previous next

[292] Mountains, for Cheat River, by a by-road which the rebels had taken. It was of the worst description. At every step the mud grew deeper and the way more difficult, and one felt as though somebody were tugging at his heels to pull off his shoes. Now slipping down in the mud, now plunging into a pool knee deep, staggering about in the mire like drunken men, the soldiers, elated with the prospect of a fight, pushed steadily and bravely on. So thoroughly was the mire kneaded by the feet of the thousands, pursued and pursuing, that it flowed down the mountain road like thick tar. Every rivulet, too, became a torrent, while the creeks, swollen with the burden of the rains, became dashing and foaming rivers. In the Laurel Mountains, we found more evidences of the disorderly flight of the rebels. For miles, tents, tent poles, knapsacks, every thing, indeed, even to personal apparel, was strewn in an indiscriminate litter, and trodden down under their flying feet. Here were more wagons upset, and kept from plunging over gorges down which it made me dizzy to look, only by the dense thickets of chapparel and the trunks of trees. Everywhere it was disaster following after disaster. Occasionally we halted, and those so fortunate as to have them, munched their wet crackers with as much satisfaction as you would sit down to banquet at the Gibson House. Others stretched themselves out along the roadside, and some were so weary that they sat down in the middle of the road to rest. A few gave out entirely.

At last we emerged from the Laurel Mountains and came out on the Cheat River, at Kahler's Ford, about twelve miles from, and due south of St. George. It was then noon. Our advance consisted of the Ohio 14th, Col. Steedman, 750; Col. Millroy's 9th Indiana, 500 ; Dumont's 7th Indiana, 550, and two pieces of artillery, with 40 men — the total being 1,840. The reserve was an hour or more behind, their march being doubly wearisome because of the necessary halts, and roads made worse by those who had preceded them.

The boys were glad to plunge into the ford, as the swift flowing waters of the Main Cheat purged them of heavy loads of mud, with which most were plastered to their waistbands. Emerging from the ford, our advance came in sight of the rear of the fugitive army, at the second ford below, where their baggage train was at rest, and their infantry drawn up to protect it. The advance regiment halted till Dumont's and the artillery came up to their support, when the unlucky firing of a gun by one of our men set the whole body in motion.

The chase now became highly exciting. The enemy pitched the rest of their camp equipage into the bushes; the officers threw their trunks, containing their personal effects, into the gulleys and ravines, and the privates gave up their blankets, knapsacks, and canteens to the inexorable necessity of fighting or retreating, and they preferred the latter. Our advance pushed them so hard that they formed in line and commenced a scattering fire, when our artillery opened on them, and they instantly renewed their stampede. This stand, however, had given their baggage train time to get under way. The pursuit was hotly kept up for three miles, and they showed as wonderful an agility in flight as Porterfield's army at Phillippa.

Within a mile of the next ford, the mountains recede on both sides from the river. The most of this comparatively level bottom land is comprised in the farm of Mr. James Carrick, and the fords are known by his name. In crossing the first of these fords to the right side of the river (as we were advancing) one of their wagons mired, and those in the rear had to halt until it could be relieved. The rebels meantime drew up in line on the opposite side of an oat field, and were concealed by a rail fence and the trees and bushes fringing that bank of the river. The bluff is from 50 to 80 feet higher than the land on the opposite side, down which the Ohio 14th was advancing, with Capt. Moe's company thrown out as skirmishers. As the skirmishers pressed on towards the ford, the teamsters cried out, “Don't shoot! don't shoot! We are going to surrender.” The Captain then called to the Colonel, “Come on, Col. Steedman, they are going to surrender,” and the regiment was ordered to advance at a double quick. As he came opposite the bank where the rebels were drawn up, Gen. Garnett cried, “Three cheers for Jeff. Davis,” and that instant the whole line was a blaze of light, as they poured a destructive fire upon the 14th. The men came to an instant halt, and returned the compliment without changing position, and then advanced nearer the river, taking position behind a worn out fence. The rebel battery then opened fire, and Burnett's artillery was ordered up. The action became general. Millroy's regiment came up to Steedman's support, but were compelled to deliver an oblique fire. Capt. Benham then ordered Dumont's six companies to cross the river about 300 yards above the ford, pass obliquely up the hill from our right, and take the enemy in the rear. The bank was exceedingly steep, almost perpendicular; but two companies had succeeded in clambering up, when the order was countermanded, and Col. Dumont ordered down the river to the ford, under cover of the height on their side, and protected by the fire from Steedman and Millroy's regiments, to take them in front at the road. The Colonel executed this order in gallant style. His line instantly formed and marched down the bed of the river, the water frequently waist deep, and the moment the head of his column appeared the rebels ceased firing along the entire line, and stampeded through a wheat field down to the second ford, the officers vainly trying to rally them.

Gen. Garnett was the last to cross the ford, which he did on foot, and stood by the river shore, waving his handkerchief, and calling

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Cheat River (United States) (2)
St. George, W. Va. (West Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Steedman (4)
Dumont (4)
Millroy (3)
Robert S. Garnett (2)
Porterfield (1)
Moe (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
James Carrick (1)
Burnett (1)
H. W. Benham (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: