Skip
Navigation

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
November 10, 1861


Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
Series 1, Volume 5, pp. 250-288

No. 1.

Reports of Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army, with dispatches.

CAMP GAULEY, VA., November 11, 1861.

Since last night rebels have fallen back to within 3 miles of Fayette. The river too high to cross our force at the ferry above. Their position regarded as impracticable, but which we are prepared to use. Three men attempting to escape from that side of the river came down to cross to our side. Two crossed, and our concealed guard foolishly sprang out, took them prisoners, alarming the other, on whom they fired, and he ran away. The enemy was discovered breaking his camp about 8 o’clock, taking position within 2 or 3 miles of the ferry crossing. At which General Schenck nevertheless is unwilling to advance. Benham will occupy position on their front and flank to-morrow morning, reconnoiter, and engage them. If they stand, I think General Schenck will cross over in their rear and we will bag them.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN.

CAMP GAULEY, November 15, 1861.

Confirming news of my No. 8* I report that General Benham pursued rebels 15 miles beyond Fayette; overtook a rear guard of infantry and cavalry; skirmished with them, and having no train or provisions to enable him to go farther, desisted from pursuit and is returning to Fayette.

Floyd’s forces reported to have been eight regiments and 700 cavalry. They left considerable camp equipage, ammunition, and knapsacks.

The fortifications at Dickerson’s farm were very respectable and extensive. The line of Floyd’s stockade a mile long; a crémaillere line for infantry 700 yards. Two embrasure batteries to defend passage across Miller’s Ferry and front attack. Our success in concealing real point of attack was perfect. Continued high water alone prevented a perfect success and capture; and fatal want of nerve and inaction caused the second plan to fail, which would have been equally successful, as we learned. They now draw their supplies from a new depot, established at Newbern, east of Wytheville, on railroad. Rumor of re-enforcement to Floyd from General Davis appears tolerably authentic. Effect of this defeat on the whole to be seen. Believe it will be the last attempt to force Gauley Pass. Propose at once to brigade troops and dispose them to hold winter quarters.

W. S. ROSECRANS.
Major-General MCCLELLAN.

CAMP GAULEY, November 16, 1861.

Since my No. 9 [next preceding] Fayetteville is occupied by General Schenck. Road to Bowyer’s Ferry reconnoitered. Enemy’s tents left hidden have been burned. Country being examined with a view to its defense, and an advance by pack-mules to Newbern, the new depot of the rebels. Benham’s brigade returned to its camp, 6 miles below the mouth of Gauley. Enemy said to have had 500 wagons running from Raleigh to Newbern. Roads in bad condition. Country above Fayette more open than any on the Philippi road, which you remember. Floyd had engaged Huddleston house, 3 miles from Gauley Bridge, for his winter quarters. It wanted nothing but a vigorous execution of plans in all respects successful to have secured his entire army. I am in the utmost need of regular officers for an aide and for an inspector general in place of Major Slemmer, sick. Also, some ordnance officers at headquarters.

I perceive in the paper a new arrangement of departments, whereby, as I understand it, General Kelley is detached from my command. Any arrangement that will conduce to the public interest will be satisfactory to me, but I respectfully call your attention to the fact that I have to draw all my supplies from Cincinnati. My staff are now left in another department; an anomaly which ought not to exist. I have to use Gallipolis as a hospital station and depot for stores, also in another department. I have no control, therefore, over my sick who go there and no right to order officers there. I am obliged to resort to Marietta and the Muskingum Valley for forage, and have a quartermaster stationed at Marietta, where is a depot for receiving horses worked down in the service. The only ordnance officer I have is at Bellaire, in Ohio. I have also 35 miles of telegraph line, connecting line down this valley by Point Pleasant with Hamden, saving forty cents on every ten words transmitted either east or west. It seems to me Ohio is a much more necessary part of this department than of that of Cumberland. Should you think otherwise, I beg you at least to issue such orders as will secure what I have spoken of as necessary beyond the question of interference. The anomalous position of my staff at Cincinnati has prevented me from having the services of Assistant Adjutant-General McLean, though much needed. While though apparently under my command he has been receiving orders and discharging duties directed by another general officer. What is much more important to public service is, I want for the efficient use of the troops here two or three efficient brigadiers. It will also be most desirable to replace several of the regiments here broken down by sickness, allowing them to recruit health and numbers.

Floyd’s forces, though beaten and demoralized, are not destroyed, and must be watched. The roads, which become very bad by usage, dry up and become good very quickly, making the county open for enterprises during the winter. Have just returned from Fayette. Will write you in the morning.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier- General.

Major-General MCCLELLAN.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 25, 1861.

SIR: My current series of dispatches has informed the commanding general of the principal military events in this department, including those which have occurred on this line since our return from Sewell; but to give the whole connectedly and in detail I now respectfully submit a report, consisting of abstract, details, map, and appendix :*

ABSTRACT.

The first thing after the battle of Carnifix was to unite the forces on the Lewisburg road and follow it up as far as practicable. This was done; the enemy’s intrenched position beyond Big Sewell reconnoitered, his force ascertained, and on the 5th of October the troops fell back towards Gauley Bridge, to be near their clothing and supplies. The next thing was to clothe, equip, and pay the troops. This was progressing vigorously when Floyd, with eight regiments, 700 cavalry, and several pieces of artillery, variously stated from two to eight, appeared in the angle west of New River, on the Fayette road, while it was stated, on information entitled to great weight, that Lee was preparing to combine an attack on our front, while Floyd was to cut off our communications down the Kanawha.

It now became necessary to guard against Lee, secure our communications, dislodge, and, if possible, cut off Floyd’s forces. The operations for this purpose took up the time from the 1st of November to the 15th of November. One of the plans for capturing Floyd failed on account of the high water, and the other, while it was successful in dislodging the rebels and driving them from this part of the country, failed to capture and destroy their force for want of vigorous and energetic execution of plans confided to General Benham.

The special history of these movements is given in the subjoined details, illustrated by the map and appendix.

REPORT OF DETAILS.

After the battle of Carnifix the troops brought down by the Summersville line passed over on to the Lewisburg road, uniting with the Kanawha Brigade. The head of this column advanced to the top of Big Sewell, 34 miles from Gauley Bridge, on the 28th of September. Two and a half regiments, under Generals Schenck and Benham, came as far as the foot of Sewell to support the advance, which acted as a corps of observation. After reconnoitering the enemy’s fortified position from 2 to 4 miles in front on top of Sewell, on Lewisburg road, supported by fortifications at Meadow Bluff, 15 miles this side of Lewisburg, ascertaining his strength to be from twelve to fourteen thousand and finding that the country beyond was measurably stripped of forage and subsistence, our force (5,200) retired towards Gauley Bridge gradually, and encamped at the positions shown on the accompanying map; Schenck’s Brigade being 10 miles from Gauley Bridge, McCook’s 8 miles, Benham’s 6 miles, while General Cox was posted, one regiment at Tompkins’ farm and remainder at Gauley Bridge, with detachments for guarding steamboat landing below.

Our object in taking this position, as reported, was to be near enough to water transportation to enable our transportation to bring forward not only forage and subsistence, but the clothing of the troops. Orders were also immediately dispatched to have the paymasters come and pay them, none having received any since they entered the service. The clothing of all, with the exception of the cavalry, was completed by the 1st of November. The paying went on much more slowly, in consequence of the difficulties in getting the rolls and the inexperience of the paymasters, and is not yet completed.

No military movements were or could be undertaken that would interfere with these primary objects. The enemy’s motions at Meadow Bluff were watched. The militia, which all summer long had occupied the region west of the New River and south of the Loop Creek Hills, (see map and accompanying memoir, marked A),* showed themselves opposite Miller’s Ferry, near McCook’s brigade, about the 18th of October, when they were, as we learned, to be assembled at Fayette for the purpose of being paid off, but as we then supposed and since ascertained with the real object of rallying them if possible. Colonel McCook was therefore directed to pass over with a sufficient force to capture or disperse them, and occupy or treat the country as circumstances might indicate to him best. He passed over, had a slight skirmish with a small militia force, occupied Fayette, reconnoitered the roads in the vicinity, satisfied himself that there was no force except the bushwhacking militia, secession residents of the country, and retired over Miller’s Ferry without leaving a guard on the other side. On reporting the result of his expedition the commanding general expressed a regret that he did not leave a company to cover Miller’s Ferry on the other side. Esteeming it of little consequence, he was so dilatory, that when he attempted it he found the cliffs occupied by a force of sharpshooters, which rendered crossing dangerous to a small force, and so reported to me. This was about the 25th of October.

Meanwhile the paying and clothing of the troops was going on, and it was deemed best to complete that before occupying the Fayetteville side of New River in force. It was, moreover, judged best to allow whatever force the rebels could gather to assemble and gain some confidence before attempting anything against them which would be something more than a chase. About the 27th of October information reached me that Floyd was moving from Raleigh down to cut off my communications, and these rumors, coupled with a knowledge of the country west of the Kanawha and below us, soon rendered it certain that whatever the rebel force was, it would come in by Fayetteville. It was therefore determined to draw them in and capture them. This would not interfere in the least with having our troops clothed and paid.

Camps and smoke began to appear opposite Miller’s Ferry and signs of considerable force. The New River gorge and the crests of the adjacent hills protected their encampment and movements from observation, but we learned that Floyd had about 4,000 men; at the same time that orders had been given at Meadow Bluff to Loring and Tompkins to make a secret move, and Lee had said to a person who told him I had intended to occupy Kanawha valley, very significantly, “if he can.” A flag of truce also came from Meadow Bluff the headquarters of Lee, signed by Col. J. Lucius Davis, showing that Lee was absent.

These and other circumstances rendered it probable that the enemy was about to attempt to dislodge us from this position, and as a combined movement on both sides of the river above appeared most likely to succeed, it became necessary to provide for that contingency.

On the 29th of October the rebels chased our outposts on the Fayette road down near the mouth of Great Falls Creek, and on the 1st of November appeared on the heights of Cotton Hill, opposite Gauley Bridge, with a 6-pounder rifled piece and with another opposite Montgomery’s Ferry (see map), and opened fire with shot and shell. We discontinued running the ferry during the day, for fear it might be struck. General Cox was directed to put pieces in position which replied to the fire. The trains were passed during the night, to avoid exposure.

The plan of operations was now decided as follows: McCook opposite Miller’s Ferry, to remain for the purpose of threatening a passage there, while his force would serve to hold in check anything that Lee would bring on the Lewisburg road; Schenck to prepare for and effect a crossing above at Bowyer’s Ferry or some point this side; Benham encamped below McCook, whose camp could be moved without exciting suspicion to pass down by night to Gauley, and thence to a point nearly opposite the month of Loop Creek, where he was to cross over, be re-enforced, and reconnoiter the roads which by way of Loop Creek would lead to the flanks and rear of the enemy’s position. A contingency was that if a scout then out and to return on the night he moved down should report the enemy’s force and access thereto favorable, Benham’s brigade, with General Cox’s force, might cross at the falls. Result of scout was unfavorable to this. General Benham’s force passed below, crossed the river, and occupied, as directed, the mouth of Loop Creek and the road 6 or 7 miles up beyond Taylor’s.

MOVEMENTS OF GENERAL SCHENCK’S BRIGADE.

Reconnaissances showed but three accessible points of crossing above Miller’s Ferry, viz: Bowyer’s Ferry, 17 miles up, 15 miles from Sewell, guarded by a force of infantry, and provided with but one boat—an old canoe; crossing called Townsend’s Ferry, 5 1/2 miles up, apparently unknown and unthought of; Claypoole’s Hole, between that and Miller’s Ferry, coming out near the enemy’s camp.

