Skip
Navigation

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
October 29-31, 1862


Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
Series 1, Vol. 19, pt. 2, pp. 688-89, 690-92

Headquarters Army of Western Virginia,
Warnerís, five miles east of Falls of Kanawha, Oct. 29, 1862.
(Received November 3, 1862.)

General S. Cooper,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:

General: I have the honor to report that I reached this point this evening, having succeeded to-day in passing my train over Cotton Hill, a long and steep mountain running down to the Kanawha River. The enemy had not taken possession of Charleston at an early hour this morning, although they had approached within 3 or 4 miles of the place. By my order, General Jenkins, with his cavalry, will hold them back as long as possible. The very inclement weather which was experienced on Saturday and Sunday last, doubtless, prevented General [George W.] Morgan from coming up with his command to join General Cox, as was contemplated, and thereby the attack on Charleston was delayed. I have what I regard as reliable information that it was proposed by the enemy to attack our forces at Charleston and Summerville at the same time, viz, on the morning of the 28th instant. Milroy is represented, and I have no doubt is, in command of the Federal troops moving on Summerville. His force consists of 3,000 infantry and two batteries of artillery and a small number of cavalry. The enemy have also increased their force very materially at Beverly. My apprehension is that when they find I have succeeded in eluding them in the Kanawha Valley, they may endeavor to reach the railroad, Milroy coming through by Lewisburg. My great difficulty will now be to obtain a sufficient supply of forage. Nothing of the kind can be procured in the country from the Kanawha until you reach the county of Giles, and then the supply is very small and only to be had upon impressment.

I have, ever since I have been in command, been urging the quartermasters at Giles Court-House and Dublin to obtain and forward to various points on my route as large a supply of forage as possible. I have to-day received a letter from the quartermaster at Dublin, informing me that up to this time he had only been able to obtain 1,500 bushels of grain, 1,000 of which he had procured in Lynchburg. The only thing, in my opinion, which will protect this region from an invasion is the absolute destitution of the country for so great a distance. They may, as they are able to do with their immense trains, keep themselves supplied from the mouth of Loop Creek, on the Kanawha, up to which point they will now be enabled to come with their boats, the river having risen some 4 feet within the last few days. Should the enemy continue to advance, I should prefer to check them, if possible, on this side of New River; but the impossibility of obtaining supplies, of which I have spoken, and, the danger of being intercepted by an approach by Lewisburg, may prevent this. Should Milroy, with the other forces in that section, be able to reach Lewisburg before I would cross New River at Packís Ferry, I would be in a most dangerous position. I shall do all that I can in the absence of any further instructions to protect the country, although I may be forced to fall back to the Narrows of New River. I should be pleased to receive instructions from the Department.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, &c.,

Jno. Echols,
Brigadier-General, &c.

_____

Headquarters Army of Western Virginia,
Five miles west of Mercer C. H., W. Va., November 1, 1862.
(Received November 5, 1862.)

General S. Cooper,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:

General: As I informed you by telegraph on yesterday, I have been compelled to fall back to the line heretofore occupied by this army, on account of the impossibility of obtaining supplies at any point farther west. So far I have conducted the movement successfully, losing nothing and leaving behind me nothing of value. The enemy are undoubtedly in strong force in the Kanawha Valley, and number, from the best information which I have been able to get, some 12,000 infantry, 800 cavalry, and 30 pieces of artillery. Their force consists of a division, commanded by Lightburn, composed of Siberís and Tolandís brigades and the Second [West] Virginia Cavalry, and the command of General Morgan, the whole under the command of General Cox. My cavalry, as I dispatched you, under General Jenkins, were driven back and out of the valley on the 31st ultimo, and have been ordered by me to operate in the counties of Greenbrier, Pocahontas, and Nicholas, &c., to watch the enemy and retard him if he should attempt to advance by either of the routes in that section. I shall, for the present, unless otherwise ordered by the Department, leave two regiments, numbering some 900 men, at Mercer Court-House, with instructions to take position, if necessary, at Rocky Gap, to prevent any approach to the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, and place one brigade at the Narrows of New River, in Giles County, to guard and defend that pass, and order another small brigade to the western portion of Monroe or Greenbrier, to prevent or check any advance upon the route through Lewisburg. My apprehension now is that the advance by the enemy, if the weather continues good, will be upon the road through Greenbrier. Up to 8 oíclock of the morning of the 1st they had not advanced upon this line farther than Fayette Court-House, and if to that point, only in small force. From the other line I have not yet been informed by General Jenkins, in command of the cavalry. Upon whatever line they may advance, if they advance at all, they cannot be successfully resisted by our present force. It may be that they may not undertake at this late season to cross over the mountains of this region, although I think that they will. I hope that I may be indulged in expressing the opinion that if the Government intends to take and hold the Kanawha Valley, they must send a force of some 12,000 or 15,000 men in order to accomplish it. The country from the counties of Monroe and Giles to the Kanawha River is now little better than a desert, having been heretofore pillaged and laid waste by the enemy. Very many of the inhabitants have deserted it, not being able to live in it, and there are but few dwelling-houses now standing along the main lines of travel between these two points, they having been destroyed by the invading army last winter and spring. The supplies for our army must be drawn from the line of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, for this section will yield nothing for our support. It will be important to keep a force in front of the railroad, as the enemy no doubt will advance upon it whenever an opportunity presents itself. During the last spring they penetrated with a cavalry force to within 8 or 10 miles of this railroad. I regret exceedingly that I have been unable to hold the Kanawha Valley, which was so much to be desired, but I beg the Department to believe that in attempting to do so I should most likely have sacrificed my whole command. I do not think that the command of General Floyd is at present able to effect much in the way of co-operation. It is, I think, small and not well organized, although he is displaying much energy in attempting to effect its organization. I should be pleased to receive any instructions from the Government which may be necessary, if the disposition of my force, which I have indicated, does not meet with its entire approbation. I inclose a slip from a Cincinnati paper of late date, as showing the probable force of the enemy on the Kanawha River.

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

Jno. Echols,
Brigadier-General, &c.

_____

Headquarters Army of [Western] Virginia,
Nine miles east of Raleigh C. H., November 1, 1862,
Via Dublin, W. Va., November 2, 1862.

General S. Cooper:

My cavalry, under General Jenkins, were driven back from the Kanawha Valley by the enemy on yesterday. General Jenkins reports to me that they advanced upon him in force near the Falls of Kanawha, and that he was compelled to fall back. I have ordered him to take his command to the counties of Greenbrier and Pocahontas, and watch and counteract the movements of the enemy from the direction of Clarksburg and Beverly. I think that they will at once move in force on this line, or the line through Greenbrier, upon the Central or Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. I had determined to make a stand a few miles of this, but found it utterly impossible to obtain forage for my horses. I am now endeavoring to get the command back to Narrows of New River and Rocky Gap, or some point near Lewisburg, to subsist them, and at same time to guard the approaches to the railroad. If the enemy advance, as I have indicated, it is important, if possible, to send re- enforcements as soon as possible.

Jno. Echols,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: October 1862

West Virginia Archives and History