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[362] enemy's movements was when Rosser suddenly attacked one of our trains while on its way from New-Creek to Petersburgh. It is now known to be a fact that the eight hundred men sent as a guard with the train were disgracefully remiss in the discharge of their duty. The officer in command of the train-guard officially reported that he had eighty killed and wounded, while neither fact nor report has, up to this time, confirmed his statement. The truth of the matter is that some one is to blame for allowing the enemy to get what portion of the train he did secure, and for permitting either himself or his men to be misled or frightened away by the mere opening of the enemy's artillery. What if the rebel force were two thousand strong? Eight hundred brave, well-handled men could have made a strong defence. The capture of a few wagons does us little injury; yet when we take into consideration how the rebels catch at straws, and build bright, hopeful, airy structures on very small foundations, we must ever deprecate the conduct of all officers and men who fail in ever so small a degree to discharge their whole duty and nothing less. The most of the train-guard has returned, coming in at different points along the railroad. The enemy took but a few of the guard prisoners. Our loss in the attack on the train turns out to be astonishingly small. It is reported that official inquiry will be made into the conduct of the whole affair at an early date.

On learning that this train had been attacked, and that the garrison at Petersburgh was again threatened, General Kelly ordered movements to be made in the most expeditious manner from Harper's Ferry and Martinsburgh. Of Sullivan's troops, a force was sent to Winchester, under the command of Colonel Fitzsimmons. Of Averill's command, (and I must take occasion to mention at this point that another unfortunate thing for us, added to the absence of the furloughed regiments, was that General Averill had just gone home on a thirty days leave of absence, thus depriving us of his active services,) another column, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomnpson, moved from Martinsburgh to Winchester, and there made a junction with Fitzsimmons. These united columns then moved across the country toward Romney, going by way of Wardensville. Their march was a rough and rapid one, and, although conducted in the best possible manner, failed by several hours to communicate with or get in supporting distance of Colonel Mulligan.

While Fitzsimmons's and Thompson's troops were marching toward Romney, a cavalry force was despatched to look after rebel movements in the neighborhood of Leesburgh and in the Loudon County district, it having been rumored that a rebel force was moving and operating in that neighborhood.

On Saturday night, the thirtieth, Colonel Thoburn, finding the enemy about to attack him in force at Petersburgh, Hardy County, evacuated his position there, and escaped to Ridgeville, where he joined a detachment of Colonel Mulligan's troops, and afterward moved with Mulligan to attack Early, near Moorfield. How Thoburn outwitted the enemy, who thought he had Thoburn penned in, has been partially explained in a previous despatch to the Herald. Let it suffice that I now say he got away with better success than we anticipated, and that his strategic movement over the mountains and “far away” is looked upon in the light of a very commendable feat.

Having got Thoburn all right, our forces moving on Romney. another small force out watching from the neighborhood of Cumberland, we slowly fell back in the New-Creek valley, with a view to drawing the enemy sufficiently close to the railroad to enable Fitzsimmons and Thompson to get in his rear. As we desired, the enemy followed up. During this time a number of small fights occurred, in which we lost a few killed and wounded.

On Sunday and Monday our cavalry took some prisoners, but the number of these latter was far exceeded by the deserters who hastened to come into our lines. From these deserters we learned that Early had been reenforced heavily, and that it was true he had been making extensive preparations to carry out this raid.

On Tuesday between four and five hundred of Rosser's men slipped in between Mulligan's and Fitzsimmons's columns, and broke our railroad communication, by partially destroying one bridge and slightly injuring another one. How soon the damage was repaired and how trivial it was, you have already learned. The enemy succeeded in reaching the railroad and in partially safely getting away, only in consequence of the columns from Martinsburgh and Harper's Ferry having defeated General Kelly's calculation by failing to reach Romney at six P. M. on the evening of the second. It was calculated that this column would be at Romney as stated, and that any rebel force which moved in by way of Springfield or Frankfort would be cut off by Fitzsimmons's, Thompson's, or Mulligan's forces, and kept from doing any great injury to the railroad by the troops stationed at Cumberland and elsewhere within easy supporting distances. This was not all the plan of operation, but that portion which the enemy knew about, as well as ourselves; and hence I can see no indiscretion in now publishing it. Yet while all did their duty in the best possible manner, (and here I feel constrained to assure the reader that, no matter how beautifully the philosophical professor explains the mountains to be nothing more than as “little asperities on the rind of the orange,” these self-same “little asperities” are not unfrequently the cause of uncontrollable delays in military movements, and tend to defeat the wisest and best-considered calculations,) still the enemy's success in reaching the failure of our cavalry from Martinsburgh, etc., to reach the Romney region at the expected time.

As soon as it was known the railroad had been cut, Colonel Mulligan's forces moved forward from the New-Creek region and attacked the

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Mulligan (6)
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