November 6, I detached Major Crawford, as acting aide, to report to General Schenck and examine Townsend’s Ferry. He found the accesses exceedingly difficult, but evidently unwatched. Determined the possibility of constructing, by means of wagon beds and canvas, and by bull-boats and some skiffs, the apparatus for crossing the troops. This apparatus was completed on the 9th instant. (See Crawford’s report) [No. 3]. Meanwhile the river rose so as to be impassable, and its condition was watched with solicitude from hour to hour. General Schenck, whose judgment in the matter I relied upon, being unwilling to abandon the plan of crossing his force in the enemy’s rear, no movement was made in front that would preclude this, which promised, if effected, the most complete success.

On the 10th I dispatched to General Schenck as follows:

Benham concealed near mouth of Loop Creek with 3,000 men, posting himself on all the roadways. If you can cross above, he will attack them in front and left flank, while you will take the rear. If you cannot cross, you will come down and attack by front, while Benham will cut off their retreat.

BENHAM’S MOVEMENTS.

Benham’s movements from the 3d to the 10th were regulated as far as they could be by a series of twenty-three telegraphic dispatches and one written, all appended hereto, the general tenor and object of which was to inform him that he would be re-enforced by detachments from the Seventh, Thirty-seventh, and Forty-fourth Ohio Regiments; that he was to cross over to Loop Creek, occupy it up as far as Taylor’s, establish himself firmly, make his men comfortable, see that they were well supplied with rations from three to five days ahead, reconnoiter the passes from Loop Creek to the enemy’s position by Cassidy’s Mill, and to his rear by the same and up Loop Creek by Kincaid’s, Carter’s, and Light’s Mill to the Raleigh road, and to hold himself in readiness to act as soon as it was determined whether we could cross New River above Schenck’s position. On the 6th General Benham crossed with his brigade. In short, the whole tenor of the dispatches from November 5 to November 8, as will be seen by reference to them, was to enforce upon his attention the necessity of knowing the passes from his position to the flank and rear of the enemy, especially the one by Cassidy’s Mill; that, if Schenck could cross to take enemy in rear, his work would be to attack by that route on the flank or by the front and flank, and that, should the river prevent Schenck’s passage, he would be called down and would operate in a combined attack on the front, flank, and rear, or flank and rear; that is, as it might be found more or less practicable to move Schenck’s troops directly by the Fayette road or by the way of Cassidy’s Mill. These points appear in dispatch No. 23, November 9, appended hereto, wherein it is said, among other things:

In that case Schenck will cross 3,000 men, seize Fayette, and advance down the road. You will take them by the Laurel Creek route only or by the Nugent path only, or by both, as may be determined by the nature of the ground, which you will learn from your scouts, and communicate to me your opinion thereon when they come in as soon as practicable.

POSITION OF THE TROOPS ON THE MORNING OF THE 10TH.

Schenck at Camp Ewing; means of crossing ready; river too high. McCook at Camp Anderson; enemy in force at Dickerson’s, opposite Miller’s Ferry, firing at the ferry, as for the last twenty days. General Cox, with the Second Kentucky, at Tompkins’ farm; remainder at Gauley. General Benham at mouth of Loop Creek with main body; strong detachment up Loop, in vicinity of Taylor’s and on road towards Cassidy’s Mill. Rebels ceased firing with their cannon at Gauley and Tompkins’ farm and McCook’s camp, which they had tried two or three times to disturb by firing shot and shell across the river.

On that morning General Cox detached Colonel De Villiers with 200 men to cross New River at a ferry which he had rigged just above the mouth of Gauley, and Lieutenant-Colonel Enyart, with 200 of the First Kentucky to cross the lower ferry, to reconnoiter and occupy if practicable the Fayette road as far up as possible. Colonel De Villiers crossed, and after a sharp skirmish drove the enemy from the front hills and beyond Blake’s farm. The rebels re-enforced this outpost 200 strong and repelled De Villiers to the margin of the woods near Blake’s farm, where he remained until evening, when six companies of the Second Kentucky passed over and re-enforced him, and during the night drove the enemy entirely from the hills in front of New River and occupied the ridge.

On the morning of the 11th Colonel De Villiers, with the Eleventh Ohio and Second Kentucky troops, by General Cox’s orders, pushed forward and drove the enemy from the heights towards Cotton Hill, where his baggage train was seen moving on the Fayette turnpike from the camp which he had occupied at Huddleston’s, 1 1/2 miles from the river up the Fayette road, supposed to be about two regiments. A party of the First Kentucky followed up the Fayette road at the same time until the main force occupied the position marked T (Exhibit B.)* Thus, after a vigorous and brilliant skirmish, with intervals, during thirty hours, about 700 men of General Cox’s brigade drove the rebels from the front of Cotton Hill and their camp at Huddleston’s, and held the entire ground for near 3 miles between the Fayette road and New River, with a loss of 2 killed, 1 wounded, and 6 missing. One of the missing was afterwards retaken, having lost an arm.

About 9 o’clock on the morning of the 11th, the other troops remaining in position, the enemy was seen to break camp at Laurel Creek and retire to Dickerson’s, where they were observed busily fortifying. As soon as the movement of the enemy’s camp was observed, information thereof was dispatched to Generals Schenck and Benham.

All movements up to this time had been made with a view to dispose our troops to hold in check any attempt that might be made on the Lewisburg road, and to make sure of beating and capturing the rebel force on the Fayette side, either by Schenck crossing above taking them in rear while Benham should attack them in front and flank, the latter always insisted on as preferable, or should Schenck’s crossing fail, to bring his brigade down to aid in the front and flank attack while Benham should take his rear. (See dispatches Nos. 22, 25, 26, to Benham [post], and dispatch of 10th to General Schenck.)

The occupation of the hills between the Fayette road and New River was a preliminary tightening of the chain, securing to us the debouches for a front attack and feeling the enemy to see if he had force enough to press well down against us. His movement to Dickerson’s alarmed me, lest he should retreat; his commencing to fortify there in some degree reassured me. I therefore, on the 11th, after informing General Benham of the enemy’s position and our occupancy of Cotton Hill, directed him to occupy as soon as practicable Cassidy’s Mill with 1,000 men, and dispose the rest of his force to move, stating to him that I only awaited the information from him as to the practicability of the Cassidy’s Mill route to say whether he was to come in on the north side of Cotton Hill on their front or take them in flank and rear. Failing to furnish the information called for, and for which final orders for the movement of his main body had been deferred, he was informed at 11 o’clock at night that General Schenck had by no means abandoned the plan of crossing at Townsend’s Ferry, and directed as soon as practicable to occupy Cotton Hill, which movement began early on the morning of the 12th instant.

His failure to furnish me with the information so often required about the roads by Cassidy’s and other routes to the enemy’s rear, and many other signs of unsteadiness, had impaired my confidence in his management. Nevertheless, after the reiterated dispatches sent him, I indulged the hope that he would fully appreciate his position and the decisive results to be expected from a movement by the enemy’s left flank to his rear on the Fayetteville road.

Here referring to former instructions directing him on his arrival to open immediate communication with his force at Cassidy’s Mill and to know well the route between there and beyond, I informed him that if General Schenck could not cross by the evening of the 12th, he would be ordered down and cross below.

General Benham received these general directions in the afternoon of the 11th. He was informed that Major Leiper would report to him at the mouth of the Fayette road, and explain to him what he knew of the rebels and the position occupied by the troops of General Cox.

About 3 o’clock p. m. of the 12th General Benham’s main force reached the extremity of Cotton Hill, 8 miles from Loop, towards Fayette. About the same time his detachment, which did not march as had been ordered on the previous day, swelled by some mistake from 1,000 to 1,300, reached Cassidy’s Mill.

A slight skirmish ensued between a few advanced companies of General Benham’s brigade and the rebels. The command of General Benham halted, and bivouacked on their arms. General Benham reported to me by a courier, stating his position, and complaining of the weakness of his main force compared with the supposed force of the enemy, and asking re-enforcements, that he might attack them, evidently uneasy at his position, and apparently apprehensive that he might be attacked before he could get re-enforcements. Calling his attention to former dispatches and the Cassidy’s Mill route, informing him the enemy was still at Dickerson’s, I directed him again to watch the enemy’s movements closely, saying if he did not move, our success was certain; if he did, which I thought he ought to do, General Benham should intercept him by the rear, and throw his entire force, except 500 men, by the way of Cassidy’s Mill, on the Raleigh pike. The enemy’s intrenchments were but from 2 1/2 to 3 miles from General Benham’s position. By some mistake he had at Cassidy’s Mill 1,300 instead of 1,000 men. This mill was but from 2 1/2 to 3 miles from the Fayette road.

General Benham had been instructed ad nauseam to look to that way of cutting off the enemy’s retreat, which began at 9 o’clock on that night. General Benham did not find it out, according to his report, until 4.30 o’clock the next afternoon. That is to say, while the last remnant of the rebel force had left Fayette early in the morning of the 13th, according to General Benham’s report, his boldest scouts were desperately engaged from daylight until late in the afternoon in finding their way over a distance of 2 1/2 miles that separated his bivouac from the enemy’s deserted intrenchments. His force at Cassidy’s Mill had a company in Fayetteville at 9 o’clock next morning fully informed of the retreat of the enemy, and, as the captain of that company states, he dispatched messengers back to Cassidy’s Mill and to General Benham immediately; yet General Benham did not learn of the retreat, though only 2 1/2 miles off, until 4.30 p. m. of the 13th; and did not reach Fayette until 12 o’clock at night of the 13th, being twenty-seven hours from the time Floyd commenced his movement. So little attention had he paid to the reiterated instructions, all tending to enforce the one idea that the real blow ought to be struck at the enemy’s rear by the Cassidy’s Mill route and that a front attack was only desirable in case General Schenck could cross above or in case the enemy stood fight, and that even in this latter event General Schenck was to attack him in front while he was to attack the flank and rear he ordered the entire force from Cassidy’s Mill, instead of striking across to the Raleigh road, to join him by moving down Laurel Creek and then to Fayette, thus imposing on it a fatiguing march of 7 or 8 miles.

Advised of all this, and knowing the wretched condition of the roads, and taught by experience that orders for carrying three or more days rations were never obeyed, I looked upon the game as up and the pursuit of Floyd as not promising much; but, on the suggestion of General Benham that they might have stopped to sleep, dispatched him to use his discretion in the pursuit.

General Schenck had moved down on the 13th, crossed the Kanawha, and bivouacked at Huddleston’s, on the Fayette road, and sent forward messengers to General Benham announcing his position. General Benham pursued and overtook some of the enemy’s rear guard about 9.30 o’clock in the forenoon of the 14th, killed Colonel Croghan, reported at 11.30 o’clock that the enemy was in force, and asked General Schenck to come up, who had made a forced march to reach Fayette after having marched all the preceding day. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon General Benham had reached a point about 12 or 14 miles from Fayetteville without overtaking them. Dispatched General Schenck that the roads were so bad and his men so weary that it was impossible to pursue them farther; that he proposed to bivouac on the ground, and if General Schenck deemed it advisable, and it were possible to come forward, they might drive the enemy through Raleigh. Nevertheless he says that there was a report from one of the lieutenants of Stewart’s cavalry that he had seen a train of wagons coming on the Bowyer’s Ferry road, according with information of a negro at McCoy’s Mill, which indicated that Lee was coming down with a force of 5,000 men to re-enforce Floyd and attack. He therefore concluded that as this was possible, it might be better for him (General Benham) to return, unite with General Schenck, and drive Lee.

General Schenck, knowing that General Benham’s troops were about if not altogether out of provisions, and that none could be brought up in time on the roads, and presuming that Floyd, with twenty-seven hours the start, would not be very easily caught, directed General Benham, after pursuing thus far, to return, which he accordingly did on the 15th instant.

CONCLUSION.

