War of the Rebellion: Serial 070 Page 0041 Chapter XLIX. VIRGINIA AND TENNESSEE RAILROAD.

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Numbers 19. Report of Brigadier General William W. Averell, U. S. Army, commanding Cavalry Division.


May 23, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my cavalry division from the 1st instant to the present date:

Receiving order from Brigadier-General Crook, at Charleston, W. Va., on the 1st, I proceed to Camp Piatt, ten miles above, with the brigades of Brigadier-General Duffie and Colonel J. M. Schoonamker, numbering in all 2,079 officers and men, and 400 of the Fifth and Seventh West Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel J. H. Oley.

During the day and night of the 1st and most of the 2nd day the miscellaneous transportation furnished to me was put together and loaded with rations and forage, which were intended to supply my command with six days' rations of subsistence and four of forage after leaving Logan Court-House; but, owing to the miserable condition of the teams and wagons furnished and the heavy roads, it was found that we had only about four days' subsistence and one and a half days' forage with which to start from that point on the 5th. Sending back the wagons from Logan, and taking along a detachment of the Third Virginia, under Major Conger, which had been stationed there, I proceeded toward Wyoming Court-House, meeting a scouting party of the enemy on the way.

From near Wyoming Court-House, on the 6th, Colonel Oley was sent toward Princeton to form a junction with General Crook's column, while the division found its way over pathless mountains and up tortuous streams to Abb's Valley, in Tazewell County, where it arrived on the evening of the 7th, capturing scouts of the enemy and one company of the Eighth Virginia (rebel) Cavalry on picket.

The march was resumed on the 8th, and some Kentucky troops of the enemy driven, with the loss to them of 4 killed and 5 wounded, to Tazewell Court-House, a distance of fifteen miles. It was there ascertained that forces had been assembled at Saltville, under command of Generals John H. Morgan and W. E. Jones, to the number of 4,500, and that the approaches from the north were well defended with earth-works and artillery. Information was also obtained from deserters and captured mails that the enemy was fully informed of our strength and intentions. Believing that it would be impracticable to carry the works about Saltville without infantry and artillery, and that a surprise was out of the question, I abandoned that project and marched to Wytheville, in order to prevent the enemy from concentrating against the column of General Crook, capturing a train of wagons on the way.

Arriving near Wytheville on the afternoon of the 10th, I attacked a force stated by rebel newspapers to have numbered 5,000, under Generals Morgan and W. E. Jones, on their way eastward. This force was mostly infantry, with three pieces of artillery, and posted in an admirable position for defense or attack, impossible to turn with cavalry. The Fourteenth Pennsylvania and First Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel Schoonmaker, opened the battle, while the brigade of General Duffie was formed in line of battle; the Second Virginia, under Colonel Powell, on the left, mounted; the Thirty-