Today in History:

115 Series I Volume XX-I Serial 29 - Murfreesborough Part I


his pretended concealment of knowledge, I assure you, but disclose to my sense the turpitude of his motives in representing as existing something he affects to desire to conceal. The reasons for my delay are now plainly disclosed, and that delay was not longer than I thought my business required, of which I was the sole judge.

If it was the intention of Major Dunn to intimate that I was intoxicated, my statement is that the assertion can be proved false, not only of that day and time, but of every other day and time since I held your commission, for there is not a more temperate man in the Southern Confederacy than I am and have always been. In this connection, let me remark that the same writer comments upon what he calls my "imbecility." A long personal acquaintance, both with the President and yourself, will enable you to pronounce judgment upon such a charge with more propriety than I can.

I inclose you Major Dunn's map-the result of several hours' labor-which you will perceive places all the points of compass wrong; puts Abingdon west of Bristol, and, in a word, is such a production that no art could explain it. It is possible I may have been inattentive to any explanation of a diagram so wrong as it was, though I have no recollection of it, as it was my purpose, even if ennuyed, to remain polite, and I am not in the habit of conducting myself otherwise. I leave it to the President to judge, however, if my activity in the intelligent discharge of my duty slackened.

Instead of the 1,500 efficient men which it is asserted were at my disposal, you perceive that, up to 2.30 p.m. on the 31st, I had a force as follows:

Sixty-fourth Virginia Infantry........................... 373

Fifth Kentucky [Infantry]................................ 310

---- 683

Clay's Mounted Rifles.................................... 250

Johnson's Mounted Rifles................................. 100

---- 350


Total.................................................... 1,033

Making a total about equal to Colonel Slemp's estimate of 900, though the company on picket should be subtracted, as it was 10 miles from Bristol. After 2.30 p.m. of the 31st, add Giltner, and we have a total of some, 1,400 or 1,500 of all arms.

I submit, respectfully, that in the state of my information it was my duty not to leave Bristol sooner than I did, and it was proper, after a ride of 37 miles through mud and rain, to have let my cavalry horses feed before I commenced a pursuit. How effective that cavalry was, I leave you to judge upon the plain statements of Colonel Giltner that his men were in the saddle the night of the 30th and 31st, and in that time (forty hours) never ate, and traversed 66 miles over deep, bad roads in the winter, in a mountain land. When I was at Bristol, before starting on the night of the 31st, I did not know what route the enemy would take. Major Witcher had arrived in person, but not his battalion. I directed him to return that night to Little Moccasin Gap, and lead his battalion to the defile at Hanging Rock, 3 miles from Osborne's Ford, so that, if the enemy tried to turn to the right at Estillville and to go by the ford over to the Pound Gap road, he might check him. I did not know I could intercept him before he would reach that point. If the enemy did not approach the ford next morning, Major Witcher was to lead his battalion down the north side of Clinch River and join