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Doc. 9.-operations in West-Virginia.

General Kelley's despatch.

Clarksburgh, November 8, 1863.
To Governor Boreman:
General Averill attacked General Jackson's forces at Mill Point, Pocahontas County, on the fifth instant, and drove him from his position with trifling loss. Jackson fell back to the summit of Droop Mountain, when he was reenforced by General Echols with Patten's brigade, and one regiment from Jenkins's command. The position is naturally a strong one, and was strengthened by breastworks commanding the road. General Averill turned the enemy's left with his infantry, and attacked him in front with cavalry dismounted.

The victory was decisive, and the enemy's retreat became a total rout, his forces throwing away their arms and scattering in every direction.

The cavalry pursued till dark, capturing many prisoners and a large quantity of arms, ammunition, etc.

The enemy's wounded have all fallen into our hands. Our loss in killed and wounded is about one hundred.

B. F. Kelley, Brigadier-General.

General Averill's despatch.

near Falling Springs, West-Virginia, November 7, 1863.
Brigadier-General Kelley, Commanding Department:
On the fifth instant I attacked Jenkins in front of Mill Point, and drove him from his position, with trifling loss on either side. [156]

Yesterday morning he was reenforced by General Echols, from Lewisburgh, with Patten's brigade and a regiment of Jenkins's command, and assumed a strong position upon the summit of Droop Mountain, a position similar to that upon South-Mountain, in Maryland, but stronger, from natural difficulties and breastworks.

I stormed the enemy's left with infantry, and when he became disturbed made an attack direct with four regiments of dismounted cavalry. The victory was decisive, and the enemy's retreat became a total rout. His forces, throwing away their arms, became scattered in every direction. I pursued those that he kept together until after dark. His wounded and many prisoners and arms have fallen into our hands. My loss is about one hundred officers and men. The troops are in excellent spirits, with plenty of ammunition.

Wm. W. Averill, Brigadier-General.

A national account.

The brigade of General Averill left their camp at Beverly, at noon, on Saturday, November first The day was clear and warm. We marched to Huttonville, where we camped for the night. At seven o'clock Monday morning we resumed the march. The day was fine — a delightful Indian summer morning — and a march of two miles brought us to the foot of Cheat Mountain. Here are the remains of the rebel works made at the beginning of the war; and here are the marks of the battle that took place at this point. On our way up the mountain we met a family of refugees from the White Sulphur Springs, who were escaping from the terrible persecutions of the rebels, and seeking a land of peace and plenty.

The brigade presented an animated and picturesque appearance as it wound its way up the mountain. We reached the summit at noon, where we halted to rest and close up the column before beginning the descent. From the summit of Cheat is a magnificent view of valley and mountain, and, looking eastward, of the Alleghanies, towering in grandeur and covered with a dark forest of fir, and the valley of the Green Brier stretching to the south-east, while our works on Cheat, and Lee's works on the Alleghany, frown defiance at each other. The distance from the bottom of Cheat to the top on the western side, by the windings of the road, is six miles, and only one mile to the valley of Cheat River on the eastern side. After descending the mountain and crossing the valley, we crossed another low mountain, which is the “divide” between the two rivers — the Cheat and Green Brier. On the road at the foot of this mountain, on the eastern side, is the Gum Farm, a noted place for bushwhackers, and where a large party of guerrillas recently blockaded the road behind a little scouting party of the Eighth Virginia and attempted to capture them, but the corporal, with his party of nine men, gallantly cut his way through, with the loss of one man wounded and one horse killed. Our camp for the night was at a place marked on the map “Travellers' repose,” formerly a hotel hid away in this valley.

Opposite our camp was a little grove of evergreens, from which the cowardly “bushwhackers” had frequently fired on our men, and on one occasion killed and wounded a number belonging to an Indiana regiment, that were on the march, and from which a volley had been fired into the Eighth Virginia when on an expedition last winter. This valley is now in utter desolation. Human habitations and fences all gone, and left a mournful solitude.

