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Doc. 8.-the battle of Blue's Gap, Va.

The Wheeling Press published the following letter from Romney, giving the details of the expedition by a portion of General Kelley's troops against the rebels at Blue's Gap:

Romney, Va., January 8, 1862.
Night before last we were informed that we would move on Blue's Gap during the night Our information of the country and of the force of the enemy was meagre and uncertain. A about midnight the regiments began to muster and form, and by half-past 12 the column was in motion. The night was excessively cold, and we suffered not a little from that cause.

About half-past 7 o'clock we arrived at a height from which we could see the Gap and the bridge. Colonel Dunning, who commanded the expedition, seeing an attempt being made to burn the bridge, ordered the Fifth Ohio regiment to advance at double quick. This was done with a shout, and in a few minutes they were on a bank within two hundred yards of the bridge, pouring in bullets at such a rate that the attempt to burn and tear up the floor was abandoned. Colonel Dunning then ordered his men to charge on the bridge and over it, and compelled a negro woman at Blue's house to show him the road up to the left.

Colonel Dunning led the Fifth Ohio rapidly into the mountain, to which the rebels had fled. There a sharp engagement ensued; whole volleys of musketry were heard, and it was soon discovered that the rebels were firing from behind a breastwork on the top of the mountain. As soon as Colonel Dunning discovered this, he ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge. While this was being done, the rebels left in haste for their camp at the foot of the mountain and back of the Gap.

While the above action was going on, Colonel Mason charged up the mountain to the right, with [22] the Fourth Ohio, and drove the rebels from the rocks on that side. Some sharp firing occurred in that direction. In the mean time, but when the firing had nearly ceased on the mountains, the Eighth Ohio led the way down the Gap, followed by the First Virginia, Seventh Ohio, and the Fourth Indiana. Col. Dunning having passed on and taken the two pieces of artillery, with their caissons and horses, also a wagon and horses, with the Fifth Ohio regiment, returned and ordered the cavalry to charge. His orders were obeyed with promptness, but the rebels had taken to the mountains. The artillery could not be used, and not a shot was fired from cannon on either side during the action.

The rebels were surprised, and it was a complete rout. We found eight dead bodies on the field, or rather among the rocks; there may have been more, but they were not reported. And, singular as it may appear, not a man of ours received even a scratch from a bullet. I can account for this only upon the ground that our guns were some of the best in the world, while theirs were probably inferior arms.

The whole thing was a brilliant affair, and was over in a half-hour after the action commenced on the mountain.

Our force consisted of detachments of the Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth Ohio, the Fourteenth Indiana, and the First Virginia, together with two companies of cavalry and Daum's battery, with a section of Howard's battery — in all, about two thousand five hundred men. Our information led us to expect about two thousand rebels, but the citizens and negroes agreed in stating their force at eight hundred. All went on well, until some crazy soldiers, encouraged by some of the officers, commenced burning houses; and I am sorry to say that several houses were burned along the road as they returned.

The mill and Blue's house, which were used for soldiers' quarters, were burned, perhaps properly, as they constituted a shelter, and might have been used again for a nest of bushwhackers, but the burning of dwellings along the road was a piece of vandalism which should be punished with death, not only of the men who did it, but the officers who countenanced and encouraged it.

observer.


Another National account, from a Private letter.

Romney, Va., Jan. 9, Fifth Regiment O. v., U. S. A.
You have no doubt learned by telegraph that at last our regiment has been brought in contact with the enemy. Perhaps a more detailed account, and one that you may be assured is honest, may not be uninteresting to you.

On Sunday night, the 5th inst., we were ordered to cook three days rations, and hold ourselves in readiness for a movement in light marching orders. The weather was intensely cold, the ground covered with six inches of snow, which a stiff northwester had drifted into heaps along the roads, rendering them almost impassable. Yet with what joy did the boys prepare their rations and discuss the prospects of a fight.

But that night passed and all day of the 6th without our receiving marching orders. On the evening of the 6th--my birthday — I was detailed as acting sergeant of the guard nightly placed over the intrenchments on the Winchester road. With a foreboding that I was about to miss an opportunity of joining the gallant Fifth in action, I walked the two miles of the slippery road, mounted the guard, and after giving the corporals their instructions, wrapped myself in my blanket and was soon asleep. I was awakened by the rumbling of artillery, and jumping up, learned from the boys that a large force was moving toward the enemy.

Taking my gun and blanket, and without saying a word to those I left behind, I joined the Fourteenth Indiana, then passing. Of course you will say I was wrong in thus “deserting my post,” but you would hesitate to blame me if you could imagine how hard it is for a soldier, young and enthusiastic in the cause, to see his comrades go into action and remain behind.

Our outpost pickets were more than three miles from our intrenchments, and our forces were proceeding against those of whose approach we were ordered to give warning. I may have disobeyed orders, but think that in acting as I did, I followed the spirit of my oath of enlistment. Well, it was one o'clock A. M. on the 7th, when I joined the column. The night was clear and very cold, the stars shining with that sparkling radiance peculiar to winter. The hills and valleys were clothed in a glittering garment of snow, and the whole scene wrapped in winter beauty.