At the close of these details I respectfully submit to the commanding general that, considering the weather and the roads, the operations of this column have been as active as those in any other department. The troops have suffered from the climate severely. They have submitted to many privations with cheerfulness and performed their duties with alacrity, if they have not accomplished all that could have been desired in the annihilation of Floyd’s force, they have practically driven the enemy not only from the Kanawha but from all the country west of Meadow Bluff and north of Raleigh, and the country is now more nearly pacified and disposed to return to the Union than they ever have been since the commencement of the war.

It has been with great regret that I have found it necessary to censure a general officer for the failure to capture the rebel forces who were justly ours.

It is a great pleasure to say to the commanding general that I have found General Cox prudent, brave, and soldierly, and I specially commend his prudence and firmness in occupying Cotton Hill, details of which are given in his report in the appendix.

I bear cordial testimony to the courage and promptitude of General Schenck, and only regret that his exposure, when he first came here, has deprived me for the present of his services. It is my duty also highly to commend Major Crawford, not only for the signal ability with which he reconnoitered Townsend’s Ferry and prepared the means of crossing, laboring day and night in the most inclement weather to get everything in readiness. To his exertions mainly the accomplishment of this difficult and arduous task is chiefly due. I have also made special mention of the daring reconnaissance made by Sergeant Haven, of the Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who crossed the river at the ferry, and reconnoitered alone the road the other side, clear into the enemy’s camp at Fayetteville. For the mention of others especially distinguished I refer to the subreports in the appendix; and if I have forborne to signalize the individual members of my staff, it is not because they do not deserve special mention, but because such mention as that has become stereotyped, and everybody expects to see it at the close of a report.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, Commanding.

Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 2, 1861.

You will immediately prepare to cross the river for an operation either up Paint or Loop Creek. The steps thereto are rest for the men, boats to cross, ammunition in sufficient quantities. Tyler will be ordered to send you 500 picked men, Woods 500, and Siber 500. It will take probably two days to organize this movement. We hope to cross at or near Miller’s Ferry in force, at the same time we make a strong demonstration or attack on their front. Let everything be done to secure supplies; every facility made use of. Advise me of your progress.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, care of General Cox, Gauley.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 3, 1861.

Colonel Woods has been ordered to you temporarily for duty. Assign him to command Tenth Regiment. Let Captain Amis and a portion of his men come up to serve the guns. Sent him an order to-day. You will have to get guides below. None here to be got.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 3.]

NOVEMBER 3, 1861.

Your dispatch received. A boat has been ordered up, but to make sure a large paulin will be sent down to you, with which, spread under a lot of wagon-beds, you will be able to make a large scow. The wagon-beds will have to be lashed crosswise, laid on two poles, and having two poles over them; rope lashing to go between. Telegraph down to Charleston for plenty of bed-cord, in case we should not have plenty here. Woods, Siber, and Tyler must clear the other side of the river and prevent firing on teams immediately.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 4.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 4, 1861.

Your dispatch received. Three boats will be sent you this evening. You will find the wagon-body arrangement makes a solid and capacious float of great capacity, and may be rowed across with double oars or sweeps. Have the poles 25 feet long and 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Take 6 wagon-bodies. A single wagon-body and tent-fly doubled under it makes a good boat. Conceal your movements, and clear everything up to Loop Creek.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 5.]

NOVEMBER 4 1861. The commanding general expects you to go up Loop Creek in force or else this side, closing the month of it. Will likely give final orders to-morrow morning. Push information as far as possible. Will telegraph Major Leiper to see if he can send you scout.

JOSEPH DARR, JR.,
Major, First Virginia Cavalry, A. A. A. G.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 6.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 4, 1861.

Take what bread you need. Will not the hawser of the boat or picket rope answer? You can keep the Victor and the scow. Retain Silver Lake until the Victor comes. It was so intended. Boats are expected up that may bring the rope required. You can move over the river to-morrow with your tents, leaving a company or two on this side for a camp guard. Tyler’s and Gilbert’s men will come up unless something occurs to prevent them, which I do not anticipate. Final orders will be given when both ends are ready.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 7]

NOVEMBER 4, 1861.

Can you get ready to move by to-morrow night? If so, McMullin’s battery, or a part of it, will be sent down to-night. What report have you from the scouts sent out by you?

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 8.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 4, 1861.

I fear your scouting parties will alarm the enemy; they are so large. However, let them go. We have had scouting party up Loop Creek. The upper end of it is well picketed by the rebels. Have you all your preparations made? Push everything, and let me know how soon you can get ready. I think cavalry would be in your way. For artillery I cannot decide until I hear your report about the road. Presume two mountain howitzers, possibly McMullin’s battery entire, if the rifled artillery comes up this way. It leaves Camp Enyart this morning.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 9.]

NOVEMBER 5, 1861.

The general desires to know about the route as to practicability of sending artillery. He thinks the number of rebels reported to be nearer from 4,000 to 6,000. Glad to hear that McMullin can pass. The general desires to know something of road that leads to Laurel Creek to left of Loop. The commanding general wishes to know if you are over the river.

JOSEPH DARR, JR.,
Major, First Virginia Cavalry, A. A. A. G.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 10.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 5, 1861.

It was intended that you should have gone over to-day, and that all would be snug there. Keep the Victor and the scow in the vicinity for service. Final orders will be given you in due time. A sketch map will be sent you, embodying such information as we possess. I wish you to be very careful in your inquiries about the nature of road up Loop. You will find that when you get up to a certain point it forks left over the ridge on the Big Mill Creek, coming in front of their position, right going around and coming into Fayette. You will be able to find guides and get posted by to-morrow. Every other man have coffee in canteens. Some whisky and quinine bitters should be provided if it could be so carried as to be safe. Some nurses must be detailed to go with the surgeons. Don’t fear numbers. I shall not send you without strong co-operation.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 11.]

NOVEMBER 6, 1861.

I regret you did not cross with your forces yesterday. Do so as soon as practicable. Indications are that we shall make a move in force up that creek; therefore you will establish yourself solidly on that position. Men up the creek must have their tents; your supplies of provisions must be ample, and Paint Creek must be kept well scouted by hired countrymen Offer them liberal pay for good work. Maps and letters by messengers.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 12.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 6, 1861.

I do not consider your crossing the river in the rain-storm with your command practicable, but it is desirable to have them over and well and warmly encamped, with every attention to their comfort, as soon as possible. This should be done with all your troops, and with caution and secrecy. At Loop Creek it may require only cautious and careful picketing. You know what the object is, and I leave that to your judgment. The roads should be in such repair that we can send provisions if needed up Loop Creek. Couriers just started with written instructions and map.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 13.]

NOVEMBER 6, 1861.

The commanding general directs me to say, in reply to your dispatch No. 2, that it is now too late to make crossing very practicable to-night. You have instructions as to the object of crossing, and know what the general desires to accomplish. He expects you to use your discretion, and holds you responsible for the results. Here it is distinctly stated that he considers it too late to cross to-night. As to position in Loop Creek, it is expected to be at or near best place, so as to command its mouth.

JOSEPH DARR, JR.,
Major, First Virginia Cavalry, A. A. A. G.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 14.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 6, 1861.

The commanding general has no objections to your remaining on this side to-night. Make sure preparations to communicate with this side. Have a boat for that purpose and other arrangements made with that view. McMullin’s battery goes down to-night.

JOSEPH DARR, JR.,
Major, First Virginia Cavalry, A. A. A. G.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 15.]

NOVEMBER 6, 1861.

Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 received. Make the men comfortable. Have five days rations. Send your pioneer party up Loop. Carry out instructions so far as to know the road from Taylor’s over to Laurel without alarming the enemy. McMullin, with two of his howitzers, will be down to-night. Your directions to Schneider are good. When you leave you will have to leave a small camp guard, which will be able to secure the Fayette road up the bank of the river. Must probably hold the road above Taylor’s. It may prove best to close the Taylor road and follow up the Kincaid route. Endeavor by scouts and others to ascertain this. We shall have further communication before final orders for the combined movement are given. Study well the map and memoir. Be cautious in whose presence you speak, otherwise it will leak out among the soldiers right away. Favorable news came in to-night.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 16.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 6, 1861.

We. must have Loop Creek up beyond Taylor’s and the ridge between it and the valley of the Fayette road. Secure this with as little discomfort to the men as is consistent with the firm execution of the purpose. Will send such sketch and information of it as we possess. See that everything is held with a firm hand; that you have plenty of everything needful.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 17.]

NOVEMBER 7, 1861.

The commanding general is waiting to hear the result of your scouts to-day. Is your way clear, and which appear best routes?

JOSEPH DARR, JR.,
Major, and A. A. A. U.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.

[Inclosure No. 18.]

NOVEMBER 8, 1861.

Yours received. You appear to be doing well, but it seems to me the place where paths lead out into Fayette road ought not to bring us out at Huddleston’s. If so, what are we to gain over going up the river? You must try and know that route by Laurel spoken of in the memoir. Send me the corrected distances and positions. Where did the scouts see the enemy’s camp? Refer to map and name corrections.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier- General, U. S. Army.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 19.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 8, 1861.

Your two dispatches and copy of Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton’s just received. When the other scouts come in from Colonel Siber collate carefully all the information they have, and from them ascertain the exact nature of the roads or paths the troops have to pass over, and, if possible, the immediate approaches to the enemy’s camp. Our information goes to show a small camp at Dickerson’s and a larger one in the immediate vicinity of Warner’s Mill. So far as at present informed there is where the main body is. You want to know what the road is to this point; what paths, if any, diverge right and left from the one you would follow down Laurel, and what room there is for the display of your troops; also, whether there is any path leading from the top of your line to the top of Cotton Hill. It would be necessary to have the command and we might probably want the use of such path. I should like a report as early in the day as possible, because I want to arrange definitely details of the operations, if possible, for to-night and to-morrow. We have no information of firing from above. No movement was authorized.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 20.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 8, 1861.

Schenck’s boats will not be ready to-night. Scouts from Lookout and Bowyer’s Ferry report no indications of approaching force. There is a scout out to-night to go up towards Sewell. I want Nugent’s located on our map and to hear from your scouts above. We may be obliged to seize Cotton Hill by the front if strongly opposed and unable to cross above. I hope to hear again from your scouts to-night as to the road over to Laurel Creek, &c. I hope, general, you will be reserved in discussing our plans and caution the staff. A dispatch came to me in cipher to you from Lander.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 21.]

Nos. 14 and 15 received. Everything you report noted and so far satisfactory. What I want to know is what sort of a road or path you will have to go over to reach Warner’s Mill and what sort of ground you could form or debouch on. The details of that should be well studied. If your front is narrow, the difficulties will of course increase. If you can form out of sight and deploy so as to cover the ground right and left of their position, it would be better. If the passway is clear in the center and positions can be found for the two mountain howitzers to enfilade or even play on their camp, better still. Proceed with great caution and secrecy to get these details as far as possible. The scouts have seen the camp at a distance, as Dives saw Lazarus, but there may be a great gulf between them. Appearances indicate that your brigade, with support from Gauley properly timed, could whip them, but let us try to make a certainty. The distance of 2 miles given by the scouts, as mentioned in No. 15, must be a mistake. It is 4 miles from the mouth of Loop to the Fayette road, mouth of Big Mill, and between these is that immense ridge, on top of which they certainly are not. You say nothing of Cassidy’s Mill. Our information shown on the sketch indicates it as a key-point. Give that a little of your attention early to-morrow. Fifteen dragoons have been ordered to report to you.

[Inclosure No. 22.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 9, 1861.

