TAZEWELL COURT-HOUSE, VA., October 14, 1864.
GENERAL: In obedience to your instructions, I moved with the detachment under my command from this place on 23rd ultimo in the direction of the Kanawha Valley and attacked the enemy, 100 strong, at Mouth of Coal on 30th ultimo at dark, bat owing to the river being past fording, and all the ferry-boats having been removed to the east side of the river, where the enemy were entrenched, I failed to dislodge them, and after skirmishing whit them across the river about two hours and securing a large supply of boots, shoes, heavy clothing, worsted goods, and hats from store-boat on the west side of the river, I withdrew my command, with the loss of two wounded. The los of he enemy was eight or ten killed and wounded. After leaving Mouth of Coal I moved down the guyandotte turnpike and encamped at Hurricane Bridge for the purpose of feeding and resting, and went myself with an escort of eight men toward Winfield to se\cure reliable information concerning the enemy posted there, and if possible to hear from Colonel witcher. On my way to camp, and when within for miles of it, I suddenly came upon a small squad of the enemy about 3 o'clock in the morning. We came together at full speed and were all mixed up with each other before we knew it, and our meeting was alike surprising to them as to myself. I was immediately unhorsed, and my escort, being greatly outnumbered, were speedily dispersed and four of them captured. Myself and the rest, under cover of the darkness, escaped thought the fields, losing two horses. Before it was possible for me to reach camp, Captain Hobbs, the officer in charge, moved the command whit unparalleled celerity in the direction of Logan Court-House, marching that day fifty-seven miles. This movement I am entirely unable to explain, for there was no enemy threatening us, and but few of the enemy's scouts to be seen along the roads, and none whatever pursued him. He was either actuated by cowardice or a determination to desert me and return to within our lines. I supposed that he would certainly report to his regiment in this county ut to my surprise and astonishment he crossed the Dry Fork of Sandy twenty-five miles west of this place on last tuesday week and went in the direction of Lee County, where I understand he has arrived, and has never reported to his regiment. His march for speed is without precedent, and throughout his march he stripped every citizen of horses who happened to fall in his way, and committing some of the most outrageous depredations upon defenseless and loyal citizens.
The object of the expedition was fully accomplished, notwithstanding course of Captain Hobbs, as the enemy's attention was drawn to the south side of the Kanawha, where they supposed I had a large force. There are nine companies of cavalry int eh Valley from Guyandotte to Cannelton-seven companies of seventh Virginia and two companies of New York cavalry, numbering in the aggregate 700 men. The companies are posted as follows: two at Guyandotte, one at Winfield, one at coal, one at charleston, two at Camp Piatt, and two at Cannelton. Situated as they are, 150 men can clear the lower Valley of the enemy, and I would not hesitate to attempt to drive the whole force from there with 200 good cavalry.
I will see you in a few days in person-about Thursday next. I have just arrived here, and am so worn out that I will rest a few days.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. NOUNNAN,
Major, Commanding Detachment of Cavalry.
Brigadier-General ECHOLS, Comdg. Dept. of S. W. Va. and E. Tenn.