Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
December 1861

Richmond Daily Dispatch
December 12, 1861

Army of the Kanawha.

Southern troops ordered to Charleston Defenses of Western Virginia. &c.

[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]

Dublin Depot, Pulaski Co., Dec. 10, 1861

On my way down from the West yesterday I learned that Gen. Floyd's army had arrived and were encamped at this point; and I determined to stop over a day to see a little of camp life. Before it was ordered here, this army had been encamped for a few days near the New river, in Monroe county, at an abandoned watering place, formerly known as the Gray Sulphur Springs, a mile or two from Peterstown. The number of vacant buildings at that place; the great quantity of corn raised on the New river; the bountiful supply of beef always to be had in the large grazing county of Monroe; the good battean navigation practicable between that point and the Central Depot of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, some twenty miles above, on the river; and the midway position it presented between the Dubin and Jackson's river Depots, affording protection against the enemy to either point all made Peterstown a very favorable one for the establishment of a permanent camp, and depository of provisions.

The strongest strategic point in all this country is at Piney creek, a few miles this side of Raleigh Court-House, and within twenty miles of New river. A fortified camp at Piney and a plank road to New river would enable our forces intended to operate in the Kanawha valley to get along without regular transportation; for sufficient provisions could be carried for a ten day's expedition in haversacks and on pack-saddles

I understand that it was the object of General Floyd, in falling back from Fayette county to Peterstown, simply to get to bread and meat, which the condition of the roads rendered it impossible to transport in wagons. In one sense of the word, he designed to make his winter quarters in Peterstown; but it was far from his intention to remain quiet during any period of the winter.--It is not proper that I should speak further, however, on this point. Independently of the operations I must not speak of; to have fortified the pass at Piney creek, to have made a good road from New River to the fortified camp, and thus to have placed his sources of supply one hundred miles nearer the lower Kanawha Valley than they have been at any time during the past season, would have been to accomplish much for the retaking and occupation of that Valley next season, before the period for active hostilities sets in. Similar fortifications and preparations at Meadow Bluff, west of Lewisburg, could be made; and both the roads leading down to the Kanawha be thus guarded against the enemy; at the same time that they would furnish magazines of supply from which our troops could go forth unencumbered by transportation, conveying with them provisions for campaigns of ten days at least. CumberlandG p being already impregnable, another fortuned camp at some point guarding the approaches up the Sandy river, would complete the protection of Western Virginia.

The army of the Kanawha, however, has been ordered to this place, with reference, it is thought, to exigencies in Kentucky, on the Potomac, or at Charleston. Donelson's brigade, which joined the army at Peterstown, has already been ordered to Charleston, and sets out to-day from this place. The res of the army will be inspected here, with reference to further orders. I have gone through all their cantonments, and have been agreeably surprised to find in what an efficient condition the regiments are. The officers assure me, and I am inclined to believe so from what I see, that the regiments which went to Cotton Hill are in better condition now than when they set out from Sewell The usual number of cases of sickness occurred during the expedition; but these are generally doing well, and a good many of the sick who were left at the White Sulphur Springs are daily joining their companies.--In two weeks time these regiments will be in better and more effective condition than they have been in since they were first attacked by the measles. When we consider the distances many of them have marched, at least four hundred miles during the season, their present condition must be conceded to reflect great credit upon their officers. I am particularly struck with the appearance of the two regiments that were recruited in the Kanawha Valley--Colonel McCauslin's 36th and Col. Jackson's 22d. Men who have marched so far, and fought so well, and who still present so imposing and manly a front, deserve a better fate than exile from the land of their homes. If this army is not ordered away to some distant field of service, I venture to predict that these brave men will yet see their homes before the winter is over. Col. Wharton's 51st is in admirable condition; and Col. Reynold's 50th, at present under command of Maj. Thorburn, is fast regaining the strength it lost before leaving Sewell Mountain. Heth's 45th has not yet reached here.

The 20th Mississippi has not yet reached this point, but is expected every day. Its gallant commander, Col. Russell, who is most highly valued as an officer, is absent, sick. I learn that the regiment is in what may be said, under all the circumstances, to be excellent condition. Besides this, there are two other regiments of Southern troops here the 13th Georgia and Phillips's Georgia Legion. I take it for granted that these Southern troops will all be ordered to Charleston, or to some other Eastern point. It seems unjust to keep them in this mountain region, in a climate to which they are not accustomed. The true policy of the Government is to leave the defence of Western Virginia to Western Virginia troops. The establishment of a few fortified camps as pointsd' appui, where a thousand or two men can stand against five times their number, and where provisions can be stored in quantity, would enable the troops that could be kept out in the field, to scour the country thoroughly, as far as the banks of the Ohio, and render it utterly untenable by the enemy. Western Virginia can furnish ample troops and competent officers of her own for this purpose; and the sooner this plan of defence is resorted to, the better.

An Inspection of the forces here took place yesterday, and I am confident that the report of the inspecting officer will be such as will much gratify and most agreeably surprise the Government.

A spy reached here yesterday and reported to the General that all the regiments, except two, of the enemy on the Kanawha had gone down the river in boats and gone off. These two regiments, and about three hundred troops at Fayette Court-House, are now all that are left of Rosencranz's army of fourteen thousand in the Kanawha Valley. The roads East of Fayette Court- House are almost impassable on horseback.

Yours, C. S. A.

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: December 1861

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