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[294] knapsacks, and even clothing, of the flying enemy. It was found by our advanced guard that the enemy, in striking off on the “Leading Creek” road, had felled trees across it as they fled, to retard the movement of our artillery. Fortunately, a guide directed our men into a cross-road, which, though extremely rough, led again into the route of the enemy, at some distance from the Beverly road, and this road for that distance was unobstructed. Reaching the enemy's track again, it was found necessary to keep relays of axe men at work in advance to clear the road, and yet, in the face of the terrible storm, our gallant men literally cut their way through, handling their axes like heroes, and gaining on the enemy sensibly every hour.

The road first mentioned was a terribly rough one, and was rendered extremely muddy by the rain, and the passage of several thousand troops in front had not improved its condition; but when it was found that the enemy had left the “turnpike” and struck off to the right over a mere wood-path, up and down the roughest hills, over rocks, and through a dense forest, hoping to discourage pursuit, there was still no flinching. The boys had no time to eat or rest, and thought nothing of such things--they were after the enemy, and with this incentive, and the prospect of a fight ahead, they performed one of the most severe marches of the war with an eager alacrity exhilarating to behold. This route led across the branches of Cheat River several times, the men plunging through the streams with a dash, and hurrying forward with renewed zeal as the articles thrown away along the road began to indicate that the foe was so hard pushed that he must soon endeavor to make a stand.

At the fourth ford, known as Carrick's Ford, we caught sight of the enemy. Some thirty or forty wagons were discovered in the river, and at the banks of the ford, apparently stuck fast. As our column pushed rapidly forward across a level space, the 14th Regiment, Col. Steedman, in front, the teamsters called out that they would surrender. The position, however, looked so suspicious that the men were disposed in proper order, and skirmishers were thrown out towards the ford, the line moving down in fine order. Just as our advance was near the stream, and only about 200 yards from a steep bluff rising on the other side, an officer was seen to rise from the bushes and give an order to fire, and immediately a volley, coming from the brow of the hill, followed by a very rapidly delivered fire from their artillery, announced the fact that the enemy had taken a stand on his own ground. The 14th and 7th Indiana regiments formed under the fire, and with the utmost rapidity began to return it, our sharpshooters picking off numbers of the enemy, whose fire went almost entirely over the heads of our men, the shot from three rifled guns cutting off the trees from two to four feet over the heads of the troops in position. The 14th Ohio, being nearest the ford, were almost exclusively aimed at, and for a while the iron hail above them was terrible, the roar of the guns across the river, the crashing of trees, shells bursting, and volley upon volley of musketry making “war's fell music” for at least twenty minutes. Yet the men stood like stones, and returned fire with the greatest rapidity and the best of order. Not a man flinched. Meantime, Burnett's artillery came up and opened, and under cover of their well-directed fire, the 7th Indiana was directed to cross the river and climb the steep, almost perpendicular face of the bluff, on the enemy's right. The order was in process of execution, and two companies had nearly scaled the cliff, when they were directed to return, and Capt. Benham directed them to take down the bed of the stream, under the bluff, and between, but below, the fire of both armies, and turn the enemy's right flank. No sooner said than it was undertaken. Col. Dumont led his men down the stream so rapidly that the enemy were unable to bring their guns to bear upon them until they were concealed by the smoke, and out of reach of the depression of the guns on the bluff. Meantime the 14th Ohio and the 9th Indiana, with the artillery, kept up a brisk fire in front, until, with a cheer, Col. Dumont's men scaled the lower bank of the enemy's right, and poured in a volley. No sooner were our boys seen coming over the brink of the river bank than the entire force of the enemy, variously estimated at from 3,000 to 4,000, fled in the wildest confusion.

On came the regiments and artillery from beyond the river, and our whole force joined in a hot pursuit. After leading along about a quarter of a mile the road again crosses the stream, and at this point Gen. Garnett endeavored vainly to stop his routed troops and rally them around him. Major Gordon, of the 7th Indiana, leading the advance, reached the bank in pursuit among the first, and, discovering a point from which fire could be effectively delivered, called up Capt. Ferry's company of his regiment, and ordered them to fire. Garnett stood near the river bank, and fell, shot through the heart. A Georgia boy was the only one who fell near him. The panic-stricken forces of the enemy abandoned the dead body of the General, and fled up the hill in utter rout. They were pursued about two miles, when our exhausted men were recalled. Gen. Morris, however, is to follow on to Rowlesburg. Crow Hill is situated beyond West Union, where, it is hoped, the remnants of the force will be secured.

Garnett's body was brought to this place to-day, and properly cared for, and word has been sent to his friends that it is at their disposal.

The rout and demoralization of the rebel army is most utter and complete. Our four columns — Cox's, up the Kanawha, McClellan's, over the mountains at Huttonsville, and Morris's and Hill's, along Cheat River — are all following up the advantage, and moving on.

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Robert S. Garnett (3)
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