Yours (No. 16) received. This rain is very untoward. General Schenck’s report not yet in. Rain may prevent his crossing. He will not be ordered down until we find that it must be abandoned. I have from the beginning had but one intention about your command. It must hold and occupy that side of the river until we have disposed of the rebels, or get possession of Cotton Hill, or been driven back. Your position prevents them from going farther down to play the game they have played above; it threatens them front and rear. Hence, referring to former dispatches pointing out the primary objects of your crossing and enjoining you to establish your command solidly, hold firmly, examine thoroughly, and to make your men comfortable, to keep up your supplies, to take cooking utensils along, &c., &c., I have now to say that in carrying out these instructions, you must use your discretion to do it effectually and insure the comfort of your men. I see no reason why they should want for cooked provisions. Why not issue them rations? No reason they should have half enough tents. I directed you to take the minimum of baggage, not that could be taken, but that would suffice. If you could not get tents up to all these men, withdraw those who have none until they can be supplied or the weather improves. I look to your dispatches for accurate information of the route to the rebel’s camp. None so far say what paths the scouts followed nor where they came out on the rebels, nor how nor where their pickets. Please let me hear all about these points as far as you know them. You will observe in all my dispatches great stress laid on this, without which we must act in the dark. Awaiting early report.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 23.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 9, 1861.

Yours (No. 18) received. Major Crawford just returned, and reports the river too high to cross tonight, but falling; will be ready by to-morrow night. We leave three companies scouting the front of Cotton Hill opposite the ferries. Your scout’s reports and these will determine if we are to move at once or wait until to-morrow night. In that case Schenck will cross 3,000 men, and will seize Fayette and advance down the road, and you will take them by the Laurel Creek route only or by the Nugent path only, or by both, as may be determined by the partieres of the ground, which you will learn from your scouts, and communicate to me, with your opinion thereon, as soon after they come in as practicable. I have been informed that the area between you and Mill Creek Valley, up which the Fayette road passes, consists of flat- topped rolling surface, over which our scouts can go whenever they please. This was my impression, but it has been so flatly contradicted that I gave up until to-day.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 24.]

NOVEMBER 10, 1861.

Your dispatch received. The Eleventh, 200 strong, is over the river; holds the crests and path well up. The First Kentucky has sent over 200, who hold farther down to near the Fayette road. Schenck will hardly be able to cross to-night, but if the rebels try to dislodge our men, you may be called on to take them in rear. Hold everything in hand. Have your men inspected, to see that no one is without ammunition or provisions. Floyd over on the hill, anxious. Will give you further orders soon.

[Inclosure No. 25.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 10, 1861.

Major Crawford says he thinks those two regiments, or a part of them at least, are moved down again this side of Warner’s, on the south side of the mountain; if so, it is a reason for combining strongly. Expect more from above.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek.

[Inclosure No. 26.]

Yours (No. 20) received. Mine you will find was No. 18. Your suggestions all enter into the plan. You know we hold the hills from Montgomery’s Ferry to Gauley, and have a ferry across New River. Everything is going on at General Schenck’s to cross the river to- morrow night. If it can be done, your way is by Nugent’s, I should suppose, but if he must come down here, then you must make Fayette, and on the Raleigh road above, to cut him off. Scouts will inform you of his movements. If he begins a retreat, you must be ready to intercept him the moment you are certain of it. If he tries to dislodge us on the hills, we will work him well in. You will stand steady until the co-operation is arranged, and then will try him on Laurel Creek.

[Inclosure No. 27.]

Yours (No. 22) just received. We will not move to-night. Our troops here occupy heights between New River and the Fayette road. Your scouts ought to capture that picket guard to-night. Will telegraph you further. Schenck’s boats all down; will be ready for use to-morrow.

[Inclosure No. 28.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Inform me as early as possible how long it will take you to move from your present position with your entire force to reach Nugent’s. Secondly, how long it would take you to reach Cassidy’s Mill. How far from there to Warner’s, and what difficulties you know of in the way. Can you reach the Raleigh road by Light’s Mill? How long will it take you? Will provisions and everything be ready to-day for either route?

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 29.]

NOVEMBER 11, 1861.

What news from you? McCook says they are breaking up camp, but many men there still; more than he ever saw before. One regiment passed up by Fayetteville this morning, and forty-five wagons and five ambulances. Hope soon to receive reply from dispatches of this morning.

[Inclosure No. 30.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Yours (No. 25) received. No. 24 not received. The information asked for about the other roads to Fayette and Raleigh not received. Retreat spoken of in my No. 19 has been reported to you so far as we can see at this side of the river. Had hopes you would be better informed than we were. Our skirmishing last night and this morning was necessary. As I told you, an attempt to dislodge us. We did not draw him in. It will be of no use for you to come in at Nugent’s in his front on this side of Cotton Hill, if you can succeed in cutting off his retreat by reaching Fayette or the Raleigh road. That question I asked you this morning; and if I could only know, would be able to give you orders immediately. If that cannot be done, then it will be necessary for you to seize the Fayette road at the most convenient point, and push steadily and firmly, taking due precautions against ambuscade. General Cox has now over some 700 men, and they are pushing in towards Cotton Hill quietly. This gives you what information we have. Let me hear from you as soon as possible. In reply to my dispatch No. 16, General Schenck just telegraphs me by no means give up crossing Townsend’s Ferry, and will telegraph farther soon. Should his dispatch confirm plan of crossing Townsend’s, you had better come in on the Fayette pike. Cannot find that the enemy has passed Fayette. If there is any reliance to be placed on our information, Cassidy’s Mill would be the strategic point, provided the road is practicable at all. Answer soon.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 31.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Dispatch from our lookout on Bushy Knob above Schenck’s says rebels have stopped at Camp Dickerson. If this be so, and local information does not forbid, send about 1,000 men to occupy Cassidy’s Mill. Arrange rapid communication with your headquarters. This place, according to our information, is not 5 miles from Fayette, which is 3 miles in rear of their present position. Covering your camp by a strong picket up Loop may at once dispose your troops to move. I only await your report of the practicability of the Cassidy’s Mill route to determine whether you are to come in on the north side of Cotton Hill in front of them or take them flank and rear. Look well to the provisions for your troops, and report as soon as you possibly can.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 32.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Dispatches just received from General Schenck confirm previous ones. The enemy is concentrated in camp extending from Dickerson’s to near Fayette. Has been throwing up some rail and earth intrenchments at Dickerson’s and at Jones’, a mile above. Appears to hold intersection of Fayette pike and Miller’s Ferry road. Under these circumstances you will proceed as follows: Supposing you have proceeded to occupy Cassidy’s Mill with 1,000 men, with all provisions and with directions to push forward from that position strong scouting parties on the most practicable road to Fayette, and established an outpost to watch the Loop Creek road, I have directed General Cox to order Major Leiper, who commands the troops on Cotton Hill, to report to you at the intersection of the Ridge road with the Fayette pike. It is about two miles and a half from the ferry. You will proceed with your command by the River road and occupy Cotton Hill to-night, pushing forward as far towards Fayette as you can, and have a strong position. Bivouac your troops. Send forward strong reconnoitering party, with orders to drive in the enemy’s pickets and find out if they are retreating. Open communication with your detachment at Cassidy’s Mill, in order that you may receive from them the earliest intimation of the enemy’s movements. Schneider, with one piece, and McMullin’s two howitzers will cross with the Kentucky troops to-night and report to you for orders. What we now have to do is first to occupy Cotton Hill and reconnoiter the enemy, working on his left flank if he retains his position and falling on his flank if he moves. Generals Schenck and McCook remain in position to-night watching. If a rebel force comes down on this side they will fall back, and our movements on your side be governed by circumstances. If the enemy retreat, Schenck will cross at Townsend’s and McCook cover this line. I regret that circumstances seem to bring you in front. My great desire has been to cut off his communications. The road by Light’s Mill seems now the only one that would do it. Perhaps you may yet be able to make a flank movement as soon as we have got thorough possession of Cotton Hill.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 33.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 11, 1861.

Your 27 received. By waiting it will probably be 11 before you get this. This defeats my plan, which was to have you on Cotton Hill by 10 o’clock to-night by the river road, with strong reconnoitering party, to watch the enemy’s movements. If the enemy retreat to-night, he cannot be pursued with any chance of capturing him. If he stands, we shall have to engage him on the front and flank. In his present position he so nearly covers Townsend’s Ferry, that Schenck cannot cross to co-operate unless rebels move down or up. If you come in with all your force at Fayette, you will be opposite Townsend’s. I cannot send you any men, because I have none to send without calling them down from McCook or General Schenck. This will be the work of a day, and will delay the movement twenty-four hours. All reasonable chance of taking advantage of the enemy’s retreat being cut off the next best thing seems to be that you should let your troops rest to-night. Have everything that can be done to prepare for this movement. Carry out your previous orders, sending such troops as you think best by 6 in the morning. Then carry out the orders you have received, sending such troops as you deem best to Cassidy’s Mill, and arranging to communicate with them by Nugent’s. You will reach Cotton Hill and Warner’s Mill by the time they get to Cassidy’s, and can send them word if the rebels have retreated or are standing. You will also send a signal flag to some point opposite my camp to let me know. If they stand, the flag will be raised twice; if they run, only once. Major Leiper has orders to send you word if his scouts report a retreat to-night. Pfau’s dragoons will report to you too. You will, on learning what the rebels do, make such disposition of your force on the Fayette road and give such orders to those at Cassidy’s Mill as circumstances may require.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek Mouth.

[Inclosure No. 34.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 12, 1861.

Your dispatches Nos. 27 and 28—latter 5 a. m.—received. You say you did not receive my orders until 11. Your dispatch acknowledging receipt was dated 7 p. m. I understand the guard at Taylor’s to be 100 men. The only other detachment from your forces is that which occupies Cassidy’s Mill. When you get to the top of Cotton Hill, and ascertain where the rebels are and what they are doing, you will be able to take necessary precautions. The objects of our movement have been fully set forth by previous dispatches.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Camp, Loop Creek.

[Inclosure No. 35.]

The commanding general has had no advices from you since this morning. Desires you to report your itinerary, present condition, and position of your forces and those which have been directed to report to you, with all information of the position and movements of the rebels. He also informs you that New River rose last night so as to prevent the stretching of the rope across Townsend’s Ferry, which appears to be still unwatched. From your position movements have been seen at Dickerson’s farm, but if you occupy Cottton [sic] Hill to-night you will be able to know all about the enemy’s position and movements, which I understand can be seen from it. Report at your earliest convenience in reply and give the hour. Send for your tents.

[Inclosure No. 36.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 12, 1861—9 p. m.

Your No. 29 received; also Lieut. William H. Mills’ verbal report. I am much gratified to bear of your progress and the position you have taken; also that you have sent to communicate at once with Cassidy’s Mill. I trust you will find no great loss from the skirmish. Send for your tents and provisions. Get accurate information of the route from your position to Cassidy’s Mill, and thence to Raleigh pike in rear of Fayette. Our best information shows that the road from Cassidy’s is practicable, not exceeding 3 or 4 miles long, and intersects the Raleigh pike 2 miles in rear of Fayette. The rebels were fortifying on Dickerson’s farm at the junction of Miller’s Ferry and Fayette roads this afternoon, evidently designing to cover themselves against attack from the Miller’s Ferry and Fayette roads. If they will only hold that position our success will be certain. You hold now the key of that country. Their camp is within range of rifle if not Parrott guns. You have probably force enough to whip them now if it could be transferred at once to the Fayette road. Make every exertion to render such a movement easy. Were it possible to find out whether the enemy commences a retreat to-night or not, which I think he certainly ought to do, you ought to move with all your force, except, say, 500 men, by Cassidy’s Mill, and intercept them. Hoping he may not do so, Schenck’s brigade will be ordered down, and will pass over to-morrow night. Advise me the very best road to reach the Raleigh pike from the falls, by Nugent’s, by Loop Creek, or by some point near you across by Cassidy’s Mill. Meanwhile give your troops as much rest and refreshment as possible. Communicate frequently with me. If no movements are necessary to-morrow morning, look for good position for a regiment to hold Cotton Hill.

Brigadier-General BENHAM.

[Inclosure No. 37.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 13, 1861.

