and a light battery, to attack and disperse them.
, who had just reached the camp, assumed command of the Union
forces prior to the attack, which was made on the morning of the 21st.
The Rebels were superior in numbers; but the Unionists had a strong position, and very easily beat off their assailants, who made two attacks to no purpose, and were repulsed and driven away without serious loss on either side.
A considerable Rebel force, under Col. John S. Williams
, having been collected at Piketon
, the capital of Pike, the easternmost county of Kentucky
, at the head of the Big Sandy, Gen. Wm. Nelson
, commanding the Union
forces in Eastern Kentucky
, started from Prestonburg
, Nov. 8th, in quest of them.
Having not less than 3,000 men, while Williams
reports his full strength at 1,010, Nelson
had, at 11 o'clock, A. M., of the 7th, dispatched Col. Apperson
, of the 33d Ohio, with nearly half his force, to gain the rear of Piketon
by a circuitous route through that rugged, almost roadless region, so as to inclose the Rebels
between two fires, and compel their surrender.
It was first telegraphed that this movement had proved a perfect success; but Williams
, who seems to have been thoroughly posted throughout, retarded Nelson
's direct advance by smart, judicious skirmishing in the positions assuring him the greatest advantage, while he hurried off the cattle and other spoils industriously collected from that poor, thinly-settled region, on the road to Pound Gap
, whither he retreated on the 9th--his rearguard of 400 leaving Piketon
just as Nelson
was entering it. The loss of either party in this affair was inconsiderable — not over 100--but the conduct of our soldiers was faultless, and their patient endurance of fatigue, exposure, and privation, most commendable.
— who appears to have admirably timed and managed his retreat — reported his force stronger at Pound Gap
on the 13th than it was at Piketon
on the 8th.
The heroic Unionists
of East Tennessee
, who had anxiously expected and awaited the arrival of a Union force since the opening of the struggle, were led to believe, after our successes at Camp Wild-Cat and other points, that its appearance would not much longer be delayed.
Many of them stole through the woods and over the mountains to join it and hasten its march; while many of those who remained at home conspired to burn the more important railroad bridges throughout their section, in order to preclude the arrival of reenforcements to their Rebel oppressors during the struggle supposed to be just at hand.
They succeeded in burning three or four, but failed with regard to others; and all of them who were captured by the Rebels
while engaged in or escaping from these attempts were promptly consigned to an ignominious death.
The hopes of the loyal Tennesseans
were strangely and utterly blasted.
, in command of our army which, after the repulse of the Rebel
attack on Camp Wild-Cat, confronted Zollicoffer
, after advancing two or three days in the direction of Cumberland Gap
, was induced, by a favorite stratagem of the Rebels
, to believe that an overwhelming Confederate force was advancing on his