Next morning resumed the march, and immediately after crossing the river, came to the rebel works made by Lee during the summer of 1861, and called “Camp Alleghany.” At this place we met two more families of refugees, also from White Sulphur, leaving the doomed land of “Dixie,” who had been driven off by the rebels. From here a scouting party was sent to Fort Baldwin, on top of the Alleghany. At this point the Beverly and Staunton pike crosses the mountain. This party, when they reached the summit, built a large number of fires, engaged all the hay in the country, and required accommodations for some half-dozen “generals,” and then made a circuit to the village of Green Bank, where they scattered a company of rebel cavalry, and made two prisoners. The brigade marched down the valley by the way of Green Bank. We were now in a fine country, that, in appearance, had escaped “war's desolation.” In this beautiful valley were a number of fine mansions, and, like almost all the fine houses in the South, had the appendages of negro huts — barbarism and civilization side by side. We passed through a magnificent forest of white-pine timber, such as would make the fortune of a company of enterprising Yankees, and encamped for the night at Matthews's Mills, where we found abundance of corn and hay for our horses. It was a cold, frosty night, but with our feet to big blazing fires, we slept soundly and awoke refreshed.

Next morning we started for Huntersville, and during the morning burnt a rebel camp, and near the town another, and reached town at eleven o'clock. The Fourteenth Pennsylvania, Third Virginia, and a section of artillery were immediately sent on to Mill Point, to cut off the retreat of Jackson, who was at Marling Bottom; and, to prevent his being alarmed too soon, the balance of the brigade halted in this forsaken, desolate place — the saddest picture of the punishment that has overtaken the poor, deluded rebels that we have met with. In the afternoon, the Second Virginia, the Eighth, and one piece of artillery were sent to Mill Bottom, where they arrived at dark; but Jackson had got the news of our coming, and retreated down the river, blockading the road at the narrows. We sent the pioneers to remove the obstructions, and went into camp for the night.

Early next morning, after setting fire to the comfortable winter-quarters that the rebels had erected, we began the pursuit, congratulating [157] ourselves on the certainty of capturing “Mudwall Jackson” and his fleet-footed ragged chivalry; but after a hard ride of nine miles, we found that the force sent out to intercept him were just too late, and only came up with his rear-guard. When we arrived, the fighting had already begun, and an artillery duel was in progress. We dismounted, and immediately formed into line of battle and went into the fight. The part of the brigade engaged drove him six miles, and he finally took position on the top of Droop Mountain. Mill Point was the depot for his supplies and stores, and these we captured and destroyed.

It was not part of the General's plan to drive him any farther, or bring on an engagement that day; for General Averill expected to form a junction with the forces of General Duffle, from the Kanawha valley, at Lewisburgh, on the seventh, two days hence. We, therefore, went into camp in the morning on the farm of McNeil, who had a son a captain in the rebel army, and uncle to the McNeil who infests the country about Moorfield, in Hardy County.

Here we found plenty of corn, oats, and hay for our horses, and they, together with the men, had a good rest.

At this place the boys made a purchase of butter. The price was five dollars in confederate money, but they purchased it for fifteen cents in postal currency. At night it threatened rain, but the sun rose clear next morning, with a high wind blowing; and after breakfast we mounted, and started for the scene of conflict.

Droop Mountain was a high, elevated position, overlooking the whole valley, the eastern face cleared, and the turnpike ascending that slope, and the rebel battery commanding every turn of the road and the whole country in the front, while the extreme point of the mountain was covered with woods. And this the rebels had fortified with a breastwork of logs, brush, rails, and rocks. Immediately under the point it was cleared, and very steep. In this steep hill-side was a spring, with swampy soil overgrown with tussocks of grass, briers, weeds, and burs. The western side of the mountain was covered with thick woods and heavy undergrowth, and to the westward another mountain, covered with timber, while the country in front was broken by low hills, partly open and partly wooded, and from the elevated position that the rebels occupied they could see almost all our movements below, and besides, it was exceedingly difficult to find a position for our artillery. Nature could not have made a stronger position, and this they had fortified; and when the rebel Colonel Patten arrived, he stated that “he could with his regiment, the Twenty-second, hold it against the whole of Averill's brigade;” but, poor fellow, he was wofully mistaken.

