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Doc. 107. the capture of Romney, Va.

General Kelley's report.

Romney, Oct. 26, six o'clock P. M., Via New Creek.
F. H. Pierpoint:
I left New Creek at twelve o'clock last night, with my force, and attacked the outposts of the enemy at three o'clock this afternoon, and, after a brilliant action of two hours, completely routed them, captured many prisoners, much camp equipage, and all of their cannon, ammunition, and wagons. The rebels are in full retreat on Winchester.

This breaks the backbone of secession on the Upper Potomac. Our loss is trifling, considering the time engaged. My officers and men, without exception, behaved nobly.

B. F. Kelley, Brigadier-General.

Colonel Johns' report.

Headquarters Second regiment, Potomac Home Brigade.
Brigadier-General C. M. Thurston:
General: In compliance with verbal orders received after consultation between Gen. Kelley and yourself on the night of the 20th instant, I concentrated seven hundred men of my regiment at the North Branch bridge, and on the following morning, at five o'clock, marched in the direction of Romney, passing through Frankfort. Upon arriving at a point one and a half miles from Springfield the rear of my column was fired upon by the enemy, from the heights of the wood, severely wounding two men, detaining the column about an hour, which was occupied in clearing the woods of the enemy, and dressing the wounds. We marched thence through Springfield, seeing frequent signs of the enemy's horsemen in retreat toward the bridge over the south branch of the Potomac.

Upon arriving within half a mile of the bridge my flankers and skirmishers on the left and front discovered the enemy on the opposite side of the river, when a brisk fire at once commenced. About this time the guns of General Kelley's column, in the vicinity of Romney, were heard. After skirmishing with the enemy across the river for about half an hour, I determined to force a way over the bridge. The enemy, numbering (by the best information we could get) from four to six hundred, including cavalry, having beforehand prepared to defend its passage, had arranged covers for his riflemen on an eminence immediately fronting the brigade.

Captain Alexander Shaw, of Company A, who led the advance of the column to this point, was, with his company, directed to lead the way across the bridge at a double-quick step. Supported by the remainder of the regiment, Captain Shaw promptly moved his company as directed, and when about half-way across the bridge discovered that a portion of the plank flooring on the further side had been removed. The enemy, on discovering the movement, opened fire by volley, killing one and wounding six of my men, causing the company to seek shelter behind the parapets of the bridge.

After skirmishing some time from the parapets of the bridge and an eminence on our left, and not hearing the fire of General Kelley for the previous hour, I concluded he had carried Romney; and the object of my march to create a diversion in his favor being accomplished, I determined to retire, which we did in good order to Oldtown, in Maryland, arriving there about nine o'clock P. M. after a march of twenty-five miles.

It is with pleasure that I speak of the good behavior of all my officers and men, and would call your attention particularly to the gallant charge led by Captain Alexander Shaw. Captain Fiery, of dragoons, with his company, rendered very efficient service by drawing the fire of the enemy from my regiment at the bridge. I was much gratified at and indebted to Mr. Grehan, who volunteered to march with. me, for his prompt and cheerful assistance. Mr. Grehan was frequently exposed to severe fire of the enemy.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

Thomas Johns, Colonel Second Regiment Potomac Home Brigade;


Cincinnati Gazette account.

camp Keys, Oct. 28, 1861, Suburbs of Romney, Va.
Our camp is called after the gallant commander of the “Ringgold Cavalry,” Captain Keys. On last Thursday our regiment, the Fourth Ohio, received orders from Gen. Kelley to pack up and move from Fort Pendleton to New Creek, and there join him with other forces in a march upon Romney. We left camp on Friday morning, under command of Col. John S. Mason, appointed, vice Col. Lorin Andrews, deceased, and arrived at New Creek in the evening, marching the distance of twenty-six miles in twelve hours. Lieut.-Col. Cantwell was with us, although he had bid us farewell the day before, expecting to return to Ohio to raise another regiment, as Colonel, by authority of the Governor.

We joined Gen. Kelley's column on Saturday morning, and made a rapid march toward Romney, distant nineteen miles, in order to engage the enemy, who was supposed to be four thousand strong, at three o'clock P. M., the time fixed for the fight. We were to be supported by another column moving from Cumberland, that was to come in by way of Springfield, and make a simultaneous attack upon the enemy in the rear.

