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[39] But, attempting with about four thousand men to make good his escape southward, he found McClellan already grasping his line of retreat, and he then fled eastward over the mountains. Being vigorously pursued, he was twice brought to a stand and severely handled; but forces that the Union commander had directed to move from the north and east to intercept the flying enemy, did not act with sufficient promptness,1 so that the operation was not as decisive as it otherwise must have been. The last stand made by Garnett was at Carrick's Ford, at the passage of the Cheat River, where he was attacked by the advance of General Morris's brigade2 on the 13th, driven in disorder, losing all his guns and baggage, and General Garnett himself, while gallantly striving to rally his rear-guard, was killed. This ended the brief and brilliant campaign in the mountains, and General McClellan was able to telegraph to Washington as its result the capture of a thousand prisoners, with all the enemy's stores, baggage, and artillery, and the complete disruption of the hostile force. ‘Secession,’ he added, ‘is killed in this country.’

The result of this miniature campaign was most inspiriting to the people of the North, and had an effect far beyond its intrinsic importance, just as had in another way the fiascos of Big Bethel and Vienna. It is the moral influence of small successes and small defeats, that in the first stages of a war makes their importance and forms the real measure of their value. All great commanders have understood this well. The campaign in West Virginia was conducted agreeably to military principles,—a characteristic that did not belong to other operations thus far; and its execution, as well as the fact that it was undertaken by General McClellan of his own motion, and without countenance from Washington, stamped him as a man of superior ability.

1 McClellan: Campaign in Western Virginia, p. 34.

2 This attack was made by the Fourteenth Ohio, the Seventh and Ninth Indiana, and a section of Barnett's battery.

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