When the brigade arrived at Hillsborough, a village three miles from the top of the mountain, Keeper's battery was sent to the left, supported by the Fourteenth Pennsylvania; while the Tenth Virginia, Colonel Harris, and the Twenty-eighth Ohio, Colonel Moore, (German regiment,) were sent to the right, to endeavor to turn the rebel position. Next to the Twenty-eighth was the Third Virginia, Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson; then the Second Virginia, Lieutenant-Colonel Scott; and the Eighth Virginia, Colonel Oley. These were all old veterans, that had been trained in the valley and Eastern Virginia, under Milroy, Cluseret, and Bohlen. The skirmishers moved off in splendid style, with the supporting line close behind them, and in a very short time the firing became brisk and animated, and right gallantly did the regiments on the right perform their part, as they swept around the westward of the two mountains, while the regiments in the front moved more slowly; but it was a steady, onward movement, over a hill, across a field, through the woods, and across ravines, the rebels retiring, as if to husband their strength for their strong position.

The Second and Eighth moved up until they got within point-blank range of the rebel sharp-shooters, the Eighth exposed to a galling fire from the rebel breastworks, and right under the rebel battery that opened on us with shell, but we were protected with woods, and by lying on the ground the shot and shell passed over us. The skirmishers kept a constant fire, while the heavy roll of musketry on the right, as it curved around the mountain, was as steady as the fire fanned by the wind advances through the leaves on the mountain-side. The keen crack of the Enfields of the Tenth, and the deeper bass of the big bores of the Germans, could be readily distinguished, while overhead a strong wind made a deep, steady roar in the naked branches of the forest, and to heighten the grand battle picture, the woods were on fire, the branches of the trees crossing to the ground, under the effects of the shot and shell, accompanied by the heavy roar of the artillery, and music, and bursting of shell, and the constant roll of the musketry.

When the critical moment arrived, the Third and Second advanced, and just as the Eighth emerged from the woods the rebels began to waver, and with a cheer we charged up the steep mountain-side, and over the breastworks, officers and men mingled in confusion, covered with perspiration, dirt, and their clothes covered with burs. Just at this time Ewing's battery found a position, and opened fire on the rebels.

The rebel battery swept the point with grape and canister, but our men fought from behind stumps, trees, and logs; the gallant Tenth and glorious old Twenty-eighth closed in, and the rebels became terror-stricken and began to retreat, and then the retreat became a rout, while from our boys went up one prolonged cheer that was kept up, and the pursuit began immediately. It was a hard day's work, but officers and men worked with a will, and did their whole duty — no flinching, no shirking.

The rebel dead and wounded lay on top of the mountain, and almost the first one we saw was a dead negro, with gun in hand and cartridge-box buckled on; while prisoners were being taken [158] every moment, the men in their eagerness were following on, but the Tenth and Twenty-eighth were resting from sheer exhaustion.

Immediately in rear of the battle-field was the rebel commissary building, and they had tumbled out barrels of flour and provisions, with arms, ammunition, accoutrements, clothing, etc., thrown away in their flight. In a short time the horses were brought up, we mounted, and the pursuit began, and Major Gibson, with his battalion, took the lead. In a few moments we came to two broken ambulances, with their contents lying by the roadside; here lay Major Bailey, of the Twenty-second; here, some wounded; there, some dead; a little further on, a large party of prisoners; a little further on, another group; in the middle of the road, a broken wagon, and a large bay horse shot in the head; and a little further on, a burning caisson, with the terrified rebels flying and scattering through the woods, where cavalry could not pursue them, while the road was strewn with the debris of a terror-stricken, routed army. It was late in the day, and we kept up the pursuit for ten miles, until after dark, when we went into camp in a field, around a “sink-hole” that afforded water for our horses, after achieving one of the most complete as well as brilliant victories of the war.

The rebels were commanded by General Echols, and the forces engaged were the Twenty-second Virginia, Colonel Patten's regiment, who commanded a brigade, Fourteenth Virginia, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twentieth, Edgar's battalion, Derrick's battalion, four companies partisan rangers, one section Jackson's battery, Chapman's battery, Colonel Jackson's battery of four guns, and the militia from part of Pocahontas and Green Brier were present. Rebel killed and wounded three hundred, and over one hundred prisoners, seven hundred stand of small arms, three pieces of artillery, and one stand of colors. Our loss was two officers killed and four wounded, twenty-nine men killed, ninety wounded, and one missing.

In this battle, as at Rocky Gap, the rebels overshot us. The battle was fought on Friday, November sixth, and on the seventh we expected to unite with General Duffie, and now that the battle was over, we were in hopes that the Kanawha forces would intercept the fugitives at Lewisburgh.

Saturday morning was warm and spring-like, and we took up the line of march for Lewisburgh. After our descent from the mountains, we entered the fertile valley of the Green Brier, which expands to a breadth similar to the Shenandoah, and the same kind of geological formation — Saurian limestone. In coming down the mountain, we came across the brass twelve-pound howitzer that the rebels had cast away in their flight, and all along the road was the same rubbish as near the battle-field. Our march was slow, for we wished to save our horses. We passed through the town of Frankfort, and a short distance from Lewisburgh we came to the camp of the Twenty-second, screened from view in a grove in a “sink-hole.”

These sink-holes are one of the peculiar features of this valley, and the town of Lewisburgh is built in one.

We arrived at the town at four o'clock, where the Kanawha force had already arrived. Here we learned that the rebels had kept on their flight in the direction of Sweet Springs, in. Monroe, and after passing the Green Brier had burned the bridge.

After a night's rest, took up the march for the White Sulphur, the Ninety-first Ohio going with us as far as the ford of the river. On our march, we found two camps that were burning, and were designed for winter-quarters. One was on a hill beyond the town, and the other hid away in the ravine alongside of the turnpike. At the river we discovered that the rebels had destroyed five hundred barrels of flour that were in the mills, and the empty barrels were floating in the water.

Here the Ninety-first took the road to Union, in Monroe, (wonder that the rebels have not changed the name,) and we took the road to the White Sulphur. When within four miles of the latter place, two of the poor wounded men belonging to Ewing's battery came to us. One of the poor fellows had lost a leg, and came on crutches. They were overjoyed to meet us. We arrived at the Springs at ten o'clock, and released the balance of the wounded, who had been wounded in the Rocky Gap battle. The White Sulphur is a beautiful spot, but now appeared lonely and desolate, with its hotels, halls, and buildings closed; and I felt sad and indignant both, that this lovely spot had been desecrated by the foul breath of treason, its beauty marred by the loathsome presence of the wicked conspirators, who resorted here to concoct their plans of treachery. From here we went to our Rocky Gap battle-field of August, where we made a halt, and took a survey of the ground; and after visiting the graves of the brave and good men who repose here, we resumed the march, and halted for the night at Calighan's.

Next morning, as the column started, a party of bushwhackers fired into the Second. One of the rascals was captured. We took the road to Warm Springs, and a detachment of the Eighth, under Major Slack, was sent to make a reconnoissance in the direction of Covington. During the march this morning, we were startled by an explosion, as if a steam-boiler or mine had burst, and a large volume of smoke arose. One of the caissons of Ewing's battery, in crossing a gully, had exploded, providentially injuring but three men, but scattering the contents all around, and blowing the caisson all to atoms. The accident was occasioned by a percussion-shell being carelessly packed. We arrived at the Jackson River road at one o'clock, and made a halt for the detachment under Major Slack to overtake us. We marched up the valley of Jackson River, and after night burned a rebel camp and potash factory. We encamped for the night at Gatewood's, and here was plenty of corn and wheat for our horses; it had been snowing during the day, and a cold, wintry night, but there was [159] plenty of rails for fuel, and we slept by blazing fires.

Next morning resumed the march up the Back Creek valley. This morning a dog ran a fine buck into the water at the picket-post, which they secured. We burned an extensive saltpetre works, and another winter encampment of the rebels. Our train was fired into by a bushwhacker, but he was secured after receiving a broken leg. Our march led us through the settlement where we had been bushwhacked on our former expedition, and as we had a little account to settle, we “camped” there. Here we captured a rebel lieutenant, and the boys found quite a number of deposits of apples hid away in the ground. Here was abundant forage for the horses and mountain-mutton for supper, and with a soft bed of hay after supper, before our “big” fires, we had a luxurious night's rest.

