War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0256 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

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men to cross New River at a ferry which he had rigged just above the mouth of Gauley, and Lieutenant-Colonel Enyart, with 200 of the First Kentucky to cross the lower ferry, to reconnoiter and occupy if practicable the Fayette road as far up as possible. Colonel De Villeirs crossed, and after a sharp skirmish drove the enemy from the front hills and beyond Blake's farm. The rebels re-enforced this outpost 200 strong and repelled De Villeirs to the margin of the woods near Blake's farm, where he remained until evening, when six companies of the Second Kentucky passed over and re-enforced him, and during the night drove the enemy entirely from the hills in front of New River and occupied the ridge.

On the morning of the 11th Colonel De Villiers, with the Eleventh Ohio and Second Kentucky troops, by General Cox's orders, pushed forward and drove the enemy from the heights toward Cotton Hill, where his baggage train was seen moving on the Fayette turnpike from the camp which he had occupied at Huddleston's, 1 1/2 miles from the river up the Fayette road, supposed to be about two regiments. A party of the First Kentucky followed up the Fayette road at the same time until the main force occupied the position marked T (Exhibit B.)* Thus, after a vigorous and brilliant skirmish, with intervals, during thirty hours, about 700 men of General Cox's brigade drove the rebels from the front of Cotton Hill and their camp at Huddleston's, and held the entire ground for near 3 miles between the Fayette road and New River, with a loss of 2 killed, 1 wounded, and 6 missing. One of the missing was afterwards retaken, having lost an arm.

About 9 o'clock on the morning of the 11th, the other troops remaining in position, the enemy was seen to break camp at Laurel Creek and retire to Dickerson's, where they were observed busily fortifying. As soon as the movement of the enemy's camp was observed, information thereof was dispatched to Generals Schenck and Benham.

All movements up to this time had been made with a view to dispose our troops to hold in check any attempt that might be made on the Lewisburg road, and to make sure of beating and capturing the rebel force on the Fayette side, either by Schenck crossing above taking them in rearm while Benham should attack them in front and flank, the latter always insisted on as preferable, or should Schenck's crossing fail, to bring his brigade down to aid in the front and flank attack while Benham should take his rear. (See dispatches Nos. 22, 25, 26, to Benham [post, and dispatch of 10th to General Schenck.)+

The occupation of the hills between the Fayette road and New River was a preliminary tightening of the chain, securing to us the debouches for a front attack and feeling the enemy to see if he had force enough to press well down against us. His movement to Dickerson's alarmed me, lest he should retreat; his commencing to fortify there in some degree reassured me. I therefore, on the 11th, after informing General Benham of the enemy's position and our occupancy of Cotton Hill, directed him to occupy as soon as practicable Cassidy's Mill with 1,000 men, and dispose the rest of his force to move, stating to him that I only awaited the information from him as to the practicability of the Cassidy's Mill route to say whether he was to come in on the north side of Cotton Hill on their front or take them in flank and rear. Failing to furnish the information called for, and for which final orders for the movement of his main body had been deferred, he was informed at 11.


* Inclosure to General Cox's report, Numbers 2.

+ Quoted on p. 255.