At 2 a.m. on the 13th my division moved toward Buchanan, driving McCausland in disorder across the James River. He was pursued the last eight miles to Buchanan at a gallop, my advance endeavoring to save the bridge at that place, but the flying forces of McCausland set it on fire before he himself had crossed, obliging him to ford the river to escape capture. Two brigades were immediately thrown across to a fruitless pursuit. Several bateaux, loaded with provisions and stores, were captured near this town. Two of my scouts who had been sent to Duffie the day previous returned, having fallen in with a reconnoitering party of the enemy ten miles from Lexington, from the commanding officer of which they received a dispatch to bear to Breckinridge, a copy of which is inclosed.* A spy from the enemy who came into my camp soon after my arrival was killed by my order. I soon received a notification from the major-general commanding that he should remain that day at Lexington, and instructions to wait for his arrival at Buchanan.
The 14th was occupied in destroying some important iron furnaces in the neighborhood of Fincastle.
On the 15th my division followed Cook's over the Blue Ridge between the Peaks of Otter to Fancy Farm, where General Brook, having received information that Breckinridge was at Balcony Falls, desired me to wait until the arrival of the main body, as our left flank would be too much exposed. The brigade of Colonel Powell was sent forward to Liberty, and the country in that direction was most thoroughly scouted by him that evening. Scouts were sent to Lynchburg and every other direction.
The following morning my command pushed on through Liberty, rebuilt the bridge over Little Otter River, forded Big Otter, and attacked McCausland at New London about dark. He had been re-enforced by Imboden with 400 men and two guns, but relinquished his position after a short action, in which he lost about a dozen men.
At sunrise on the 17th my command moved by the old road toward Lynchburg, some
two miles to the right of crook, who moved on the direct road from New London.
The enemy resisted our advance at every step after arriving within eight miles
of the city, but it was not until we came within sight of the stone church
eight miles of the city that he seemed determined to give battle. I constantly
advised General Crook of my progress, and after a brief reconnaissance of the
position, opened the attack. The ground was difficult for cavalry, and its
peculiar formation made the following disposition necessary: Schoonmaker's
brigade furnished a strong skirmish line, mounted, across the open ground,
supported by squadrons with intervals in columns of fours, open order, ready
to charge or dismount to fight; Oley's brigade on the right in column, Powell's
on the left, in the same order. The enemy retired as the attack was developed,
with very little skirmishing, but as it approached the crest of the hill upon
which the church stands a rapid artillery fire was opened upon us, and their
small-arms became unmasked. Schoonmaker's and Oley's brigades dismounted and
ran to the front; the section of artillery with my division galloped up to
the church, supported by Powell, and opened its fire. The enemy signally failed
in his ruse to draw us into a position from which he expected to drive us.
After a short but sharp contest he was driven nearly a mile toward Lynchburg.