War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0504 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.

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Numbers 2. Reports of Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox, U. S. Army, commanding District of the Kanawha.

Numbers 2.] PRINCETON, VA., May 18 [17], 1862.

I am forced to concentrate my force here instead of advancing, for two reasons:

First. The roads are getting bad again and we are not getting supplies forward to keep us, the new transportation not having arrived in quantities to help us perceptibly.

Second. I find the enemy fully equal to or superior to my force. They hold key position, where if I concentrated to attack them in force they can fall upon my line of communication from either side. Yesterday I was concentrating on the Pearisburg road, when 2,000 men, under Marshall, with three pieces of artillery, pushed in from the Wytheville road and drove the detachment at this post out of it after a severe fight. In the night I marched back Colonel Moor's brigade and drove the enemy out again. He is still hovering in the vicinity, retreating when approached, but taking advantage of the connection of the roads beyond here so as to avoid an action, while he makes it necessary for me to keep so strong a force there as to make that in front entirely inferior to the enemy there. I have to guard in four directions heavily. It is absolutely necessary for me to concentrate here or so split up my command to guard posts that it will be very weak in detail. We had sharp fight with the enemy at all points yesterday and inflicted serious damage on him. We lost 3 killed and several wounded. The assault at this post spread the alarm up the line so as to delay our trains and make our supplies short, losing some destroyed in the town.

I am exceedingly desirous to go ahead, but am satisfied it would be to sacrifice my command.

J. D. COX,

Brigadier-General.

Colonel ALBERT TRACY,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Numbers 3.] HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF KANAWHA,

Camp near Blue Stone, May 18, 1862.

After sending Numbers 2 yesterday (which by error was dated 18th) the enemy in front was largely re-enforced and attacked our position, which, however, we kept without difficulty. Colonel Scammon's brigade joined me in the evening, but he was closely followed up by the enemy in his front. Colonel Scammon brought very reliable evidence that the enemy [had] been largely re-enforced from Eastern Virginia, being commanded by Generals Williams, Marshall, and Heth, and that they numbered not less than 12,000. We also had the most positive evidence that a force, supposed to be about 3,000, were marching from Wytheville road, Wyoming Court-House. One report was that it was Marshall going to Wyoming; another that it was intended to operate upon my line of communication by one of two roads leading from the wyoming road and had been cut and our trains and messengers interrupted by small parties. I had no information from the rear for two days, and our last day's rations were issued and the animals suffering for forage. Under these circumstances a council of war strongly urged an immediate return to Flat Top as an absolute necessity for the safety and supply of the army