I hope your camp equipage has been ordered up. Make every arrangement to occupy the hill, and make your troops comfortable until others come over. Keep up your supplies of provisions, so as to have three days ahead. Next ascertain the routes by which the Raleigh road may be reached in the best ways from any point between your position and the mouth of Loop.

Brigadier-General BENHAM.

[Inclosure No. 38.]

Information from Bushy Knob shows the enemy have retreated, and the proper way is to send word to the troops at Cassidy’s Mill to press on them and push up the Fayette road.

[Inclosure No. 39.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 13, 1861—5.30 p. m.

Your No. 32, dated 2 p. m., just received. The commanding general does not think the rebels have entirely gone, but what their force may be is unknown. General Schenck, with his entire brigade, comes over to-night to re-enforce you. Being the senior, he will assume command until the commanding general comes over. You will therefore report to him, and, after stating fully the position of everything, act under his orders. The general understands you have ordered the force from Cassidy’s Mill. Its withdrawal is in face of his express orders for its occupation, and what seems to him a plain military advantage requires something more in explanation than has been reported to him to justify it, which he awaits. He does not wish to attack Floyd by the front only, but if we can get his left flank and rear we shall succeed in crushing him.

Brigadier-General BENHAM.

[lnclosure No.40.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 13, 1861.

Your 33 received at 7 p. m. This goes by Miller’s Ferry. Regret that the detachment at Cassidy’s Mill was not pushed forward towards Fayette. Your idea that the rebels may be sleeping is a good one, and strikes me favorably. Much will depend whether you shall pursue them on the condition and strength of your troops and the provisions you have. Of these things I know nothing. A question of pursuit is therefore left to your discretion. You can now send by Miller’s Ferry, which will much shorten the line of communication. I shall start for Fayette by 8 to-morrow morning, and hope to hear from you whatever you deem proper before that time. General Schenck with his entire brigade is already in camp at Huddleston’s. If, therefore, there were a chance to overtake the flying foe, your support is certain. You have more than one-fourth as many troops as the retreating foe.

Brigadier-General BENHAM, Fayetteville.

[Addenda.]

NOVEMBER 12, 1861.

Brig. Gen. R. C. SCHENCK, Camp Ewing, W. Va.:

The commanding general directs you to break your camp at Ewing to-morrow morning and proceed with your command across the river at Gauley Bridge to the Cotton Hill. The troops should have two days’ rations in their haversacks. Their baggage should follow under command of the rear guard, which may be composed of your advanced pickets. You will order Captain Mack to report to Colonel McCook for temporary duty. West’s cavalry will come down and encamp at or below Gauley. The troops should move early, and get, if possible, past McCook’s camp before the fog gets off the river. Colonel McCook will remain in command of the troops covering the position on this side. Give orders to have all the material that can be saved brought away from Townsend’s Ferry. If the boats can be hidden for a few days, I think they may be hidden as well as the pieces for the bull-boat. This is on the supposition that we cannot cross at Townsend’s Ferry, while we know we can cross down here. A trusty man should be sent to-night to ascertain whether the river will fall sufficiently; and in case it does not, to be provided with the necessary help and give the necessary directions.

JOSEPH DARR JR.,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

NOVEMBER 13, 1861—9.45 p. m.

Brig. Gen. R. C. SCHENCK, Camp Huddleston, W. Va.:

Your dispatch of 8 p. m. received. You will probably not be required to advance much farther. Fayette Court-House is ours. Benham has orders to consider the condition of his men and use his discretion as to pursuit. The last of the rebels passed Fayette at daylight this a. m. You will hear from him during the night if he can find any one; if not, send for sledges—that is, stone-hammers, picks, and shovels—and put pioneers on the road to repair it.

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, Commanding.

NOVEMBER 14, 1861.

Brig. Gen. B. C. SCHENCK (care of Colonel MeCook):

Your dispatches received, inclosing one from General Benham. Commanding generals opinion of the pursuit is, that all that could be accomplished could have been done by General Benham’s force. Commanding general fears your troops will suffer. Colonel McCook has been ordered to clear out Miller’s Ferry road. Everything will be done to help you. In case of necessity you will have to come down to Dickerson’s and get some from McCook. Your tents will be taken over the river and pitched near Huddleston, to which camp you will return as soon as you get advices from General Benham, showing, as I doubt not they will, that no advantage is to be gained by carrying your men farther, beyond the reach of subsistence.

JOSEPH DARR, JR.,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

NOVEMBER 15, 1861.

Brig. Gen. R. C. SCHENCK, Camp Union:

The commanding general, without having any means to judge of the propriety of ordering the troops back from towards Raleigh, presumes that you acted with sound discretion.

JOSEPH DARR, JR.


No. 2.

Report of Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox, U. S. Army, of skirmishes at Blake’s farm, November 10-11.

HEADQUARTERS KANAWHA BRIDGE,
Gauley Bridge, November 13, 1861.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the 10th instant I ordered Colonel De Villiers, of the Eleventh Regiment Ohio Volunteers, to take 200 men (being all of his regiment fit for duty), and after reconnoitering the mountains skirting New River on the other side to occupy and hold the crests, if possible, so as to prevent any further attempts on the part of the enemy to destroy the ferry at this place from the battery lately held by them opposite to us. At the same time I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Enyart, commanding First Regiment Kentucky Volunteers, to cross the river below the falls with 200 men, and occupy the mills, the spurs of the mountains near there, and reconnoiter the Fayette road, and hold, if possible, the position lately occupied by the enemy’s guns opposite the First Kentucky camp. Colonel De Villiers threw over at first a party of 40, of which half was sent along the hills down the Kanawha from the crossing place, a few rods above the bridge piers, where I had previously established a ferry capable of crossing 500 men per hour. The other half of the party the colonel conducted himself along a path by the river side under the cliffs to a ravine leading up to the Blake farm, about 1 mile up New River. At Blake’s farm some 50 or 60 of the enemy were discovered and immediately attacked. Being surprised, they were driven into the woods upon the hill-sides above with the loss of several killed, who were dragged away in sight of our men. The enemy was immediately re-enforced by about 200, and the advanced party of the Eleventh retired to the margin of Blake’s farm, where, by stationing themselves behind a fence at the edge of a ravine, they were able to hold the rebels in check until the remainder of the party of the Eleventh arrived. The enemy was then driven back up the hills, and our men took a line of defense leading diagonally up the hills from Blake’s house to the crest above the battery opposite this point.

Shortly after dark six companies of the Second Kentucky Regiment had crossed the river by my order to re-enforce Colonel De Villiers. The enemy seemed to be collecting forces on the ridge, and about 9 o’clock the left wing of the Eleventh, under Major Coleman, was driven back from Blake’s farm about a quarter of a mile, but, upon being re-enforced by two companies of the Second Kentucky, he drove back the enemy and reoccupied his former position. Meanwhile the enemy made a succession of attacks upon the remainder of our force, which was pushing its way up to the mountain crest along the whole line from Blake’s to the Kanawha, and a brisk skirmishing fight was kept up until after midnight, when we had secured the ridge as far as Blake’s.

During the day the party from the First Kentucky Regiment had occupied the other side of the Kanawha from the mouth of the Fayette road up to the positions of the Eleventh Ohio, and pushed a scouting party a mile up the road towards Fayette, reconnoitering the mountain sides without finding the enemy.

At daybreak of the next day (the 11th instant) Colonel De Villiers, being ordered by me to push the enemy still farther back towards Cotton Hill, collected the larger part of his force and drove in the enemy’s pickets on the mountain ridge in his front, and pushed steadily along the crest up the New River. The enemy, several hundred in number kept up a scattering, skirmishing fight as they retired, but made no persistent stand. As the advance party, under Colonel De Villiers (consisting at this time chiefly of the Second Kentucky Regiment), approached Cotton Hill the enemy was seen moving their baggage train over the hill along the Fayette turnpike from their camping ground above Huddleston’s, 1 1/2 miles from the Kanawha, where the scouts had reported a camp of two regiments the evening before. The advance of our men was stopped before reaching Cotton Hill, as I was satisfied the enemy was greatly superior in number to Colonel De Villiers party, and they seemed to be retiring with the supposition that his force was only the advance guard of a larger body following him. I therefore thought it unwise to have him descend from the wooded ridges and reveal the smallness of his command.

During the afternoon of Monday, the 11th instant, a second party from the First Kentucky Regiment, of 150 men, under Major Leiper, followed the enemy up the Fayette turnpike, crossed Cotton Hill, and took up their position at Laurel Creek, where they remained till evening, then retired half a mile, and remained until General Benham’s brigade reached that point, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday, the 12th, the enemy being in force at Dickerson’s, some 2 miles beyond.

In the fighting upon the New River Mountains our men distinctly saw from 20 to 30 of the enemy dragged away dead or badly wounded. Only 1 dead body of the rebels was found by our men on the ground next day. Our own loss was 2 killed, 1 wounded, and 6 missing, all of the Eleventh Ohio Regiment, besides several contusions received by men who fell accidentally in climbing the rocks. The missing are supposed to have been taken prisoners, being a small post stationed on the ridge near where the enemy made a brisk attack about midnight of the 10th.

The whole ground is exceedingly difficult to climb, the mountain sides being very rocky and in many places almost perpendicular, and the most determined bravery and perseverance were evinced by the troops in scaling the heights in the presence of an enemy who held the ridge and were perfectly familiar with the paths.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. D. COX, Brigadier-General.

Brig. Gen. W. S. ROSECRANS,
Commanding Department Western Virginia, Gauley Mountain.


No. 3.

Report of Maj. Samuel W. Crawford, Thirteenth U. S. Infantry, of operations at Townsend’s Ferry.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp Gauley Mountain, November 21, 1861.

SIR: In reply to your communication of the 20th instant I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations conducted by me at Townsend’s Ferry and my subsequent connection with the expedition sent against the forces under Brigadier-General Floyd:

Having been appointed a special aide-de-camp of the commanding general for this expedition, I reported on Wednesday, the 6th instant, to Brigadier-General Schenck, commanding the Third Brigade. It had been determined, if possible, to throw a body of troops under General Schenck across New River, at some point above the enemy’s position, in order to strike his rear. For this purpose a neglected ferry, known as Townsend’s Ferry, was selected, and a bold and successful reconnaissance of the opposite side was made by Sergeant Haven, of the Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteers, who succeeded in making his way at night within a short distance of the town of Fayette, 1 1/4 miles from the ferry. It was determined to attempt a crossing of the troops under General Schenck at this point, a distance of 5 1/2 miles from their encampment. To effect this, it was necessary to construct the means of crossing the river, which was at the ferry about 80 or 90 yards across. Four skiffs were sent up from Gauley, and the duty of constructing floats and transferring them and the skiffs to the water’s edge was assigned to me. The floats were thus constructed: Two wagon beds, 9 1/2 by 4 feet, were placed upon frames a distance of 3 1/2 feet apart, and secured by wedges and pins. Thus constructed, they were placed upon a duck paulin, which was drawn up tightly around the beds and secured. Light planks were then laid over the wagon beds, and the whole secured by ropes, which, while holding it firmly together, served to control and guide it. A bull-boat, substituting canvas for hides, was constructed by Capt. W. F. Raynolds, Topographical Engineers. These floats and boats were in readiness on Thursday, the 7th instant, and sent on Thursday night to the mountain.

On Wednesday a reconnaissance of the path leading down the mountain on this side of the river was made by me. It was found to be utterly impracticable for the passage of boats or material of any sort, and it became necessary to seek at once for an avenue by which the material prepared might be sent down the mountain. I repaired to the mountain on Thursday, and after a laborious search I marked out a road by which I hoped to send down upon sledges our boats and floats. A steep perpendicular cliff ran along the mountain for half a mile. A point was found where the cliff opened, leaving a smooth rock 12 feet high, over which the boats were sent. In some places the entire material had to be carried over rocks to the heads of steep ravines, down which the skiffs and wagon beds were sent by means of ropes. A detail of pioneers was furnished by the Third Brigade, and subsequently fatigue parties, until the evening of Saturday, when three of the skiffs and two of the wagon-beds were drawn up at a short distance from the water’s edge and concealed. The men worked in the rain during the whole period.

