Doc. 207.-battle of Carrick's Ford.
Richmond Dispatch narrative.
McDowell, Highland County, July 23d, 1861.I have no doubt you have received various and numerous reports of the movements of the troops of General Garnett's command since I last wrote you, and I now merely write to give a true and accurate statement of the retreat and death of General Garnett--a statement which I defy any one to question, and to which those high in authority will willingly subscribe. I would have given you the particulars before, but having hard and severe duty to perform, I was not able to do so. We had been skirmishing with the enemy a week at Laurel Hill, when, on Thursday evening, 11th July, we received an order from Gen. Garnett to prepare provisions for a two days march, shortly after which we were directed to strike our tents, and took up our line of march for Beverly, a distance of sixteen miles, which place we came within three miles of, when we found that a very formidable blockade had been erected, which we could not pass, and, therefore, had to march back on the route we had previously come, to a road that led to the northeast, towards St. George, in Tucker County, which we entered early in the morning. (Here I would state, in the way of parenthesis, that it was the object of General G. to form a connection with Colonels Pegram and Heck, who were stationed at Rich Mountain, and move on Cheat Mountain, via Huttonsville; but the enemy, it seems, cut us off, and got between the two commands, and had our small force almost completely surrounded.) Thus, you will see, our command, composed of four companies of cavalry, Captain Shoemaker's Danville Artillery, Colonel William B. Taliaferro's Twenty-third regiment, Colonel Jackson's regiment, Colonel Fulkerson's Thirty-seventh regiment, and the Georgia regiment, Col. Ramsey, and a small battalion under Colonel Hansborough, all under the immediate charge of General Garnett, was forced to take the only route left us. We had proceeded on the road mentioned above for thirty-six miles, without eating or sleeping, except a short halt about mid-day, until Saturday morning, when our cavalry came rapidly to the rear division, and informed us of the rapid approach of the enemy. Not being in a condition to stand an engagement, our little army moved on, but had not gone far before a halt was ordered, and the Georgia regiment, which had hitherto been in the advance, was directed to make a stand against the advance guard of the enemy, which they did, taking a position in a low meadow, just across Cheat River, a portion of the command taking to the woods for the purpose of an ambuscade. The enemy advanced on them and gave them battle, without, however, killing any one; but they succeeded in cutting off from the main body six companies, who have since made their way through the mountain and joined their command. The retreat was then continued, and now our sufferings commenced in earnest. Col. Taliaferro lead command of the rear division nearly the whole retreat, and had to sustain the hardest part of the work, the balance of the force being far in advance. We kept on in this way until we had come to Carrick's Ford of the Cheat River, where we found that our wagons had become stalled and overturned in the river, and where they had to be left at the mercy of the enemy. Lieut. Lanier's Washington Artillery and Colonel Taliaferro's Twenty-third regiment had no sooner crossed than they were ordered to give the enemy battle, and our forces were marched in double-quick time to meet the Yankees. We soon took our position, and had hardly taken it, when the advance of the enemy came upon us. Col. Taliaferro gave the command orders to fire, when Lieut. Lanier and the Twenty-third opened on them, and for an hour raked them down like chaff, and twice they were forced to retreat; but having so many troops, they were soon reinforced, not, however, until they had lost over three hundred and fifty killed, and how many wounded we are unable to say. Our loss in this engagement was fourteen killed and about twenty wounded. So anxious were our troops to keep up the fire, that Col. T. had to give the command orders to retire several times before he could get the troops to leave the field. After this engagement, we had to double-quick it for four miles before we came up with the remainder of the army. Immediately after this battle, and in a half mile of it, General Garnett in person was on the river bank, and halted the regiment, and detached the sharps  shooters of Richmond, and selected ten men from their ranks, under the command of Lieut. E. E. De Priest, to remain with him, and fire on the enemy as soon as they advanced. They had only a few moments to wait, when they were seen crossing the river, when General G. gave his little squad orders to fire and retreat, which they did, killing several as they retreated. The enemy immediately fired, when Gen. Garnett fell, shot through the breast, killing him instantly. He fell on Lieut. De Priest as he came to the ground, and had to be left to the mercy of his foes. Here, it seems, the enemy ceased his pursuit; but we still kept up our retreat, without eating or resting, for two days and nights, and marching many a weary mile, until we reached Maryland, a portion of which we marched through, and continued on to Hardy County, where we met good friends in the worthy and noble-hearted farmers of that beautiful portion of Old Virginia. We rested awhile in a little place called Petersburg, where we received treatment fit for conquerors. We continued our march to this place, where we will remain until we are clothed and gain some strength, many of the men being unfit for service by sickness and fatigue. I cannot conclude this letter without bearing testimony to the bravery, coolness, courage, and fatherly kindness of Col. Taliaferro towards his men, not one of whom but would follow him wherever he should lead. The same remarks will apply to Lieut.-Col. Crenshaw, Maj. Jos. H. Pendleton, and Adj. Wm. B. Pendleton, than whom no braver nor better souls can be found. To Lieut. E. E. De Priest and Private W. C. Wane, of the sharp-shooters, great credit is due for their bravery and courage in action. They have never yet refused to obey any order, however hazardous, nor to perform it with zeal and alacrity. Both of them were with General G. at his death, the latter of whom tried to get his watch and sword, but was forced to leave them to the Yankees.