Next morning, at seven o'clock, we resumed the march, and when we arrived at the place where the road diverges to Monterey, we destroyed another winter encampment of the rebels, and the Fourteenth Pennsylvania was sent around by that route to meet us at the point where the Crab Bottom road strikes the South Branch, while the rest of the brigade continued up the valley to Hightown; we arrived here at noon and halted. This is the point where the Beverly and Staunton road descends the Alleghanies on the eastern side, and this gap between the double mountain is the source of the two branches of the James and Potomac.

Here is another of the splendid views to be met with in the mountains, and as each season has its own peculiar beauties and charms, yet for grandeur, the winter scenery of the mountains cannot be surpassed, when earth's huge billows are capped with snow, and a wilderness of mountains is spread out as far as the eye can reach.

While we were at rest, word was brought that there was a force of rebels in camp down Crab Bottom, so we started expecting to surprise them, but when we arrived, we found the Ringgold cavalry and a force of infantry under Colonel Thoburn of the First Virginia, and they, like us, had suspected that there was a rebel force in the Gap, and if we had been rebels we would have had a warm time if we had attacked them, for they were wide awake and drawn up in line ready to receive us. We went into camp on the south side of Franklin road.

November twelfth, resumed the march, and our advance broke up a party of guerrillas who were getting ready to bushwhack Thoburn at Crab Bottom. We destroyed four hundred gallons of apple brandy at one distillery, and a barrel at another. We came to the saltpetre works that we had destroyed in August, and that the rebels had begun to repair; this we again destroyed, and a contraband told us of another up a ravine; this was also destroyed, and a guerrilla party put to flight. This was a fine warm day, and in the clear water of the stream we noticed fine large trout basking in the sunshine. We passed through Franklin, and camped on a large bottom on the river, and again found an abundant supply of corn and hay for the horses, and the boys, believing that all such forage belongs to “Uncle Sam,” especially if claimed by rebels, have no compunctions of conscience about using it.

Next morning a detachment of the Eighth was sent down the North Fork, while the balance of the brigade started for Petersburgh. The march to-day called up the recollections of the march the first time under Fremont, and through this beautiful valley almost every spot was remembered: the road, the camps, the church at the “Tract,” the burned bridge — all would call forth some remark; for then every thing was fresh and novel, and we had not become hardened.

We came through the Mill Creek Valley — a good, loyal neighborhood, and the homes of Captain Ault's “Swamp Rangers.” We now felt that we were among friends; and from here to New-Creek there is a large proportion of Union men.

We arrived at Petersburgh, and enjoyed a two days rest.

This morning McNeil and White, with three hundred guerrillas, attacked a train of ninety wagons, which were on the way from New-Creek to Petersburgh. They killed two of the guards, wounded five, pillaged seven wagons and burned five, and captured two hundred horses. It was a bold, daring act; but the train was some two miles in length, and a guard of only seventy-five men to protect it. As soon as the General got the news, he sent the Third Virginia in pursuit, if possible to overtake them; but the rebels had six hours start, and with their knowledge of the country, but a slight prospect of overtaking them. This evening we camped on the farm of Mrs. Williams, who has a son with McNeil, and she, with her daughters, are bitter “secesh.” But we found corn and hay in abundance, and that was what our horses needed, so we used it.

The morning of the seventeenth we started for New-Creek, where we arrived in the afternoon, and where our ears were gladdened by the music of the steam-whistles on the locomotives of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

It is refreshing to hear the sounds, to see sights, and witness the customs of civilization, in contrast to the semi-barbarism of Dixie that we have been conversant with during our campaigns.

The results of the expedition are that we have inflicted a blow upon the rebellion in West-Virginia, such as it has not received before since the war begun. We have made glad the hearts of the Union men, who are suffering under a despotism worse than that inflicted in the slavepens of Africa. We have liberated a number of refugees who will find their way inside of our lines. We have thoroughly scouted the mountains and valleys, scattered and frightened the small bands of guerrillas, destroyed all the winter-quarters that the rebels had expected to occupy the coming winter; know the roads, and the places that they have made their haunts; [160] have become acquainted with valuable facts, of which we were before ignorant.

