Man of iron resolution.
The Confederate Military History
The lines were made, the camps pitched, and the pickets posted according to the orders of Brigadier-General McCausland, the commanding officer of the expedition, Brigadier-General Johnson obeying his orders.
Next morning before day Averill surprised Johnson's picket on the Romney road, captured the reserve, then rode over the camps of the two Maryland Battalions.
Johnson just escaped capture, and endeavored to rally his brigade.
But the surprise was too nerve shattering.
The Twenty-first Virginia, Colonel William E. Peters commanding, was the only regiment that could be held in hand.
Peters was a man of iron resolution and imperturbable courage.
He could not be shaken; earthquakes, tornadoes, electiric storms could not move him. He would have stopped and asked: “What next,” if the earth were opening beneath him and the mountains falling on him.
Johnson set him to hold Averill, while he brought the rest of the brigade to his support.
But the Federal rush, the elan of success, was too strong.
The Twenty-first Virginia Confederate Cavalry, mustering at the time only 350 men present for duty, held the brigade of Federal Cavalry in check for thirty minutes, and yielded only after several assaults upon its lines.
foot note—‘It carried off the Twenty-first Virginia Cavalry like chaff before the whirlwind, leaving Peters
shot through the body, mortally wounded, if any wound can be mortal.
But human will triumphs over human anatomy and surgical possibilities, and Peters
survives to this day as indomitable in his Latin professorship (at the University of Virginia) as he was that drear morning at Moorefield
Confederate Military History
, Volume II, page 130.