A brilliant skirmish.
Editors of the Dispatch:
--The fight at ‘"Toney
's"’ will ever be recollected by those who won its laurele, or participated in its toils and hardships.
The length, dangers, and rapidity of the march, and the boldness of the men, scarcely find a parallel in the pages of history.
About two hundred cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Clarkson
, left Hamilton
, just above the ‘"Hawk's Nest
,"’ on the 10th inst., and reached ‘"Toney
's,"’ on the Coal River
, twelve miles above Charles
on, about 10 A. M. on the 12th inst., a distance of eighty miles, and the troop either in a full gallop or straining of the horses for the last twenty miles. To reach ‘"Toney
's"’ the Coal River
was forded ninety-seven times during the night of the 11th inst., under a violent storm of rain, and in the darkness so profound than one's hand was invisible.
A torch had to be used at every crossing of the river.
The Laurel Mountain
had to be crossed in file, without a horse falling or a man dismounting, where no one before, even among the in habitants of that mountain, had ever dared to thread this rugged, steep, and precipitous path on horse back.
For many miles the road was overhung by the loftiest precipices and skirted by impenetrable thickets of the laurel, and in the very region where the traitorous sons of Virginia
and marauding Yankees had collected for ambush, plunder, and blood.
Though in the nest of traitors, our men, with the rapids of the river boiling at their feet, a violent storm howling over their head, the utter darkness rendered still deeper by the glare of the torch, with fearless hearts and good wills, continued the journey through the most broken and wild scenery of Western Virginia
About 3 o'clock at night, on the 12th inst., we were informed that about two miles below us, at Mr. Pack
's, the enemy would be found numbering about five hundred.
It was determined to attack even that force, but upon our arrival there, about daylight, we learned the enemy had left the previous afternoon, about 3 P. M., carrying with them Mr. Pack
as a prisoner, and about sixty head of cattle, and a number of fine horses robbed from the Secessionists in that neighborhood.
We immediately went in pursuit, and after traveling about twelve miles, in full gallop, found their tracks, with those of three small boys, whom they had carried off as prisoners.
Then the wildest excitement moved the troops.
, with his company, were ordered to take the lead in the pursuit and charge, and off in full strain dashed along his splendid command.
Every man gave a shout — some the Indian
war-whoop — and as the column swept along, like a thunder-cloud driven by the angry winds of heaven, shouting the war-cry of victory, the true women and girls of Virginia
, on many a farm along the road, with tearful eyes, clapped their hands with joy, crying out, ‘"a few more miles, Southern soldiers, and the enemy are yours!"’ These tidings gave fresh impose to all, and the horses catching the inspiration of their riders, the mountains seemed to swell with the loud shouts of the men, and the sound of the horses' hoots up and down many a steep hill.
The enemy, numbering about two hundred an fifty, was overtaken at Toney
's, and after a fierce resistance in an apple orchard and an old field, was entirely routed and driven up the wood in the mountains, with a heavy loss of killed and wounded, by Captain Rosser
's company, aided by half a dozen dashing bold soldiers from the other companies.
tooks command of the forces from the first or the conflict, and held it until the arrival of Colonel Clarkson
, who, being delayed on the road, and not reach the scene of action until the enemy were flying up the wood for concealment and escape.
The enemy's loss was at least sixty killed, fifty wounded, and forty-nine prisoners, and the recapturing of the horses, beeves, wagons, goods, and prisoners.
's company cannot be too highly complimented for their courage and gallantry.
Although every one displayed all the qualities of the soldier, a few instances of cool daring may be mentioned.
, after killing his man, and finding his carbine unfit for further use, seized the man's musket and dashed alone in the midst of the enemy, receiving a shot through his jacket.
Private William Pannell
, to obtain a better sight of the enemy, and to shoot with greater accuracy, leaped upon the fence in the most dangerous of the conflict.
Private Wiley Williams
, expecting to be ordered on a farther pursuit, while the balls were flying thick around him, deliberately dismounted and nailed a shoe on his horse.
Private W. G. Berhard
, by great presence of mind, by quickly inclining his head side-ways, saved his life, receiving a slight abrasion of the skin, on his neck, from a ball shot by a man, whom he instantly shot down.
Sergeant Wm. Powell
, Privates Willis Otey
and James P. Lovell
had their horses shot — Powell
, and Wood
, and Privates J. P. Turner
, P. A. James
, J. L. Dickerson
, John Brooks
, G. T. Mattox
, and H. S. Wright
, may be favorably noticed for their success in killing and capturing the enemy.
It is due to Captain Rosser
to state that this brilliant skirmish was won while he had command; and on two most important occasions, and in the thickest part of the fight, he was nearest to the enemy.
At one time, far ahead of every one he was seen riding alone through the cornfield in pursuit of the armed fugitives.
He captured an enemy mounted, and still holds the horse and saddle as trophies.
, next to Captain Rosser
, was the first Captain
in the skirmish, though his company was in the rear of the column.
would have doubtless made their mark, as they stand high in the Legion as skillful and brave officers, had they not been detailed at headquarters on other duties.
The reason why other companies, with their officers, are not noticed by your correspondent is, that Captain Rosser
's company cut up the enemy so quickly that upon their arrival at Toney
's they had nothing to do but to pursue the scattered fugitives.
In this skirmish not a rider-was wounded or thrown, or a horse fell.
The intention of hurrying on to Charleston
, hanging Pierpont
and Raffuer, burning the steamboats, and by a rapid march returning with prisoners and booty, had to be abandoned, as our horses were found to be unfit for another rapid march.