Numbers 4. Report of Colonel William E. Peters, Twenty-firs Virginia Cavalry.
CAMP NEAR BALL'S BRIDGE, March 8, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to forward you the following report of the part taken by the Twenty-first Virginia Cavalry in the engagement at Wyerman's Mill, Lee County, Va., on the 22nd day of February, 1864:
When the command of Brigadier General William E. Jones arrived within sight of the enemy's camp on the morning of February 22, I was ordered to form the Twenty-first Virginia Cavalry in column of fours and in rear of the Eighth Virginia Cavalry. This was done as ordered. I was informed that the Eighth would pass through the encampment of the enemy if possible. I was directed to dismount my regiment before reaching the enemy's camp, and to post it with its right resting upon the main Cumberland Gap road, with the view of intercepting such of the enemy as should attempt to escape in the direction of either flank, and to be ready for any emergency which might arise. I followed the Eighth in full charge until they opened fire upon the enemy's camp. I at once obliqued to the right and in the direction of the Cumberland Gap road, from which the column in the charge had diversed to the left a considerable distance. Before reaching the road I discovered that a small number of the enemy were attempting to escape between the road and Indian Creek, a short distance beyond, and that a considerable number had already crossed the creek and were making their escape along the opposite bank. I considered that I was justified by the orders given me in advancing the head of my column as far as the creek. This I did, and ordered my men to dismount and to fire upon the enemy on the opposite side. They returned the fire feebly, and dispersed among the cliffs and bluffs of the creek, which was impassable at the point where my command was on account of the steepness of its bank. When the enemy were out of range of my fire I ordered the men to mount, with the view of crossing the creek lower down and of intercepting them. When making this move I was directed by the general commanding to take my command to a point east of the enemy's camp, where there was considerable firing. Captain Thompson, Twenty-seventh Battalion Virginia Cavalry, was sent to intercept the portion of the enemy I was pursuing. Before reaching the point above alluded to, I found the firing proceeded from a small body of the enemy who had succeeded in reaching the spurs of the main Cumberland range, and were firing at very long range upon a portion of Twenty-seventh Battalion. I dismounted a detachment of Twenty-first Virginia Cavalry, placed it in charge of Captain Humes, of said regiment, and ordered him to ascend the spur and gain the rear of the enemy. The latter dispersed and took refuge in the main Cumberland range before this could be effected.
The officers and men of the regiment acted well, both upon its march and during the engagement which followed it.
I exceedingly regret to have to report the loss in this engagement of Captain C. E. Burks, commanding Company A, Twenty-first Regiment. He was shot during the charge while leading his company,