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Report of General Rosser.

Headquarters Rosser's brigade, February 9th, 1864.
Major,--On the morning of the 28th ult., in obedience to an order from General J. A. Early, I moved my brigade and a battery of four pieces of General Imboden's in direction of Moorefield, Hardy county, where I arrived early on the evening of the 30th. The infantry having failed to get up, I spent the remainder of the day in constructing bridges across the south and north forks of the South Branch, and early on the morning of the 31st moved my command across the mountain in direction of Patterson's creek, upon which, I had been informed by reliable scouts, was a large supply train encamped, destined for Petersburg.

In crossing the mountain I encountered, when in about two miles of the creek, a regiment of infantry blockading the road by felling trees across it, and by digging it away when constructed upon the side of a hill, &c. By dismounting a few men I soon dislodged them, and drove them entirely through the gap.

The obstructions were soon removed by the pioneers of the brigade, and the road reconstructed where it had been dug away. The brigade then fairly through, I pressed vigorously upon the enemy, who was then retiring in direction of Williamsport to meet the train which was then [270] moving up. Upon my approach his wagons were parked and all disposition made to meet my attack. The enemy's force (I have since learned numbered 1,100 men), I saw at a glance was much larger than my own. I dismounted three or four hundred men, and with the remainder in the saddle, I charged him front, flank and rear. The first onset was repulsed, but one piece of my artillery coming up (the enemy having none), my troops were much elated by this seeming advantage, and I charged him again, which was very successful, driving him into the mountains, and giving me possession of the entire train of ninety-five wagons and teams, excepting a few of the latter, that were cut away during the fight and run off, and the regiment I sent to occupy the road in rear of the train, failing to get up in time. These mules and a few ambulances were allowed to escape. The conduct of my men on this occasion, entitles them to their country's gratitude; indeed I believe it is the first instance during this war where cavalry attacked successfully a superior force of infantry. I lost in the action twenty-four men killed and wounded. The enemy's acknowledged loss, in killed and wounded, was eighty. I captured forty prisoners, two Captains and one Major. The train, which was heavily loaded with commissary stores, bacon, rice, coffee, sugar, &c., was turned over to General Early. Many of the wagons, however, had to be destroyed in consequence of the want of mules to bring them off — a number having been killed in the action and others ridden off by the fleeing enemy. On the morning of the 1st, I moved into Petersburg, the enemy having escaped upon one of the back roads, which it was impossible for me to guard with my small force.

The enemy in evacuating this place left almost all his baggage and a large supply of provisions, which fell into the hands of my men. From this place I proceeded, in obedience to instructions from General Early, down Patterson's creek, with the view of driving out the cattle, and for this purpose I sent Major Gilmer's and Captain McNeil's commands, under the command of the latter, into the Alleghany mountains, and placed one regiment in Mechanicsville Gap to prevent “Averill,” whom I expected from Martinsburg, from getting between me and General Early. I then pressed down the creek to its mouth, at which place there was a guard of one company, which I captured, and I destroyed here the railroad bridges across Patterson's creek, the Potomac and canal. I also destroyed one engine, all the property belonging to the road, the bridge for the pike across the canal, and one canal lock.

Learning that the enemy was in Romney in considerable force, and [271] that he was struggling for the gap at which my regiment was posted, I abandoned the idea of going to Cumberland, and turned back in direction of Moorefield, evading the enemy, who had forced the gap and got in my rear, and brought out safely all my prisoners and cattle. Upon the expedition I captured twelve or thirteen hundred head of cattle, five or six hundred sheep, ninety-five wagons and eighty prisoners. Only fifty of the wagons were saved and brought to the valley. Everything else is now safe in the valley.

I am, Major, most respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Thos. L. Rosser, Brigadier-General. Major H. B. McClellan, A. A. General Stuart's Cavalry Corps.

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J. A. Early (4)
Thomas L. Rosser (3)
Patterson (3)
J. E. B. Stuart (1)
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H. B. McClellan (1)
Imboden (1)
William Gilmer (1)
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February 9th, 1864 AD (1)
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