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[94]

In this battle our loss was comparatively small, which was due, in a great measure, to our respective positions on the field, our position being the most advantageous one of the two. While we had the advantage in position, yet we labored under the disadvantage in numbers. It was estimated that the enemy had upwards of five thousand men on the field under General Rosecrans, while our command did not exceed nineteen hundred men, as above stated. That night, after the battle was over, about 12 o'clock, owing to our small force, and the reported reinforcements of the enemy, General Floyd very wisely ordered a retreat as quietly as possible. Many of us were asleep behind our breastworks when the evacuation was ordered, broken down from fatigue and excitement, and nothing disturbed our slumber save the groans of the wounded, not far from our fortifications, until an officer of the guard awoke us, saying that we had orders to evacuate our position as soon as possible. Orders were obeyed accordingly as with as little difficulty as could be expected under the circumstances.

Fortunately for us a bridge had just been completed across Gauley river that evening, upon which we passed over successfully to the opposite side. Carnifax Ferry is about one and a half miles from the battle ground, and to reach that point a very rugged and rough road has to be traveled (and especially in the dark as we did), winding as it does on the mountain, and should you go too far to the right or left as it might be, you would in all probability be precipitated hundreds of feet.

The retreat was considered one of the most remarkable of the war; in coming down this dangerous road to the ferry that dark night, we only lost one caison, besides a good deal of baggage, which went over a precipice. It was conceded by the command that had it not been for ‘Guy's’ battery, Floyd's brigade would have been captured at the battle of Carnifax Ferry; and General Floyd recognized this fact, and expressed himself as grateful to us for his brigade's successful escape on that memorable occasion.

On the next morning just about sunrise the enemy commenced shelling our breastworks actively—not knowing we had abandoned our position about twelve o'clock that night, and that we were several miles on the other side of the river. After cannonading for several hours, and receiving no response, the works were at once taken possession of, although they did not pursue us further than the river. After marching several miles, we met General H. A. Wise's Legion, on their way to reinforce General Floyd's command. So


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J. B. Floyd (8)
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