HEADQUARTERS FIRST SEPARATE BRIGADE, DEPARTMENT OF WEST VIRGINIA,
Martinsburg, W. Va., December 31, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my brigade since the date of its arrival at New Creek, W. Va., November 18:
Having been notified by the brigadier-general commanding the department that active service would be expected of me very soon, measures were at once taken to place the command in as good condition as possible, but owing to the meager supplies of horse-shoes, nails, coal, and forges furnished, and the shortness of the time allowed, the mounted forces of the brigade were but poorly prepared to make a long march on the 6th of December, when I received orders to move on the 8th. A copy of my instructions ia appended to this report. My orders did not contemplated the movement of any co-operative forces, excepting a small force under Colonel Thoburn, but after representing to the department commander the importance of such movements, and my desire that they should be made, he kindly invited me to accompany him to his headquarters at Cumberland, and arrange a plan for them. I went with him to Cumberland on the evening of the 6th, and drew up a plan which was, briefly, as follows, viz:
Brigadier Scammon, commanding forces in the Kanawha Valley, to be at Lewisburg on Saturday, December 12; to look out northward and endeavor to intercept the enemy from that direction; to remain until 18th, taking advantage of any opportunity to strike the enemy in the direction of Union or elsewhere. Colonel Moor to be at Marling's Bottom, Friday, December 11; to feel the enemy in the direction of Lewisburg on the 12th and 13th; to remain near Frankford until the 18th, and on his return to bring off the wounded left after the battle of Droop Mountain. Brigadier-General Sullivan, commanding forces in the Shenandoah Valley, to be at Woodstock on Friday, December 11; to make careful demonstrations until the 18th, when he was to move toward Staunton, and threaten the same boldly on the 20th and 21st. The command of Colonel Thoburn was to turn off at Monterey, and, moving toward Staunton, keep the attention of the enemy fixed upon the Parkersburg pike.
A copy of the above plan was given to the department commander, and i received his promise that his orders should be given in accordance with it, with the exception of Moor's and thoburn's commands, which were to receive orders from me. It was thought that between the two demonstrations of the Kanawha and Shenandoah forces, I might pass the enemy's lines without delay, and that the threatening of Staunton on the 20th and 21st, with the operations in the direction of Union, would divert the enemy from offering any great resistance to the return of my fatigued command.
The Second [West] Virginia Mounted Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Scott; Third [West] Virginia Mounted Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson; Eighth [West] Virginia Mounted Infantry, Colonel Blakely; Major Gibson's battalion of cavalry, and Ewing's battery set out from New Creek on the morning of the 8th of December, with fair weather, but with many misgivings on account of our poor condition to overcome the weary distances and confront the perils incident to such an expedition.