through which we passed Thursday, near 12 m. Friday [17th], we struck the Tug Fork of Sandy, and before crossing Tug Ridge, three companies, D, E, and F, with Colonel Powell, were sent in advance, and on the top of the ridge captured a picket of 6 men, and, some 3 miles farther on, dashed into Camp Pemberton, at the head of Abb`s Valley, and captured 25 prisoners belonging to a homeguard company, with several horses, a quantity of quartermaster`s and commissary stores, and 700 stand of arms, intended for arming a regiment in that vicinity. The stores were distributed as far as needed, and the houses and arms burned. On the North Fork of Clinch River a large flouring mill was burned. Saturday morning [18th], we passed Burk`s Garden, and, by order of Colonel Toland, burned a store and dwelling-house, containing a large quantity of powder, clothing, &c., intended for the use of the rebels.
Some 5 miles from Wytheville, Companies D and F, with Captains Ruker and Millard, were detached, and ordered to strike the railroad at a depot 10 miles from the town, and destroy it and as much of the road as possible. They reached the point, but, finding it strongly guarded, did not effect the desired object, and again joined the command on our return, after a rapid ride of 26 miles in less than four hours.
We reached Wytheville Court-House about 6 p. m. Saturday, the 18th, and immediately charged into town in the following order: Two companies of the First [West] Virginia Cavalry, Captains Gilmore and Delaney, in advance; next, Colonel Powell, with Company I, Second [West] Virginia. I came next, with Company B, and the remaining companies (excepting E), with Major McMahan, bringing up the rear. Company E was left as rear guard, and placed on picket by Colonel Toland, and did good service on our return that night.
The charge was gallantly made down the road leading to the head of Main street, under a very hot fire. The two companies, First [West] Virginia, and Company I, Second [West] Virginia, penetrated some distance into the street, when they were checked by a severe fire from the street and all the surrounding buildings, and the remainder of the command stopped near entrance of the street by a similar fire. At this point, and within a few minutes after the fight fairly commenced, Colonel Powell was severely wounded in the back by a revolver fired by one of our men, and left the field. My horse was shot, and I was thrown over his head, receiving a severe fall, which stunned and disabled me for a time. It was a very close and hot fight, and our men and horses were falling fast, when they were promptly relieved by Colonel Toland, yourself, and Major Shaw, with the gallant Thirty-fourth, who did good service, and rapidly dislodged the enemy and drove them through the town.
In a very short time, Colonel Toland, while sitting on his horse, and handling his men to the best advantage, with as much coolness as on dress-parade, was killed. All honor is due the brave soldier and patriot who thus sacrificed his life for his country`s good. After the death of Colonel Toland, the entire command devolved upon you, since which time the conduct of the troops, their success, their unflinching bravery, and their patient suffering under the extreme hardships caused by want of food and rest, and by incessant marching through the mountains and over routes thought to be impassable by any military force, however constituted, for four days and nights, will more properly be made a part of your report.