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Chapter 2:

On May 24th, Colonel Porterfield, who, with about 100 men, had been holding the town of Fetterman, fell back to Grafton, and sent Col. J. M. Heck, who had joined him two days before, to Richmond, to report the condition of the little force, half armed and altogether undisciplined, which was attempting to hold the important post of Grafton, the junction of the roads connecting Washington with Parkersburg and Wheeling and thence with the Western States. In response to this appeal General Lee could only say that he would furnish some arms at Staunton, Va., and give Heck authority to recruit a regiment in the valley and mountain counties on the road to Grafton. Meanwhile, Colonel Porterfield had received advices of the concentration of Federal troops on the Ohio river, at Marietta and Bellaire and on Wheeling island, with the intention of invading the State; and he thereupon caused the destruction of the railroad bridges at Farmington and Mannington, northwest of Grafton, and one on the Parkersburg line.

Almost simultaneously Gen. George B. McClellan, in command of the Federal department of Ohio, issued a proclamation to the people of western Virginia, declaring that ‘armed traitors’ ‘are destroying the property of citizens of your State and ruining your magnificent railways,’ that the general government had heretofore carefully abstained from invading the State, or posting [15] troops on the border, pending the election, but now ‘cannot close its ears to the demand you have made for assistance. I have ordered troops to cross the river. They come as your friends and brothers—as enemies only to the armed rebels that are preying upon you.’ He pledged a religious respect for property rights, and not only non-interference with slaves, but an ‘iron hand to crush’ any servile insurrection. On the same date he ordered Col. B. F. Kelley, commanding the First Virginia infantry (U. S.) at Wheeling, to move toward Fairmount, supported by the Sixteenth Ohio from Bellaire, while the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Ohio, and a battery, were sent toward Grafton from Parkersburg. The troops from the northwest promptly repaired the bridges en route and occupied Grafton May 30th, the force from Parkersburg meeting with greater difficulties which delayed it.

Before this invasion by three or four thousand well-armed men, Colonel Porterfield with his little command moved south on the Tygart river to Philippi, carrying with him the State arms and stores. Before taking this step, which abandoned the Baltimore & Ohio railroad to the invading forces, he had appealed in vain for assistance from General Johnston at Harper's Ferry. Though bodies of volunteer infantry and cavalry formed by patriotic West Virginians joined him, he was compelled to dismiss some of them for want of arms. It was his intention to gather at Philippi a force with which he could advance upon the railroad and destroy its value to the enemy, but he was not able to get together more than 600 effective infantry and 175 cavalry, which, though armed, were but poorly supplied with ammunition and the necessary accouterments. In the meantime the Federals at Grafton had been reinforced by Indiana troops, and General Morris, of Indiana, had assumed command. He sanctioned a movement against Philippi devised by Colonel Kelley, and put under the latter's command. To insure a complete surprise of the Confederates at Philippi, [16] the attacking party was divided. Twenty-one companies under immediate command of Colonel Kelley started out by rail ostensibly toward Harper's Ferry, and after proceeding 6 miles disembarked and took the wagon road for Philippi, and nineteen companies and a battery were sent forward on the west side of the river from Webster. These forty companies marched through the night in a heavy rain that had quieted Colonel Porterfield's fears of such an attack, and reaching the Confederate camp at very nearly the same time, at daybreak, June 3d, surprised the pickets, opened fire with artillery, and charged with the intention of capturing the entire command. Such a result should certainly have followed, under the conditions of surprise and great disproportion of numbers. Nevertheless the raw and undisciplined troops, both officers and men, conducted themselves with such courage and coolness that they caused the enemy about as much loss as fell upon themselves, and the whole command, after leaving the town, was restored to the good order which characterized a considerable part of it from the first firing. About six Virginians were killed and several wounded, but the wounded were not abandoned. On the Federal side the main loss was the severe wounding of Colonel Kelley, as he was leading his men in a charge. He was reported mortally wounded, but he survived to receive promotion to brigadier-general and to figure prominently in the war history of the State. Porterfield's command then retreated further down the river and through the mountain gap to Beverly, behind the mountain line of Rich mountain and Laurel hill, where more sanguinary contests were soon to occur.

At Beverly Colonel Porterfield reported his misfortune to General Lee, also giving an account of the depredations of the Federal troops and the ‘state of revolution’ which existed in the section in the hands of the enemy. General Lee responded in a kindly letter, giving the welcome information that Gen. Robert S. Garnett had [17] been assigned to command in that region and would soon reach the scene of action with such forces as were available in Virginia to aid the loyal western Virginians in their unequal struggle.

