HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Abingdon, September 12, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War:
SIR: I cannot too strongly express my conviction of the importance of having additional troops in this section of country. So far as I can ascertain Major-General Buckner left but two brigades in East Tennessee, and it is represented to me that they are made up of the most inferior troops and cannot be relied on. One of these brigades (Frazer's) was left at Cumberland Gap. The day I arrived here (the 6th instant) it was reported as surrounded by a force of six or eight regiments of the enemy, a and yesterday I received information through Colonel Carter, commanding near Jonesville (Lee Court-House), that the garrison capitulated on the evening of the 9th instant. The same information reached me from a different source to-day, and I believe the report to be true. The other brigade left by General Buckner (Brigadier General A. E. Jackson's) had fallen back before I arrived here to Bristol. General Jackson reports his brigade 1,300 strong, but I am informed that it is utterly unreliable. Brigadier-General Preston left in this district but one regiment (Giltner's regiment of cavalry) and one field battery. He left besides two small mounted battalions, but little more than 100 each, made up of border men, who cannot be relied on to leave their homes.
On or about the 22nd ultimo General Buckner asked me to let him have temporarily, I supposed, the Sixty-third Virginia Regiment, of Brigadier-General Williams' brigade, promising to replace it by cavalry. I sent my infantry regiment to him, but he did not send his cavalry to me. Williams' brigade is therefore very small and composed of new and untried troops, about one-half of them mounted. I ordered down here from Greenbrier and Monroe two regiments and a battalion of infantry and one field battery. These last, with Giltner's regiment and one field battery in Williams' command, are the only troops I can rely upon. The enemy is reported in strong force of infantry, cavalry, and artillery at Greenville and Knoxville and intermediate points. If Cumberland Gap has capitulated, and I believe it has, the force to which it capitulated is available.
You will see, I think, from the foregoing statement that if the enemy acts with even ordinary vigor, I will not only be unable to hold any part of East Tennessee, but the salt-works will be in great danger. I therefore respectfully urge that, if it be possible, consistently with the interests of the general service, you will send me reenforcements in such number as to enable me to hold this important section of country against any force the enemy will probably send against it.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
ABINGDON, September 12, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War, Richmond:
Re-enforcements are greatly needed here. I have only two regiments and a battalion of infantry and one regiment of cavalry and
a This sentence does not express my meaning correctly. When I reached Abingdon on the morning of September 6 there was no report of the evacuation of Cumberland Gap. Subsequently it was reported that it was surrounded on September 6, and that is what i intended to say.-[Note on original.]