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Doc. 29.-fight at Barbees cross roads, Va.

A correspondent writing from the Barbees Cross-Roads, near Chester Gap, under date of November fifth, says:

At Linden Stuart was joined by three thousand fresh cavalry, which came through from Edgeville, and by Hampton's brigade, which fell back after engaging Averill.

This morning Gen. Pleasanton led the advance again, Averill following in the rear. He pushed on from Piedmont, passed Markham, and on here to Barbees Cross-Roads, near Chester Gap, where he had a very exciting skirmish with the enemy. Stuart's command bivouacked in this vicinity last night, and from the preparations visible in the fields — as, for instance, the fact of fences having been carefully pulled down, and from the statements of some of the residents — it is evident that this place was selected by him for a fight to-day. Stuart and Hampton both slept last night in the house in which Pleasanton has his Headquarters this evening. Stuart had made his arrangements and awaited our advance. The position is a magnificent one for a fight. the Blue Ridge, varied at this point with peaks and notches and the rich autumnal foliage, runs along close to the right. Approaching the position, a little hollow intervenes between the base of the mountain and a smooth cleared hill which rises from the right, and forms part of the high ground, interspersed with fields and woods that stretch away on the left towards Warrenton, while in front a small belt of wood is seen, and the hill slopes down into a basin, with the bottom of rolling land, where the road leading to Chester Gap runs off to the right. It was on this cleared hill the rebel guns were planted.

As our cavalry came in sight the enemy opened on them. General Pleasanton, at the head of the column, speedily made his dispositions for the fight. Colonel Gregg, with the Eighth Pennsylvania, and the Sixth regulars, Captain Sanders commanding, were sent away to the left. Colonel Davis, of the Eighth New-York, went to the right, and Colonel Farnsworth, with the Third Illinois, and the Third Indiana, Major Chapman commanding, operated on the centre. Pennington's battery was placed in position by sections, and, after the rebel guns had been driven from the hill, Lieut. Pennington himself commanded the section in a field to the right, Lieut. Chapin the one on the hill, in the centre, and Lieutenant Hamilton that on the high ground to the left.

This was the position of the brigade when one of the most magnificent cavalry engagements of the whole war took place. Mounted and dismounted men were deployed in front as skirmishers [178] on the right, left, and centre. General Pleasanton, with his aids, and a number of other officers, including Captain Custer, of McClellan's stiff, were on the hill, close by Lieut. Chapin's section. At that moment columns of rebel cavalry came sweeping down the roads to the right and left, and formed in the fields, while other forces were already formed, hidden from our view behind a number of knolls. “General, they are making preparations to charge upon us.” “Very well,” he said, “let them come on; we are prepared to meet them on any ground they choose.” The interest of every one was instantly awakened to the highest point, and the blood coursed quickly through all our veins.

A rebel regiment was soon seen rising from a hollow. Up it rose, and in a moment appeared in full view to the right, on the knoll behind which it had been concealed; instantly, as if in obedience to the flourish of a magician's wand, thousands of swords and sabres flashed in the sunlight as they were unsheathed. “Ah! oh! there they are at close artillery range — now give it to them, boys!” and officers dashed about the hill, flourishing their swords and cheering to the utmost limits of their voices. General Pleasanton himself, who naturally displays an enthusiastic temperament when it is aroused, flourished his sword and inspired increased enthusiasm in every one around. “Ah! there they are, the rascals; now give it to them with your guns.” The artillerists appreciated the inspiring scene, pointed their pieces at the rebel regiment, and out flew case-shot and shell. The fire of the six pieces was concentrated on them, while at the same time the rebel artillery, at short-range, was pouring shot and shell at us, and deadly missiles of different descriptions were flying and falling in all direction's about the hill.