On Saturday night a guard, consisting of an officer, a non-commissioned officer, and 10 men, were stationed over the boats, with directions to show no light, to kindle no fires, and to preserve the utmost quiet. Shortly after daylight three men made their appearance on the opposite bank and launched a small boat made of rough planks. Being too small to hold the three, two of the men came across. When within a few rods of the shore they discovered the guard, and signaling them not to fire, they came ashore and delivered themselves up. The man who remained upon the opposite shore, seeing his comrades taken prisoners, attempted to escape, and was fired upon.

The work, however, was carried on, and by Monday evening the entire material was at the water’s edge. Soon after dark the bull-boat and wagon floats were put together and floated, the skiffs were launched, and everything was in readiness. It was now deemed proper by me to make an attempt to throw a rope across the river. Owing to the very heavy and almost incessant rains the river had commenced to rise early in the day and was now much swollen. I directed three experienced oarsmen to enter one of the skiffs and attempt to cross, towing a small rope. When about the middle of the river they were seized by the current and carried swiftly down the river to the rapids, and only returned to this side by great exertions. At the same moment a courier reached me with the intelligence from Captain Piatt, assistant adjutant-general Third Brigade, that no attempt would be made to cross the command that night. The skiffs and floats were then hauled up behind rocks and concealed. Up to the moment of quitting the bank of the river at midnight of the 11th I could detect no sound from the opposite bank or the slightest indication that we were observed. Leaving a small guard at the boats, I returned to headquarters. The river continued to rise during the night. It fell slowly during the day, but at 6 p. m. of Tuesday, the 12th instant, it was visited by Captain Piatt, who reported it impassable.

On the 13th, the Third Brigade, in accordance with previous orders, left their encampment and crossed the Kanawha in the vicinity of Gauley. At 6.30 p. m. I joined the command at its camp at Huddleston’s, near the forks of Falls Creek. A communication had been sent by General Schenck to General Benham, commanding the Second Brigade, and who was supposed to be with his force at or near Laurel Creek, a distance of miles from Fayette. In order, however, to obtain more precise intelligence of the movements and condition of General Benham’s force, I was requested by General Schenck to go forward to General Benham, inform him that General Schenck had crossed the river and assumed command, and to learn from General Benham the immediate condition of his command, his position, and the result of his scouts, and to direct him not to go forward unless there was an immediate prospect of coming up with the enemy, in event of which General Schenck would move forward with his whole force; otherwise he would remain at Laurel Creek until General Schenck’s arrival in the morning. I left at 7.30 p. m. The road was miry, and in many places almost impassable for wagons. Knots of soldiers were straggling along after their regiments, and in some instances, tired of the pursuit, they had turned aside to bivouac for the night. At a point known as the Widow Stauridge’s, where the road from Cassidy’s Mill joins the turnpike from Fayette to Gauley, I encountered a large body of men at a halt. At 9 o’clock p. m. I overtook General Benham at Dickerson’s farm house, where he had halted with a portion of his command, and was resting until the regiments and stragglers in rear should come up. I found General Benham, and informed him of the object of my visit. He did not understand that General Schenck was to take command, but that their forces were to act conjointly. He stated to me that the enemy’s train was just ahead of him, and that he was to start in an hour in pursuit. I informed him that General Schenck had crossed the river and had assumed command, and that he had sent me to him (General B.) to learn the position he was occupying, the disposition he had made of his troops, what information of the enemy’s movements and position he had obtained from his scouts, and also to inform him that General Schenck would join him at or near Laurel Creek in the morning. I informed him also that General Schenck desired that he (General B.) would not move forward unless there was an immediate prospect of meeting the enemy or overtaking them in case, they had retreated, when, upon being apprised of this, General Schenck would move forward with his whole command at once to his (General B.’s) support.

General Benham replied to me that he had just dispatched a courier to General Schenck, to say to him that the enemy’s train was just ahead, and that he could overtake it; that he was resting his men an hour at Dickerson’s, when he should push on to Fayette. He stated to me that the enemy were making a most precipitate retreat, throwing out their baggage, &c.; that his command got nothing on a previous occasion, and that he was determined they should be the first on this. I asked him if the force at Cassidy’s Mill had definite instructions. He replied that he had sent his aide-de-camp to that point with directions to use his discretion in reference to the route to be pursued by the command there, and that he (the aide-de-camp) had withdrawn them to the rear, and that he (General B.) was only awaiting their arrival to join his command.

I laid before him a map with the positions marked on it, and remarked to him that the importance of the position at Cassidy’s Mill could not be overestimated, and that both General Rosecrans and General Schenck regarded it as the most important point in the whole position, as it threatened the enemy’s rear, and the force there could fall upon his flank in a short march of 3 1/2 miles if he retreated. He replied that he had no maps, but he was confident that he would overtake their train anyhow, and that he hoped General Schenck would come on at once.

At 9.15 I left for General Schenck’s headquarters at Huddleston’s. I arrived at 11 o’clock, and found the command under orders to move in an hour. I found a large number of stragglers making theft way towards Dickerson’s. These men appeared not to know where they were going or where their regiments were. In an hour the Third Brigade was in motion, and arrived at Dickerson’s about daylight. It was raining heavily, the men were without tents or blankets, and the provision train had not been able to pass the roads. A short halt was ordered. We moved on towards Fayette in an hour, when, from information we received that the enemy were far in advance and in consideration of the state of the roads and the condition of the men, tired out by a night’s march, and without rations or blankets, it was decided to remain at Fayette and communicate with the force under General Benham, who had left Fayette about nine hours before.

I remained during the day at Fayette, and made an examination of the ascent from the crossing at Townsend’s Ferry. It is perfectly practicable for infantry; the ascent, although steep, is open, and leads to open woods upon the sides of the mountain to the table-land above. It passes through open fields to a road that leads directly to Fayette, and there was no evidence of the slightest effort made to protect it or to prevent a crossing at the ferry.

I returned on the morning of the 15th with dispatches, and reported to the commanding general.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. W. CRAWFORD,
Major, Thirteenth Infantry, U. S. Army, Act. Insp. Gen.

Maj. JOSEPH DARR, Jr.,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


No. 4.

Report of Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham, U. S. Army, of operations from November 11-16.

FAYETTEVILLE COURT-HOUSE, VA,
November 16, 1861.

Sir: I have the honor to report as follows in relation to the expedition from which I have this afternoon returned by the order of General Schenck from the pursuit of General Floyd upon the road to Raleigh, by which he escaped by a most rapid and arduous march last night.

Upon the night of the 11th instant, while at a kind of a bivouac at Loop Creek Mouth, where I have been with part of my command by the directions of General Rosecrans since the 4th and 5th instant, I received your orders to proceed as early as practicable with the force then at that point, about 1,500 men of the Tenth, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Regiments, to occupy Cotton Hill, there having been previously stationed by his orders under my direction the Thirty-seventh Regiment of 700 men at Loop Creek Forks, about 4 miles up, and in detachments up to 10 miles from the month of the creek; also about 320 of the Forty- fourth Regiment and 430 of the Seventh Regiment about 1 mile up on the left fork.

About the time of marching from Loop Creek, however, I had directed, as he had ordered me, about 1,000 men from these last three regiments to occupy Cassidy’s Mill, about 6 miles up from the left fork towards this place, and the remainder, being part of the Thirty-seventh Regiment, to endeavor to reach me at Cotton Hill by a march to the left of Cassidy’s Mill by Nugent’s.

On the morning of the 12th, in accordance with the directions given, with the first-named force and four mountain howitzers and two rifled 6-pounders, we moved up the left bank of the Kanawha, 4 miles from the mouth of Loop Creek, to Gauley Falls, thence to the right some 5 miles over Cotton Hill to Herschberger’s by 3 p. m., where at Laurel Creek we met the advance pickets of the enemy in force, as it was afterwards ascertained, in a most strong position, prepared with abatis, and after skirmishing with them with the greater part of the Thirteenth Regiment until dark, we went into bivouac in the open air on the escarped mountain road, with but few fires and but little water, myself and staff lying on the bare rocks, with our horses held below us.

Our loss in this skirmish was 1 man killed and 4 wounded; that of the enemy 2 at least killed and about 7 wounded. The enemy were completely driven from the ground they occupied, but not much farther, as a large re-enforcement was seen coming to them (I have since learned four regiments and one piece of artillery were sent), and with only 1,640 men, for Colonel Siber’s detachment had not fully joined, I did not think it would be safe to draw on a battle with the whole rebel force, reported by General Rosecrans to me to be from 4,000 to 6,000 men, and, as I heard after, with nine to eleven guns, although, as reported to him that night, I felt I could hold my position on the mountain secure against their force.

During the night, at about 2.30 a. m. of the 13th, it was reported to me by a scout I had sent out to watch the rebel camp that the wheels of heavy wagons or artillery were heard rumbling in the direction of the camp, but as they became no fainter, it was uncertain whether they were retreating or receiving re-enforcements. I immediately sent directions to Colonel Smith, of the Thirteenth Regiment, to send out two other scouts, to ascertain if the movement was a retreat; but most unfortunately (as Colonel Smith informed me in the morning), he did not understand it as a command, but merely as a suggestion, and they were not sent. On learning this at early light, I immediately sent forward a scout of 10 men, supported by two companies of the Thirteenth Regiment, but the report from these men of the retreat of the rebels did not come in till after 4 p. m., on receiving which I immediately gave the orders for marching to overtake them. For this I felt the more prepared as I had ordered and expected down to join me the force that were at Cassidy’s Mill, having authorized the aide who was sent there to order them direct to Fayette road if the enemy were proven to be retreating, and it would be surely safe to do so. But this last order was also misunderstood, and although a portion of this command of mine had occupied Fayetteville from 11 a. m. without finding they had the means to communicate with me, they were recalled, and unfortunately made the circuit around to this place again. At length, by 5 p. m., we moved forward from the Union school-house to the Dickerson farm, which we reached before 7, finding the evidences of a most hasty retreat in the remains of large quantities of tents and camp equipage destroyed by fire. At a short distance beyond this farm the command was closed up, halted, and rested for about four hours, and the detachment of the Forty-fourth and Seventh joined me, making my moving strength about 2 700 men. With this force at 11 p. m. I pushed forward, arriving about 4 a. m. of the 14th at Hawkins’ farm, about 5 miles beyond Fayetteville, being delayed much by scouting the roads in advance. On the route further evidences of the hasty retreat were shown in the tents, wagons, and large quantities of ammunition left behind.

