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From the South West.

Safay of the Virginia and Tennessee railroads-- Gens. Zollicoffer, Marshall, and Floyd.

[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Abingdon, Dec. 1, 1861.
It can be said with entire truth that the line of the Virginia and Tennessee railroads from Lynchburg to Chattanooga is now safe. The disaffection in East Tennessee has been brought to grief and shame by the premature burning of the railroad bridges. The ringleaders in that silly and stupid business are in custody, and will be tried as spies by military court martial. They will be shot, and thus expiate the foulest and meanest form of treason that has yet been developed in the Southern States. The bridge-burning, instead of being a calamity, has really proved fortunate in putting the Government on its guard in this region, and in developing a treason which, at a moment better chosen by its creatures and more critical to us might have been disastrous in the last degree. I learn that all the burned bridges are in the course of rapid reconstruction, and that such as are not yet repaired will be ready for the running of the trains in a few weeks.

This town is now free of troops. Two Virginia regiments, the 56th and another which I believe is the 57th, have just reached here from Eastern Virginia, en route to join Gen. Marshall, now twenty-five miles west of this, in Russell county. The regiment of Colonel Moore, which has been raised in this portion of the State, is also ready to march for the same destination, and will set off to-morrow morning. These troops, with the forces already at Gen. Marshall's camp, and the Kentuckians at Pound Gap, will give that General a handsome little army with which to enter Kentucky and rally the loyal citizens of the Eastern part of that State to the Confederate cause. Gen. Marshall will be in supporting distance of Gen. Zollicoffer, and his presence in Eastern Kentucky will greatly stiffen up our affairs in the direction of Cumberland Gap.

Contrary to the rumors which were rife in Richmond about two weeks ago, the enemy never approached Pound Gap much nearer than Piketon. Hearing of the attack of Col. Clarkson's cavalry, from General Floyd's army, on Guyandotte, they took a panic, and, after gathering up all the plunder they could carry from Piketon, took themselves off down the Sandy, and along the road leading westward to Paris. They found, too, that farther progress in that direction was impracticable from the soft condition of the loads. There has been almost constant rains in the whole mountain region of Virginia for several months; and no one who has not seen them have any idea of their hopelessly impassable condition to an invading army. Not only is this country safe from invasion, for the winter, from the state of the roads, but we have troops enough around us now to render our whole region, for the time being entirely secure.

There was some apprehension felt for a little while for the line of the railroad about Newbern, owing to false reports of a disastrous retreat by Gen. Floyd, which got into circulation; but it has turned out that these rumors were more exaggerations. General Floyd went down to Cotton Hill, Fayette co., on a plan concerted with Gen. Lee, to take the enemy in the rear, while General Lee should occupy him in front, before Sewell-- shortly after setting out on his hazardous and adventurous expedition, a large part of Gen.Lee's force was ordered to Pecahont as co., and General Lee himself was soon after sent to South Carolina; leaving a very small force in front of the enemy at Meadow Bluff. When Gen. Floyd, therefore, reached Cotton Hill, instead of being able to effect anything in the enemy's rear, he found that the enemy were entirely free, if they chose, to get into his rear and to employ their whole force in surrounding him. He held his position at Cotton Hill, however, which was clearly untenable, for several weeks, and only withdrew when it became necessary to prevent being surrounded by two columns of the enemy, under Gen. Schenck and Gen. Benham, which were marching to a common point, near Fayette Court-House, in his rear. This movement he eluded successfully, by reaching the point before the enemy, which he did with some hard fighting and with a very small loss of men. He accomplished it without any loss of baggage or property other than what was necessary to be destroyed and left in order to make room in his wagons for the sick, of course preferring to destroy property rather than leave his sick in the hands of the enemy. Some of his men were badly off for shoes in the march, in consequence of several boxes of numbers ten eleven, and twelve having been sent him from Richmond, which, of course, were too large for the feet of white men.

After baffling Schenck and Benham, by reaching Fayette Court-House before they formed their junction there, he saw very little of them at all. In fact, it was impossible for them to follow him in any force; and his subsequent movements, after leaving Fayette Court House, were exclusively with reference to winter quarters. He has established his winter camp near Peterstown, in Monroe county, about 40 miles from the White Sulphur Springs, and about 30 from the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad at Newbern, Pulaski county His camp thus affords protection at once to both of those points, and is located in a country fruitful in supplies. It is not deemed possible for the enemy to pass the mountains to either Newbern or the White Sulphur, such is the horrible condition of the roads. It would seem that the enemy are themselves fully convinced of this fact, as I see that seven or eight of their regiments are announced as ordered to Kentucky; where I am quite sure they will find the roads in as bad a condition as in Western Virginia.

Yours, A. B. C.

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Floyd (5)
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