War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0101 Chapter XXXVII. IMBODEN'S EXPEDITION INTO W. VA., ETC.

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under command of Acting Brigadier-General Mulligan, and that the cars had been running all the night previous, and other troops were in the vicinity. He requested me to send two regiments of infantry and a section of artillery to the bridge that night, as he was apprehensive of attack. He also informed me that he had captured a courier from Buckhannon, and that two others had escaped and gone back to that place. This information was all confirmed by two citizens who arrived at my camp from Webster. I resolved to send forward the re-enforcements asked for, and, as my troops were all very tired, I sent for my colonels to ascertain which regiments were in the best condition to make the march that night. Cols. J. S. Hoffman, of the Thirty-first; George H. Smith, of the Sixty-second; J. C. Higginbotham, of the Twenty-fifth; George S. Patton, of the Twenty-second; William L. Jackson, of the Nineteenth [Virginia Cavalry], and Major [J. R.] Claiborne, of the Thirty-seventh Battalion [Virginia Cavalry], attended; and then for the first time I saw the printed order of General [R. C.] Schenck (herewith inclosed),* assigning a division of six brigades for the defense of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This order Colonel Patton found in Beverly and produced at our conference. Knowing that Mulligan was east of the Alleghany when our expedition set out, and, not hearing from General Jones, it was the opinion of all present that he had failed to reach or interrupt communication on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and that our position was exceedingly critical if the enemy had control of that road, as he could throw the whole division upon us in a few hours, and, if we were beaten, cut off our retreat at Laurel Hill or Beverly and at Buckhannon or Weston. It was, therefore, the unanimous judgment of all my colonels, in which I concurred, that in the face of this new information it would be extremely imprudent to advance farther or remain where we were, with the danger of being overwhelmed and cut off in a few hours, and that the safety of the command required that we should fall back to a position where escape would be possible if we were overpowered. Accordingly, we marched back to Roaring Run on the 27th. The road was so bad that it took from 5 a. m. until 2 p. m. (nine hours) to accomplish 2 miles, and the command did not reach camp until in the night. Having recalled my cavalry from Buckhannon Bridge, I sent forward a scout that night toward Buckhannon, which returned after midnight, reporting that the enemy had burned the bridges across Middle Fork and the Buckhannon Rivers, and retreated that night from Buckhannon, blockading the road behind them.

On the 28th, I pressed on to within 4 miles of Buckhannon, and the next morning took possession of the town with a regiment, which I crossed over the river on the debris of the burnt bridge. The enemy had burned all his stores here, and destroyed two pieces of artillery, which he was unable to move. On account of the extraordinary bad roads, I had been compelled to leave at Greenbrier River, east of Cheat Mountain, forty-odd barrels of flour and also several barrels in Beverly. Our horses were giving out in large numbers, and some dying from excessive labor and insufficient sustenance. Not being able to cross my artillery and wagons over the river, on my arrival I ordered a raft to be constructed and the country to be scoured in every direction for corn and wheat; impressed two mills, and run them day and night. Grain was very scarce, and had to be procured by very small quantities, sometimes less than a bushel at a house. I employed a considerable portion of my


*See General Orders, Numbers 19, March 27, 1863, in "Correspondence, etc.," Part II.