crossed the river, and selected a spot, less exposed, and in every way more suitable for the camp of our small detachment. Returning from his exploration, he ordered the men to be ready to start at an early hour, for the purpose of clearing a road to the selected spot; pickets were thrown out, an alarm-guard stationed, and the command retired to their repose. By some unaccountable remissness, or some combination of fortunate circumstances for the enemy, at daylight, or rather before, on Friday morning last, a large detachment of Imboden's cavalry, under the immediate command of Captain McNiel, got within our camp, and fired volley after volley into the tents of our sleeping comrades. The Major being awake, rushed down to the door of his markee, and loudly called upon the men “to form into line,” “to rally at the foot of the hill,” as our camp was completely in the hands of the enemy. It was too late to rally. We were surrounded; and as “discretion is the better part of valor,” we yielded to the successful foe; and by the flashing eyes, grinding of teeth, the compressed lips, lowering brows, and the curses loud and deep of the men of the First Virginia, we saw that the iron tooth of chagrin and the resolve of future revenge, dire and deep, had entered into the soul of the whole detachment. Several of our boys were shot while trying to make their escape; others were more successful, among whom, I am happy to state, was our worthy Major, who immediately hastened to bring reenforcements from the detachment at Petersburgh. These last, led by Colonel Thoburn, arrived too late. Our detachment were already upon their way to Richmond. Among the many valuable officers lost to the service by this surprise, may be mentioned Captains Craig, White, and Reed; Lieutenants Hall, Helms, McKee, and Baird. Captains Daugherty and McElvoy and Lieutenant Apple have already made their escape, and returned safely to the camp at Petersburgh. I am happy to state many of the men have also made good their escape. Foot-sore and weary from their wanderings upon “the dark and weary mountains,” they are greatly rejoiced to arrive, even to the shelter and protection that an exposed camp can afford. The sutler of the regiment, D. J. Smith, Esq., of your city, as I am informed, lost all the goods he had in camp, his company-books, team, and wagon. The loss falls heavily upon a worthy man. I had forgotten to state that, upon our return to Moorefield, no immediate cause of an apprehended attack was apparent, as all the information elicited from all sorts of men — spies, scouts, and citizens — went to prove that no enemy was in the vicinity of the village, except Captain Imboden and forty men. But we were deceived, and the result, as far as has transpired, is before you. I dare not trust myself to attempt to give a list of the killed and wounded. The camp is full of contradictory rumors, each worse than the other, and each diametrically opposing the other. When a close approximation of the truth can be arrived at, you may hear from me again.
J. F. S.