Colonel Heck, whose mission to Richmond has been mentioned, was on the way early in June with a battery of four pieces from Shenandoah county, Captain Moorman's cavalry company, and three companies of Virginia infantry, and Governor Letcher had called out the militia from the counties of Pendleton, Highland, Bath, Pocahontas, Randolph and Barbour. The response to this call seems to have been patriotic and abundant, but Colonel Heck decided to send the major part home to tend the crops, taking but 300 men from Highland, Bath and Pendleton. General Garnett reached Huttonsville, where Porterfield had then collected about twenty-four companies of West Virginians. From these were organized two regiments, the Twenty-fifth Virginia infantry, under Colonel Heck, and the Thirty-first, under Col. William L. Jackson, former lieutenant-governor of the State. With Jackson's regiment, Schumacher's battery, Anderson's half battery, and a company of cavalry, General Garnett occupied the pass on the Philippi road at the south end of Laurel hill. while Colonel Heck, in command of his regiment, a half battery and a company of cavalry, was stationed before the Buckhannon pass over Rich mountain, a few miles west of Beverly. A forced night march was made June 15th to seize these positions in advance of the enemy, who was reported to be advancing. For nearly three weeks these troops were undisturbed, meanwhile being reinforced by the Twentieth Virginia under Col. John Pegram, Col. J. N. Ramsey's First Georgia, and Col. J. V. Fulkerson's Thirty-seventh Virginia. Reconnoissances were made, and in one of these, Lieut. Robert McChesney, of Rockbridge county, was killed by a Federal ambush in Tucker county, June 29th, while fighting gallantly. [18]

While the Virginians were thus preparing to defend the Cheat river line, McClellan, having entered Virginia in person, was promising the Washington authorities, as early as June 23d, an attack which should turn the Confederate position. He had issued proclamations and called for abundant reinforcements; had stationed eleven companies on the railroad at Cheat river bridge, a regiment at Grafton, another at Clarksburg, another at Weston, six companies at Parkersburg, six companies at Wirt Court House, had four companies out against a Confederate reconnoissance, had ordered four regiments into the Kanawha valley, and besides all this, ‘of his active army fifty-one companies and one battery’ were at Philippi, under General Morris, ‘amusing the enemy,’ while Mc-Clellan had with him at Buckhannon six entire regiments of infantry, six detached companies, two batteries and two companies of cavalry, and more than two regiments expected. He repeated on July 5th his promise to advance, adding that he expected to ‘repeat the movement of Cerro Gordo,’ and on July 6th he positively promised that his advance guard would move the next day. Official figures of the numerical strength of his army are lacking, but the statement just made from his reports sufficiently indicates its overwhelming character as compared with the troops waiting on the hills under command of Garnett.

General Garnett, a soldier of twenty years experience in the United States army, had no false confidence in the strength of his position, and gave the government at Richmond no reason to expect anything but disaster if he should be attacked by the enemy in force. He did not greatly fear such an attack, as he believed Mc-Clellan had possession of as much of western Virginia as was desired. In this vein General Garnett wrote, and General Lee, in response, expressed his belief that Mc-Clellan would attack and endeavor to penetrate Virginia as far as Staunton, a project that Garnett's object should [19] be to ‘prevent, if possible, and to restrict his limits within the narrowest range, which, though outnumbered, it is hoped by skill and boldness you will accomplish.’ The Forty-fourth Virginia, Col. William C. Scott commanding, was already approaching Beverly from Richmond, followed by the Second Georgia, Col. Edward Johnson, and a North Carolina regiment under Col. Stephen Lee. To further relieve Garnett, General Lee on July 11th ordered Wise to move from Charleston upon Parkersburg. But reinforcements and diversion were alike too late. The blow had already fallen.

The entire Confederate force on July 8th consisted of 3,381 men at Laurel hill, 859 at Rich mountain, and 375 at Beverly. The position at Rich mountain, on a spur near its western base, called Camp Garnett, was fortified with a breastwork of logs covered with an abatis of slashed timber along its front, and the position on the Philippi road at Laurel mountain was similarly strengthened.

