Doc. 228.-the battle at Philippi.
Official report of the Commander of the troops.
Philippi, Va., June 4, 1861.Brigadier-General Thomas A. Morris:--I herewith submit to you a report of the operations of my command on the morning of the 3d day of June, 1861, at this place. On the 2d day of June you directed me, with eight companies of the Seventh Regiment of Indiana volunteers, to proceed to Webster, that I might be there reinforced with four companies of the Ohio volunteers, under the command of Colonel Steedman, the artillery of his command being under the immediate command of Lieutenant-Colonel Sturgis, and with four companies of the Sixth Indiana volunteers, under the command of Colonel Crittenden. At eight o'clock on the night of the 2d day of June, I  took up my line of march from Grafton, and at Webster was reinforced, as stated above, and proceeded towards this place to meet the enemy. The night was very dark, and before the troops left the cars a terrible storm was raging, which continued without abatement until just before the attack was made. It was so exceedingly dark that it was with the utmost difficulty that I could form the command in the order which I desired to move it forward, and after it was so formed I found it almost impossible to pass from front to rear to direct the command. The order of march was as follows:--First, a small detachment of twenty men of Captain Morgan's company, Seventh Regiment Indiana volunteers, under the immediate command of Lieutenant Benjamin Ricketts, followed at the distance of four hundred yards by Company A of said regiment, under the command of Captain Burgess. In order of that company, and at the distance of four hundred paces, followed the remaining companies of the Seventh Indiana Regiment. The artillery was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Sturgis and seven companies of the Fourteenth Ohio Regiment, commanded by Colonel Steedman, and the four companies of the Sixth Indiana Regiment, commanded by Colonel Crittenden, followed in the order named. Darkness, rain, and mud impeded the march and rendered it impossible to arrive before Philippi at four o'clock, the time indicated in your order. At five o'clock the advance took such a position by a file movement, under the direction of Colonel Lander, as to allow the artillery to advance to the front; then advanced immediately in the rear of the artillery. Scarce had the disposition been made when the picket of the enemy opened a brisk fire upon us from the heights immediately above the town, and from the woods and bushes on both sides of the road. Lieut.-Col. Sturges, with great promptness, got the guns in position to command the town, and, under the direction of Col. Lander, (I think,) opened the fire. A moment's delay to the infantry was occasioned by want of knowledge on my part as to which of the two roads led to the bridge leading into the town across the river. At the forks of the road I halted my command, and, riding rapidly to the guns, got the desired information from Col. Lander. So informed, I proceeded on the double quick down the declivity of the hill, and here had a full view of the enemy, and I must confess that I never saw a flight determined on with greater promptness, or executed with more despatch. The enemy was under the command of Col. G. A. Porterfield. What his strength was, is variously estimated. On my own judgment I would say from 1,500 to 2,000, of which I would think 500 were cavalry. They had no artillery but a swivel. I have conversed with many of the citizens of the town as to the strength of Col. Porterfield's command. Some say the Colonel himself professed to have 2,500 troops. It is my opinion that he had but magnified his own strength, with a view to intimidate the people and crush out the Union sentiment. When I first saw the enemy, it seemed to me he was pushing for the bridge, which I was rapidly approaching; but it turned out that it was necessary to converge towards the bridge to gain the street leading out of the town on the opposite side from that entered by my command. The bridge is a narrow structure, some three or four hundred feet in length, spanning the Valley River, a branch of the Monongahela. A small body of determined troops could have impeded our progress, and crippled us at the bridge, and I apprehended resistance at this point. Toward it my men poured down the hill, in good order, and with an energy and determination that assured me in advance that victory was certain. In a moment I was at the mouth of the bridge; one of the passages was barricaded, the other clear; through it (Company B, commanded by Captain Morgan, in advance,) my men pushed; the Seventh Indiana first, then Colonel Steedman's command, not including the artillery, then Colonel Crittenden's, and opened upon the enemy, then retreating in wild disorder. Both parties being upon the full run, and the distance between them being quite considerable, but little execution could be done. I pursued the enemy from the bridge through the town and for several miles beyond. At one time I thought I should be able to capture his entire baggage train; but the horses, to prevent this, were cut from many of the wagons and mounted, and the wagons and contents left as our booty. The wagons were filled with munitions of war, blankets, knapsacks, clothing, baggage of officers and men, and with a considerable amount of flour and forage. Having pursued the assault and pursuit of the enemy, I speak particularly of these officers, because being of my immediate command, their conduct was under