fore in operation were dispensed with, as no further necessity existed for them, and the whole party was collected at Martinsburg, W. Va. It is very unfortunate that the party can have no more practice before going into the field, as the officers cannot work an important station, and cannot without considerable more practice work in the presence o f the enemy as they are not sufficiently conversant with the code to be intrusted with the ciphers. The general commanding understands this and appreciates the facts and will make all allowances, but I fear some opportunities of gaining credit to the corps by valuable service may be lost by the incompetence of the party at present to do the best duty. Lest it may appear like negligence on my part that the officers were so tardy in reporting, I would explain that it was difficult to find officers who were competent for the duty who could be spared from their regiments, there being very may companies with only one officer for duty, and much delay was occasioned by the remonstrances and interference of regimental commanders, who, disliking to lose good officers, restated it as much as tails of officers, but it is unfortunate that the details were not sooner made when asked for, and sooner complied with when made.
If we have no action for a few weeks the party will be in good order for it, and I hope the party will be able to render all the service required of it by the time it has duty to perform in the face of the enemy. The officers and men are all disposed to use their best efforts, and no labor will be spared to meet the utmost expectations of the commanding officer of the corps and the major-general commanding department.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRANKLIN E. TOWN,
Captain and Chief Signal Officer, Dept. of West Virginia,
HEADQUARTERS FIRST CAVALRY DIVISION,
Camp near Bunker Hill, April 30, 1864.
Lieutenant THOMAS H. WELLSTED,
Acting Assistant Adjutant- General:
My scout from above Winchester reports the enemy's pickets on lookout at Winchester. They also report a considerable force this side of Woodstock, with heavy artillery. This information has been received from reliable Union citizens. The scout thinks the artillery mentioned are field guns, and that the force does not exceed 1,500 or 2,000 men.
R. F. TAYLOR,
Colonel, Commanding First Division.
CHARLESTON, April 30, 1864.
Major- General SIGEL:
Not having a sufficient infantry force to make two columns, I shall only make a demonstration toward Lewisburg, so as to keep the enemy from leaving there, while I will march with the main body from Fayetteville, on the bridge of New River. Gen-