War of the Rebellion: Serial 051 Page 0609 Chapter XIII. THE EAST TENNESSEE CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

range of the guns), but neither of the other roads could be commanded by artillery for a greater distance than about 400 yards.

Batteries were placed to defend these approaches; but as the character of the ground permitted an enemy to approach from many directions over the spaces between the roads, the line of proper outward defenses for the force in my command was about 2 miles in circuit, which comprised the various rifle-pits, placed at irregular intervals, as the surface indicated proper points for their location, on or near the summit of the mountain. An unfinished block-house, in an isolated position about a mile and a half from the gap, was defended by one gun. This position had a very limited command of the space around it, owing to steep declivities and broken ground; but as it commanded the works of the gap it was important to prevent its occupancy by the enemy. The rifle-pits and artillery epaulements were very incomplete, owing to the rocky nature of the ground, the want of tools and blasting powder, and the small force of workmen that could be spared from other necessary duties. There were several approaches to the gap by ravines and depressions through which an enemy could throw a large force under cover of darkness or heavy fog. The chief defenses had been prepared to meet a force on the north side advancing from Kentucky, and these were my reliance when I expressed an opinion in favor of being able to hold the position, as I anticipated an attack only from that direction. In my judgment, not less than 8,000 men, with appropriate ordnance, should be assigned for the permanent defense of the position; but 14,000 would be more appropriate (the number required in the opinion of the Federal engineers).

The force at my command amounted to 1,700 effective men, with 100 rounds of ammunition; Barnes' battery (of two 6-pounder smoothbore guns and two 12-pounder howitzers), Kain's battery (of two 12-pounder and two 6-pounder smooth-bores), and one rifled 6-pounder, one 12-pounder howitzer, and two mountain howitzers, the last four distributed and separately commanded. No battery had more than its field allowance of ammunition. The limited supply of ammunition was still further reduced by the deficient construction of the magazine before I took command. On ordering an inspection and finding the powder so much damaged, I made repeated requisitions for an additional supply, and finally received a dispatch from the ordnance officer at Abingdon that the ammunition had been sent by rail to Morristown. On sending a wagon train for it (about 40 miles) none could be found, and the train returned to the gap on the 4th. A telegram from the acting commissary of subsistence at Morristown informed me also of the fact that no powder was there. (See Lieutenant Hunter's report of condition and quantity of ammunition a few days before the investment. See Captain Van Leer's (engineer) report on defenses.)

As an essential feature in the means of defense, I should mention the spring, distant from the gap on the south side by the road near half a mile, but about 300 yards in an air line. In the event of a close investment I desired to bring this water up the mountain on telegraph wires and ordered the proper apparatus to be constructed; but after an ineffectual attempt the quartermaster and engineer informed me the plan could not be carried out, nor could I succeed in procuring from the farm houses and distilleries in the country around a sufficient number of hogsheads and tanks to store water in the gap