and pursuing a generally parallel course to that stream, to its own reception by the Ohio
, and being navigable for 250 miles by large steamboats, save in seasons of summer drouth, and by boats of 500 tuns for some 300 miles further.
These two--the only rivers, save the Mississippi
, navigable southward from the border of the Free
into the Slave States
--were obviously regarded on both sides, in view of the notorious impracticability of Southern roads in Winter
, as the natural routes of advance for our Western armies collected and drilled on and near the Ohio
during the Autumn of 1861 and the Winter following.
The close of 1861 left Gen. Humphrey Marshall
, commanding the Confederate forces in south-eastern Kentucky
, intrenched at Paintville
, Johnson county
, intent on gathering supplies and recruiting.
Col. James A. Garfield
, of Ohio
, commanding a Union brigade consisting of the 42d Ohio, 14th Kentucky, and a squadron of Ohio
cavalry, moved up the Big Sandy early in 1862, occupying Paintville1
without resistance, and pushing on to Prestonburg, Floyd county
; hear which town, at the forks of Middle creek, he encountered Marshall
, whom he put to flight with little loss on either side.
reported his full strength in this engagement at 1,800, and estimated that of Marshall
was obliged to retreat into Virginia
was abandoned without resistance to the Unionists next month;2
and Gen. Garfield
, with 600 men, made a rapid excursion3
to Pound Gap
, where he surprised a Rebel camp, capturing 300 rifles, destroying the camp equipage, and returning to Pikeville
, at the close of 1861, held a position on the Cumberland
, near the head of steamboat navigation on that sinuous stream, which may be regarded as the right of the Rebel
army covering Tennessee
and holding a small part of southern Kentucky
His force did not exceed 5,000 men; but even this was with great difficulty meagerly subsisted by inexorable foraging on that thinly settled and poorly cultivated region.
His principal camp was at Mill Spring, in Wayne county
, on the south side of the river; but, finding himself unmolested, he established himself on the opposite bank, in a substantial earthwork, which he named Camp Beach Grove.
He had one small steamboat, which had run up with munitions from Nashville
, and was employed in gathering supplies for his hungry men; but the advance of a Union detachment to Columbia
, on his left, had rendered his navigation of the river below him precarious, if not entirely obstructed it. On his right front, Gen. Schoepf
, with a force of 8,000 men, occupied Somerset
; but was content to occupy it, without attempting or desiring to make trouble.
But Gen. George H. Thomas
, having been ordered4
by Gen. Buell
to take command in this quarter, had scarcely reached Logan's Cross-Roads5
when Maj.-Gen. George B. Crittenden
, who had recently joined Zollicoffer
and superseded him in command, finding himself nearly destitute of subsistence, and apprehending an attack in overwhelming