of which he was capable. A few hours after I had dispatched that letter I received a telegram from Major-General Buckner requesting
me to send an order to Brigadier-General Frazer directing him to evacuate Cumberland Gap, destroying all the stores and public property that he could not remove, and fall back to Abingdon. Buckner added, "This is General Bragg's order." I did not send the order to Frazer as requested, but telegraphed the Secretary of War, informing him of what I had done, and of the telegram from General Buckner, and urged that Cumberland Gap be not abandoned. The War Department replied, directing me to hold Cumberland Gap and all other strong points that I could in East Tennessee.
In the meantime, the enemy had advanced along the line of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad to Carter's Depot, where they were checked by the gallantry and good conduct of Captain H. L. W. McClung and his small bridge guard of some 150 men. Brigadier-General Jackson and Colonel Giltner moved beyond Jonesborough, and in a handsome affair at Limestone Depot captured some 300 prisoners.
On September 10, I received information that Cumberland Gap had been surrounded on the 6th by six or eight regiments of the enemy's cavalry. From the best information I could gather at this time, I believe General Burnside had carried or sent the greater part of his force to General Rosecrans, leaving a division or two to capture Cumberland Gap and drive out the few troops left in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. I determined to endeavor to hold as much of East Tennessee as possible and relieve Cumberland Gap, and was preparing an expedition for this latter purpose when, on the 11th, I received information that Brigadier-General Frazer had capitulated on the evening of the 9th; that he and his brigade were prisoners, and the enemy in possession of the gap. The courier whom I had dispatched on the 6th delivered my letter to Brigadier-General Frazer some hours before he capitulated.
The loss of Cumberland Gap rendered available nearly all the force that had invested that place, and it was immediately thrown on the line of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad and moved toward Virginia. Under all the circumstances of the case I thought the best service I could render with the small force under my command would be to check and detain the superior force in my front until the battle which I supposed was impending near Chattanooga should be decided.
I had been detained at Abingdon five or six days by an attack of diphtheria.
On the 14th, I went to Jonesborough, where the troops were concentrated under Brigadier-General Williams. The country about Jonesborough is not well adapted to the purpose I proposed to myself, namely, to check and detain a greatly superior with an inferior force. The cavalry had been skirmishing for several days, and was greatly exhausted. There were two railroad bridges in my rear, over the Watauga and Holston, which the enemy could easily destroy with his large cavalry force, and having little or no field transportation. I was dependent on the railroad for supplies. I therefore directed Brigadier-General Williams to fall back to Carter's Depot, which he did in the night of the 16th, and Corse's brigade, which had been ordered to me from Richmond, was ordered to halt at zollicoffer.
On the 18th, 2,000 or 3,000 of the enemy's cavalry passed to my rear, by way of Kingsport, driving off the First Tennessee Cavalry