Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 745, 747-48
Baltimore, Md., January 3, 1863.
General: I have just received the following telegram from General Kelley:
Harper’s Ferry, W. Va., January 3, 1863.
Col. William D. Whipple,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Baltimore:
I have just received a dispatch, dated this a.m., from Colonel Washburn, commanding at Moorefield, that he was attacked this morning. Thought there was a large force approaching him by way of Petersburg. He had withdrawn his force from the latter place, and sent his train to New Creek. I have ordered a force from New Creek to meet and protect the train. Have ordered Milroy to send a force from Winchester, to support Washburn. I fear the enemy has sent a force from Staunton down the Potomac Valley, to cut the railroad west of us. A dispatch, just received from Captain Keys, at Romney, reports cannonading this afternoon in the direction of Moorefield. Washburn has two small infantry regiments, a battery, and one company of cavalry.
B. F. Kelley,
I have telegraphed General Kelley that if he thinks that now, or on the receipt of further intelligence, he must have re-enforcements, I can send him at once, from here, a regiment of infantry and a field battery. I have nothing else to spare him. I have also directed him to keep a lookout, lest the enemy approach the river or the railroad from the direction of Leesburg.
Robt. C. Schenck,
Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck,
Headquarters Eighth Army Corps,
Baltimore, January 4, 1863.
General: Late last night I received the following further telegram from General Kelley at Harper’s Ferry:
A dispatch just received from one of Colonel Washburn’s officers says they are surrounded at Moorefield by about 500 rebel cavalry, with three guns. No infantry had been seen. If this is all their force, Washburn is in no danger. Cavalry will reach him to-morrow. The movement may be a feint to cover an attack on Milroy, at Winchester. With my present information, I do not need your proffered re-enforcements.
Robt. C. Schenck,
Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck,
General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.
Report of Brig. Gen. William E. Jones, C. S. Army, commanding Valley District.
Headquarters Valley District,
New Market, Va., January 6, 1863.
General: On the 2d instant--with the available force of the Sixth, Seventh, and Twelfth Regiments Virginia Cavalry, the Seventeenth Battalion Virginia Cavalry, [R. P.] Chews battery, the First Battalion Maryland Cavalry, the First Battalion Maryland Infantry, and the Maryland Battery--I marched on Moorefield. By a forced march with the cavalry and artillery, our destination was reached by 7 a. m. on the 3d. Hoping to overcome the force at Moorefield before the arrival of that from Petersburg, the attack was made at once. Being wholly unacquainted with the topography of the country, I trusted the placing of my artillery to Captain Harness, of the Seventeenth Battalion Virginia Cavalry, a resident of that vicinity and once a captor of the town. The hills selected on each side of the Petersburg road are so distant that our six pieces, with their defective ammunition, were no match for the two of the enemy. Nearly all our shots fell far short, while theirs either passed over or struck in our midst. In the meanwhile the force at Petersburg, timely warned of our approach, came within striking distance and opened on our rear. Though they reached us with ease, they were out of our range. The two wings of my command were too far apart for mutual support, and the ground between was swept by both batteries of the enemy Unable to unite my own forces, I could prevent the union of the enemy’s. I could not expect re-enforcements in twenty- four hours; my adversaries might receive assistance from New Creek in less time. With my right wing I determined to hold my position, which commanded the road up the South Fork and prevented a junction of the two hostile forces, while Colonel [R. H.] Dulany should march by a road west of the Moorefield and Petersburg pike on the latter place, whence he could cross Middle Mountain to the South Fork in my rear. I retained my position about two hours, when, my battery having expended the last of its well-husbanded, worthless ammunition, and when Colonel Dulany was so far on his way as to be out of danger, I retired up the South Fork.
A part of the Seventh Virginia Cavalry captured a picket of 20 men near Moorefield early in the morning, and in the evening Colonel Dulany’s command (the Sixth and Seventh Cavalry) and Chew’s battery (Lieutenant [J. W.] Thomson commanding) captured 46 more at Petersburg. On the approach of our men, the enemy at Petersburg fired a church filled with supplies, nearly all of which were consumed. Late at night my two wings united on the South Fork, about 10 miles above Moorefield. Here I was joined by the Maryland infantry and the cavalry of Imboden. Being still able to renew the attack, I determined to do so, but the exhausted condition of the horses of Chew’s battery and of the Sixth and Seventh Virginia Cavalry made rest absolutely necessary. The infantry was moved down and all put in readiness for an attack on the morning of the 5th. McNeill’s company, of Imboden’s [regiment], and part of Company F, Seventh Virginia Cavalry, were sent to watch the roads west of Moorefield, and, late at night, reported heavy re-enforcements of infantry, artillery, and cavalry from New Creek. This and the condition of my commissariat rendered an immediate return to this place expedient. While on this duty these companies captured 33 men, 46 horses, and 5 wagons, and killed 1 man.
We claim a partial success, for we killed 1 man, captured 99 (among them 1 captain and 2 lieutenants), 51 horses, 18 sets of harness, and 5 wagons, which we burned, and 1 portable bake-oven, which was brought off, and caused the enemy to burn from $15,000 to $20,000 worth of stores. A knowledge of the ground would have enabled me to capture in detail both garrisons and the first re-enforcement. In my entire ignorance of the country I was compelled to trust to others, and lost the rich fruits of hard labor.
The conduct of the men was admirable, and my thanks are especially due to Colonel Dulany, Captain [J. H.] McNeill, of Imboden’s [regiment], and Lieutenant [C. H.] Vandiver, Seventh Virginia Cavalry. Privates [J. W.] Kuykendall and [J. S.] Hutton, of Company F, Seventh Virginia Cavalry, as indefatigable and reliable scouts, have rendered me invaluable service.
Our entire loss was only 1 horse killed and 2 wounded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. E. Jones,
General R. H. Chilton,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of Northern Virginia.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: January 1863