LOOKOUT POINT, September 6, 1863.
Enemy just in front of my pickets. Send battery, if you can, immediately.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
Alpine, Ga., September 6, 1863.
Colonel GEORGE W. BRENT,
COLONEL: Your dispatch of 6.30 p.m. of yesterday, directing me "to move into the valley with my command, drive in the enemy's pickets, and assail him so as to develop his design, strength, and position," was not received until 1 o'clock to-day.
I had been for two days blocking up all passes over the mountain by which this could be accomplished, and my command was scattered from La Fayette to Blue Pond Gap, a distance of 40 miles, in order to prevent the enemy passing over at any of the various gaps between those points, all of which he was menacing.
I immediately gave orders to have the command concentrated at Neal's Gap, and the timber which had been felled cut out to give us passage up the mountain.
After giving these orders and considering the matter I found that this order must have been written after receiving my dispatch of the evening of September 4, stating that at that time I had not learned positively that the force at Winston's, in Will's Valley, exceeded 4,000 or 5,000 men. I also found that your order must have been written prior to your receipt of my dispatch of September 5, which reported the enemy's force in the valley continually increasing, and at that time amounted to an entire army corps.
As your dispatch stated that the object of moving my command into the valley was to ascertain the "enemy's strength, design, and position," I conceived that if these points could be learned better by other means you would not desires great risks run and almost insuperable difficulties overcome in order to comply with the letter rather than the spirit of orders.
I found that the gap had been so blockaded that it would require some time to move the obstructions, and everything seemed to indicate that it was important that Neal's Gap should remain blockaded,, as it was eminently probable that this road would be one of the principal routes of the enemy.
Had I attempted to go over into the valley I am very certain I could not have obtained any information beyond that I now have, as when I got into the valley I could only see that portion of the enemy's force immediately opposed to me, while my scouts from various cliffs on the mountain had the whole of Will's Valley almost continually under observation.
The march over to the valley and back would have rendered numbers of my horses unserviceable, as they could not have been fed while on the mountain or in the valley beyond.
The placing of my command in Will's Valley would leave Rome