to immediately withdraw the small remaining force from the works and retreat in the direction of Laurel hill
Heck at once asked Engineer Hotchkiss
whether he thought he could find his way, at the head of the column, through the pathless forest up and across Rich mountain
, in the heavy rain and thick darkness then prevailing.
The latter replied that he had reconnoitered the country in that direction, and was confident he could find his way up and across the mountain.
then directed him to lead the retreat, accompanied by Major Reger
, of the Twenty-fifth, he proposing to follow in the rear.
The line of march was promptly taken up at about 1 a. m., with Capt. R. D. Lilley
's company from Augusta county
in the advance.
The pickets were left out to deceive the enemy.
The troops first filed to the northward, from the extreme right of the works, through the Laurel swamps
near Roaring creek
, then across the rocky and heavily-wooded spurs of Rich mountain
, then northeastward and eastward toward the crest of the mountain, which was reached about daylight, when the leaders were surprised to find that but 70 or 80 men had followed them.
It was subsequently learned that shortly after the retreat began, Pegram
changed his mind and sent word along the command to halt until he could reach its front.
This word only reached the rear of Lilley
After a conference on the mountaintop, at about sunrise of the 12th, it was decided to go to Beverly
The march was continued down to the old Merritt road, by which the Churchville cavalry and Tyler
's men had retreated, and Beverly
was reached about 11 a. m. After a rest and collecting supplies of quartermaster and commissary stores from the large quantity there abandoned, the retreat was continued to Huttonsville
, gathering up escaped soldiers, most of them armed, all along the way, and reaching that place at about 3 p. m., just as the bridge over Tygart's Valley river
, which Scott
had fired some hours before, on his retreat, was about consumed.
, impressed with the idea that McClellan
was in rapid pursuit and would soon fall on his rear, had continued on across Rich mountain
, just before sunset, passing the middle top, which the Federals
subsequently fortified and continued to hold, and reaching Greenbrier river
at about daylight of the 13th, where he found Governor Letcher
, and was met by Col. Edward Johnson