Thursday, May 15, 2014

March 28, 1864 (Friday): Not A Fan of Summerville

General A. N. Duffie (Library of Congress)

Charleston, W. Va., March 28, 1864.
Major General F. SIGEL,
Commanding Department of West Virginia:
SIR: I think it is my duty to make you the following report concerning sending troops to Summerville as a corps of observation:
First. The troops at Fayetteville, consisting of three regiments of infantry and one battery of artillery, can fully fulfill the duties required by you.
Second. My cavalry is constantly moving on the roads leading to Princeton and Lewisburg, and I always by so doing shall be aware of any movements of the enemy. My scouts and spies are constantly out.
Third. The distance from Fayetteville to Princeton is shorter than the distance from Summerville. If I have to occupy the place assigned by you (Summerville) I shall require that more infantry and cavalry be sent here, for in case of an attack, my troops being already much scattered throughout the country, it will require for their concentration more than three days. I do not, general, make any objection to order, which orders shall always be fulfilled with promptness and faithfulness, but it is a mere statement that I submit to you for your approval or disapproval. Troops have started and will carry out strictly your orders.
    The roads leading to Summerville have been heavily blockaded, and now are, so they are nearly impracticable for wagons, and I positively fear nothing from the enemy on this side of the Gauley River.
    I shall beg of you to forward to me without delay the arms and horses required to place this command efficient for field duties.
    I am, general, very respectfully, yours,

    A. N. DUFFIE,
   General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 756.

Summerfield, West Virginia was not a very hospitable location.  It was on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon.  Princeton was not a large town, but it was a little larger than and not as isolated.  In addition, the road network in the area was better than that at Summerville.  It is little remarked on, but worth remembering, that troops serving in West Virginia campaigned in much more rugged terrain than their cousins to the east.  The area must have been a shock to Duffie, a Frenchman who had served in Algiers, Senegal, and the Crimea.

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