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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 5, Part 1 (West Virginia)
Page 160 OPERATIONS I MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

In my letter to General Lee of September 5, 1861, you will see a full and detailed account of the battle at Big Creek and of my critical position at the Hawk's Nest.

On September 8 orders were interrupted by General Floyd's most extraordinary letter of that date, accusing one of my officers of having seized upon a rifled gun at Jackson's River, and taking it to the White Sulpur Springs; informing me that he had sent ot arrest him promising to order a court-martial for his trial when he could ascertain his rank, and requiring me to furnish him with a list of my officers and the dates of their commissions, that he might select from among them such names as he would like to be placed upon the court-martial. My answer is dated September 9, 1.15 o'clock p. m. The whole matter is explained in the report of Captain B. Roemer, of my artillery, of September 12, and in my letter to General Lee of September 9, 10 o'clock a. m.

On the 7th of September General Floyd sent me Colonel Tompkins' regiemtn. On the morning of the 9th he announced the enemy approaching him, as I expected he would, from Sutton, 6,000 strong, and the apprehension of a considerable force also approaching from the direction of Gauley Bridge. I call your attention to my letter to General Lee of September 9, and to Colonel Tompkins' letter accompanying the same.

At about 8.30 o'clock, a. m., September 9, I received a letter from General Floyd, dated 1 o'clock a. m., accounting the advance upon him of the enemy form Sutton, and that they were within 12 miles of Summersville. He stated that his strength, including the regiment of Colonel McCausland, did not exceed 1,600 men, and called for the return of Colonel Tompkins' regiments, saying that I, with the remainder of my force, could maintain my position, and that if I could not, I must call on General Chapman across New River for re-enforcements. This surprised me as to his forces. He brought out two regiments, little less than 1,200; was then joined by Colonel Wharton's regiment, 400; then by McCausland's and Tompkins' regiments, 800; making 2,400 men; and two additional regiemnts, one form Norht Carolina and one form Georgia, were within a day's march of him. At the time that I dispatched Colonel Tompkins to him, in my letter of September 9, addressed to General Floyd, I assigned unanswerable reasons why I could not send a regiment of the Legion. I was reduced by measles to a force of infantry an artillery of about 1,050 efficient men. It was very hazardous to remain where I was with this force. If one-third of it were taken away I could not prevent the enemy from approaching Carnifix Ferry by the Saturday road. I would have to fall back again to Dogwood Gap, lose all I had gained by driving the enemy beyond Big Creek, lose Miller's Ferry,a nd all opportunity of communicating whit Generals Chapman and Beckley, and all the advantages of Likens', of first-class mill, to grind meal and flour for my men; but, above all, the governing reason was that I could not defend General Floyd's rear, if I had re-enforced him whit my whole force and crossed Carnifix Ferry. By his estimate he would have had but 2,700 men,a nd by my estimate about 3,500, to have fourth what I estimated at 6,000 and he at 9,000, in his front, whit form 2,500 to 3,000 in our rear to cut off all retreat, and he was in entrenchments most unskillfully traced, behind works not worthy of Chinese. I begged him, therefore, to relieve me form the order to send him one of my fragments of regiments,and appealed to him to allow me to await further events and orders and the removal of the immediate pressure of the enemy upon me. The fact was, I had been


Page 160 OPERATIONS I MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 5, Part 1 (West Virginia)
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