country between Laurel Hill and Oakland and the Red House, showing a main road running from a northward point from Laurel Hill to the Northwestern turnpike, intersecting the same at the Red House; also showing many roads approaching the same; also a road leading to Saint George northward to my camp, with various approaches. in the opinion of Mr. Shaffer, and those who were in attendance with him, awaiting orders to act as scouts, the rebels must pass along the first-mentioned road, leading to the Northwestern turnpike, so as to strike the turnpike at the Red House. With the light I had before me I concurred in this opinion, and was about to take the available force of my command with the two companies of the First Virginia Regiment, and immediately march to the road described as running from Laurel Hill to the Northwestern turnpike, so as to take position on the said road southwestward from West Union about seven miles - about the same distance from the Red House and some fifteen miles from my camp. But, reflecting on my instructions, I though you scarcely authorized me so to do. I abandoned the contemplated march, and concluded to send out mounted scout, well armed, in the direction last mentioned, as well as in and around Saint George. Accordingly, at about 10 o'clock p. m., I dispatched four scouts, well armed and mounted, with directions to reach the Laurel Hill and Northwestern turnpike road as soon as possible westward from West Union, and to reconnoiter then the approaches thereto. This duty would take them over a very rough road (most of the way) some sixteen miles. I directed them to first report to Colonel Irvine's command, then at West Union, if they should make important discovered nearer to him than to me, then hasten on to me. I also sent a scout in disguise to take observations about Saint George and the road leading from that point to my camp; also many scouts not mounted in various directions.
The first named mounted scouts reached the road they desired at about 1 o'clock a. m. Sunday morning, and soon discovered the enemy in large numbers, and to get out of his reach they were obliged to secrete themselves for a short time. This was southwestward from West Union about seven or eight miles, of course much nearer Colonel Irvine's than to my own command, and so, in obedience to my orders, he was notified before the messengers came to me. This notice, I am informed, was given between 3 and 4 o'clock a. m. same day. The horses of these scouts gave out, by which means I did not receive the report until 10 o'clock a. m. Little before 11 o'clock a. m. I started with all the force I could spare, with one day's cooked rations, together with parts of the two Virginia companies, making altogether about 450, and arrived at the Red House, passing through West Union, at 3 1/2 o'clock p. m., a distance of eighteen or nineteen miles. When I arrived I found Colonel Irvine's force, part of Colonel Depuy's (Eighth Ohio), and a few of the Twentieth Ohio, under your own personal command, with two pieces of ordnance, that had been in hot pursuit several hours before me. Not gaining on the enemy, and our forces being considerably out of strength, and without any provision, and it plainly appearing that further immediate pursuit would be futile, under your order all our forces turned back and encamped at Red House. Leaving my force, I returned to Cheat River to order provisions and transportation forward.
On the next day (Monday) I received from you an order to join a forward movement from the Red House, with all the forces of my command I could spare from the duties already assigned me.
At about 8 o'clock p. m. on Monday, 15th instant, I joined the column