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Chapter 4: military operations in Western Virginia, and on the sea-coast

In the autumn of 1861, the Confederates made a severe struggle for the possession of West Virginia. They hoped, by the employment of other commanders than those who had failed there, to recover all that had been lost in the summer by the dispersion of Garnett's forces at Carricksford,1 and the pushing of the incompetent Wise out of the Kanawha Valley, as we have observed.2 General Robert E. Lee was sent with re-enforcements to take command of the troops left by Garnett and Pegram in Northern Virginia. He made his Headquarters at Huntersville, in Pocahontas County. His entire force, early in August, numbered full sixteen thousand men. He placed a strong guard on Buffalo Mountain, at the crossing of the Staunton turnpike, and extended his line northward from the Warm Springs, in Greenbrier County. General Floyd, the late Secretary of War,3 had, in the mean time, taken chief command of his own and Wise's troops, in the region of the Gauley River.4 With these two armies acting simultaneously, it was intended to expel the National troops from Western Virginia, and menace Ohio. Floyd was to sweep down the Kanawha Valley, and drive General Cox, of Ohio, beyond the border, while Lee should scatter the Union army, under General Rosecrans (McClellan's successor),5 in Northern Virginia, and, planting the Confederate flag at Wheeling, threaten Western Pennsylvania.

Floyd took a strong position between Cox and Rosecrans, at Carnifex Ferry,6 on the Gauley River, just below Meadow Creek, and eight miles from Summersville, the capital of Nicholas County. He left Wise with his force, called “Wise's Legion,” at Pickett's Mills, to prevent a flank movement from Hawksnest, a mountain on the southern side of the Gauley, near which, on [93] the

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