HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WEST VIRGINIA,
Harper's Ferry, August 8, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of operations in this department since my last, of date June 8, forwarded from Staunton, Va.:
On the day after the defeat of Jones at Piedmont, I marched on Staunton (June 6) and occupied the town without opposition, the enemy, with the shattered remnant of his army, having retreated to Waynesborough and Rockfish Gap, in the Blue Ridge, ready to fall back on Charlottesville and Gordonsville if pursued. At Staunton I destroyed a large amount of public stores, consisting of shoes, saddles, harness, and clothing, 3 cannon and about 1,000 stand of small-arms, also several extensive establishments for the manufacture of army clothing and equipments. I also had the Virginia Central Railroad entirely destroyed for several miles east and west of the town, burning all the depot buildings, shops, and warehouses belonging to the road. About 500 prisoners (for the most part wounded and invalids) fell into our hands here.
On the 8th I was joined by the forces under Generals Crook and Averell, about 10,000 men, with two batteries. This command, returning from a successful raid on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad and moving to join me at Staunton, had struck the line of the Virginia Central at Goshen and had totally destroyed this road as they marched to the point of junction, making in all a total destruction of the road for a distance of fifty miles. From this point I sent back by way of Buffalo Gap and Beverly a convoy of wagons, prisoners, and refugees, guarded by 800 men whose term of enlistment had expired, the whole under the command of Colonel A. Moor, of the Twenty-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
Having rested and reorganized the combined forces under my command I started on the 10th toward Lexington, moving up the Valley in four columns by roads nearly parallel. The infantry division under General Crook, and the cavalry division under General Verell, moving on the right-hand road, were opposed by McCausland, with about 2,000 mounted men and a battery.
He was easily driven, however, and on the 11th took refuge in the town of Lexington, behind the North River, a tributary of the James. Generals Crook and Averell arriving about midday on the 11th, found the bridge across this stream burnt, and the crossing disputed by sharpshooters and artillery. The infantry division under General Sullivan, which moved on the road to the left, and which I accompanied in person, had met with no enemy thus far, but at the sound of Crook's guns moved rapidly forward and took position in front of the town. I found the enemy's sharpshooters posted among the rocks and thickets of the opposite cliffs and in some store-houses at the bridge, and also occupying the buildings of the Virginia Military Institute, which stood near the river. Their artillery was screened behind the buildings of the town, and on some heights just beyond it the whole position was completely commanded by my artillery (thirty guns). This unsoldierly and inhuman attempt of General McCausland to defend an indefensible position against an overwhelming force by screening himself behind the private dwellings of women and children, might have brought justifiable destruction upon the whole town, but as this was not rendered imperative by any military necessity, I preferred to spare private property and an unarmed population. Instead of crushing the place