HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., March 15, 1864.
Brigadier General J. A. RAWLINS,
Chief fo Staff, Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report, in obedience to Special Orders, No, 58, Military Division of the Mississippi, March 3, 1864, that I proceeded to Mount Sterling, Ky., where I found the cavalry of the Army of the Ohio, under the command of Brigadier-General Sturgis.
I learn that this command of cavalry, in strength between 6,000 and 7,000, was directed to this point, by order of Major-General Foster, to re-equip, assimilating the arm as much as possible, and remount, which I am told by the commanding officer will take until about 1st May to accomplish. This cavalry command was originally armed with several varieties of carbines and rifles, and one of the purpose of removing in from the front appears to have been to assimilate the arm, condensing the variety of ammunition, which in some cases was different in the same regiment. I should rather infer, from a careful reading of the order, that the intention of the major-general commanding the Department of the Ohio was to concentrate that same kind of arm within the same regiment, and not with the intent of replacing by new arms the old, which from length of service should be but partially worn and in no degree unserviceable. The particle of suggesting to the soldier an indifference to the care of the arm placed in his hands, by holding out a possibility of a new issue, is fraught with damage, to the soldier and the service, and therefore should not be allowed without more than ordinary urgency. The same variety of arm will ultimately by received in any new issue from the Ordnance Department, and this command delayed very much in its reorganization. Brigadier-General Sturgis state that requisitions have been forwarded to Washington for this now equipment; that his horses are now ready for delivery, awaiting the arrival of these ordnance stores. I would respectfully suggest, in view of the immediate necessity of this command in the field, that the arm now in their possession be assimilated by regiments and brigades, that their horses be drawn, and every preparation made for an immediate readiness.
The exposed point in the District of Kentucky is Camp Nelson. The troops are not located either to control of prevent the approach on an enemy through Stone or Pound Gaps, via Whitesburg, Proctor, Irvine, Richmond, to this point, the most direct route and best road, and, in there is not a man stationed along line, and the enemy could reach Camp Nelson without the last intimation of danger. The disposition of the troops proper of the District of Kentucky is not equal to a successful resistance of a raid; they are disposed around Louisville, Lexington, and north and south of this latter point along the rail, with but about 300 men at Camp Nelson, where the largest amount of public property is collected. Camp Nelson should be immediately strengthened and an officer sent there in command, with rank to appreciate its importance, as well as to cultivate a possible resistance to any approach of the enemy. The end foraging and equipping the cavalry under the command of Brigadier-General Sturgis would have been subserved as readily at Camp nelson, if not better, than at Mount Sterling. Having exhausted the slight amount of forage within hauling distance, this command is now receiving its forage and supplies by rail to Paris and thence by wagon, 22 miles, to Mount Sterling. There is no reason