But this snow tended materially to delay our movements. Even where the road was level our feet slipped at every step, making the march, as we afterward discovered, the most severe we had yet undertaken. But the prospect appeared so good for a fight that we hardly felt our limbs gradually flag in their efforts, or our steps more dragging and painful. The column marched in the following order:

First, the advance guard one hundred and fifty strong, composed of detachments from companies of the Fifth Ohio, all under command of Captain Symmes of Company C--Rovers. This guard, after we passed the outposts, was flanked by skirmishers, who scoured the hills on both sides of the road. Then came the Ringgold Cavalry, Captain Keyes, about seventy strong; then the Fifth Ohio, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick, six hundred strong ; then the Fourth Ohio, Colonel Mason, Daum's Pennsylvania Battery, two pieces of Clark's Reg. Battery, the Eighth Ohio, Fourteenth Indiana, Seventh Ohio, and First Virginia, the whole force under command of Colonel Dunning of the Fifth Ohio. I had to make my way from the Indiana boys to the Fifth. Being obliged, of course, to use greater speed than the rest, and exerting to the utmost my pedestrian powers, I reached my company before it had passed the pickets at our outpost.

As soon as this point was passed, I was detailed, [23] with others, to take charge of the squads from our company who were skirmishers. You can imagine what work this was — breaking through the tangled undergrowth over the slippery snow. We were ordered back to our company as soon as relieved, and managed to remain with the extreme advance. As we approached every house on the road we surrounded it, and extracted from the owner what information we could concerning the pickets and position of the enemy. When we had got about fourteen miles we came upon their pickets, three of whom were cavalry and one infantry. As soon as we came in sight the horsemen mounted and galloped off toward the Gap, but Captain Keyes' men overtook and captured them. The foot-soldier was asleep when his comrades aroused him; he raised his musket, but Captain Keyes, pointing at him his revolver, ordered him to surrender, whereat he dropped his gun in the snow, and gave himself up. It was now broad day. The Gap was distant two miles, and the enemy unaware of our close proximity, and yet, to our surprise and disappointment, no rest was given us. The cavalry was ordered to the rear of the artillery, and Colonel Dunning, in a stentorian voice, ordered: “Forward double-quick!” No sooner did the boys take up the cadence of the step, than they commenced to yell like so many savages. This was unfortunate; for long before we came within good shot, the enemy was aware of our approach, and made their preparations.

About four hundred yards this side of Blue's Gap, is a bridge crossing a large stream. I was in the advance guard, and on coming to the bridge we saw four or five of the rascals tearing up the planks at the other end.

On seeing us they fled, but we had the ineffable consolation of tumbling them over, as they were running down the road. We replaced the plank, and now rejoined our company by command of Col. Dunning. I will now try to give you a brief description of the position, strength, and character of the enemy at Blue's Gap. The Gap is formed of two very high hills, which, as they approach the road, become fearful and towering precipices. The road and stream between these two hills are not more than twenty feet wide. This pass, so strongly fortified by nature, was defended by the two cannon of the enemy. The hill north of the Gap was protected by a rifle-pit, that on the south was undefended, the rebels supposing that human beings could not mount the rocky and almost perpendicular mountain side. Just back of the earthwork, on the north side, the hill descends abruptly to the road beyond; the hill, on the south, has a much more gradual slope. At the upper end of this gap are two roads branching from the main one, leading north to Little Capon, on the railroad, and on the south to Moorfield. Col. Dunning ordered the Fifth Ohio to charge the works on the north hill, the Fourth to go over the mountain on the south, and the Seventh to push along the road, as soon as we had well opened the action.

The Fifth mounted the hill with alacrity, but so difficult was the ascent that long before the brow of the hill was passed, and we came under fire, all order was at an end. I passed ahead of the company, and going among the Company A boys, was among the first to come into range.

There were only about three hundred men in the intrenchments. They fired about five rounds at us before we got to them. The Colonel, with his voice of thunder, as near us as the fallen timber would let him, encouraged us on to the fight. “Go in, now, at last, my bullies; go over their entrenchments!” “Remember Cincinnati!” For a time the bullets whistled over our heads with quite a charming music, but when about twenty yards from the rebels they scattered in every direction over the hills, leaving about twelve killed in the works, and as many prisoners. We who had come up first, rushed down the hill on the other side, and reaching the two cannon as they were about to be limbered up, bayoneted the gunners and secured the pieces and caissons. A few of us ran up the Capon road after the fugitives, but they soon scattered over the hills and disappeared. Two of them, however, fired at us from a house by the road-side, into which we rushed, accompanied by an Irishman from Company A. The rebels tried, in an awkward manner to defend themselves, but we pinned them to the logs of the wall and left them crying: “Oh! Oh!” The Irishman said they would never get any further in their letters!

In the mean time, the Fourth Ohio had gone over these hills like so many wild-cats, and captured thirty-five of the enemy. The other regiments were too far in the rear for the fun. We learned from the prisoners that the rebel force was one thousand eight hundred men, Virginia militia, under Col. Blue.

Of these forty were killed and about the same number captured. I counted thirty dead, and, strange to say, we did not lose a man! We burned Col. Blue's house, his mill and out-buildings, and many other houses in the vicinity used for quarters. We drove home a large herd of cattle, and hauled away a number of wagon-loads of ammunition and stores. After everything of value was destroyed, the order was given to return home. Although the road was in much better condition than during the night, yet the walking was fatiguing enough. We left the Gap at noon, and reached camp at four P. M., thus making the expedition and march of thirty-two miles in seventeen hours.

All but two regiments have had orders to leave this post for some point on the railroad; we are to remain behind.


--Cincinnati Gazette, January 21.

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