Series 1, Volume 29, Part 1
OCTOBER 21-22, 1863. – Scout from Charleston to Boone Court-House, W.Va.
Report of Brig. Gen. Alfred N. Duffie, U.S. Army, commanding Cavalry Brigade, Department of West Virginia.
October 23, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with your order of October 21, I proceeded with a part of my command, consisting of a part of the Thirty-fourth Ohio Mounted Infantry, a part of the Second (West) Virginia Cavalry Volunteers, and one section of Simmonds’ battery, numbering in all about 300 men, toward Boone Court-House, W. Va., leaving Charleston at 7 p.m. of October 21.
In order to move my command with the greatest dispatch, Lieutenant-Colonel Shaw, commanding the Thirty-fourth Regiment, was ordered to cross his regiment on the ferry at Charleston and proceed to Camp Piatt, on the other side of the Kanawha, while I proceeded with the remainder of my force to Camp Piatt, and crossed by the ferry.
I reached Camp Piatt at 10 o’clock, and completed the crossing at 1:30 a.m. of October 22. About the same time I was joined by Colonel Shaw. Ascertaining that the country in which I was to operate was not favorable for the use of artillery, I left the section of Simmonds’ battery Camp Piatt.
Here I divide my command into three columns. I directed Major Hoffman, Second (West) Virginia Cavalry, to take command of the right column, consisting of 100 men, and Captain Allen, Second (West) Virginia Cavalry, to take command of the left column, consisting of 75 men, while I retained the main body under my own immediate command. Each column had a competent guide.
I directed Captain Allen to proceed by the right branch of Lens Creek across Big Coal, and thence to the road leading down the Pond Fork of Coal River, striking this road about 10 miles from the courthouse and proceeding down to the court-house. I directed Major Hoffman to proceed with the main body to a distance of 2 miles from the court-house; thence up Turtle Creek and across by way of Six-Mile Creek to the Spruce Fork of Coal River, coming down said creek and taking the town in the rear, while the main column I moved direct upon the court-house. These dispositions were such as to cut off all means of retreat from the enemy. The place was reached by the three columns at nearly the same time, between 12 and 3 o’clock of the 22d.
Having arrived at the place, I found no enemy except a few stragglers, who were captured by Major Hoffman and Captain Allen; also 1 man, Martin Snodgrass, of Company A, Thirteenth (West) Virginia Regiment (loyal), whom I suspect of being a deserter from the United States service, Major Hoffman, in capturing the stragglers, fired a few shots. I captured 3 horses.
I met with no loss, either in men or horses. I discovered that the information on which the movement was made was mainly without foundation, there having been at no time recently over 15 or 20 rebels at Boone Court-House, or over 150 in the whole country.
I ascertained that Colonel Beckley, with a few companies of a partly organized regiment of cavalry, was a few miles beyond Logan Court-House on Island Creek, but the distance being considerable, his way of retreat sure, and his having received information of our movement two or three days in advance, I determined not to attempt a movement against that force, being satisfied that it would be without any results worthy of mention.
The country through which I marched my command is rugged, the roads being scarcely passable for wagons in low water, and impracticable even for cavalry in high water. The supply of forage in very limited; very little hay is grown in all that country, and barely corn enough to subsist a part of the inhabitants.
I started back with my command on the morning of the 22d, and reached Camp Piatt at 5 p.m. of that day. I halted at Camp Piatt for the night, feeding and resting my horses, and brought them into camp on the morning of the 23d.
The distance marched was 80 miles; prisoners captured, 4; horses captured, 3.
I am sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. N. DUFFIE.
Brigadier-General, Commanding Cavalry.
Capt. J. L. Botsford,
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: October 1863