Today in History:

30 Series I Volume XXXIII- Serial 60 - New Berne

Page 30 OPERATIONS IN N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLV.

repelling the attempts of the enemy's forces, under General Early, upon the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and upon the posts at Petersburg and New Creek, W. Va.

On the 27th of January a train of eighty wagons, loaded with commissary stores, was dispatched from New Creek to supply the garrison at Petersburg, Hardy County, under the command of Colonel Thoburn.

On the 28th, citizen refugees from the vicinity of Petersburg and Moorefield brought information that the rebel forces were approaching, and in consequence of these rumors the supply train was stopped at Burlington and turned back, and a precautionary message sent to Colonel Thoburn, ordering him to fall back from Petersburg upon ascertaining that the enemy menaced him in force.

On the same day I went personally to New Creek and there found that the statements made by the refugees were vague and unsatisfactory, and being assured that the scouting parties sent up the Shenandoah Valley, and those sent out by Colonel Thoburn from Petersburg, had returned without discovering signs of the enemy. I concluded that the citizens had been alarmed by some prowling bands of guerrillas, and ordered the supply train again to take the road with a strong guard of cavalry and infantry, under the command of Colonel Joseph Snider, Fourth Virginia Cavalry, whose report, marked A,* is herewith submitted. At the same time I telegraphed General Sullivan, at Harper's Ferry, and Colonel Oley, commanding Averell's division, at Martinsburg, to keep their mounted troops ready for the saddle.

On the 29th, Colonel Snider started with the train, and en route received a message from Lieutenant-Colonel Quirk asking him to hasten his movements, and informing him that the Twenty-third Regiment Illinois Volunteers, of Colonel Thoburn's command, would meet him at the Moorefield Junction. On reaching Medley, 2 1/2 miles from the junction, he met Lieutenant-Colonel Quirk with the Twenty-third Illinois, retiring before the enemy. Colonel Snider, being the ranking officer, he assumed command, and with the combined forces took position to resist the enemy's attack, which was persistently made and sustained by a battery of artillery.

After an action of one hour and twenty minutes Colonel Snider was driven back retiring from the field in good order and with considerable loss. Meanwhile the train-masters and teamsters, becoming alarmed, had abandoned their wagons, and cutting the harness of the draft animals, had used them to effect their escape, thus leaving the train immovable, which, in consequence, fell into the hands of the enemy, who fired about forty wagons and carried off the remainder. Immediately upon hearing of the loss of this train I telegraphed General Sullivan to move the mounted force from Charlestown, and to Colonel Oley to move forward two mounted regiments of Averell's division by way of Winchester and Wardensville to Moorefield, hoping thus to cut off the enemy and prevent his escaping with his spoils.

At daylight on the 30th, Colonel Thoburn's scouts discovered the enemy in the vicinity of Moorefield, and by further information obtained from prisoners and deserters he ascertained that his position was to be attacked on the following morning by a large force under General Early. As he had but one day's provisions on hand, and


*See p. 40.


Page 30 OPERATIONS IN N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLV.