Mountain. General McClellan is reported to have been himself stationed at the western foot of that ridge. His scouts have been roaming the country on this of it, and yesterday a party of nine of them were taken in ambush by a party of our scouts, who killed seven of them and wounded the eighth. General McClellan has been assiduously inviting all the people who have fled from that region to return to their homes, assuring them protection to person and property. His treatment of prisoners is humane in a high degree, and I am apprehensive that the contrast between the course of his troops and that of our poor, destitute, half-starved soldiers toward the inhabitants of the country will work serious mischief to our cause. The telegraphic wire has been brought to Beverly, and his movements are evidently conducted with promptness and method. Passing around to the country on our left flank, all of the reports from that direction, together with the fortifying of Cheat Mountain, would seem to indicate the intention of the enemy to move his main column along the Huttonsville turnpike, which for several days past he has been energetically reconnoitering, eiher toward Huntersville and Millborough, to take possession of the railroad or, toward Lewisburg, to operate against General Wise. This conclusion shows how important it is that special attention should be turned to that line, and yet how disproportionate our means to the end to be accomplished. The North Carolina regiment, cheerful and hopeful, with instructions to Colonel Lee to move cautiosly, is now upon its road to Elk Mountain. I have begged its officers to keep the probability of retreat ever in contemplation, so that retreat may not of necessity become a rout. Certainly nature has constructed no country better fitted for the retreat of a small before a superior force, and this, I am sorry to say, is at last my greatest hope. It is now clear that unless we be soon and largely re-enforced Northwestern Virginia must be abandoned.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. R. JACKSON,
HEADQUARTERS TWELFTH Georgia REGIMENT,
Camp at Cheat Mountain, July 20, 1861.
General H. R. JACKSON,
SIR: We arrived at this point at 11 o'clock yesterday. I find great difficulty in procuring the necessary quantity of water for this regiment only, being distant half a mile from camp. There are approaches for the enemy [from] three or four directions both in front and rear of our position. How soon a powerful and sagacious enemy may avail themselves of these advantages is more than I am able to conjecture. Major Williams and myself have just returned from an observation of the position, and from the insurmountable difficulty of water and the facility of outflanking me on both sides, concur in opinion that this point is utterly indefensilbe. For particulars I refer you to the major himself. Your orders to me were to occupy this position, which I shall do at every peril until ordered otherwise by yourself. Inclosed you will please find morning report.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Z. T. CONNER,
Lieutenant-Colonel Twelfth Georgia Regiment, Commanding