along that crest to the gap was found difficult, and it was 3 p. m. when the Federal
advance, covered by deployed skirmishers, was fired upon by a Confederate picket, consisting of the Rockbridge guards of the Twenty-fifth Virginia and the Buckingham institute
guards of the Twentieth, which Pegram
had sent to the gap very early in the morning, after hearing from Captain Anderson
and from a loyal mountaineer concerning the Federal
movement to the left.
A note of warning from Garnett
had given Pegram
the idea that his right flank was to be turned and not his left, but the captain in charge of the picket sent to the gap shrewdly concluded that the attack would come from the south, therefore he posted his men some distance in that direction, in the woods, on the top of the mountain, beyond the clearing.
As the Federal
skirmishers advanced, followed by a line of battle, they soon, by mere force of numbers, drove the picket back and followed it through the forest.
During the morning a cavalry sergeant, following after Rosecrans
, missed his way and was captured.
gathered from him some information about the flank movement, which induced him to send Maj. J. A. De Lagnel
, of the Confederate States artillery, with a section of artillery, a company of cavalry and two companies of infantry to reinforce the guard at the gap. These took position on the north side of the gap, about 1 p. m., and threw up some rude breastworks of logs just in time to meet this Federal advance, about 3 p.m., as it emerged from the forest into the clearing, and drive it back by a bold artillery and infantry fire; the gun opening upon the enemy with well-directed spherical shot, firing rapidly.
A second advance, of three regiments, came on again in about twenty minutes. Moving his gun a little higher up the slope, De Lagnel
again opened at short range with spherical shot, and again forced the enemy to a hasty retreat, which was followed by shouts from the Confederates
, who confidently believed that they had gained the day. Rosecrans
soon reformed his men, lengthening his lines, and renewed the attack, his sharpshooters firing on the artillery horses so that they ran, away down the mountain with the drivers and caisson, leaving the gunners only a little ammunition in the limber box. De Lagnel
moved his gun near a small log stable, a little farther to the right, but by that time the