my personal observation; and because thrown suddenly in command of different detachments of troops, to the officers of which I am a stranger, I am unable to mention the names of many whose bearing and courage are worthy of praise. The detachment of the Fourteenth Regiment of Ohio volunteers, commanded by Colonel Steedman, crossed the bridge immediately after the Seventh Indiana, and was followed quickly by the Sixth Indiana, under Colonel Crittenden. Colonel Steedman captured a large amount of tents, a number of muskets and rifles, and other munitions of war, and I believe some prisoners; we were separated during the engagement, but his conduct, as well as that of his officers and men, is spoken of with much praise by those who witnessed it. Lieutenant-Colonel Sturges, of the same regiment, in charge of the artillery, managed his guns with great celerity. I understand that he was assisted and directed by Colonel Lander, by special delegation from the commanding general. So informed, I did not myself give  any directions in regard to the guns. Colonel Crittenden was necessarily placed in the rear, for he left the cars at Webster, after a tedious journey, but to take up his march or Philippi, his men marching in the rear, in the darkness of midnight, and in the, raging storm, would necessarily be vastly more fatigued than those in front. Still, they and their gallant commander held up with unfaltering spirit, and did as great service in the fight and chase as it was possible for good officers and good men to do. While descending the hill towards the bridge a body of troops made their appearance on the heights to the left. A friendly cheer assured us it was the command of the gallant Colonel Milroy, and the First Virginia regiment, commanded by Colonel Kelly, and a detachment from Colonel Irvine's Ohio regiment. A rapid descent down the declivity enabled them to strike the retreating enemy, but not with so much effect as if the descent could have been made a few minutes sooner. Colonel Milroy assaulted that part of the enemy who had left the main road and betook themselves to the hills to enjoy the protection of the trees, while Cols. Kelly and Irvine's command pursued the enemy up the road leading towards Beverly. They succeeded in overtaking, killing, and wounding a number, but, unfortunately, Col. Kelly himself fell severely wounded by a pistol shot in the breast; my men carried him into the town, when surgical assistance was immediately rendered by Dr. Geo. W. New, of my regiment, who had proved himself as gallant and courageous in the field, as he is skilful in his profession. Just before we had approached the town, he volunteered to make a reconnoissance of the bridge, and bore my message along the line repeatedly, seemingly unmindful of his own personal safety. Captain G. W. Robinson, of Col. Kelly's command, reports to me that he captured Capt. J. W. Willey, of the rebel army, and upon his person found his commission from Adjutant-General Garnett, of the rebel forces, and other papers of importance which he reports he holds subject to my order. I enclose his report. It perhaps is not my province to speak much of that part of the expedition which marched by way of Evansville, under the command of Colonel Kelly, consisting of Kelly, Milroy, and Irvine and their commands. I know nothing personally of their march prior to arriving before Philippi, and only speak of what I myself saw. The two commands or bodies of troops arrived almost simultaneously upon different hills overhanging the town, and did all that could be done to arrest the flight and punish the enemy. I only undertake to report the particulars of that part of the expedition under my immediate command, and which marched upon Philippi by way of Webster and the bridge. I speak of the part of the expedition commanded by Colonels Kelly, Milroy and Irvine, only because Colonel Kelly's condition is such as to render a report from him impossible. In doing so, I may have made some mistakes, but not intentionally. I herewith hand to you the reports made to me by Colonels Crittenden, Milroy, and Steedman. Our loss was two wounded and two missing; what the enemy's loss was is not certainly known, as he succeeded in carrying off many of his dead. It was inconsiderable, perhaps not to exceed forty. I have heard the conduct of Jonathan W. Gordon of Col. Milroy's command, spoken of in terms of decided approbation by the officers of the same command. Since we have been here he had a small mounted scouting party on a hazardous expedition, and performed it in a very satisfactory manner. David W. Cheek, Commissary and Quartermaster's Clerk, at my instance, mounted a horse, and rode at my side, bore messages and rendered me very valuable services, and proved himself brave and courageous. The colors presented by the ladies of Aurora to the Seventh Indiana regiment, were the Stars and Stripes which first floated over the town. The disunion flag was captured by Captain Ferry's command, of my regiment, and the Stars and Stripes were run up and given to the breeze in its place. Captain William C. Moreau, of Colonel Crittenden's command, has rendered me very valuable assistance in a business point of view, since I took command of this post; and I hear his conduct in the recent engagement spoken of in terms of praise both by his officers and men. I recommend Corporal Charles Bryant and Sergeant John Griffin of Company G, Seventh Indiana, for good conduct. I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
--N. Y. Herald, June 16.
The victory at Philippi.
