exhausted from scant forage and constant going, and the men very much so from the loss of sleep; therefore concluded to rest all night. Whole command saddled and bridled. Fifty men on picket.
Thursday, 20th, the whole picket force deployed in skirmish line around the bivouac from 3 o'clock till after daylight. Got t he command up half an hour before day. Feed and breakfast. Marched an hour after daylight. I expected to find that Mr. Harding and friends had gathered a pretty good squall through the mountains to bushwhack us on Greenbrier or about the Gum road, on Cheat Mountain. Therefore place half my Spencers in the advance guard and half in the rear. At the first crossing of Greenbrier found good graying, so stopped two hours, putting out storing pickets and letting one company at a time unsaddle and groom houses half an hour. Moved on, and when near the next fork of the river the rear guard was bushwhacked sharply from the mountain on the south side of the river. Send Lieutenant Swain's company ahead to examine the country about the Gum road (two miles ahead). Halted the two rear companies, and had them scatter about 2,00 cartridges all over the face of the hill, which made it so warm that the bushwhackers had to get out of their holes and leave on double-quick. There were four or five of them. Moved on, reaching White's, top of Cheat Mountain. An hour before sundown stopped for supper. Learned that Captain Harding had passed there in the middle of the [day] with five men armed and on foot, saying he was going to Beverly. He also said my command was returning on the at road, and would reach White's some time that evening. I studied a good deal as to his intentions. His character is such that I felt sure he was not going to surrender. Finally concluded he had gathered up thirty of forty men, had them coming through mountain by Becky's Creek, and either intended to entangle us in a blockade going down the mountain, and cut us up, or to surprise us after we encamped in t he valley. It is eight miles from White's the Stipes' (foot of the mountain). Had Spegeant Knott, Company F, take ten men on foot, with an ax, and [march] fall a mile ahead of the advance guard to look for a blockade. Commenced the descent at 9 a. m., marching the main party three- fourths of a mile behind the advance company. Reach Stipse's without accident, and learned Harding with one man had passed there just at dark, saying he has going to Beverly to give himself up. This left grout of his men unaccounted for, which made me look still more for another party acting with him. Had twenty men, dismounted, go ahead and in two squads search every house and barn within three miles of Huttonsville for Harding and Ward (whose mother lives close by), but found no trace whatever of them. Moved well into the valley and bivouacked near Mrs. Wade's, making as much hoise as possible to let the enemy know where we were, it being my wish that he should attempt a surprise. By this time it was but an hour and a half till daylight. Put fifty men on picket, the whole deployed in an infantry skirmish line around the camp from time of stopping till an hour after daylight. Remained up myself to superintend it, and everything remaining quiet, I let the main property sleep till an hour surprise.
Friday's 21st, got breakfast. Gathered enough grain to feed the command. Moved on the Beverly, arriving at 5 p. m. Finding forage that t the major commanding had sent there to meet us, I concluded to rest the command for twenty-four horses being much exhausted.
83 R R-VOL XLVI, PT I