At about half-past 2 o'clock we came within four miles of Romney, when the enemy opened fire upon us from Mechanicsburg Gap with one piece of artillery, but without any effect. We threw out flanking skirmishers, and returned the fire with one of our twelve-pounders. The enemy gave way, and retreated through the Gap to Romney. After we passed through the Gap at a double-quick, we came in sight of town, and when within five or six hundred yards of the bridge that crosses the South Branch, they fired upon us with a six-pound rifled cannon that was planted on a point across the river, which commanded a fair range of the road. We moved steadily forward, at the same time returning the fire with two of our pieces. Company F of the Fourth regiment, working one piece of artillery, and Company D supporting it, moved forward in advance, to within fifty yards of the bridge, when the enemy opened upon us with grape from a twelve-pound howitzer. We kept up a steady fire in return for some minutes, when Colonel Mason, at the head, ordered his regiment to charge upon the enemy at a double quick. The men, though nearly given out with fatigue, responded with a yell and “went in,” Company I of the Eighth Ohio, with Company D of the Fourth, were the first to cross the bridge, the Ringgold Cavalry at the same time crossing through the river. The enemy became frightened, evacuated their breastworks, and retreated through town in utter confusion along the pike toward Winchester. The cavalry pursued the enemy beyond town, killing several more of them and taking a good many prisoners, together with all their horses, wagons, baggage, camp equipage, mail matter, two pieces of cannon, and several hundred stand of arms. I have not been able to obtain a correct list of captured articles, as the invoice has not yet been made out. It is enough to say that it is a complete victory.

The enemy lost eight or ten killed, and about twelve or fifteen wounded. Our loss is as follows:

Jesse Taylor, of Capt. Morris' Company, Seventh Virginia regiment, killed; Hiram Meily, Company K, Fourth Ohio regiment, wounded in both knees, slightly; James Sines, Company F, Fourth regiment, wounded in head and leg, slightly; W. Fox, Company F, Seventh Virginia regiment, slightly; W. Ferguson, Company F, Fourth O. V., had his thumb blown off, and Isaac Merrideth, of same company, had his right hand blown off, both by a premature discharge of the cannon they were working.

The column moving from Cumberland advanced as far as the Chain-bridge, this side of Springfield, when they were met by the enemy, who had removed the plank from the bridge, and commanded it with one piece of artillery. They kept up an irregular fight until the enemy heard of the retreat at Romney, when he took to the mountains, and escaped toward Winchester. Our column, at that point, lost but one man; the enemy five or six, so far as could be ascertained.

The rebel forces at Romney were seven hundred cavalry, and five companies of infantry; and at Chain-bridge three hundred and fifty infantry. Our forces are turned toward the east.

G. A. S.

Another account.

The following description of the battle at Romney, is taken from the Wheeling Intelligencer:

The day was fine, and the troops were enthusiastic and confident of victory. At Patterson's Creek, eleven miles west of Romney, the troops made a short halt for rest and refreshments, and about noon resumed their march, with a determination on the part of both officers and men to make their next halt and take their evening meal at Romney.

Our advance now continued without interruption, for more than six miles, when the discharge of a cannon, from a point up the road, a short distance ahead of us, and the falling of a twelve-pound shell near the head of our column, notified us that we were in the presence of the enemy. We were then within about a mile and a half of the westerly end of the mountain pass, and between four and five miles of Romney. After returning this fire with several rounds from our twelve-pounder, the enemy abandoned their position, and retreated rapidly through the mountain pass, and we heard no more from them till the head of our column approached to within half a mile of the bridge [241] over the river, (the south branch of the Potomac,) and within a mile and a half from the town, when the enemy again opened fire upon us, with a twelve-pound rifled gun, placed in a very commanding position, in the cemetery at the westerly end of the town, and with a mountain howitzer from the high grounds on the east bank of the river, which point commanded our approach for a distance of over a mile. At the east end of the bridge the enemy had also thrown up intrenchments, from which they kept up a constant fire of musketry upon the head of our column.

The battle was now plainly begun — upon the chosen ground of the enemy — and gladly did our troops meet the issue. With our one twelve-pounder and two six-pounders, (all smooth-bores,) under the command of Capt. Wallace and Lieuts. Jenks and Nixon, we returned the enemy's fire with very marked effect, though their rifled gun and prior acquaintance with the ground gave them a great advantage, and for the period of half an hour or more our troops were exposed to a most terrific fire of shell and canister from their guns. It was from this fire that all of our loss — amounting to one killed, and ten severely, and about twenty slightly wounded — occurred; and it is a matter of astonishment to all that our loss was not vastly greater, as the enemy's guns were served with remarkable skill and precision.

Many were the shots that passed just over our heads, to expend their force and perform their work of destruction in the wooded mountain side on our left, and but a few feet from the road occupied by our troops. Yet, in the face of all this fire, our untried but patriotic soldiers stood like veterans in their ranks, calmly awaiting the movement which should give their rifles and bayonets an opportunity to retaliate upon the enemy for the injury he was inflicting upon them.

