CAMP NEAR CEDAR CREEK, VA., May 21, 18684.
Lieutenant JOHN R. MEIGS,
Chief Engineer, Department of West Virginia:
LIEUTENANT: Having before me a copy of the complaint* made by Captain Salisbury in relation to the pontoon train, I am enabled to answer it intelligently.
Captain Salisbury seems to labor under a misunderstanding, and I judge from the tenor of his letter has accepted the statement of a wagon-master given under undue excitement. The pontoon wagons were ordered to camp outside of Martinsburg as fast as loaded, to keep the streets from being obstructed by them. They camped outside of the pickets about two and one-half miles from the city. I did not know the location of camp until nearly dusk, when I informed Colonel Rodgers, who sent a guard out for their protection. Colonel Rodgers, deeming the escort sent in for the pontoon train not more than sufficient, ordered a detail of fifty men as escort for the commissary wagons.
In the morning when the pontoon train was ready to start, the infantry escort for the commissary wagons had not come up. I at once pushed on the pontoon train and escort, leaving the commissary train waiting for its escort. Major-General Sigel having ordered a certain escort for the pontoon wagons, and Colonel Rodgers also deeming it not too large, and providing a proper escort for the additional wagons, would have made it a serious matter for me if I had added a larger quantity of wagons with the same escort and met any loss by attack on the road. The delay to the commissary wagons resulted, as the tenor of Captain Salisbury's letter shows, not from my going forward but from the non-appearance of his escort, for which I was certainly not responsible.
With regard to giving Captain Root orders to take teams, &c., I neither gave such orders nor did Captain Root take any teams to my knowledge. I know of no teams taken from the commissary wagons. I desired the wagon-master of the pontoon train to endeavor to exchange one broken-down team,but he effected not exchange, and a few miles farther the team had to be abandoned. I was delayed three days in Martinsburg waiting for the miserable transportation I at last received, owing to the almost utter destitution of transportation at command of Captain Patton, and endeavored to push forward as rapidly as possible, but certainly with not desire to hinder the transportation of other necessary article, and I feel satisfied that no action of mine produced any such result.
EDWARD JAY ALLEN.
HDQRS. BRIGADE, DEPARTMENT OF WEST VIRGINIA, May 21, 1864-1 a.m.
General W. H. AVERELL,
GENERAL: Some of my men who were cut off at the ford have just come in through the brush and report that 200 or 300 rebels