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I was very sanguine of taking the enemy's works on last Thursday morning. I had considered the subject well. With great effort the troops intended for the surprise had reached their destination, having traversed 200 miles of steep, rugged mountain paths, and the last day through a terrible storm, which lasted all night and in which they had to stand drenched to the skin in the cold rain. Still, their spirits were good. When the morning broke, I could see the enemy's tents on Valley river at the point on the Huttonsville road just below me. It was a tempting sight. We waited for the attack on Cheat mountain, which was to be the signal, till 10 a. m.; the men (Federals) were cleaning their unserviceable arms. But the signal did not come. All chance for surprise was gone. The provisions of the men had been destroyed the preceding day by the storm. They had nothing to eat that morning, could not hold out another day, and were obliged to be withdrawn. The party sent to Cheat mountain to take that in the rear had also to be withdrawn. The attack to come off from the east side failed from. the difficulties of the way; the opportunity was lost and our plan discovered. It is a grievous disappointment to me, I assure you. But for the rainstorm I have no doubt but that it would have succeeded. This, Governor, is for your own eye. Please do not speak of it; we must try again.

Our greatest loss is the death of my dear friend, Colonel Washington. He and my son were reconnoitering the front of the enemy. They came unawares upon a concealed party, who fired upon them within 20 yards, and the colonel fell pierced by three balls. My son's horse received three shots, but he escaped on the colonel's horse. His zeal for the cause to which he had devoted himself carried him, I fear, too far.

We took some 70 prisoners and killed some 25 or 30 of the enemy. Our loss was small besides what I have mentioned. Our present difficulty is the roads. It has been raining in these mountains about six weeks. It is impossible to get along. It is that which has paralyzed all our efforts.

This ‘forced reconnaissance’ made known to General Lee that only Reynolds' brigade was in Loring's front, and that Rosecrans had stolen away with the larger part of his command. When he returned to Valley mountain, on the 15th of September, he had report from Floyd of the engagement at Carnifax Ferry, on the 10th, and learned what had become of Rosecrans. Apprehensive that the bickerings of Floyd and Wise on the Kanawha line would lead to further disasters, now that Rosecrans had added his force to that of Cox, Lee left Valley mountain, about the 19th, and hastened to that line by way of Marlinton and Lewisburg.

On the 14th, Loring made demonstrations on Reynolds at Elkwater, then, late in the day, retired to Conrad's at Valley Head, where he halted during the 15th, hoping that the enemy would follow and attack him. As he did

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W. S. Rosecrans (3)
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W. W. Loring (2)
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