reconnoitering to the front, were sent out before my arrival, and did not reported to me. I cannot, therefore, state from them the distance between the two armies before our return; but Colonels Irvine and Depuy, in their reports, state the least distance to have been eight miles, and that while our commands was halted the enemy had reached Stony River.
Captain Keys, who, after overtaking Colonel Irvine, led the small detachment of cavalry, and serving as an advance guard, told me since our return that he saw none of the enemy, except a few stragglers a long distance off.
The fatigued condition of our men, and all of the matters above being considered in council (except the distance between forces, which was subject to speculation), a distinct vote was taken upon the question whether the command should then continue the pursuit or return, and every officer but three, in the whole numbering about twenty, was emphatic in opposition to further pursuit in the then condition of the command, and every officer voted against going forward except one - a major, who declined voting - and it that vote I fully concurred. What any one might have done under different circumstances and in the light of different facts it is idle now to speculate.
It is proper here to say, that on the march east from the Red House no prisoners were taken, nor were abandoned arms or articles on any importance found, so far as I have been able to learn.
To be in more convenient communication with the railroad at Oakland, and nearer to their camp equipage and supplies, the troops were marched back to Red House. On the way Colonel Morton's infantry and one gun were met about two miles from the Red House. On arriving at Red House it was found that there were not provisions enough to give all of our troops there assembled one full meal without drawing from Oakland, and there being as yet no means of transportation, Colonel Morton's companies and two companies of the Virginia troops marched back to Oakland to their dinners, suppers, and camp equipage, arriving there about 9 o'clock in the evening.
Late in the afternoon of the 14th, Colonel T. R. Stanley and Lieutenant-Colonel Turley, of the Eighteenth and Twenty-second Ohio, from Clarksburg, had arrived at Oakland, and during tat night Colonel Dunning, of the Fifth, also from Clarksburg, arrived at Oakland, as did Colonel W. S. Smith, of the Thirteenth Regiment, at Grafton, from Parkersburg, each with his command, endeavoring to respond to my orders. In anticipation of a movement forward the next day, if means of transportation and horses and harnesses for the guns should be obtained, and infirmation should come in indicating probable success in following the retreating enemy, orders were given that all of the troops at Red House and Oakland should be immediately provided with two days' cooked rations, and be put in readiness to march. Such information did come about 2 p. m. of the 15th, and while it was being considered, and a plan of operations discussed with the commandants of regiments at Oakland, a dispatch from department headquarters at Huttonsville was received, dated the 14th, addressed to me, saying:
Garnett's army completely routed yesterday, 13th, at 2 p. m., at Cheat River, on the Saint George road. Baggage captured; one gun taken; Garnett killed; his forces demoralized.
I charge you to complete your operations by the capture of the remainder of his force. If you have but one regiment, attack and check them until others arrive. You may never have such another or opportunity again. Do not throw it away. Conduct this movement in person, and follow them a l'outrance (to the utmost).
(Telegram literatim as follows, " a lon-Trance." Is this the same?)