Series 1, Vol. 19, pt. 2, pp. 529-31
Headquarters District of Western Virginia,
Charleston, November 1, 1862.
Maj. N. H. McLean,
Asst. Adjt. Gen. and Chief of Staff, Dept. of the Ohio, Cincinnati:
Sir: I have the honor to report that I reached this place, with my advance guard, on the evening of the 29th ultimo. The enemy had made a stand at Tyler Mountain and Two-Mile Creek, below this town, on the Kanawha, and Colonel Lightburn, commanding division, had been several days at mouth of Pocotaligo, awaiting my arrival with the part of General Morgan’s division which had reported to me for duty. As soon as Carter’s and De Courcy’s brigades, of Morgan’s division, could be marched to the Pocotaligo, I pushed forward the whole force, as follows: On the left bank of the Kanawha, Siber’s brigade, of Lightburn’s division, with one four-gun battery of rifled field pieces and one four- gun battery of mountain howitzers. On the right bank, two columns, the one by the river road consisting of Toland’s brigade, of Lightburn’s division, with Foster’s six-gun rifled battery and a battalion of Second Virginia Cavalry, supported by De Courcy’s brigade, of Morgan’s division, with a section of 20-pounder Parrott guns; the other column by the turnpike over Tyler Mountain, consisting of Carter’s brigade, of Morgan’s division, and Lanphere’s six-gun rifled battery.
The enemy retreated precipitately as soon as the advance of our columns was known, crossed the Elk River, destroying the bridge of boats and all means of crossing near at hand, and retired by the turnpike toward Gauley Bridge, making a forced march of 28 miles the first day. We were delayed at Elk River by the necessity of gathering the means of constructing a bridge of boats, & c., the river not being fordable. The bridge was declared passable about 3 o’clock p. m. of the 30th, and Toland’s and Carter’s brigades, with their batteries, were crossed and pushed forward to Malden and Camp Piatt, 10 miles above Charleston, that evening, whilst Siber’s brigade marched on the opposite bank to a point opposite the other portion of the command. It was then learned that the rebels had continued a rapid retreat over Cotton Hill, through Fayette Court-House, toward Raleigh Court-House, obstructing the road with fallen trees and destroying boats and means of ferrying as they went.
Colonel Lightburn’s division is ordered to press forward to Gauley Bridge as rapidly as possible, and General Crook’s division, marching from Clarksburg, via Summerville, is expected to join them there within a very few days.
Our present greatest embarrassment arises from the lack of transportation, occasioning great difficulty in getting forward supplies. A slight rise in the Kanawha during the last three days has been of material advantage to us, and, should it be permanent, will give us steamboat transportation to Camp Piatt, 10 miles above Charleston. My quartermaster, Captain Fitch, will forward to Colonel Swords full reports and estimates of the transportation on hand and needed. The utmost we can do at present will be to supply Crook’s and Lightburn’s divisions, in the immediate vicinity of Gauley Bridge. Morgan’s division is posted as follows: Carter’s brigade at Malden, with instructions to clear the country of guerrillas, from the Salines south through Boone and Logan Counties; De Courcy’s brigade at this post, performing similar duty up Elk River and in the vicinity of the town of Kanawha; Spears’ Tennessee brigade I have not moved from Gallipolis. The enemy’s force here consisted of Loring’s original command, now under General Echols, and, so far as I can learn, has not been increased since Loring’s advance, last September, but has lost some hundreds by desertion and casualties. This force is differently reported as to numbers. Colonel Lightburn’s information, gathered at the time of his retreat and since, puts it at from 8,000 to 10,000 men, of which 2,000 and upward consisted of Jenkins’ cavalry brigade. They seem to have had some twenty pieces of artillery, of all calibers, one being a 22-pounder howitzer, several being very light guns, of not over one or two pounds caliber, and the remainder 10-pounder rifled and 6-pounder smooth field pieces. Some information obtained by me here leads me to doubt whether the infantry force exceeded 3,500 men, in ten battalions, of which only six were called regiments, and numbered some 400 each, and four, called battalions, numbered from 200 to 250 each. There is no doubt that they uniformly claimed to have more than double this number; but, without feeling quite sure, I incline to the belief that the last estimate above given is nearest the true one. They unquestionably had a disproportionately large number of pieces of artillery.
The country between the Kanawha and Sandy Rivers is much disturbed by guerrilla bands, which find a retreat in the mountain fastnesses of that country, and I am devoting immediate attention to their extirpation, whilst the advance division is moving to Gauley Bridge.
I hope, in a very few days, to submit to the general commanding a statement of the condition of the country more full and satisfactory, on which he will be able to judge whether an active campaign beyond Gauley Bridge will be feasible.
Meanwhile I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. D. Cox,
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: October 1862