o'clock at night that General Schenck had by no means abandoned the plan of crossing at Townsend's Ferry, and directed as soon as practicable to occupy Cotton Hill, which movement began early on the morning of the 12th instant.
His failure to furnish me with the information so often required about the roads by Cassidy's and other routes to the enemy's rear, and many other signs of unsteadiness, had impaired my confidence in his management. Nevertheless, after the reiterated dispatches sent him, I indulged the hope that he would fully appreciate his position and the decisive results to be expected from a movement by the enemy's left flank to his rear on the Fayette road.
Here referring to former instructions directing him on his arrival to open immediate communication with his force at Cassidy's Mill and to know well the route between there and beyond, I informed him that if General Schenck could not cross by the evening of the 12th, he would be ordered down and cross below..
General Benham received these general directions in the afternoon of the 11th. He was informed that Major Leipere would report to him at the mouth of the Fayette road, and explain to him what he knew of the rebels and the position occupied by the troops of General Cox.
About 3 o'clock p. m. of the 12th General Benham's main force reached the extremity of Cotton Hill, 8 miles from Loop, towards Fayette. About the same time his detachment, which did not march as had been ordered on the previous day, swelled by some mistake from 1,000 to 1,300, reached Cassidy's Mill.
A slight skirmish ensued between a few advanced a few advanced companies of General Benham's brigade and the rebels. The command of General Benham halted, and bivouacked on their arms. General Benham reported to me by a courier, stating his position, and complaining of the weakness of his main force compared with the supposed force of the enemy, and asking re-enforcements, that he might attack them, evidently uneasy at his position, and apparently apprehensive that he might be attacked before he could get re-enforcements. Calling his attention to former dispatches and the Cassidy's Mill route, informing him the enemy was still at Dickerson's, I directed him again to watch the enemy's movements closely, saying if he did not move, our success was certain; if he did, which I thought he ought to do, General Benham should intercept him by the rear, and throw his entire force, except 500 men, by the way of Cassidy's Mill, on the Raleigh pike. The enemy's entrenchments were but from 2 1/2 to 3 miles from General Benham's position. By some mistake he had at Cassidy's Mill 1,300 instead of 1,000 men. This mill was but from 2 1/2 to 3 miles from The Fayette road.
General Benham had been instructed ad nauseam to look to that way of cutting off the enemy's retreat, which began at 9 o'clock on that night. General Benham did not find it out, according to his report, until 4.30 o'clock the next afternoon. That is to say, while the last remnant of the rebel force had left Fayette early in the morning of the 13th, according to General Benham's report, his boldest scouts were desperately engaged from daylight until late in the afternoon in finding their way over a distance of 2 1/2 miles that separated his bivouac from the enemy's deserted entrenchments. His force at Cassidy's Mill had a company in Fayetteville at 9 o'clock next morning fully informed of the retreat of the enemy, and, as the captain of that company states, he dispatches messengers back to cassidy's Mill and to General Benham immediately; yet General Benham did not learn of the retreat, though.
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