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Doc. 149. fight at Gauley Bridge, Va. November 10, 1861.

At daylight on the morning of the 10th November, Col. De Villiers crossed the New River, with the first detachment from his regiment, the Eleventh Ohio. The river was swollen and rapid, but in spite of the difficulties which it presented, the colonel had passed over [353] before noon, nearly the whole available force under his command. At 12 o'clock he drove in the enemy's pickets, planted our flag in their breastworks, and posted guards all along the ridge overlooking our communications. In driving in the pickets, John Roe, private of Company A, pressed forward far in advance of his companions, and received a ball from a Mississippi rifle through his head, killing him instantly. It required a long, extended line of sentinels to guard the ridge of its whole length; consequently the posts in each were weak and widely separated from their reserve. At eight o'clock in the evening the enemy in full force made an attack upon these outposts, driving some of them back over the ridge, while others held their position until the morning. Satisfied with this dash, and not waiting the advance of our reserve, the enemy withdrew to their camp. In the morning, Col. De Villiers, with a part of his regiment and a detachment from the Second Kentucky, made a bold movement toward the enemy's camp, exchanging fire with their outposts and still advancing. A ball grazed the colonel's ear, slightly abrading the skin. The enemy withdrew at his approach,abandoning their principal encampment at Cotton Hill. Thus the first aggressive movement was successfully made by the Eleventh Ohio regiment, supported in the latter part of the engagement by reinforcements from the other two regiments of Gen. Cox's brigade, the First and Second Kentucky.

General Cox took the initiative and fairly and alone drove the enemy from their position, by a bold movement across the river at its widest point, and up precipitous ascents which would have discouraged any less enthusiastic soldiers than those under his command, and these, too, stimulated to heroism by the example and presence of Col. De Villiers. The Eleventh lost eight men in killed and missing, one severely wounded, and ten slightly injured. Robert Bachelor, of Yellow Springs, received two mortal wounds while holding his position against overwhelming odds. Before going into action he said that he had heard so much of the cruelties practised by the enemy upon their prisoners, that he was determined he would never surrender.

There were many instances of personal bravery displayed by our men. One deserves prominent record. Sergeant Carter, of Tippecanoe, Ohio, was upon the post first attacked by the enemy. The advance guard of the Second Virginia, consisting of twelve men, came suddenly upon him and his three companions. The bright moonlight revealed the flashing bayonets of the advancing regiment. He was surrounded and separated from his reserve. With great presence of mind he stepped out and challenged, “Halt! Who goes there?” The advance guard, supposing they had come upon a scouting party of their own men, answered, “Friends, with the countersign.” At his order, “Advance one, and give the countersign,” they hesitated. He repeated the order peremptorily, “Advance and give the countersign, or I'll blow you through.” They answered, without advancing, “Mississippi.” “Where do you belong?” he demanded. “To the Second Virginia regiment.” “Where are you going?” “Along the ridge.” They then in turn questioned him, “Who are you?” “That's my own business,” he answered, and taking deliberate aim he shot down his questioner. He called for his boys to follow him, and sprung down a ledge of rock, while a full volley went over his head. He heard his companions summoned to surrender, and the order given to the major to advance with the regiment. Several started in pursuit of him. He had to descend the hill on the side toward the enemy's camp. While he eluded his pursuers, he found himself in a new danger. He had gotten within the enemy's camp pickets! He had, while running, torn the U. S. from his cartridge box, and covered his belt plate with his cap box, and tore the stripe from his pantaloons. He was challenged by their sentinels while making his way out, and answered, giving the countersign, “Mississippi,” Second Virginia regiment. They asked him what he was doing there. He said that the boys had gone off on a scout after the Yankees; that he had been detained in camp, and in trying to find them had got bewildered. As he passed through, to prevent further questioning, he said, “Our boys are up on the ridge, which is the best way up?” They answered, “Bear to the left and you'll find it easier to climb.” Soon again his pursuers were after him, as he expresses it, “breaking brush behind him ;” this time, with a hound on his trail, he made his way to a brook, and running down the shallow stream, threw the dog off the scent, and as the day was dawning he came suddenly upon four pickets, who brought their arms to a ready, and challenged him. He gave the countersign. Mississippi; claimed to belong to the Second Virginia. His cap box had slipped from his belt plate. They asked him where he got that belt. He told them he had captured it that night from a Yankee. They told him to advance, and as he approached, he recognized their accoutrements and knew he was among his own men, a picket guard from the First Kentucky. He was taken before Col. Enyart and dismissed to his regiment. Such acts ought to be recorded, such men rewarded with promotion. I asked him what his motive was in halting a whole column of the enemy. He said his plan was to give intimation to the reserve of their advance that they might open upon them on their left flank, and so, perhaps, arrest their progress.

Colonel Benham is preparing to-day to move in pursuit of the retreating force under Floyd.

D. B.

--Cincinnati Commercial.


Another account.

camp Loup Creek, near Gauley, Va. November 11, 1861.
In my last letter I informed you of an early preparation for a general battle, but up to this time nothing of the sort has transpired, although we are momentarily expecting it; and will surely have it, if some unforeseen event does not transpire. If such a thing as a battle takes place, it will be one of extermination on either side. For it will be the great battle for supremacy in the Kanawha Valley. The strength of the Southern forces is variously estimated at from seven to eight thousand, not including cavalry and artillery. Our forces must be at least thirteen thousand. The Southern forces are commanded by Generals Floyd and Henningsen, and are now situated between Cotton Mountain and Fayetteville.

General Benham's brigade, some three thousand five hundred strong, are at this point, Gen. Schenck's is at Camp Ewing, near Mountain Cave; Col. McCook's brigade a few miles from them; Gen. Cox is at Gauley, and Gen. Rosecrans at Tompkins' farm. The men are all in good spirits, and anxiously awaiting the coming contest. The truth of the matter is, they are willing to meet double their number, so as to get out of Western Virginia; and if they are foiled in this attempt to capture Floyd, they will feel worse than crazy.

They are all now well uniformed, and have plenty to eat. They are neat, clean, and tidy. I don't suppose that a single man is now unequipped in the whole division.

Since writing the above, I have learned that the rebels have vamosed from the Fayetteville road, and are now making tall tracks for Lewisburg. Floyd was too “wide awake” to put his head into the trap laid for him. Several of our officers are terribly exasperated at being thus deprived of capturing the arch-thief; and among them all, I saw none more excited than the brave Gen. Benham. He felt almost confident that his brigade alone would be able for Floyd, and to be thus deprived of seeing him excited him considerably. It was surprising to me to see how expeditiously he marched his whole brigade across the Kanawha at night. Not a murmur escaped the lips of a single man — not a sound hardly was heard — all was done in a quiet, easy, and knowing manner.

The men have the greatest confidence in him. He is an old soldier, having served twenty-eight years in the regular army; was second in his class, and is now about forty-five years of age.

--Cincinnati Times, November 13.

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