At 7 we again moved forward, with the belief, which proved to be the fact, that part at least of their train was encamped 5 miles from Hawkins’. The advance was led by Colonel Smith, of the Thirteenth, to whose presence and caution during that day we owe it that not a single man of ours was killed or wounded, and scouting most cautiously though of course slowly forward, we met the advanced posts of the enemy after 4 miles march at 9.30 a. m., where a sharp contest with our advance continued for nearly half an hour, when, besides several other losses, the rebels had mortally wounded the colonel of Floyds cavalry, Col. St. George Croghan (son of the late Inspector-General Croghan). These outposts being driven in, we advanced carefully about one mile farther, where the enemy were found posted in considerable force behind a ridge covering McCoy’s Mill. A regiment of cavalry and different regiments of infantry are reported as distinctly seen. After an interchange of fire between these and our advance for twenty minutes Captain Schneider’s rifled artillery was brought up with good effect, the officers reporting that they saw many fall at their fire. As however I soon discovered a ridge that made out from our rear to our right, that commanded at close range the left of the enemy, I sent my aide to direct Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton, with the Seventh and half of the Thirty-seventh Regiments, under Major Ankele, to pass down this ridge to attack their left. This movement, I regret to say, was delayed fully half an hour by the resistance of Colonel Siber to this order, he at first neglecting or refusing to send the number of men required and demanding the right to command it, as reported by my aides. When at length this attack was made it was entirely successful, and with the first concentrated volleys of this command of about 750 men, uniting with the fire of the Thirteenth Regiment, the whole of the enemy retreated in confusion, with the last of their wagon train. Their position was soon, though cautiously, taken possession of when it was found thickly strewn with blankets, clothing, camp equipage, &c., as evidence of a precipitous flight. A short time for rest was now given, and we then moved forward, with the usual scouting parties in advance, through an escarped road upon a steep mountain side, in a defile continuing for about 4 miles between two mountains up the Big Loop Creek, finding about midway of the defile a bridge of some size broken down, which delayed us nearly an hour to repair. Yet still, as the guides informed us that there was a long and difficult hill for the passage of wagons about 2 miles in advance of the bridge, I decided to push forward, in the hopes of overtaking it, although the men had been marching nearly all the night previous, as well as during most of that day, in for a greater part of the time a drenching storm and over roads in many places to a great extent of tenacious mud, and many of them by the failure of expected trains with less than half their rations. On reaching at 4 p. m. the outlet of this defile at Keton’s farm, about 15 miles from Fayetteville and 20 miles from our previous bivouac near Cotton Hill, we found the expected steep hill some 2 miles distant, and their wagons over it or not in sight, and therefore I concluded to bivouac the men there with such food as we could best obtain and report the case, as I did, to General Schenck at Fayetteville, who had assumed the direction by order of General Rosecrans, and suggesting to him to join me with his force (about one-half of mine), that we might attack or drive the enemy in Raleigh the next day.

The first dispatch of General Schenck informed me that he had sent the Twenty-sixth Regiment and some mounted men to re-enforce me. A second note, received at 10 p. m., informed me that the Twenty-sixth Regiment was ordered to return, while it directed me also to return as soon as practicable to this place. As the men were still for more than nine-tenths of them without any shelter in a most drenching rain or succession of violent thunder showers, many without their blankets even, which had been thrown off in the ardor of the chase, and as they were still standing around their fires unable to sleep in the rain upon the open ground, the greater part of the command, though most unwilling to give up the pursuit, felt that if it was so ordered it must be best for themselves, after their few hours halt (it could not be called rest), to retrace their steps that very night rather than remain standing in the cold and wet till morning with only the prospect before them of their return. We accordingly commenced our return soon after 1 o’clock, and reaching McCoy’s about 4, we rested till after 6 a. m. of the 15th, or to-day, when we moved onward, and with a single rest about midway the command reached this place soon after noon, being still in excellent spirits, their main disappointment being in not having been permitted to continue the pursuit of the rebels. We are at this hour partly in houses, but a great number out in the open air in the village, where it is now snowing upon them in their bivouac, which, added to their really great exposure, will, I fear, half annihilate their effective strength.

The main facts and circumstances of the expedition are therefore that after remaining about one week upon Loop Creek awaiting the co-operation of another force, and with my command of about 3,000 men divided in four portions, as ordered by General Rosecrans, I at length moved forward with one-half this force to meet the enemy in front to the farthest point of Cotton Hill. There in the night after our first engagement with his outpost on the afternoon of the 13th the enemy made a most precipitous retreat, leaving portions of his baggage, wagon loads of ammunition, tents, clothing, &c., on the route, besides the evidences of the destruction of a much greater portion; that when from the unknown and difficult nature of the country some twenty hours had elapsed before his retreat was assured, and without which we did not feel it safe to pursue him to his works at Dickerson’s farm (since found it to be of the strongest character for field works) with my force, then of less than 2,000, and not one-half of the least of his supposed numbers, he was most vigorously followed up by my command through rain and storm and mud till overtaken at about 18 miles from the camp he left, and the heavy force of his rear guard was there routed and further camp equipage taken after another action, by which his train was still kept in advance of us, and the pursuit was still continued until, from the difficult nature of the defile beyond, the breaking of bridges, &c., our exhausted forces needed to rest for the night, when we were recalled by the orders of General Schenck; and this was accomplished with the loss of 1 man killed and 4 wounded on our part in the fight at Laurel Creek and none at the affair at McCoy’s Mill, while it is certain that the loss of the enemy was three times that amount, including that of their chief colonel of cavalry killed, and Floyd was pursued for about 30 miles from his batteries of Gauley Bridge, and driven, as was ascertained, to Raleigh, and for some 9 miles farther than our last bivouac.

I can only add, in conclusion, that had I not been ordered to return, and had the forces which were sent over the river been moved up to Keton’s to support me, as I asked by a courier that evening that they should be, we could have moved forward to Raleigh to-day, as I intended, and, as I am well satisfied, captured that place and depot with their train, and certainly routed, if not captured, the whole of Floyd’s force.

I have now but to report the noble conduct of the forces during the most toilsome march, where through all their great exposure in the storm upon the route, and in bivouac, without shelter against the rain or snow that fell in each of the last three nights, not a murmur was heard by me, but every duty was performed with the greatest cheerfulness and alacrity. And the principal officers of the command were worthy of the men they led. Of Col. W. S. Smith, commanding the Thirteenth Regiment, I have frequently expressed my opinion in my report of the battle of Carnifix Ferry, and all there stated was here more than confirmed. Colonel White, of the Twelfth Regiment, who has recently been promoted, and made the most praiseworthy and successful efforts for the discipline of his regiment of fine men, did not behave less nobly than if he had been fully in most successful battle, by yielding as he did to the exigencies of the occasion a desire with much of equity in it, which was shared by himself and his men, to lead the advance of the march. Colonel Woods, of the U. S. Army, at this time acting in command of the Tenth Regiment, led that regiment in advance at a rapid and safe pace at the latter part of the march on the 14th with great good judgment and gallantry, and Captain Schneider, of the rifled artillery of the Thirteenth Regiment, a very gallant and deserving officer, was most prompt and successful in the management of his guns. Captain McMullin, though his howitzers were not brought into play in action, was prompt and ready at every point on the march, as he is ever at every call of duty, and Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton, of the Seventh, executed the maneuver from our right flank which decided the rout at McCoy’s Mill in most gallant style; the Forty-fourth, under its very effective officer, Major Mitchell, not having the opportunity of participating in the action, as well as the Thirty-seventh Regiment, from their position in the rear.

My high acknowledgments are also due to each of my personal staff for the efficiency and gallantry on the field with which every duty was performed. To the brigade surgeon, Dr. Shumard, ever most watchful over both the surgeons and the men for their health and safety, and my aide, Captain Atkinson, of rare ability and efficiency, and to Captain Stanage, acting assistant adjutant-general, of whose excellent conduct I had the pleasure to report at Carnifix, as also to Captain Mallory, the commissary, of whom my expectations in that action were fully borne out, and to the brigade quartermaster, Capt. D. L. Smith, one of the most efficient in his department in the service, although detained by my orders at the camp, the highest praise is due for his care and forethought not only in forwarding constantly the amplest supplies of provisions, but in having the tents which had been struck at our late position repitched by the time of the return of the men from their toilsome and wearied march and amply provided with all the necessary comforts of the camp.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. BENHAM, Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.

Maj. J. DARR, Jr.,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Inclosure.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Camp, Gauley Mountain, November 6, 1861.

GENERAL: Inclosed you will find a sketch, marked, showing the west side of Kanawha from Fayette to Paint Creek, with such roads marked as we have information of. You will find smaller sketch, which shows the information we can collect about the country between Loop Creek and the Fayette road. A memoir inclosed explains this. You have received telegraphic orders to cross the Kanawha with effective force, and also, subsequently, to establish yourself solidly and comfortably over there, holding the mouth of Paint by small watch guard, and occupying Loop Creek up to a good point of the main branch, far enough above Taylor’s to secure that thoroughly against a movement or regiment or two down from Kincaid’s, and then secure the road up the left-hand branch of Loop to the top of the ridge, so that we can use the passage at or near some point X 9 due [?]. Should also secure the heights above the creek by a line of pickets judiciously placed and carefully concealed.

It may become necessary to combine our forces and operate on the left-hand branch at the same time by way of Kincaid’s, to cut off their rear, and your object will be to secure to us the use of these routes, at least to the points referred to. The advantages of this will be that should we be unable to cross in their rear above, thus we may still have a chance of operating on their rear in that direction. Whether we shall be able to cross the New River with chances of success will probably be determined when the examination that is going on shall be completed and reported to me. I will then communicate to you any modifications deemed necessary in consequence of the result of the reconnaissance.

I again repeat, make ample provision for the covering and subsistence of your troops in solid position and have convenient communication between your headquarters and the opposite shore and below. Have the road up Loop and above you on the Kanawha examined and repaired so as to make it passable, but avoid exciting observation. Admonish your field officers of the day to do all they can to perfect the guard and outpost duties, and take every practicable means of increasing the efficiency and certainty with which the troops can act.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier- General, U. S. Army.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM, Camp Huddleston.


No. 5.

Report of Col. Carr B. White, Twelfth Ohio Infantry, of skirmish on Laurel Creek, November 12.

CAMP HUDDLESTON, VA., November 18, 1861.

SIR: At the skirmish on Laurel Creek at the crossing of the Kanawha and Fayetteville road, Company H, Twelfth Regiment, which was detached from my command in the morning as an advance guard, under command of Col. W. S. Smith, with Company A, Thirteenth, had 3 men wounded severely, 1 of whom has since died, viz: Corporal Samuel Burke, since dead; Private John S. Kirk and Private George S. Reed. In a scout on the 10th instant, conducted by Lieutenant-Colonel Hines, of the Twelfth, and Captain Atkinson, of your staff, Carey Johnson, Company B, was severely wounded.

C. B. WHITE.

Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM.


Report of Col. William S. Smith, Thirteenth Ohio Infantry, of skirmishes (November 12) on Laurel Creek and (November 14) near McCoy’s Mill.

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH REGIMENT O. V. I.,
Camp Huddleston, Va., November 18, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment in the recent rout and pursuit of Floyd’s forces: On the 6th instant, at 4.30 o’clock p. m., we crossed the Kanawha River, together with the remaining portion of the First Provisional Brigade, under command of Brigadier-General Benham, and encamped near the mouth of Loop Creek, where we remained until the morning of the 12th instant. We then marched up the left bank of the Kanawha River to Montgomery’s Ferry, and thence by the Fayette road over Cotton Hill to a point near the crossing of Laurel Creek, my regiment leading the column.

While the command was yet upon the eastern declivity of Cotton Hill a halt was ordered by General Benham, and Captain Carey’s company of the Twelfth Ohio and Captain Beach’s company of the Thirteenth Ohio were ordered to make a reconnaissance of the Laurel Creek ravine just in advance of us and through which our road lay for the distance of about half a mile. These companies had but fairly entered the ravine when they came upon a strong outpost of the enemy lying in ambush. A sharp skirmish ensued, our men instantly taking cover and returning the fire of the enemy, which was poured in upon them at short range. Both officers and men behaved with great coolness and intrepidity, driving the enemy steadily before them until he was strongly re-enforced, when General Benham, after having ordered a detachment of the Thirty-seventh Regiment forward to support Captain Beach, ordered our skirmishers to retire, and sent my regiment forward to scour the woods and bring off the wounded. In this skirmish John Remley, of Company A, Thirteenth Regiment, was killed, and John Heister, of the same company, was very severely wounded. Several of the enemy were seen to fall, and one of them was found dead upon the field the following day, not carried off, after having been dragged a long distance.

