War of the Rebellion: Serial 090 Page 0660 Chapter LV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.

Search Civil War Official Records

No. 4. Report of Colonel George R. Latham, Fifth West Virginia Cavalry, commanding U. S. forces at New Creek, W. Va.


New Creek, W. Va., December 1, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that I directed an expedition against the enemy at Moorefield, which started from Burlington on the 26th and 27th ultimo. Supposing at the time that there were about 150 men at Moorefield, under Woodson and McNeill, my force was divided into two parties, Major Potts taking 155 men via Romney to intersect the Wardensville road, ten miles east of Moorefield, and Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming, Sixth West Virginia Cavalry, taking 100 mounted men and one piece of artillery (of Battery L, First Illinois) on the direct road to Moorefield. I had also engaged the State scouts to the amount of 150 to occupy the South Fork Valley above Moorefield. These forces were to concentrate on the morning of the 28th. The rebel General Rosser, with his cavalry division, reached Moorefield on the 27th, and defeated Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming, capturing his artillery and about 20 men. Major Potts proceeded on his route without knowing Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming's fate until he arrived at Moorefield at the appointed time. I respectfully refer you to the accompanying reports of Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming and Major Potts for a further account of their operations. Permit me to say, however, that they both did very well under the circumstances. Enfield rifles and could not load on horseback, while the enemy's forces were elegantly mounted and equipped for mounted service. Major Potts, is my opinion, deserves much credit for his management, resulting in bringing his force successfully around Rosser's entire command. As soon as I learned of the defeat of Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming (about 9 p. m. 27th) I extended and strengthened my pickets and had the post put in proper state for defense.

On the morning of the 28th I took still further precaution, having pickets and patrols eight miles out, and was preparing a party of twenty mound men to proceed to Burlington (twelve miles), when, about 11.30 o'clock, the camp as completely surprised by the enemy and captured almost without resistance. The enemy's advance were dressed in Federal uniforms and had taken all my pickets, who had mistaken them for Major Potts and his command. There were about 700 men here-200 artillerymen and about 500 cavalry-principally dismounted, including forty men of the Sixth West Virginia Infantry. Of these men there were about 160 armed, and they principally with arms which had been condemned. There were three field pieces of Battery L, First Illinois Artillery, and four pieces-two 12-pounders and two small pieces-in the fort, which was manned by Battery H, First West Virginia Artillery. The artillery was all taken first and the men wee charged impetuously by a heavy column of the enemy; they were stampeded; to rally was impossible, and would have been certain capture. The place was then captured and much property lost.

I have 4 men wounded-do not know of any killed-and, from the best information I can get, there were 443 captured, least 100 of whom have since escaped, and are still coming in. The enemy had 3 killed, among them an officer, and others wounded. I have lost much more heavily in proportion of officers than of men.