War of the Rebellion: Serial 090 Page 0661 Chapter LV. AFFAIR AT NEW CREEK, W. VA.

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The rebel force consisted of three brigades, two of which were in this place with Generals Rosser and Payne, and one brigade remained several miles back. Their force is variously estimated, but according to the most reliable information I can get, I believe they had about 2,000 here and 1,000 kept back; about 1,000 to the brigade. They destroyed almost the entire town, private as well as public buildings, and some store-houses with large stocks of goods. The fort was not injured nor the guns taken from it; the field pieces were taken off; nor was the railroad destroyed. They left here about 4 p. m. and marched to Greenland, where they camped until the morning of the 29th, then moved on. I feel most deeply the disaster, and especially the stigma of a surprise, but without standing picket myself I cannot see that I could have been more vigilant.

I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

GEO. R. LATHAM,

Colonel Fifth West Virginia Cavalry, Commanding.

Captain R. P. KENNEDY,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of West Virginia.

ADDENDA.

HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,

New Creek, W. Va., November 30, 1864.

Captain R. P. KENNEDY,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of West Virginia:

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following: The loss of New Creek on the 28th instant, considering the manner of its loss, seems a disgraceful affair. The surprise was complete, and being the commanding officer I will have it to answer for. This I desire o do, as I claim to be able to establish that I had taken unusual precautions to obtain notice of any advance by the enemy. I had directed and instructed the advanced picket guards myself, and had pickets and patrols eight miles out on the road by which the enemy advanced. They, knowing that Major Potts of my command was out with about 150 men, provided an advance of about the same strength, dressed in Federal uniforms, and in this way deceived each picket-four several posts-and marched into camp without being recognized as an enemy, until, at a given signal, they drew their pistols and commenced firing on my men, both offices and men believing them to be Major Potts' command. They thus got possession of the artillery, and, having but 160 armed men in camp, they were almost immediately overpowered, as the whole rebel column, some 2,000 strong, dashed impetuously upon them. The panic and stampede became in a few moments hopelessly general; to rally was impossible.

This is the first disaster I have ever suffered in over three years' active service, and if there is blame attached to my management of the affair I most respectfully request that there be no peremptory orders affecting me without an investigation. I will forward a report to-morrow.

I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

GEO. R. LATHAM,

Colonel, Commanding.