and so open that route for an advance from Tygart's valley to threaten the Virginia Central railroad.
About daylight of the 3d, the Federal
advance, a whole regiment, drove in the Confederate
pickets near the eastern foot of Cheat mountain
and followed them across the valley of the Greenbrier
to within a mile of Camp Bartow, where it encountered, at about 7 a. m., the grand guard of about 100 men, under Col. Edward Johnson
, of the Twelfth Georgia, admirably posted.
This small force stubbornly resisted and held the Federals
in check for nearly an hour, and did not yield its position until Reynolds
deployed a second regiment to move on its right flank and opened six guns on its left; it then withdrew, still skirmishing, in good order, to the main line.
This well-managed skirmish, the opening of a brilliant career for its then unknown commander, dampened the ardor of the Federal
advance, but encouraged the small Confederate force which had it in full view from the line of its intrenchments on the foot of the western slope of the Alleghany mountain
, and aroused their enthusiasm as they repeatedly cheered its successful resistance.
The Confederate intrenchments, which were in process of construction but as yet very incomplete, fronted the south fork of the Greenbrier
, on each side of the Staunton and Parkersburg turnpike
as that descends the western slope of Alleghany mountain to Yeager
's, a wayside inn on the bank of the river.
The center of this position was held by the brigade of Col. William B. Taliaferro
, consisting of his Twenty-third Virginia, Col. William C. Scott
's Forty-fourth Virginia, the Twenty-fifth Virginia battalion under Capt. John C. Higginbotham
, and Shumaker
's battery of four guns, one of these under Rice
At about 8 a. m., Reynolds
deployed in front of this center a large body of infantry with two batteries, and opened on Taliaferro
with a vigorous and persistent artillery fire.
As this produced no effect except to draw a sharp and well-directed reply from Shumaker
's guns, Reynolds
, at about 9:30, moved a strong column from the woods, in which his main body was concealed, to turn Jackson
This column crossed the narrow valley and the shallow South Fork
and a saulted the Confederate
left, under Colonel Rust
, who held it with his Third Arkansas, Col. William L. Jackson
's Thirty-first Virginia, the Ninth Virginia battalion under Capt. J. A. Robertson