of General Lee, to send the force to that point which I hoped would co-operate with me.
Such was the position of the two forces for three weeks. During this time there was incessant skirmishing from across the river, resulting from the superiority of our position uniformly in our favor, and during this time, though employed in constant efforts to cross the river, the enemy succeeded in but one instance. He threw over, under cover of high, a force of about 100 men, led by Colonel De Villiers. They attacked the guard of one of the guns, who, commanded by Major Thorburn, gallantly met and repulsed them, after killing several and capturing 6. Colonel De Villiers very narrowly escaped being captured.
On the night of this skirmish the enemy received a re-enforcement of 5,000 from Ohio. They landed at the mouth of Loop Creek, with the view of intercepting my retreat should this become necessary of of falling upon my rear or upon my left flank in case of a general engagement. The better to watch the movements of this column, I fell back 3 miles from Cotton Hill to within a short distance of the intersection of the Loop Creek road and the turnpike upon which my force was. The enemy advanced in force from Cotton Hill. I ordered three regiments to meet them. A warm skirmish followed, which had resulted in a general engagement between these forces had not the enemy, though much superior in numbers and in positions of their own selection, disgracefully retreated. The conduct of our men, who were engaged in this action under my own eye, was gallant and worthy of commendation. The position which I had selected was very strong, so much so that, with my force inferior in numbers to either column of the enemy, I had been willing, in fact desired, to engage him there. I would have done so with strong confidence of success. He, however, declined me, and I, deeming it prudent to have a position beyond the intersections of the many roads leading from the Kanawha River with the turnpike, fell back upon Loop Mountain. The enemy followed, but with great timidity. Near this point [McCoy's Mill, November 14] a skirmish occurred between scouting parties, in which I am grieved to inform the Department Lieutenant Colonel St. George Croghan was killed. Colonel Croghan was one of the most gallant officers in the service. His bravery and gentlemanly demeanor, which characterized him to his latest breath, rendered him dear to all ego knew him. His death has cast a gloom over the spirits of the entire army. In this no one shares more sincerely than I do.
I may be allowed here to state that the column which advanced from the mouth of Loop Creek was piloted along obscure and unused paths by two men recently discharged from confinement in Richmond. I would respectfully but most urgently call the attention of the Department to this matter, and would suggest that under no circumstances should a traitor be let loose upon the country who has been arrested and sent to Richmond by this army, except, upon a careful weighing of all the testimony in his case, he proves himself innocent. In some cases the witness are inaccessible at a given time. Of one thing, however, the Department may be well assured, such a character in never arrested by my act or authority unless his liberty is dangerous to the public safety.
In my position on Loop Mountain the enemy declined attacking me, but retreated from that to Gauley in a very disorderly manner. It was, however, one of no strategic value. I thought it best to fall back to this position on Piney Cree. Here I have been for two days. The position is impregnable. Here I hoped to winter my forces, but I find the country so stripped of its means of subsistence, in the first place by the militia and the by forces under my command, that I have been.