in raising this new force, the enemy made a raid upon Wytheville. Colonel John McCausland, who was then stationed at Mercer Court-House, sent you a report, as I am informed, of his connection with that affair, in which he throws the blame of the failure to capture the raiders upon me. This report you sent to Richmond without comment. In this report, McCausland does me great injustice, but you did me a greater injustice in sending that report to Richmond. McCausland knew nothing of the number, character, or disposition of my command, and was not prepared to judge whether I was to blame or not; but you, general, knew that I did everything that was possible with the small force at my disposal, and yet you sent McCausland's report to the Adjutant-General's Office without correcting his error. Why you did so, I am unable to say. I am unwilling to believe that you did so for the purpose of prejudicing the Department against me, and yet such has been the effect of that report. The Secretary of War remarked to a member of Congress that General Williams was blamed for the escape of these raiders. You will remember that at Zollicoffer last fall, in the presence of General Crittenden and several members of my staff, you asked me if I were willing to take command of your cavalry, telling me that you had ordered to Tennessee several more mounted regiments from Greenbrier, and that my command would be a large one. I consented to take the cavalry. After the cavalry from Greenbrier had arrived, you divided the whole of the mounted force into two brigades, and gave to Brig. General W. E. Jones (my junior), who had just arrived in the department, much the larger brigade of the two, and all of them troops belonging to your own proper department, while you gave to me the smaller brigade, composed chiefly of fragments of absent commands, liable at any time to be claimed by their proper brigade commanders. The only regiment you gave me belonging to your own department was the Tenth Kentucky, a regiment raised and organized by me a short time before. The rest belonged to Generals Preston's or Pegram's brigades. Peters' regiment, upon which I had bestowed much labor in raising and organizing, you gave to General Jones.