On July 6th the Confederate picket was driven in from Middle Fork bridge between Buckhannon and Rich mountain, and that position was occupied by McCook's brigade, while Morris advanced from Philippi to within a mile and a half of Garnett's position. On the 9th Mc-Clellan's three brigades encamped at Roaring Run flats, in sight of the Confederate camp at Rich mountain, and on that day and next made reconnoissances in force. There were now about 1,300 Confederates at Camp Garnett under command of Col. John Pegram, afterward distinguished as a brigadier-general. He, as well as General Garnett, underestimated the Federal strength, and he even contemplated a night attack upon the 10,000 troops confronting him. But perceiving signs of a flank attack, he posted pickets on the top of the mountain about two miles to the rear, and early on the morning of the 11th he learned that six regiments of infantry, under General Rosecrans, were already on their way to seize a position [20] on the summit of the mountain commanding his fortifications. To meet this he could only send reinforcements to the mountain picket, making in all about 300 men and one gun, under Capt. Julius A. DeLagnel, while he asked Garnett to order Colonel Scott's Forty-fourth regiment in the valley to hold the road in advance of Beverly. About II o'clock in the forenoon of the 11th, Rosecrans attacked Captain DeLagnel at Hart's house, on the mountain, in overwhelming numbers. The intrepid 300 fought with desperate courage, repulsing two attacks, and keeping up the fight for three hours, during which about one-third of their number were killed or wounded. Pegram, upon hearing the firing, had hurried to the scene and ordered up the remainder of his regiment, but becoming convinced that his situation was too desperate to warrant an attack, he sent this body under Maj. Nat Tyler to effect a junction with either General Garnett or Colonel Scott, while he returned to the camp, where Colonel Heck with a few hundred men and two guns had been all day confronting McClellan. The latter had passed the day, in sound of the musketry on the mountain, cutting roads and mounting artillery to assault a force which he outnumbered ten to one. Heck's command, as soon as Pegram arrived, about midnight, under his orders, spiked their guns and retreated up the mountain, along which they made their way slowly next day toward General Garnett's camp at Laurel hill. The men under Tyler traversed the pathless mountain to Beverly, overtook the Forty-fourth at Huttonsville, and retreated to Monterey.

Meanwhile, when Morris advanced toward Laurel hill there had been brisk skirmishing with Garnett's pickets, and on the 8th an attempt of the enemy to drive the Confederates from an advanced position at Belington was repulsed. But at midnight following the 11th, being informed of the success of Rosecrans at Hart's farm, Garnett evacuated Laurel hill. He was falsely informed [21] that the Federals had advanced to Beverly, and consequently crossed Tygart valley and over Cheat mountain into the Cheat river valley, down which he was pursued northward by the Federal brigade under General Morris. On the morning of July 13th skirmishing began between his rear guard and the Federal advance, and when Carrick's ford was reached, the rear guard, the Twenty-third regiment, under Colonel Taliaferro, supported by artillery, took position on the high bank as soon as it had crossed, while the enemy brought up infantry and artillery on the opposite bank, and for some time a spirited fire was kept up across the stream, in which Taliaferro lost 28 killed and wounded, the enemy's loss being much greater. The Confederates opened the fight with cheers for President Davis, and twice drove back the enemy from the ford, but finally, having exhausted their ammunition, withdrew in good order to the next ford, about a half mile to the rear. On the further side of this ford the gallant Garnett, having posted the main command 4 miles further back, was waiting for the rear guard, and when it had crossed placed a few sharpshooters as skirmishers behind some drift-wood on the bank, while the regiment was sent on to a position he had selected. The enemy's advance was close upon him, and soon perceiving that he was about to be flanked, he sent orders to Taliaferro to retreat rapidly to the rear. Under the fire of the enemy now, he ordered his skirmishers to fall back, and at that moment was killed by a rifle ball, one of the sharpshooters at the same time falling dead at his side. His riderless horse, dashing to the rear, carried the sad news of the general's death. Thus fell, sharing the post of greatest danger in a disastrous retreat which he could not avoid, the first distinguished martyr of the Confederacy. His command, greatly depleted by the fatigues of the rapid march over the mountain paths, rendered still more difficult by the heavy rain, continued northward under the command of Colonel Ramsey, marching all the following [22] night to a point near West Union, when they crossed the Maryland line to Red House and thence moved southward, the next day, to Greenland, Hardy county, finally reaching Monterey after seven days arduous marching.

