|Chapter XVII. EASTERN KENTUCKY.
shelling it, taking it to the mill, grinding the meal, and then taking it to camp. This has been the only way they could be fed. The people of the country will do nothing. They will not assist to gather the corn nor to shell it, nor will they let us have the use of their horses, or anything that is theirs - nothing, eighter for love or money. They will not enter the army on either side, and seem to be actually terror-stricken. I have tried to shame them into a sense of what was due to themselves and their families, but it is of no use.
The one regiment now commanded by Colonel Williams has been raised in the mountain country, but the limit seems to have been reached, and the fact is those who have not yet taken part, who are poor, will not leave their families to starve in order to fight anybody's battles on any side.
I am told by the commissaries that this country will be exhausted of all supplies in two or three at furthest. What and I then to do? If I had a force sufficient to probe the country and press to the foot of the hills in spite of opposition, the problem would be at once solved. I think that if such force cannot be supplied it would be better to retire this force from the line of the Sandy, and either place the command in winter quarters in some part of the Confederacy where they can be supplied with sufficient food or transfer it to some other theater of the war. I cannot war against nature. She demands food for men, and if it can only be had by subjecting the men to great exposure and toil, the service cannot be profitable to the Government. There would be some compensation for the wastage of our own force if the enemy were subjected to the same expose, but men on foot cannot walk as fast as steamers can shift their position.
I regret to say that these facts are apparent to everybody here. and they have produced a decided effect upon the Virginia troops in this column, as you will see by a memorial to me I inclose for your consideration. I have merely replied to this memorial that I did not feel authorized by my orders to go into winter quarters in Virginia, nor did I deem it politic to retire from this section of Kentucky so long as there is a hope of obtaining a force sufficient to advance into the country.
I would add the suffestion, that if the Fifty-fourth Virginia, which is a capital regiment, is to be indulged in the wish expressed through its officers,* the First Kentucky, commanded by Colonel Taylor, might be sent to its own State, to supply the place of that which retires.
I was inspired with hope that the business ot recruiting would go on rapidly form the manifestations made for a few days; but the activity of the enemy seems to have established a surveillance over the interior more strict than ever. I have recruiting parties out in the adjoining counties, but I now received none levies from the interior. Unless I can force my way, in they will not be able or willing to come out. I made some suggestions on this head to the President. If they can be indulged, I am of the opinion most important consequences will flow from their immediate adoption, and I shall be enabled by that means to accomplish great good; but if they are not adopted, then I must observe that the wastage of energy and life in this column will not be compensated by any result the force at present under my charge can effect.
I write freely because I feel sincerely. I am willing to expose my own life to any hazard or to undergo any hardship for the cause. My observation you must regard as the views of one who calculates the
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|Chapter XVII. EASTERN KENTUCKY.