The battle of Stoneside Mountain — gallant conduct of the Virginians and North Carolinians.
[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch]
In Camp, Near Dalton
, Ga, March 21st, 1864.
The advance of Thomas
upon this point, under the erroneous impression that General Johnston
's force had been greatly depleted to reinforce Polk
, afforded opportunities for the exhibition of heroic resistance to his impetuous onsets, and for the infliction of severe punishment upon the enemy which so uniformly characterizes the conduct of our troops upon similar occasions.
But for the determined valor and tremendous effort which our troops opposed to the advance of Thomas
on the 25th of February, what was intended as an easy march to Atlanta
would have resulted in a general engagement, which was not as desirable then as it would have been a few days afterwards, or would be now, against a similar force.
It is not my purpose to give a general account of what was really a battle, though only looked upon, from the indifference with which its proportions have been treated by the press, as a small skirmish.
Certain it is that for over a day Thomas
, with all of his force, attempted to penetrate our lines, and was compelled suddenly to fall back upon his base at Chickamauga My desire is to chronicle the enduring nerve displayed by the Virginians and North Carolinians who, far away from home, are but little noticed by the press in the immediate vicinity.
A brigade of these troops, under the command of Brig.-Gen. A. W. Reynolds
or "Old Garley, " as he is more familiarly known, being stationed to contest the enemy's approach on the Cleveland
road, were, on the evening of the 24th, ordered to report to Gen. Clayton
and prolong the right of his line.
soon put his troops in position, occupying a ridge and covering a gap by which the enemy might turn the point.
Having deployed his skirmishers, be and his gallant troops rested, preparatory to what was supposed would be the dread conflict of the morrow.
In the morning it was discovered that the enemy had withdrawn his lines.
, moving forward in person to reconnoitre, discovered his line of battle one mile in his front.
Rapidly moving forward his skirmishers to accurately develop his position, they became soon engaged, and there ensued one of the hottest skirmishes of the war.--The Yankee skirmishers, far exceeding ours, were held in check by the firm stand of Reynolds
The main force now supporting them commenced to press back the Confederates
, slowly, but surely.
But soon are heard the guns of Hotchkiss
, near the centre of Reynolds
's brigade, and supported by it, and the Yankees
hastily retire, Reinforced with more infantry and cannon of longer and more effective range than those of Hotchkiss
's, they compel him to retire his places, and move exultantly and defiantly to effect the demolition as they supposed of the Virginians and North Carolinians.--The quick eye of Reynolds
detected that it would be impossible to withstand the onset of their overwhelming numbers.
Calling for reinforcements Clayton
quickly sent him three Alabama
regiments, which he speedily disposes on the left of his line.--On come the enemy, in a determined and confident charge, pouring in as they come a tremendous fire.
But the line of these gallant Virginians
, North Carolinians, and Alabamians, present an unbroken front, and receiving the fire, they return it with continuous and repeated volleys, which drive him back chagrined and discomfited.
quickly advances his skirmishers, who, firing upon the routed foe, causes him to redouble his speedy exertions to get away.
Now they resort again to artillery, and at long reach keep up a terrific shelling of the lines.
Again, their infantry comes largely reinforced, and again he drives them back steadily inch by inch until, reaching an open field, they could stand it no longer, and ran every way in the most dire disorder.
At ten in the night they sneak off altogether, and at day in the morning nothing is seen of them.
The conduct of these gallant troops and their heroic and skillful Brigadier is on the tongues of all here; and the army is as resonant with his praise as were the mountains of his mother Virginia
after the battle of Gauley Bridge