Nor were their desires long ungratified, for Gen. Kelley, who had with great bravery advanced to the front and most exposed positions at the beginning of the battle, and whose quick perceptions enabled him at once to fully comprehend the enemy's position, and devise the most feasible plan of attack, soon gave the welcome command to charge upon their batteries and intrenchments, when, with shouts, our little force of cavalry, under the lead of the gallant Captains Keys and McGhee, dashed across the river, (which was fordable at this point,) while our equally enthusiastic infantry, under the command of Cols. Mason and De Puy, Lieut.-Col. Kelley, and Major Swearingen, rushed over the bridge to encounter the foe, at the very muzzles of their guns. No sooner did the enemy perceive this movement, however, than (with their usual repugnance to any intimate acquaintance with the “Lincoln men” ) they immediately abandoned their carefully-selected positions, and commenced a precipitate retreat, rushing “pell mell” through the town, and directing their flight toward Winchester.

In this retreat they were, however, so hotly pursued by our cavalry, that their two guns, and all their baggage wagons — about thirty in number — were captured before they had advanced two miles, while our exhausted and foot-sore infantry rushed into the town, thus restoring it once more to the legitimate dominion of that Government from which it has been so long arrested by the hands of secession. Most of the enemy's troops escaped us, however, owing to the circumstance that a large portion were cavalry, who were too fresh to be overtaken by our own, while his infantry effected their escape by scattering in the woods, and over the mountain sides, thus precluding the possibility of capture by troops so exhausted as were ours, after the fatigues of a battle, preceded by those of a long march of twenty-five miles.

The enemy's loss cannot be definitely ascertained, though it is known to have been considerably larger than our own.

A rebel account.

A letter in the Richmond Enquirer, dated Winchester, Va., Oct. 27, gives the rebel account of the skirmish at Romney on the 26th. The writer says the fight was between four hundred Confederates, and a Federal force variously estimated at from three thousand to five thousand. He continues:
Our little force was obliged to retreat before superior numbers. The fight commenced three or four miles from Romney, whither our troops had gone to meet the enemy. After fighting some time, it was found that they could not keep back the Federals, and a retreat toward Romney followed, the enemy pursuing. Our army wagons blocked up the road, and the artillery could not pass, and it was consequently captured, with wagons, tents, baggage, &c., and we regret to add that Col. Angus McDonald, the commander of the Confederate forces, it is believed fell into the hands of the pursuers. When last seen, he was on horseback, with the enemy but a short distance in the rear. Some of his friends fear that he has been killed, as the Federals, it has been stated, exhibited no disposition to take prisoners, but rode up to teamsters and killed them with their sabres. Major O. R. Funsten escaped. He was thrown from a horse, but was carried off in a carriage, and has reached this place in a bruised condition. Some twenty or thirty of the cavalry have reached Winchester, from whom we obtain these particulars.

Although directly from the scene of the engagement, they bring reports containing discrepancies as to the details. I aim to give what I believe to be the most reliable. It is believed we had about twenty men killed and a number wounded. A large number of the enemy were [242] killed, the artillery making roads through them. Some of the escaped cavalry fear that the greater part of the cavalry and also the militia force fell into the hands of the enemy before the pursuit was abandoned, while others think that but few, except the wounded, were taken prisoners. I am of opinion that the latter will prove correct. The enemy had about three hundred cavalry.

The enemy are, no doubt, once more in Romney; and some of our citizens fear they may extend their visit to Winchester--forty-two miles being the distance — but I have no such fears.

A militia force left there this morning in the direction of Romney, to check them if they should have the temerity to advance in this direction. The cars have gone to Charlestown to bring some troops from that place to go also toward Romney. Of course our people regret that the enemy have for once “stolen a march on our men,” and given the invaders some cause to “crow;” but I predict that, when we shall be in possession of full details, it will be found that they have but little to rejoice over.

The Richmond Enquirer, of the 30th of October, says that a letter from Jackson's River to a gentleman in that city, written on Saturday evening, the 26th, says a report had reached that place to the effect that Gen. Floyd had attacked the Federal forces at the mouth of the Coal River, killing some five or six hundred of them, and taking a number of prisoners. Floyd is said to have lost three hundred in killed and wounded. The writer of the letter referred to does not vouch for the truth of the report, or any part of it, but says it was credited in the main at Jackson's River on Saturday.

The same letter speaks of the passage of Loring's command through Lewisburgh on Wednesday, upon a forced march, to reinforce Gen. Jackson at Green briar River. This is said to have been in consequence of a despatch received by Gen. Lee from Gen. Jackson, giving an account of the movements of the enemy in the locality of the latter.

--Louisville-Nashville Courier, Nov. 1.

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