And in addition to the terrible punishment that was inflicted on the rebels at Droop Mountatn, we captured two hundred horses, three hundred cattle, five hundred sheep, brought out to freedom a number of contrabands, some of them waiters at the Springs; we have created a wholesome dread of “Averill and his Yankees,” and caused the country to rejoice over our brilliant success.

General Averill has proved himself to be an earnest, energetic, and skilful general.

Although we were in the saddle seventeen days, travelled three hundred miles, and suffered from the exposure of the cold winds of the mountains, yet I have not heard a word of complaint, nor was there a single case of sickness that occurred during the march that I heard of, and our horses, on the average, are in better condition than when we left Beverly.

Richmond Whig account.

Richmond, November 14, 1863.
A correspondent, to whom we hope to be similarly indebted again, has furnished us with the clearest and most satisfactory particulars of the fight in Green Brier we have yet seen:

The line defended by the Army of Western Virginia extended from Pocahontas County to the Tennessee line. Colonel William L. Jackson, with a small force of cavalry and a section of artillery, occupied the extreme right at or beyond Mill Point, in Pocahontas County--a point about forty miles from Lewisburgh, where was stationed the First brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General Echols, and Chapman's battery, with two regiments of Jackson's cavalry brigade and two pieces of Jackson's battery.

On the night of the fourth instant, General Echols received a despatch from Colonel Johnson, stating that the enemy was advancing in force. It was determined to reinforce him at once, and the First brigade, with Chapman's battery, with one regiment of cavalry, (the Fourteenth Virginia,) and the two pieces of Jackson's battery, started at once for that purpose. The Sixteenth Virginia cavalry was left to scout and guard the roads leading from the Kanawha Valley. The command reached a point about fourteen miles from Lewisburgh, on the fifth instant. There it was learned that Colonel Jackson had retired before the superior force of the enemy, and held a position on the top of Droop Mountain, twenty-eight miles from Lewisburgh.

Early on the morning of the sixth the march was resumed, and Colonel Jackson's position reached about ten A. M. The enemy were making preparations for the attack. The country was so densely covered with forests that it was impossible to ascertain the force of the enemy.

Our position in many respects was a very strong one, but, as the enemy could easily get in our rear by taking a road on our right flank, it was necessary to detach the Twenty-sixth battalion to blockade it.

The battle was joined about eleven o'clock by our artillery firing at the enemy's battery as it came into position. This was soon ended, as he was driven away by our well-directed shots. The enemy now massed his whole force on our left and centre, consisting of about four thousand cavalry under Averill, and three thousand infantry under Kelley. To oppose this force, we had eleven hundred, of which eight hundred were cavalry. For four hours we contended against these overwhelming odds. The enemy, moving his forces beyond our left, wheeled his men, and thus obtained an enfilading fire.

Just at this time, our centre, which had been much weakened to reinforce the left, was attacked by a largely superior force and pressed back. General Echols, seeing it was useless to contend longer, gave orders to retreat. The enemy, badly cut up, made only a feeble pursuit. Our loss was necessarily very heavy, especially in killed and wounded. Major R. A. Bailey, of the Twenty-second virginia regiment, was woundded (reported mortally) and captured. Of ten officers in three companies of this same regiment that fought on our left, but two escaped unhurt.

The Twenty-third battalion suffered severely, but as reports have not been handed in, no accurate information can yet be obtained.

The retreat had continued but a short time, when General Echols received information that the Yankees, several thousand strong, were marching on Lewisburgh, by the Kanawha road, to cut him off. It was now all-important to get our teams and artillery by Lewisburgh and across the Green Brier River, before the new force could come up. This was done, and the enemy baffled, with the loss of one wagon and one piece of artillery, which was abandoned because the carriage broke down. General Echols crossed the river early on the morning of the seventh instant, and after resting a few hours continued the march toward Union, Monroe County.

The Yankees, no doubt, supposed we would be easily caught, but after marching fourteen miles, and fighting four times his own number for several hours, he retreated, bringing off his trains and artillery.

Men and horses are, of course, very much exhausted, but in a few days all will be again ready to meet the enemy.

No troops ever displayed more endurance and courage. The long list of killed and wounded will attest how desperately they fought, and the failure of the enemy to follow them closely, how terribly he suffered.

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