Doc. 157.-battle at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia.
Report of General Averill.
Huttonsville, Va., Aug. 30, 1863.General: I have the honor to report the safe return of my command to this place, after an expedition through the counties of Hardy, Pendleton, Highland, Bath, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas. We drove General Jackson out of Pocahontas and over the Warm Spring Mountain, in a series of skirmishes, destroyed their saltpetre works, burned Camp Northwest and a large amount of arms, equipments, and stores. We fought a severe engagement with a superior force, under command of Major-General Sam Jones and Colonel Patten, at Rocky Gap, near the White Sulphur Springs. The battle lasted during two days. We drove the enemy from his first position, but want of ammunition, and the arrival, on the second day, of three regiments to reenforce the enemy, from the direction whence the cooperation of General Scammon had been promised, decided me to withdraw. My command was withdrawn in good order, with the loss of only two men during the operation. Our loss in the battle is probably over one hundred officers and men killed and wounded, among whom are Captain Paul and Baron Von Koenig, Aid-de-Camp, killed while leading an assault upon the enemy's right; and Major McNally, of the Second Virginia, and Captain Ewing, of the artillery, dangerously wounded. I have reason to believe the enemy's loss greater than our own. One Parrott gun burst the first day, and becoming useless was abandoned. Great efforts, up to noon, today, have been made by the combined forces of Imboden and Jackson to prevent our return, but without success. We have brought in over thirty prisoners, including a Major and two or three Lieutenants; also a large number of cattle, horses, etc. Your Aid-de-Camp, Lieutenant J. R. Meigs, who accompanied me, is safe. I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Wm. W. Averill, Brigadier-General.
Wheeling Intelligencer account.
August 26, 1863.Expect to visit the White Sulphur Springs, and camp near Lewisburgh at night. The writer pushed on to the front of the regiment for time to view the celebrated place; but to our great discomfiture, at eleven o'clock A. M., two miles this side of the Springs, on Antee Creek, the enemy opened their artillery upon us, calling us to a sudden halt. Our forces moved up in great haste, and planted their artillery. The fight soon became general and terrific — balls, shells, grape, and shot flying with fearful havoc in all directions, doing their work of death. The whole atmosphere resounds with the roar of artillery and musketry. surgeons soon establish a hospital at two private houses. The dead and wounded are brought in as fast as men and horses can bring them. For four or five hours I believe there was not an intermission of firing of more than two minutes at any one time — almost an incessant fire. As near as we can learn, the rebel force consisted of the Twenty-second, Forty-fifth, Fifty-fourth, and Sixty-second Virginia regiments; Edgar's battalion of cavalry, and Chapman's battery, of four guns — all commanded by Golonel Patten, in the absence of General Eckle. As to position, the enemy had the decided advantage. They selected a position where the road passed through a deep gorge of rocks, with mountains on either side and fearful precipices. The enemy was concealed behind rocks, trees, logs, and fences, a great part of the time lying on their faces. Their artillery was planted in front some four hundred yards from ours. The Third and Eighty Virginia M. I. occupied the left wing. The Second Virginia and Fourteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, Gibson's battalion, with three companies of the Third Virginia, on the right. Our artillery, well drilled and of good pluck, held a favorable position on the main road. General Averill remained near the batteries during the battle, directing the movement of the troops. Thus formed, the Federal soldiers sent the messengers of death among the rebels like hailstones and fire. At one time, the rebels made their appearance in open ground, when our guns mowed them down at a fearful rate. Under the heavy fire they fell back, until our guns were planted on the ground before occupied by the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson, commanding the Third Virginia regiment, stood in the hottest of the fire, leading his brave men not less than seven times on a desperate charge upon the enemy. They lying in ambush, our men would move upon them under every disadvantage, though thus to move was almost certain destruction. Yet, as one order would come after another from the General, to charge on the enemy, the Colonel, cool and brave, would again  and again renew the charge. Here more men were killed among the different regiments than anywhere else on the field. It is generally conceded that all the regiments fought desperately; officers and soldiers showed an unyielding purpose to fight until the enemy was routed. The night passed. Oh! how solemn silence reigns! We waited for the order. Morning came, but not to all our fellow-soldiers. Some we had laid in the grave, others were on the field, sleeping the sleep of death. The fight is renewed, and continued until the ammunition was about spent. At ten o'clock a despatch comes from Lieutenant-Colonel Polsley, stating that the enemy was moving to flank our rear. The order came to fall back. This was done in good order, and well conducted. We removed all that were in a condition to be removed of the wounded. Others were left in the care of Assistant-Surgeon Worthington, of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania cavalry. We marched day and night until we reached this place. The enemy pursued us for some time. We were not whipped, but held our ground until a lack of shooting material compelled us to retreat. If we had been supplied with ammunition, the victory would surely have been ours. The fault lies at some man's door, not with the brave soldiers who were in the fight. I am much gratified to say that every officer of our regiment remained duly sober during the entire battle. We speak this to their praise. No soldier wants to risk his life under a drunken officer. The Second Virginia lost in killed, wounded, and missing, thirty-one; Third Virginia, forty-three; Eighth Virginia, twenty; Fourteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, ninety-five; batteries, twenty-one. In all, over two hundred. Our men say this was the severest and hottest battle they have been in during the war.
Rebel official despatch.
Warm Springs. We fought him from nine A. M. to seven P. M. Every attack made by the enemy was repulsed. At night each side occupied the same position they had in the morning. This morning the enemy made two other attacks, which were handsomely repulsed, when he abandoned his position and retreated toward Warm Springs, pursued by cavalry and artillery. The troops engaged were the First brigade of this army, Colonel Geo. S. Patten commanding. The enemy were about three thousand strong, with six pieces of artillery, under Brigadier-General Averill. Our loss is about two hundred killed and wounded. The enemy's loss is not known. We have taken about one hundred and fifty prisoners and a piece of artillery.
Samuel Jones, Major-General.