|Witcher's Weston Raid No. 1. Report of General Robert E. Lee, c. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS, Chaffin's Bluff, October 5, 1864.
Lieutenant-Colonel Witcher has returned from his expedition to Western Virginia. He visited Bulltown, Jacksonville, Westover, Buckhannon, Walkersville, and Weston. Reports that he destroyed a million dollars worth of stores, captured 300 prisoners, whit their horses and equipments, brought out 500 horses, and 200 beef-cattle, and sustained no loss.
R. E. LEE. Honorable J. A. SEDDON
|No. 2. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Vincent A. Witcher, Thirty-fourth Battalion Virginia Cavalry
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY COMMAND, Lewis' Mill, Greenbrier County, W. Va., October 5, 1864.
In obedience to orders from department headquarters, I started whit my command (Thirty-fourth Virginia Cavalry Battalion) from Jeffersonville, Tazewell County, Va., on the 17th day of September, passing by way of Narrows of New River to Lewisburg, Va., where I was joined by Capts. P. J. Thurmond's, W. D. Thurmond's, W. H. Payne's, J. Bumgard's, [and] J. W. Amick's companies, making in all 523 men effective, 267 of which were infantry.
I left Lewisburg on the 22nd instant, passed over the mountain by the Cold Knob route. I captured Bulltown on the evening of the 25th instant. This place was well fortified. The home-guard garrison was soon dispersed and the fortifications and cabins burned. Left Bulltown on the 26th instant. Here it was found that the infantry were so much worn down that it would be impossible for them to get to Weston (twenty-five miles) that day, which was all-important. I therefore dismounted the cavalry command and mounted as many of the infantry as there was horses (though a great many of the horses had broken down and been abandoned on the mountains) and let them ride ten miles, which brought the command to within fifteen miles of Weston. At this point the horses were again changed and the infantry was pushed on to within five and a half miles of Weston. They were then left under command of Captain W. D. Thurmond to come up as fast as possible. I pressed the mounted men forward as rapidly as possible and got possession of Weston about 5 p. m. The surprise was complete. The home-guard pickets knew nothing of the advance until they were prisoners. In Weston there was a large amount of stores of all kinds, the useful articles being turned over to the command. Besides the stores the Exchange Bank was capture, the funds, amounting to $5,287.85, were turned over to Lieutenant J. W. Branham, aide-de-camp, who will turn them over to the proper authorities for the use of the Confederate Government. Here I detached Captain William H. Payne, with his company, and ordered him to proceed to Janelew, a point seven miles from Weston on the clarksburg road. At this place he destroyed some stores, arms, and the telegraph.
On the 27th I left Weston and proceeded to Buckhannon. About five miles from that place we encountered one company of cavalry, which was driven at a charge through the town and out on the Clarksburg road. After remaining in Buckhannon a short time I passed out on the french Creek road to a point a mile; there went into camp and rested until 2 a. m. I then informed the battalion commanders that we would again take Buckhanon. The command moved off, and at daylight they charged and surrounded the town, capturing Major T. F. Lang, third [Sixth] Virginia (bogus) Cavalry (Averell's brigade), 100 men and horses, with equipments complete. As soon as it was daylight I ordered the Government stores destroyed. they consisted of a very large quantity of quartermaster's, commissary, and medical stores, besides 1,000 stand of small-arms.
I have returned whit 400 fresh horses, 200 beef-cattle; captured and paroled 300 prisoners. I mounted all the infantry. The road traveled was a bridle-path for sixty miles. My men and horses suffered very much on the mountains for rations. I lost only one man; he was captured.
My thanks are due to Captain McFarlane, commanding thirty-fourth Battalion Virginia Cavalry, also to Capts. P. J. and W. D. Thurmond and W. H. Payne, all of whom did their whole duty. Cadet Buffington behaved in a very gallant and soldiery manner during the raid.
I would most respectfully call the attention of the general commanding to the gallant and meritorious conduct of Lieutenant J. W. Branham, aide-de-camp; also to Adjutant Wada, thirty-fourth Battalion Virginia Cavalry, both of whom were at all times at their posts.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant, V. A. WITCHER, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.