The night of the 12th we bivouacked on Cotton Hill, and on the morning of the 13th moved forward toward Fayette. After proceeding about 2 miles we discovered an intrenchment on a high hill about a mile ahead, and so situated that, although but a few men could be seen, we found it impossible to ascertain for a certainty whether it was held by the enemy in force until we had consumed about six hours in scaling the surrounding heights. It was at last discovered that the work had been entirely abandoned by the enemy, and we again pushed forward and bivouacked about 1 mile beyond the Dickerson farm. Here we rested but four hours, and then marched forward again through Fayette, continuing our march until the moon set, about 3 o’clock a. m., when we halted at a point 5 miles beyond Fayette, in the direction of Raleigh. Here we rested until about 6 a. m. (14th), and then moved forward again, keeping our skirmishers well out on both flanks. We had proceeded but about 4 miles when my skirmishing company, under command of Captain Gardner, came suddenly upon a scouting party of the enemy’s cavalry, numbering 40 men. A sharp skirmish ensued, during which Col. St. George Croghan was mortally wounded. Several of his men, as he stated, were also wounded, though they escaped, leaving their horses to the number of five. The colonel was left at a farm house by his men and treated with the utmost kindness by our assistant surgeon, Dr. Chase, up to near the time of his death, which took place at 2 o’clock p. m.

After this skirmish we moved forward and came upon the enemy in force near McCoy’s Mill, where the firing became so sharp, that our forces were immediately disposed for battle. Companies A, D, F and I, of my regiment, were immediately thrown well to the front as skirmishers and put under cover. The remainder of my regiment was thrown behind the crest of a hill to the left of the road. When these dispositions had been made, different regiments of the enemy were seen to be retreating over the distant hills, and a body of cavalry, apparently 400 strong, was seen winding around the base of a hill about 1 mile distant. I immediately put one of my two rifled cannons, under the command of Captain Schneider, in a position from which we had an enfilading fire upon the road, and opened upon the enemy’s cavalry, throwing them into the utmost confusion and putting them to flight. At the first discharge from the rifled gun the enemy’s skirmishers broke from their cover and ran, taking the fire of the four companies constituting our advance as they went. Here, again, several were seen to fall, and in their precipitate retreat they threw away their guns and equipments, which we found strewn in every direction on the field. The enemy seemed thoroughly demoralized and thoughtful only of a safe retreat. Our officers and men behaved with the greatest coolness and courage, their obedience to orders and the accuracy of their aim eliciting my highest admiration. As the enemy ran we pursued, following him as far as the Blake farm, which we reached at 4 o’clock p. m. Here a halt was ordered, as our men were exceedingly weary, and it was ascertained that the enemy were so far ahead of us as to render it impossible to overtake him again before nightfall. We were moreover with short rations, and were informed that none could come forward for us that night.

At about 2 o’clock a. m. (15th) we started on our return and reached Fayette at 3 o’clock p. m. The following day (16th) we returned to this camp, having been exposed to ten days of such hardships as men are rarely called upon to endure, but exultant that it had been our privilege to give the last chase from the valley of the Kanawha to the very troops which first lied before us from Ripley before the advance of our troops up the valley, and having driven General Floyd and his forces nearly 40 miles from his position in sight of the headquarters of this department of our army.

Very respectfully submitted.

WM. S. SMITH,
Colonel, commanding Thirteenth Regiment O. V. I.

Capt. JAMES O. STANAGE, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


No. 7.

Reports of Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd. C. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF KANAWHA,
Camp Dickerson, November 7, 1861.

SIR: I asked instructions from the War Department nearly two weeks since as to the best point to be occupied by this command as winter quarters.* In my previous dispatches I attempted to present such facts and reasons as would possess the Department of my views upon the general policy which might be considered in determining the point. Since that time I have marched to this point, and have driven the enemy entirely across the Kanawha, where, except the very hurried predatory parties, he is now strictly confined. I send you herewith a sketch of the country immediately around here, which will enable you to see at a glance our position, that of the enemy, and to understand what has been accomplished by the movement to the Kanawha.

When I crossed New River the enemy were in possession of all the country on the south side of Kanawha River as far as Raleigh Court-House. They had laid waste the village of Fayetteville and the country upon their lines of march. They had penetrated within 70 miles of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, and had produced the greatest alarm amongst the people of Mercer, Giles, and Monroe, who felt that whilst the enemy could with impunity occupy this region (Fayette and Raleigh Counties), there could be no safety for them even in their homes. The feeling of confidence and security is now fully realized by all the country in the rear of us, and it becomes a question of great importance to select a proper point for winter quarters, that the advantage we have gained may not be lost, and that the people may remain at their homes following their regular pursuits. This point itself presents many advantages. The position is strong. Our right flank is completely protected by the cliffs of New River and the Gorge of Piney for the distance of 40 miles. Our front can be easily rendered impregnable to five times our number. It is in the immediate vicinity of the enemy, where we annoy him constantly, and holding it, he is unable to advance upon us except with an overwhelming force, or to advance upon Lewisburg, or to leave his position without abandoning the great connecting link between the northwest proper, the railroad at Clarksburg, and the Kanawha Valley, and I think it would be impossible for the enemy to hold his position if we had guns of large caliber.

Fuel here is extremely abundant and the exposure a good one for the mountains. The chief obstacle to this point is the difficulty of transportation. The line is 100 miles long from the railroad, over a mountain road (not macadamized) which becomes very deep and muddy in the winter. Probably most of the advantages pertaining to this position could be realized by falling back to the point at or near Raleigh Court-House, 35 miles nearer the railroad, but to fall back beyond that point I am very clearly convinced, would prove extremely disastrous to tire country and to our cause in this region. Colonel Russell, of Mississippi, takes this communication, and is fully possessed of my views, which he can, if you choose, explain more in detail.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN B. FLOYD,
Commanding Army of Kanawha.

Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF KANAWHA,
Camp Piney, November 19, 1861.

SIR: In execution of a general plan, of which you were fully advised in my last dispatch, I succeeded [November 1] in placing my guns in battery on the south side of the Kanawha River, near the junction of the New and Gauley Rivers. This I accomplished after much arduous labor, by transporting by hand the guns over a very abrupt and precipitous locality for the distance of several miles. When they were gotten in position they proved a source of considerable annoyance to the enemy. They not only bore upon the ferry where formerly stood the Gauley Bridge, but commanded for some considerable distance the road by which the enemy transported his provisions. The result was that the plying of his ferry-boats across the Gauley was stopped, one of them sunk, and all transportation over the road by day cut off. The sharp-shooters, too, whom I posted on the bank of the river and under cover of my large guns, harassed him very much. The range was too great for the very successful use of small arms; still at certain points on the river many of his horses were killed and not less than 50 men. This blow was inflicted without the loss of a man on our side or the sustaining of a wound. In this juncture of affairs, had a vigorous advance from the direction of Sewell Mountain and the Hawk’s Nest been made upon the enemy it would have compelled him either to meet this attack and leave his rear open to my forces, or to cross the river in order to fight me, in the face of my guns and in open boats, pressed by the column advancing from the Hawk’s Nest, or to take position at a lower point on the Kanawha. In either of these cases we could have engaged him with many advantages to us, and it is my conviction would have achieved a victory over him. The advance of such a force I hoped for when I left my position on Sewell Mountain, and regretted that the emergency of the service at Cheat Mountain rendered it necessary, in the judgment of General Lee, to send the force to that point which I hoped would co-operate with me.

Such was the position of the two forces for three weeks. During this time there was incessant skirmishing from across the river, resulting from the superiority of our position uniformly in our favor, and during this time, though employed in constant efforts to cross the river, the enemy succeeded in but one instance. He threw over, under cover of night, a force of about 100 men, led by Colonel De Villiers. They attacked the guard of one of the guns, who, commanded by Major Thorburn, gallantly met and repulsed them, after killing several and capturing 6. Colonel De Villiers very narrowly escaped being captured.

On the night of this skirmish the enemy received a re-enforcement of 5,000 from Ohio. They landed at the mouth of Loop Creek, with the view of intercepting my retreat should this become necessary or of falling upon my rear or upon my left flank in case of a general engagement. The better to watch the movements of this column, I fell back 3 miles from Cotton Hill to within a short distance of the intersection of the Loop Creek road and the turnpike upon which my force was. The enemy advanced in force from Cotton Hill. I ordered three regiments to meet them. A warm skirmish followed, which had resulted in a general engagement between these forces had not the enemy, though much superior in numbers and in positions of their own selection, disgracefully retreated. The conduct of our men, who were engaged in this action under my own eye, was gallant and worthy of commendation. The position which I had selected was very strong, so much so that, with my force inferior in numbers to either column of the enemy, I had been willing, in fact desired, to engage him there. I would have done so with strong confidence of success. He, however, declined attacking me, and I, deeming it prudent to have a position beyond the intersections of the many roads leading from the Kanawha River with the turnpike, fell back upon Loop Mountain. The enemy followed, but with great timidity. Near this point [McCoy’s Mill, November 14] a skirmish occurred between scouting parties, in which I am grieved to inform the Department Lieut. Col. St. George Croghan was killed. Colonel Croghan was one of the most gallant officers in the service. His bravery and gentlemanly demeanor, which characterized him to his latest breath, rendered him dear to all who knew him. His death has cast a gloom over the spirits of the entire army. In this no one shares more sincerely than I do.

I may be allowed here to state that the column which advanced from the mouth of Loop Creek was piloted along obscure and unused paths by two men recently discharged from confinement in Richmond. I would respectfully but most urgently call the attention of the Department to this matter, and would suggest that under no circumstances should a traitor be let loose upon the country who has been arrested and sent to Richmond by this army, except, upon a careful weighing of all the testimony in his case, he proves himself innocent. In some cases the witnesses are inaccessible at a given time. Of one thing, however, the Department may be well assured, such a character is never arrested by my act or authority unless his liberty is dangerous to the public safety.

In my position on Loop Mountain the enemy declined attacking me, but retreated from that to Gauley in a very disorderly manner. It was, however, one of no strategic value. I thought it best to fall back to this position on Piney Creek. Here I have been for two days. The position is impregnable. Here I hoped to winter my forces, but I find the country so stripped of its means of subsistence, in the first place by the militia and then by the forces under my command, that I have been forced to surrender this hope. In addition to this, the road for 12 or 15 miles east of this point is at present almost impassable. Under these circumstances I deem it best to take position on New River, where subsistence for the men and beasts may be had in abundance.

I take occasion here to state that some two weeks since I ordered Colonel Clarkson, in command of my cavalry, to proceed in the direction of the Ohio River, and to strike the enemy a blow whenever and wherever he thought it prudent to do so. He went as far as the town of Guyandotte, attacked a force of the enemy about 300 strong stationed there [November 10], and, to use his own language, annihilated them. He took 95 prisoners, killed or drowned the remainder, and captured about 300 Enfield rifles. The prisoners I have the honor to send to Richmond. Colonel Clarkson executed his mission in the most satisfactory and gallant manner, and merits the highest commendation.

Hoping that the several movements above detailed of the army which I have the honor to command may meet with the approbation of the Department, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN B. FLOYD,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Army of Kanawha.

Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
November 20, 1861

From Floyd's command — the retreat to Raleigh Court-House.

The latest intelligence represents General Floyd to have retreated to Raleigh Court-House. We understand that orders had gone out from the War Department there to fall back as far as that place, which were issued in consequence of the difficulty of transporting supplies to Cotton Hill, and the hazard of remaining there in the face of so large a force as the enemy have on the Kanawha.

In executing the retreat, the engagement occurred at Laurel Creek, near Cotton Hill, in which the enemy were repulsed with considerable loss. In a subsequent skirmish, which and no other serious result, we regret to say that Col. Croghan was killed, a very gallant officer, whose loss will be severely felt by our army. We understand that the position taken by General Floyd, near Raleigh Court-House, is a strong one, in a strategic point of view, and if the enemy should advance that far, it is probable that an engagement will take place there.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: November 1861

West Virginia Archives and History