I inclose you reports from General Jones' front, showing the dispersion of the recent raid, and relieving him from the apprehension of any formidable attack from the direction of Northwest Virginia for the present. Had the troops at Orange Court-House (Wharton and Jenkins) been moved by railroad instead of on foot, they would have had ample time and would have intercepted Averell's retreating force, and in their demoralized condition would probably have captured them. The movement was made under orders from Richmond. Averell is said to have admitted a loss of 500 or 600 in the battle. The Federals fought with great obstinacy,and one squadron of their cavalry charged down a road and were annihilated by a direct and two cross fires, some of them falling against the fence with which our troops had obstructed the road, and only 5 or 6 escaping out of 70 or 80 attacking.
The feeling of the people of this section is extremely gratifying.
General Jones sent back word calling out the militia to protect the bridge on New River near this point; 2,500 militia from fifteen to seventy-five years of age rallied there very promptly. General Jones' success has in some measure satisfied the public mind, which had been excited against him by the usual political maneuvers of this section of country.
I inclose to you a letter of complaint from Brigadier-General Williams, and the orders to Colonel Giltner to report to him, and also Colonel Giltner's report of his force. General Williams was in command of troops in General Jones' department near the line and partly protecting Saltville. I suppose General Preston had no right to appoint a successor when he was withdrawn, and that the order to Colonel Giltner was intended to put his troops under the control of the nearest general officer without destroying the organization of the district by merging it into another department, or disturbing its administration.
I think it desirable, in order to secure unity of action, to annex this district temporarily to the department of General Jones, and if this order was sent to General Jones by telegraph, it would enable him to act promptly and efficiently. I will write again to-morrow from Abingdon. You will see that Giltner's report shows that General Preston left about 900 cavalry in his district and Captain Davidson's battery. Brigadier General J. S. Williams reports, August 31, his force to consist of the following commands:
Command. Effective. Aggregate.
May's regiment mounted 328 681
Peter's regiment mounted 457 942
Beckley's regiment mounted 117 370
Morris' regiment mounted 149 392
Lowry's battery 89 133
Baldwin's Partisan Rangers 21 74
There are therefore now in that district:
Williams' troops..................................... 1,161
Preston's troops..................................... 900
Jackson's troops..................................... 1,300
But I fear these 3,361 troops are not very effective, many of them