War of the Rebellion: Serial 028 Page 0536 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

Search Civil War Official Records

ing was to contract for 35 wagons to be delivered there per week till the 100 were built. Seventy have been built, and are at or near Portland, on their way to Gallipolis. Our movements thus far have, therefore, been made without the help even of the 200 wagons first ordered. No mules have been ordered for our use that I know of, though a letter from Colonel Swords, in reply to the report of 18th October, above referred to, dated 22d, and received yesterday, authorizes Captain Fitch to procure the additional wagons from Wheeling as fast as they can be made.

The calculations I have referred to are based upon the estimates made for the occupation of the country west of Flat Top and Sewell Mountains. To extend operations beyond will require an increase of transportation, apparently disproportionately great. The reason for this is found in the fact that, from the head of navigation on the Kanawha to Wytheville, the country is a desert. There is neither subsistence or forage to be had in it, and everything for use of both man and beast must be transported. The distance from Gauley Bridge to Newbern is 137 miles; add to this the 25 miles from the Gauley to the ordinary head of navigation of the Kanawha, and we have a line of 162 miles of wild and difficult country, through which wagon transportation is difficult at all times, and impracticable after the breaking up of the roads in the fall. The rebel army have stripped the Kanawha Valley for their subsistence, but still were unable to keep themselves supplied while here. I need not do more than call attention to the great proportion of each wagon load, which must consist of forage for the team itself upon a line so long as ours would be, to show how immense a train would be employed in supplying, say, 10,000 men 100 miles beyond Gauley. Upon the most moderate calculation it will necessarily take some weeks to procure and put at Gauley Bridge the wagons and animals necessary, but by that time winter will have set in, and operations in the mountains can only be carried on at immense expenditure and suffering. These considerations, added to the fact that we find everywhere bridges destroyed, the flat-boats cut and burned, which could be used for the necessary ferries, the upper country destitute of material for building either boats or store-sheds and houses, as well as of mills to make the lumber, have led me to the opinion that occupation up to the limits I have spoken of is all that can be properly attempted in Western Virginia this season, and that it will be politic to remove the force not needed for this purpose to lines which can be more easily used for winter campaigning.

The line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad can be occupied and protected by General Kelley, as far as it is open, until the movement of the Army of the Potomac. The intermediate country, under General Milroy, from Clarksburg to Sutton, and extending to the front to Beverly and the mountain summits, is now cleared of all large bodies of the enemy, and strongly occupied by our troops.

From Summerville to Raleigh Court-House will be similarly occupied before the close of this week. There is a small rebel force about

the headwaters of Guyandotte and Big Sandy, under Floyd, which numbers about 1,000 men, which Colonel Cranor is operating against, and which, I hope, will be destroyed or scattered very shortly, by co-operation between Colonel Cranor and the troops advancing on Fayette and Raleigh.

Between the Guyandotte and Kanawha, and near the headwaters of the Little Kanawha, are some mountain districts, difficult of access, which are infested by guerrilla bands, and which will have to be thoroughly scoured.