Great efforts have been made to place this column in marching condition. Although the roads are continuous tracks of mud, in which the wagons plunge to their axles, I hope the forces can be united, with a few days' supply of provisions, so as to move forward on Thursday, the 12th instant. I therefore advise you of the probability that on your part you may be prepared to take advantage of it, and if circumstances render it advisable, to act on your side.On the 8th, Reynolds sent a strong detachment to reconnoiter Loring's front and learn what was going on in his camp. In the early morning of the 9th these encountered Loring's pickets, 4 miles in his front at Marshall's store, in a lively skirmish, in which several were killed on both sides. The Federals then retired to Conrad's store, where a large advance guard was established. On the morning of the 11th, Lee's forward movement began by the successive marching of Loring's four columns, as provided in the plan of attack. The central column, that moving down by the Huttonsville turnpike, which Lee and Loring accompanied, routed the Federal outpost at Conrad's store, some 8 miles in front. The Federal pickets fell back toward Elkwater, contending all the way with Loring's advance. Jackson's men marched that night, and all the preliminary movements of the campaign were promptly and admirably executed, notwithstanding the rough topography and other difficulties of the various lines of march and the cold and heavy rain that began during the night, which not only increased the darkness, in the remarkably dense forest through which Rust had to make his way, but swelled the cold waters of the many tributaries of Cheat river, and that river itself, which his column had to cross and even to march in. Each of the cooperating commands was at its appointed place before the dawn of September 12th, and the enemy had not discovered their movements. Generals Lee and Loring, with the brigades of Gilham and Burks and the artillery and cavalry, were in the near front and on the right of the Elkwater camp; Donelson had gained its left and left rear, capturing a regiment there on picket guarding that flank and the way to Cheat mountain; Anderson was on the turnpike, on the western top of Cheat, had cut the telegraph, and was in position to block the coming of reinforcements from Elkwater, or an attack from the
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