my headquarters (1 1\2 miles off) when General Floyd's wagons came moving back, and in a short time, while his front column was in motion, he sent me notice that he determined to move to some defensible position between meadow Bluff and Lewisburg,a nd would move at once. He was then moving, and he ordered me to hold myself in readiness to bring up his rear. I have held myself in readiness, but have received no orders to move. This morning he addressed me an inquiry why I had not obeyed his order to move. I have replied, stating my reasons in detail, but not in full.
HENRY A. WISE,
CAMP ON BIG SEWELL MOUNTAIN, VIRGINIA, September 18, 1861-10.30 a. m.
Brigadier General JOHN B. FLOYD, Commanding, &c.:
SIR: In answer to your inquiry, addressed to me this morning, why your order of the 16th instant, "to fall back to the most defensible point between Meadow Bluff and Lewisburg," has not been carried out, I reply: First, no such order was ever given to me. On the contrary, I was notified late the 16th, after night, that it had been determined to fall back to the most defensible point between Meadow Bluff and Lewisburg,a nd that you would put your column in motion at once, and that I would hold my command in readiness to bring up the rear. I have obeyed that order, and have received no order to move. It was necessary to remain to bring up some baggage left by your camp. Second, this order to be ready followed immediately after a verbal conference with you, at hold, for a time at least, the almost impregnable position which I now occupy. I deem it essential to protect your rear, to prevent the advance of forces from Gauley attempting to form a junction with the enemy's forces from Carnifix. Whatever road they may take, I can effectually check at this position any force from Gauley, and can attack the rear or flank of any enemy from Carnifix when I am obliged to fall back. This will best bring up your rear and prevent the advance of the enemy. Third, your march over the road has rendered it almost impassable, and the rain since has rendered this condition still worse. My camp has many sick, some convalescent,a and I deed it inhuman to risk the health of these men in this wet weather. I ask, then, to wait here (in comfortable quarters, at an eligible point) to meet the enemy, until the weather clears up and the roads are passable and I get sufficient wagons to move with facility. Forth, if I leave this position we will lose the command of Bowyer's Ferry and the old State road. I have a good supply of provisions now here; I cannot leave without risking their loss, and for these reasons submit to your own superior judgment that I am here in best readiness to defend your rear. I can here repulse twice my numbers, and it is only past this point on this road that the enemy can advance their artillery. I can stop them here, and you will, with seven pieces of artillery, have to meet infantry only, advancing upon you at Meadow Bluff, by the Wilderness, or nay other road between this and your position. I respectfully and earnestly therefore ask to be permitted to remain in position here until I see whether the enemy will attempt to advance the whole or a part of their forces on this turnpike past this point and until the weather and the roads are better for a march. I.