War of the Rebellion: Serial 040 Page 0481 Chapter XXXVII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

noitered the immediate vicinity of Pittsburg, with a view to selection of defensible positions. There are several which could be quickly and strongly occupied.

I examined the Allegheny Arsenal, and satisfied myself that small-arms, artillery and ammunition were in sufficient quantity to arm any number of hastily assembled levies that might, under such circumstances, be deemed necessary to be called out.

I left Pittsburgh on the morning of the 5th, and arrived at Wheeling the same day. At the latter city, as at Pittsburgh, the panic was subsiding. I examined the vicinity, and selected several points which could be rapidly and advantageously occupied to prevent anything like a cavalry raid upon the city. On the next day I was advised by telegram from General Roberts, at Clarksburg, that a portion of the rebel force, understood to be about 2,000 strong, had returned toward the railroad; had destroyed bridges, tunnels, and telegraph wires between Clarksburg and Parkersburg, and were attacking the military post at West Union. This seemed to menace Wheeling and I felt it my duty to assemble without delay such troops for its defense as I deemed sufficient and could procure. With the exception of a small provost-guard, there was no armed force in the place. The two regiments of militia which belonged to the city were absent at Fairmount and Grafton, defendign the railroad at those important points. I sent several parties of citizens, mounted upon quartermaster's horses, to the southward, as near the railroad as they could go, with orders to give me the earliest reliable intelligence of the enemy's movements in the direction of Wheeling. I applied to General Kelley at Grafton for such force as he could spare; detained a passing detachment of Ohio troops, and requested Governor Peirpoint to call out two regiments of militia from the adjoining counties. These dispositions gave me in twenty-four hours an effective force of about 2,000 men and nine field guns, amply sufficient, in my opinion, to resist successfully the enemy's attack, even if made by his whole force.

My scouts reported the enemy's gradual approach to within about 35 miles of Wheeling, when they commenced to retire, recrossed the railroad, and continued their march southward. I immediately gave the necessary orders to the troops I had temporarily assembled to return to their several posts.

The whole rebel force which assembled in this portion of Western Virginia is represented upon what appears to be reliable authority, to have been about 8,000 strong, and was commanded by Brigadier General W. E. Jones. Of this force, about 4,000 were infantry, about, 4,000 mounted men, and six field guns. Many of the infantry were subsequently mounted upon stolen horses. They subsisted entirely upon the country in which they operated, and were thus enabled to avoid or outmarch the infantry troops, of which the United States forces in Western Virginia, are principally composed.

To insure greater security to this important section of the country, I venture to offer the following recommendations:

1. The occupation of defensive positions in the immediate vicinity of the cities of Pittsburgh and Wheeling. The character of the country is such that a few 20-pounder Parrotts and light 12-pounder guns will suffice for each locality.

2. The employment of Western Virginia troops. These men are familiar with the topography of the country, understand the peculiarities of mountain warfare, and possess the strong inducements of home or neighborhood to nerve their arms to vigorous attack or obstinate defense.