From the protection of the fort and their encampment along Mill Creek, Union soldiers were stationed at picket posts throughout adjacent valleys at key junctions, fords, and approaches. Patrols were sent through the country-side to feel for the enemy, investigate rumors of Confederate activity, and gather hay and other provisions for use at the camp.
Eastern West Virginia was a hotly contested guerilla area during the Civil War, and Fort Mill Ridge was an isolated outpost. Surprise attack could come from any direction.
While patrols and picket duty were usually tedious and uneventful, sudden attack by raiding parties or bushwackers could occur at any time. The rugged nature of the terrain made ambushes easy and pursuit difficult.
During the period that Fort Mill Ridge was occupied, the primary base for Confederate operations was Rockingham County in the southeastern Shenandoah Valley. From this base, Confederates launched raids into West Virginia. Two primary raids were undertaken in the spring of 1863.
Well Anne I have just com off of dress praid and I will finish your letter. we drill one hour every morning before breckfist. we ar on gard every third day. I guess they ar about dun with the fort and the intrenchments, then our deuty wont bee so heavy.
June 6, 1863 letter of Private Joshua Winters.