General Blenker to Strasburg direct, thereby saving a long march via Little River turnpike; he also reports the enemy in some force-infantry, artillery, and cavalry-between The Plains and Warrenton. This would protect my right, which I deem important, as I have reason to believe 10,000 foot and 600 or 700 cavalry soldiers are within less than half a day's march of me. The force at Manassas is beyond supporting distance on account of bad roads.
HEADQUARTERS MOUNTAIN DEPARTMENT,
April 5, 1862.
Major General N. P. BANKS, Woodstock:
The enemy at Fort Alleghany were 2,600 strong; they were retreating also from Huntersville, Monterey, and generally along our front. We judge to concentrate at Staunton.
J. C. FREMONT.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE KANAWHA,
Charleston, Va., April 5, 1862.
Major General JOHN C. FREMONT,
Commanding Mountain Department:
GENERAL: Under orders from headquarters of the Department of Western Virginia, when under command of Brigadier-General Rosecrans, my district comprises the valley of the Great Kanawha and its tributaries, the Gauley and New Rivers, and all of Western Virginia south of the Kanawha. The troops in it are scattered from Summerville to Ceredo, in the quarters they have occupied during the winter. They consist of eleven Ohio and three Virginia regiments of infantry, the Second Virginia Cavalry, three companies of cavalry separately detached from other regiments, and nominally three batteries of artillery.
Of the infantry, the three Virginia regiments are quite new; one of them (the Eighth Virginia) not yet full, and none of them have had the experience, drill, or discipline to make them very reliable troops in the field at present. Of the Ohio regiments, the Eleventh has only nine companies; the others are full, so far as organization is concerned, though most of them could receive many recruits without exceeding the allowed number of rank and file. The Ohio regiments have all had some experience in the field, and notwithstanding their service has been in a mountainous region, where their opportunities for drill have been very limited, I have great confidence that they will prove reliable troops in any field. These regiments have not been brigaded since last fall. On going into winter quarters the old brigade organizations were broken up, except Colonel Scammon's, at Fayette, and the troops have since been reported and treated as post garrisons. The locality and present numbers of the different posts will be seen by reference to my weekly report of the division.
The cavalry have but little of the proper efficiency or value of that arm, neither officers nor men having had the opportunities of acquiring proficiency in drill. They are serviceable as vedettes and messengers and for the purpose of keeping the county quiet after occupation by our troops, and Colonel Bolles' regiment (Second Virginia) has done good service in chasing down parties of the enemy that have been