watering stock are poor,as there are no streams of running water in the vicinity of the road. At Salem the road leading to Larkin's Fork,and thence to Bellefonte and Larkinsville,strikes off nearly at right angles with the former road,running generally in a direction somewhat east of south to the base of the mountains,near 5 miles from Salem. The land in this valley is extremely fertile and well watered,the road crossing both branches of Bean's Creek. There is also near the base of the mountain to the right of the road and artificial water basin,filled at the present time with good,pure water. From this road,leading in a northeasterly direction,to the Salem road,are several settlement roads and bridle paths,which if passable,wound be much the nearer way from this place (Winchester) to the mountain base;but the recent heave rains have washed these paths so badly that it is doubtful whether they could be used to advantage for military purposes. The prevailing opinions among the residents were that time and trouble would be saved by adhering to the main road,by way of Salem.
At he foot of the mountain the road makes a turn to the right,and after running for a short distance in a southwesterly course,makes by a long curve a turn to the left (as you will perceive by the map),and the ascent of the mountain commences. Immediately after making the ascent of the mountain commences. Immediately after making the second turn the road for a hundred yards,probably,is steep,and a very heavily laden wagon could scarcely be drawn up it. I think,however,that this hill could be easily avoided by cutting a road through the field to the left for a short distance. The balance of the road to the summit of the mountain is by no means steep,and,although in many places quite rough and stony,there is no obstacle that can seriously impede the passage of either artillery or baggage-wagons.
Near the mountain top to the right of the road there is a second water basin,containing good water. From this point there is no water,excepting in wells until the mountain is entirely crossed. The mountain top at this crossing is quite narrow,probably not more than a mile in width. On it are several spots of cultivated ground and some few scattering dwellings,most of which are deserted. The timber on the mountain is quite fine,and consists mostly of chestnut and the several species of oak.
The descent of the mountain is quite gradual. The road,which is very good,winds over a high ridge or spur,upon each side of which is a deep ravine. These ravines unite at Larkin's Fork,the roads at this place turning suddenly to the left and running for more than a mile in an easterly direction,thence in a southeasterly course toward Bellefonte. The road for some distance beyond Larkin's Fork follows a deep ravine. It is,although stony,quite level.
I failed to ascertain anything reliable concerning the roads running in a northeasterly direction from Bellefonte. I have not attempted,therefore,to delineate them on my sketch. I was informed that water was very plenty beyond the mountains. Altogether,this road over the mountain is good. None of the curves (which are few in number) are too short to allow a team to draw to advantage. There are no places over the whole route where wagons could be an indispensable requisite to their safety.
I am,colonel,very respectfully,your obedient servant,
HENRY McALLESTER, JR.,
Captain, Commanding Company G, Anderson Cavalry.