cumstances under which I went there, and the military operations that followed until Lieutenant-General Longstreet assumed the direction of affairs in that department.
On my way to this place. after the affair of August 26 and 27 last with the enemy near White Sulphur Springs, I received a telegram from Major-General Buckner, asking me to take charge of Southwest Virginia for him, and informing me that he had ordered Brigadier General A. E. Jackson, with whom I could communicate at Jonesborough, Tenn., to report to me for orders. At the same time I received a dispatch from Brigadier-General Jackson, informing me that he had fallen back to Bristol, and desiring to know if he should destroy the railroad bridges over the Watauga and Holston. I directed him not to destroy the bridges unless it was absolutely necessary; to hold his position as long as possible, and informed him that I would send forward re-enforcements.
On September 1, I ordered Brigadier General John S. Williams, who was organizing a small brigade of mounted men at Saltville, to go with all the troops he could collect to Bristol and assume command in that vicinity. The Forty-fifth Virginia Regiment (infantry), one of the best regiments that had fought at White Sulphur Springs, was moved forward rapidly and joined Brigadier-General Williams, and Wharton's brigade, with two field batteries, which were then on the march from Orange Court-House via Warm Springs, Va., were ordered to proceed without delay to the vicinity of Bristol.
On my arrival at this place, I ascertained what I had not known before, that Major-General Buckner had gone with nearly all of his troops, including those in Soutwest Virginia, under Brigadier-General Preston, to join General Bragg near Chattanooga, and that General Burnside, with a force estimated at two corps (30,000 strong), had entered East Tennessee, occupied Knoxville, and was advancing toward Virginia.
Deeming it important that there should be a general officer in that section of country superior in rank to the three brigadiers then there, to command the scattered fragments of troops left in the Department of East Tennessee, and such re-enforcements as I could send from my own department, I went immediately to Abingdon without awaiting orders, and subsequently, under orders from the War Department, assumed command of the District of Soutwest Virginia and all troops in Tennessee east of Knoxville. Two brigades, or what were called brides, had been left in East Tennessee-one, about 2,000 strong, under Brigadier-General Frazer, at Cumberland Gap; the other, composed of parts of Thomas' Legion, a battalion of Georgia cavalry, a field battery, and parts of two dismounted batteries, acting as bridge guards, numbering about 900 men, under Brigadier General A. E. Jackson, was on the railroad from Carter's Depot to Bristol. Colonel Giltner's regiment of Kentucky cavalry had been left in Soutwest Virginia, and there were besides two small battalions of mounted men on the borders of Southeast Kentucky.
Immediately on my arrival at Abingdon, I dispatched a courier to Cumberland Gap with a letter addressed to Brigadier-General Frazer, informing him that I had assumed command of Southwest Virginia and all troops in East Tennessee, asking him to inform me of the strength of his command and the condition of his commissariat, telling him that re-enforcements were on the way to East Tennessee, and directing him to hold Cumberland Gap as long as he possibly could, and not to abandon it without the most determined resistance