Under our artillery-fire the North-Carolinians halted in the field, and paused a moment to form the regiment in solid column previous to the grand assault. Colonel Davis had taken his regiment on the right, and placing two squadrons in a hollow, concealed from sight, had dismounted one squadron and placed the men behind a stone wall, where there was a small detachment of the Sixth regulars, which had worked round from left to right, while he deployed the other squadron as skirmishers near a piece of woods. Captain Houston led the charge of the North-Carolina regiment. It appears from his own statement, for he is our prisoner, that he obeyed his orders, but charged against his judgment. But when he halted to form his regiment, seeing the squadron deployed, he shouted, “Only one squadron,” and then gave the command to charge. With a fearful yell the rebels in a solid column, with sabres flourishing, and pistols and carbines cocked, dashed at the squadron of Col. Davis's regiment, expecting its speedy annihilation.

The squadron rallied in a moment. Colonel Davis, who was watching the operations of the rebels from the knoll, behind which his two squadrons were formed, dashed into the hollow, and, bringing them around to the right, first awaited the assault for a moment. At the same instant the dismounted men from behind the wall, and the rallied skirmishers on the left, opened fire as the North-Carolinians came near. Then Colonel Davis, with his two squadrons, dashed at them. Sabres glistened, carbines cracked, our men rent the air with cheers. The rebel regiment, in a solid body still, but more scattered than at first, wheeled about and fled away as fast as their horses could carry them, and screaming like a troop of wild Indians, Colonel Davis, with his squadrons, chasing them, and shouting and cheering as they went. It was the most exciting scene that has been witnessed since the commencement of the war. From the hill in the centre we distinctly saw the movements of every man. Several horses and men were soon seen falling on the field, the rebels still flying off and our men still closely pursuing them. “Away they go. They're off. They're off. Now give it to them again, boys, as they go,” and the artillery poured a fresh fire into them as they fled.

Colonel Davis pursued them across the field, until he came within sight of another rebel regiment which had been ordered to support them, when, his command being so small, he prudently gave up the chase and retired to his original position. He re-formed his squadron behind the belt of woods, and the Third Indiana was immediately sent down to his support, in case the other rebel regiment should dash out, as was for a time anticipated. He took sixteen prisoners, including the leader of the charge. A large number of the enemy were killed and wounded, most of whom are in our hands. Our loss in the charge was about half a dozen wounded; one has since died from the effects of a fearful sabre-cut in the head. Colonel Davis had his own horse shot.

While this brilliant cavalry encounter was taking place on the right, Colonel Gregg, with the Eighth Pennsylvania, and Captain Sanders, with the Sixth regulars, were briskly engaged with the enemy on the left, and Colonel Farnsworth, with the Eighth Illinois, charged down the Warrenton road on a body of rebel cavalry beyond; but when he had proceeded a few hundred yards his command was brought to a halt by the road being barricaded. The rebels stationed behind opened fire, and a skirmish ensued, during which a few of his men were wounded. The Third Indiana then went down the road to the right, under a sharp artillery-fire, while Colonel Davis worked around on the other side of the belt of woods. A rebel force, drawn up at the base of a picturesque elevation, called Oventop Mountain, then moved off, and after a little more slight skirmishing the enemy fled in hot haste toward Chester Gap, in the mountain.

Among the prisoners taken by Colonel Gregg on the left was Lieut. Taliaferro, Adjutant of the Ninth Virginia regiment, a personal friend of the Colonel, and several other officers. He was severely wounded in both legs, one of which has been amputated. Immediately after these brilliant encounters, General Pleasanton pushed a body of cavalry down to Sandy Hook near the [179] mouth of the gap, and ascertained that Stuart passed down to either Flint Hill or Warrenton. Four guns, supported by infantry, were found in position in the gap. It was also ascertained that Longstreet, with his corps, passed Flint Hill on Thursday last on his way to Culpeper, and that one of the Hills, with his command, was to have passed to-day from Front Royal.

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Jefferson Davis (9)
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James Sanders (2)
Lewis Pennington (2)
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George B. McClellan (1)
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