and declined granting the request of his men. . . . Anderson and Donelson, finding that their situation was becoming critical, being liable to discovery and being between two superior forces, rejoined Loring on the 13th.Colonel Rust's letter to General Loring plainly shows (notwithstanding the fact that he had himself, after an examination of the Federal position on Cheat mountain, advised General Lee to make the attack, as planned, and had requested, as a personal favor, that he might lead it with his own regiment and such other troops as might be assigned to him) that his courage failed him when he came in sight of the fortifications on Cheat mountain, and that he, unwisely, ‘took counsel of his fears’ by giving heed to the exaggerated statements of the Federal prisoners, and did not even make an effort to attack, or an attempt to carry the position by assault. He makes no mention of having gained the road in the rear of the Federal position, or of having had an engagement there, as Colonel Kimball reports, which first revealed his presence. The meager Federal reports clearly indicate that his movement had not been discovered; that his presence was a complete surprise, and that if he had made a bold assault at the appointed time, he would, undoubtedly, have captured the Federal stronghold, and that the combined attack that would then have been made on the Elkwater camp would have completely routed the rest of the Federal army and given to General Lee's able plan of campaign a great victory—one that would have yielded most important results in northwestern Virginia, changed the condition of State affairs in that direction, and had a most important bearing upon subsequent military operations. The very men then led by Rust, later on assaulted and captured far more formidable works. After issuing his special order of September 14th, General Lee returned to Valley mountain, and the two wings of the army of the Northwest returned to their previous encampments. Although deeply mortified at the failure of his campaign, General Lee did not complain of those who were the cause of it; then, as afterward, when campaigns upon a grander scale were partial failures, he either said nothing, or assumed that he himself was responsible for results. From Valley mountain, on the 17th of September. he wrote to Governor Letcher:
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