B.) would not move forward unless there was an immediate prospect of meeting the enemy or overtaking them in case they had retreated, when, upon being apprised of this, General Schenck would move forward with his when command at once to his (General B.'s) support.
General Benham replied to me that he had just dispatched a courier to General Schenck, to say to him that the enemy's train was just ahead, and that he could overtake it; that he was resting his men as hour at Dickerson's, when he should push on to Fayette. He stated to me that the enemy were making a most precipitate retreat, throwing out their baggage, &c.; that this command got nothing on a previous occasion, and that he was determined they should be the first on this. I asked him if the force at Cassidy's Mill had definite instructions. He had definite instructions. He replied that he had sent his aide-de-camp to that point with directions to use his discretion in reference to the route to be pursued by the command there, and that he (the aide-de-camp) had withdrawn them to the rear, and that he (General B.) was only awaiting their arrival to join his command.
I laid before him a map with the positions marked on it, and remarked to him that the importance of the position at Cassidy's Mill could not be overestimated, and that both General Rosecrans and General Schenck regarded it as the most important point in the whole position, as it threatened the enemy's rear, and the force there could fall upon his flank in a short march of 3 1/2 miles of he retreated. He replied that he had no camp, but he was confined that he would overtake their train anyhow, and that he hoped General Schenck would come on at once..
At 9.15 I left for General Schenck's headquarters at Huddleston's. I arrived at 11 o'clock, and found the command under orders to move in an hour. I found a large number of stragglers making their way towards Dickerson's. These men appeared not to know where they were going or where their regiments were. In an hour the Third Brigade was in motion, and arrived at Dickerson's about daylight. It was raining heavily, the men were without tents or blankets, and the provision train had not been able to pass the roads. A short halt as ordered. We moved on towards Fayette in an hour, when, from information we received that the enemy were far in advance and in consideration of the state of the roads and the condition of the men, tired out by a night's march, and without rations or blankets, it was decided to remain at Fayette and communicate with the force under General Benham, who had left Fayette about nine hours before.
I remained during the day at Fayette, and made an examination of the ascent from the crossing at Townsend's Ferry. It is perfectly practicable for infantry; the ascent, although steep, is open, and leads to open woods upon the sides of the mountain to the table-land above. It passes through open fields to a road that leads directly to Fayette, and there was no evidence of the slightest effort made to protect it or to prevent a crossing at the ferry.
I returned on the morning of the 15th with dispatches, and reported to the commanding general.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. W. CRAWFORD,
Major, Thirteenth Infantry, U. S. Army, Actg. Insp. General
Major JOSEPH DARR, JR.,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.