Grafton, Monday Night, June 3.Yesterday morning, at ten o'clock, four regiments left here in two divisions--one consisting of the 1st Virginia regiment, part of the Ohio 16th, and the Indiana 7th, under command of Col. Kelly; the other the Indiana 9th and the Ohio 14th, commanded by Col. Lander, of Indian fighting, wagon-road, and Potter and Prior duel notoriety. Col. Kelly's division moved east by railroad to Thornton, a small way station, five miles distant from here. Thence they marched to Philippi, a distance of twenty-two miles. The Indiana Regiment moved out the N. W. Virginia Railroad to Webster, where they were joined by the Ohio 14th, from which place they pushed forward on foot to Philippi, twelve miles distant. The march of the two divisions was performed last night, through darkness, rain, and mud. It was a terrible undertaking,; but they all went bravely through it, unshrinkingly and without  complaint. All night they toiled on through the darkness and storm, the soft earth yielding beneath their feet, till the gray dawn found them in the presence of the enemy. Col. Lander reports that as they neared Philippi they were discovered by a woman, who fired at him twice, and who sent her little boy across the hills (as he afterward found) to apprise the enemy of their approach, He arrived on the hill across the river from, and below Philippi, and commanding the town and encampment, (just below the town,) a little before daylight this morning. They at once planted two pieces of artillery on the brow of the hill, just above the camp, and prepared to open on them when the time arrived--four o'clock was the hour at which the attack was to be made simultaneously by both divisions. Colonel Kelly was to attack them in the rear and cut of their retreat, while Col. Lander was to attack them in front. But Col. Kelly's division was behind the appointed hour, owing to the terrible fatigue of their forced march of twenty-two miles, and, in addition to this, they missed the point, and instead of coming in on the Beverly road, above Philippi, and effectually cutting of all retreat, they came, when they did come, just.below the town. When the day began to dawn upon the impatient forces of Colonel Lander, it discovered to them the camp below in a state of commotion, evidently in great alarm and preparing for fight. The hour appointed for the attack came and passed, but still Colonel Kelly's division had not arrived. Impatient to begin the attack, and fearful that the rascals, almost within his grasp, should escape without smelling powder, Colonel Lander ordered the artillery to begin the attack; and at a quarter past four the guns were unlimbered and dropped the first messengers of terror into the rebel camp less than a quarter of a mile away. Simultaneously with the roar of the first gun, Colonel Kelly, at the head of his command, came in sight across the river below the camp, and, comprehending the position of affairs, they rushed forward at once in the direction of the camp. Meanwhile, the battery having, after the first shot or two, got an accurate range, played upon the camp with marked effect, tearing through tents and houses at a fearful rate. This the chivalry couldn't stand, and they scattered like rats from a burning barn. They had no time to retreat in order. They didn't even retreat at all — they ran, fled most ingloriously — ran like sheep in every direction that promised safety, after firing a random and scattering volley which did no damage whatever. Col. Kelly's command was close after, the Virginia troops in advance, the Henry Clay Guards in front, and Col. Kelly and Capt. Fordyce leading. At the same time Col. Lander's force came rushing down the hill to the bridge, and they all put out after the fugitives, yelling like Indians. But the legs of the fugitive chivalry knew them too well, and they could not be overtaken by our already exhausted men, who, after chasing them a couple of miles, returned to the evacuated camp, to learn the painful fact that their victory, though complete, was dearly, too dearly bought. Col. Kelly, who, with a bravery amounting to rashness, was foremost from first to last, was rallying his men in the upper part of the town, the enemy having all apparently fled, when he fell by a shot from a foe concealed either behind a fence or in a house; some say the assailant fired from behind a wagon; others that Col. Kelly was pressing him hard with a view of capturing him, when he wheeled and fired. This is not substantiated. At any rate, the shot was fired after the engagement was over, and was just such a piece of assassination as that by which fell the loved and lamented Ellsworth. The assassin was an assistant quartermaster in the Confederate force. His name is Simms, and he hails from Chesterfield, across the river from Richmond. He was immediately seized, and it is a great wonder that they did not make mincemeat of him instanter. The pistol with which he shot Kelly is an old-fashioned, old Virginia horse-pistol, carrying a very large ball and inflicting a most dangerous wound. The ball entered the left breast, and passing clear through lodged beneath the skin, just underneath the shoulder blade. It has been extracted, and every attention of the highest medical and surgical skill is lavished upon the wounded officer. If human skill can save him he will be saved; but if he is beyond the reach of human aid, he will die, as he said to-day to a friend who bent over his couch, in a just and glorious cause. “I expect I shall have to die,” said the wounded Colonel; “I would be glad to live, if it might be, that I might do something for my country; but if it cannot be, I shall have at least the consolation of knowing that I fell in a just cause.” Several hats, apparently belonging to officers, were picked up, and a horse and buggy, belonging to B. F. Martin, at Pruntytown, a lawyer and defeated secession candidate for the Legislature, were part of the spoils. Thos. Surghnor, “the inimitable Tom,” as Bill Cooper used to style him, “Captain of the Barbour forces,” as he styles himself, and late editor of the Barbour Jeffersonian, at the first approach of danger, made tracks; he ran with all the speed the shortness of his legs would permit, and as fear lent him wings, he managed to get out of harm's way. The American flag has taken the place of the secession emblem in all the houses of Philippi. Several of these piratical flags were captured. The people are coining in from the country, and expressing their gladness at the change of colors.
--Wheeling (Va.) Intelligencer, June 6.