a. m. that day, with 340 men, for Moorefield, Va., which point I reached at 1.30 p. m. the 22nd instant, and there learned that the enemy, with important prisoners, had crossed the Moorefield and Winchester pike two miles from town at about 1 p. m. the 21st instant, and that a party of Federal cavalry from New Creek were in the town immediately after but had returned. I at once sent an officer to communicate with the latter force - the camp-fires could be seen about five miles out of Moorefield - and then returned tot he trail of the enemy, which I carefully examined and found to have been made by about fifty mounted men in crossing my route, apparently in haste, obliquely, and from northwest to southeast, from a wooded path on my right down a steep declivity into woods on my left. Here obtaining conclusive proof that the trail was made at or about 1 p. m., the previous day, giving the enemy over twelve hours in my advance, I decide to not pursue, my horses having been badly jaded in breaking a foot of snow over the mountains, and in consideration of the prospects of not overtaking the enemy till he had reached assistance in the Valley. The citizens stated he had discovered the near approach of the New Creek cavalry. The prospect of rain induced me to return rapidly camp ward, via the Back Creek road.
The officer whom I sent to communicate with the New Creek cavalry soon rejoined me, with verbal statement from Colonel Grainfield, Twenty-second Pennsylvania Cavalry, to the effect that his advance, 400 men, under a major, had seen the enemy with prisoners, between 1 and 2 p. m. the day previous, moving off from the Romneey and Moorefield pike, with such an accession to their numbers as to make an attack on them hazardous; therefore he had not attacked them but desired to co-operate with me if I was about to pursue. I had moved out too far to return a reply, and still continued march, with occasional annoyances from bushwhackers in rear, to Cacapon bridge, where bivouacked last night, arriving in camp at noon to-day after much trouble in crossing the rapidly swelling streams.
My loss was none except in horses a few. Four of enemy taken prisoners on route.
I desire to express my thanks to Major McClong, Third New Jersey Cavalry, and Lieutenant Haswell, General Custer's escort, First Vermont Cavalry, for zealous aid and hearty co-operation in efforts to accomplish the object of the expedition, which I much regret to report a failure.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. W. WHITAKER,
Lieutenant-Colonel First Connecticut Cavalry,
Acting Assistant Inspector-General, Third Division Cavalry.
Captain L. SIEBERT,
Numbers 4. Report of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
February 24, 1865.
General Early reports that Lieutenant McNeill, with thirty men, on the morning of the 21st entered Cumberland, captured and brought out