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[287] Laurel Hill Camp, both under the general command of Gen. Garnett, of Virginia, though he remained at Laurel Hill, appointing Col. Pegram to command at Rich Mountain. Beverly, at the junction of the two roads, was not fortified. The intrenchments at Rich Hill were very strong in position, and could not be taken in any direct manner without great loss of life. On the top of the mountain was a smaller intrenchment. The lower fort was surrounded by dense woods, for a mile in all directions. After ascertaining its position and strength, Gen. McClellan early sent Gen. Rosecrans, with the Eighth and Tenth Indiana Regiments, with the Nineteenth Ohio, to go around along the top of the mountain, to get upon the east side of the intrenchments, so as to surround the enemy. After going nine miles, through woods and over rocks, a march which Col. Lander, who was along, says is without an equal. Gen. Rosecrans came out upon the intrenchments at the top of the hill. They received a fire from the two guns, (six-pounders,) which killed one man and wounded several. Immediately Col. Lander called for twenty sharp-shooters, and with them hurried forward and placed themselves behind some rocks. These brave fellows soon picked off the gunners, but they were reinforced. The Nineteenth Ohio boys, who were in the rear and on high ground, fired a whole volley, after which the Indiana troops charged the guns and carried them, and in a moment the whole intrenchment, and utterly routed the enemy. The action was short but fierce. Two hundred and forty of the rebels have been found killed, and probably when the woods are searched the number will be increased. Our loss was very small, comparatively, not more than twenty or twenty-five being killed. General Rosecrans remained on the ground. His victory, however, was not known to Gen. McClellan, who heard the noise of the firing, but was in ignorance of the result. During the same afternoon, he was cutting a road for his cannon, nearly two miles long, through the wood to a point which commanded the lower intrenchments. It being too late to plant the guns that night, two regiments — the favorite Fourth and Ninth Ohio--were stationed on the new road to hold it till morning. In the morning a white flag was seen flying over the rebel fort, and it was soon afterwards found deserted. Col. Pegram left as secretly as possible, taking to the woods. He abandoned every thing — tents, horses, baggage, indeed every thing that could not be carried by men struggling for life in the Rocky Mountains, in a dark and rainy night. The victory was complete. The number of prisoners taken at the time was considerable, but has since been greatly increased. There will probably be a thousand, as Col. Pegram, with six hundred men, after wandering in the hills for thirty-six hours, and being completely hemmed in, sent in to Gen. McClellan, proposing to surrender as prisoners of war. The General required an unconditional surrender, to which Col. Pegram submitted. He was brought into our camp at Beverly yesterday. His force is chiefly from Easton, Va., and was made up of their chivalry. Among the prisoners is a Professor in Hampden Sidney College, with a company of his students. It is also said that some of his college boys were killed.

Yesterday, the news came that Gen. Garnett, who commands the rebels at Laurel Hill, was retreating with his whole force, six thousand men, towards the east. He is compelled to take a miserable mountain road, and as Gen. Morris is after him, all his guns and provisions must be captured, and perhaps a large part of his army. Thus it will be seen that the backbone of the rebellion in Western Virginia is completely broken. The question is settled forever. Gen. McClellan has made a splendid beginning of this campaign.

The Union people of this region have been treated by the rebels badly enough. The jail at Beverly was full of them. On hearing the defeat at Rich Mountain, they were taken out and sent to Staunton, twenty-five of them. One Union woman was in the jail, but she was liberated. She reports that another woman was carried away. Col. Pegram's army had been very boastful, and fully believed that the Yankees wouldn't fight. It is said that at Rich Hill they had, in anticipation of a battle, dug a pit into which to throw the killed of the enemy, and labelled it “For Union men.” The same pit was filled with their own ghastly dead.


U. S. camp near Huttonville, Randolph Co., Va., Sunday, July 14, 1861
The campaign of Maj.-Gen. McClellan in Western Virginia has terminated in the complete destruction and rout of the rebel army. Sublime was Gov. Letcher's proclamation to the people of Western Virginia, and fearful was the retribution to be visited upon the army of the United States for invading the sacred soil of the Old Dominion. Behold the grand sequel! Gen. McClellan has just returned from beyond Cheat Mountain Gap, and no foe could be seen. After burning the bridge at this place, the rebels pushed into the mountains post-haste, and are half way to Staunton by this time. Such was their fear, that they threw away many things; even many soldiers left their muskets in the houses of Secessionists, and doubtless in the woods. The citizens here say that there were nearly 3,000 of them. One of the regiments was on its way to Rich Mountain to reinforce the forts, and within three miles of its destination, when they heard the guns at the battle, and, soon after the news of the rout, wheeled about and started for Staunton. Gen. McClellan feared that they might make a stand in the Cheat Mountain Gap — but their haste would not permit. Gen. Garnett, with six thousand men, is also on what Col. McCook calls “a clean trot” for Richmond.

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George B. McClellan (7)
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