War of the Rebellion: Serial 090 Page 0656 Chapter LV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.

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ley. The expedtion moved as directed, Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming, Sixth Virginia Cavalry, with 120 men and one gun, proceeding up the valley, and Major Potts, of the same regiment, with 155 men, via Romney. Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming approached Moorefield in accordance with his instructions, but found the place, on the evening of the 27th, occupied by a large force of the enemy under General Rosser, and was driven back, with a loss of twenty men, his guns, one wagon, and one ambulance. Major Potts, also, who arrived the next morning, was compelled to retire after charging that portion of the rebel force left to guard the place, and brought off his command in comparative safety, crossing the mountains and avoiding all large detachments of the enemy, and arriving at a station on the railroad about thirteen miles west of New Creek on the 29th. Reference is made to the detailed reports of these officers, herewith submitted, which set forth the particulars of their operations.

Upon being advised, on the 27th, of the presence of the enemy is large force in the valley, and of the result of Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming's operations, I felt assured that the enemy would follow up the advantage he had gained by attacking New Creek or Cumberland, or both, and at once to guard against the possibility of a surprise, telegraphed to Colonel Latham, at New Creek, advising him of my belief, an ordering him to take measures for the defense of the spot. To this dispatch, at midnight, Colonel Latham replied that, "he was prepared for them." With this assurance, I entertained no fears of a disaster. New Creek had been well fortified and was garrisoned at the time by about 700 men of all arms, principally dismounted cavalry, with three pieces of Battery L, First Illinois Light Artillery, and four pieces in the fort,and in my judgment, could be successfully defended against my cavalry force the enemy could probably bring against it. The events justified my opinion as to the movements and intentions of the enemy, but failed to justify my reliance in the vigilance of the commanding officer of the post. The rebels, numbering probably 2,000 men, under Generals rosser and Payne, after leaving strong detachments at Moorefield and Claysville, moved down the valley at once following Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming; arrived before the place at 11.30 a. m. on the 28th, and after capturing all the pickets, charged the works and captured the artillery, without meeting scarcely the slightest resistance. The officers and men were apparently in their quarters and the horses in the stables, and "confusion worse confounded" at once ensued. No successful attempt was made to rally the men, and the Government buildings and property were in a few minutes in rebel hands. These building wee at once fired, and the property therein collected destroyed, together with several horses an considerable merchandise, and other effects owned by private parties. A force was then detached from the main command, under a Major Mcdonald, formerly a resident of New Creek, and sent to Piedmont, five miles west of New Creek, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, to capture the small garrison and destroy the engine and machine shops at that place. This detachment, however, signally failed in its operations. The small force, numbering thirty-five men, deeding the town, was collected together by the commanding officer, Captain Fisher, of the Sixth West Virginia Infantry, met the enemy, and fought him until compelled to give way, when it fell back to a position commanding the important buildings, and kept up a sharp fire on those attempting to fire them, compelling them, eventually, to retreat without accomplishing their object. They then rejoined the main rebel column at New Creek, and late in the evening the whole force moved rapidly up the valley, via Greenland Gap, Petersburg, and South Fork,