Court-House, Sewell Mountain, Summersville, and intermediate points, the substance of whose information is contained in the reports accompanying this. The retreat of Wise has every characteristic of a final movement out of the valley. Not only his buning of bridges and destruction of arms and other property has this look, but the conduct and air of the professed secessionists strongly confirms this opinion. Those who have been committed to the cause of the rebellion, and who moved their families and property far up the valley when we entered it, have returned in considerable numbers and asked leave to occupy their homes again. Great numbers of Wise's troops, raised here in the valley, deserted him near this point, and the story of the deserters is quite uniform that it was understood that he was permanently abandoning the valley, and that they were unwilling to follow him into Eastern Virginia, having enlisted, as they say, solely with a view to defend their homes against the outrages which it was represented our troops would commit. In a thousand ways, difficult to detail minutely, the people show that their understanding of the matter is that the Kanawha Valley is, for the present at least, given up. My own view, therefore, is that if a reconquest of Western Virginia is attempted, it will be by some other line of operations, unless Wise is wholly superseded in command, and an entirely new enterpirse planned and set in motion by others. I do not incline to think Summersville will be in the line of new offensive operations on their part; first, because from whatever direction it is approached the roads are peculiarly difficult, and second, it is not a place of peculiar advantages when reached. If the design is to invade Northwestern Virginia, a more direct and easy road upon Beverly can be found, and if the design were to invade Southwestern Virginia, the route through this point is vastly easier. The road laid down upon the maps from Summersville to Huntersville is described by numerous persons as a vrly, if not quite, an impracticable route for wagons. From Summersville in any direction the roads are bad, and especially so between that point and this. The opportuniteis for stopping and seriously injuring a force moving upon Summersville are great, and I do not believe the advantages to be gained by the enemy would be great enough to induce him to make any offensive movements in that direction, so long as here and at Sutton there are strong bodies of our troops. My belief is that they think the Kanawha Valley must eventually follow the fate of Northwestern Virginia, and that they will attempt to recover what they lost at Rich Mountain whenever they agin take the offensive, unless some movement of ours should tempt them in this direction again.
With this view of the case, I incline to the opinion that the line from here northward through Summersville, &c., should be kept strong with active outposts, which could give information of the enemy's movements in time to concentrate a considerable force at any point that might be menaced. Of course I only give this opinion as from the stand-point I occupy here, and not at all as of value, in view of all the information you are doubtless possessed of. If a force as large as my present command were kept here, with the aid of a few more horsemen, we could be in possession of news of every movement from Giles or Raleigh Court-House to Lewisburg, and connect on the noth with the force at Summersville, which could in its turn reconnoiter as far as Huntersville, and be ready to unite in any offensive or defensive policy as the action of the enemy might make it advisable. For ease of reaching Lewinsburg we are better off here than at Summersville, and in a few days might have a bridge of flat-foats, which would give us a safe