On the 17th we marched toward Lynchburg, meeting the enemy in some force and having severe skirmishing all day, and at last lines of battle were formed and a brisk action resulted in driving the enemy to his works, within two miles of Lynchburg, when darkness ended the day's fighting and we bivouacked in line. During the day signals were extensively used on the march, and many points of observation were taken and reported from by the officers, and at night stations were established at right, left, front, and rear.
On the 18th skirmishing opened at daylight and continued more or less severe, with occasional demonstrations in force, till 1 p.m., when we found the enemy in strong force, having been heavily re-enforced during the night of the 17th, and occupying strong works, extending from the James River to an almost impassable ravine, each bank strengthened by redoubts. Crook reconnoitered the enemy's right, without finding any practicable point of attack. Lieutenant Ellis was sent with General Duffie, who was detached to make a feint around the enemy's right on the city. Lieutenant Ellis kept headquarters constantly advised of his movements and progress during his march through an intermediate station upon a house on our left. At 1 o'clock we repulsed an attack in force and made afterward two unsuccessful efforts to take their works. At dark we fell back toward Liberty. Signals were used during the fighting on portions of the field, but principally between headquarters and the detachment.
During the 19th and 20th we fell back, the enemy pursuing and pushing us hard and passed Buford's Gap, where we halted. I threw out parties of observation on all the mountains surrounding and to overlook the rear. The party on the left, under Lieutenant Muhleman, were attacked and compelled to fall back, losing Privates Best and Cunningham captured, having straggled from camp. We continued our march all the night of the 20th, and at 5 a.m. of the 21st reached Salem.
Our march was continued on the 21st after a short halt at Salem. This day communication was kept between General Duffie in Catawba Valley and General Averell in the Fort Lewis Valley by means of a station on Catawba Mountain under Lieutenant Merritt. After Averell's passage, I directed Lieutenants Butcher and Muhleman to remain on Catawba Mountain to observe the enemy on roads in our rear. Later I withdrew Lieutenant Butcher and sent him with Lieutenant Merritt with General Averell, and sent Lieutenant Ellis with General Duffie on reconnaissance, and arranged a rocket code to be used if needed.
On the 22nd we marched to New Castle. I left Lieutenants Muhleman and Fortney to observe the enemy from Craig's Creek Mountain until the rear guard had passed, keeping headquarters advised of movements. Once after passage of the rear guard, before this station was recalled, it was driven in by the enemy, but a cavalry detachment being sent to its aid it was re-established.
On the 23rd we marched to Sweet Springs. During the passage of troops and trains communication was maintained from Potts' to Peter's Mountain and thence to Sweet Springs.
During the 24th and 25th we marched to Meadow Bluff by way of White Sulphur Springs and Lewisburg. At White Sulphur Springs Sullivan with Duffie diverged toward Beverly, while Crook with Averell marched toward Charleston. I sent Lieutenant Fortney with Sullivan and Ellis with Duffie.