Colonel Pegram's command, which we left in the course of their march of 17 miles along the summit of the mountain to join Garnett, on the. night of the 12th made an attempt to cross the valley eastward, but his reconnoissance was fired upon and he was advised that the enemy held Leadsville, in the rear of Garnett's former position. Both commander and troops were exhausted and starving, and it was decided after returning to the foot of the mountain range to surrender. Accordingly at midnight a proposition to that effect was sent to General McClellan, then at Beverly, and on the next day, July 13th, the first formal capitulation of the great war took place, 28 officers and 525 men becoming prisoners of war. They were well treated, and in a few days all were released on parole save Colonel Pegram.

Thus ended in disaster the first completed campaign of the Confederate war. There were many instances of remarkable heroism and valor. In the main the troops fought with coolness and tenacity in the face of fearful odds, and maintained their organizations wonderfully well during exhausting and rapid movements over the most impassable country that can well be imagined. Their marches were made through dense thickets of laurel, over precipitous mountains, across raging streams, and along paths impracticable for ordinary military operations. Yet the conduct of the Confederates under these circumstances, and particularly their stubborn fighting at Hart's house and Carrick's ford would suffice to convince a careful observer that the same sort of soldiers, given chances somewhat even, would yet win a victory glorious enough to lift the cloud of gloom which settled upon the South after this unfortunate campaign. Such a prophet would [23] have found himself speedily justified, for ten days later came Manassas.

Previous to the active operations which we have described, the Federal commanders had sent out various parties to break up meetings of citizens supposed to be in the interests of Virginia, or for the formation of military commands. Col. Lew Wallace, of Indiana, stationed at Cumberland, Md., engaged in such an enterprise June 13th.

The people of Hampshire county were loyal to the Southern cause. This county was on the border line, and suffered untold troubles and horrors during the war then beginning. It would take volumes to contain all that was done and suffered for the Southland by the men and the women and the children of this county during the following four years. When the convention at Richmond passed the ordinance of secession, a meeting of citizens of Romney, the county seat, was held on the 27th of April and patriotic resolutions were passed, calling upon the people to prepare for the worst, and a committee of safety was appointed to look out for the public good. The county prepared for war, meetings were held, men enlisted, money was subscribed to equip volunteers and pay the men, and the county court appropriated $10,000 to be expended under the supervision of a committee appointed for the purpose.

Hearing of this and that some Virginia militia were drilling at Romney, Colonel Wallace made a descent upon that place, June 13th, with 500 Indianians, and reported that he put to rout not only all the military but the inhabitants of the town, including women and children, and captured among others ‘Maj. Isaac Vandever, a gentleman who, from accounts, has been very active in exciting rebellion, organizing troops, and impressing loyal citizens.’ No town in the South, except perhaps Winchester, 40 miles away, had a record surpassing that of the town of Romney, in regard to the [24] changing of its occupancy by the armies of each side. It is well established that, beginning with Wallace's raid, at least fifty-six times during the war it passed into the control of the Federal army.

After the evacuation of Harper's Ferry, June 16, 1861, when the army of the Shenandoah retired toward Winchester, Thomas J. Jackson, then ranking as colonel, was stationed near Martinsburg, and after making some demonstrations against the Federal advance, did good work in destroying transportation cars and locomotives on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad.

The Thirteenth Virginia and Third Tennessee regiments, under the command of A. P. Hill, were marched from Harper's Ferry, by way of Winchester, to Romney, a distance of about 75 miles. The Union troops had retired. Upon reaching Romney it was ascertained that a company of Federal infantry, with two field pieces, was guarding the bridge over the north branch of the Potomac on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, some 18 miles northwest from Romney. Colonel Hill detached Company I, of the Thirteenth, and a company of Tennesseeans and sent them to capture the bridge referred to. About sunrise on June 19th, an attack was made, the Federal soldiers driven from the bridge and the two pieces of artillery captured and carried off. This little fight was quick and sharp, ending in one of the first victories of the war.

Jackson, having advanced to Darkesville, at Falling Waters, encountered the Federals who had crossed the Potomac to attack him, and although fighting in retreat with one regiment of infantry and his cavalry, punished his adversary by the loss of 49 prisoners and several killed, while in his own command there were 12 wounded and 13 killed and captured. Jackson was made brigadier-general a few days previous to this fight.

On June 26, 1861, Richard Ashby, a brother of the celebrated Gen. Turner Ashby, lost his life in a skirmish in Hampshire county. The two Ashbys were in charge [25] of a body of Virginia cavalry, scouting toward Cumberland, Md., when Richard was mortally wounded by a bayonet thrust. His body lies beside that of his brother Turner in the Confederate cemetery at Winchester, Va.

On July 12, 1861, a Federal force under Colonel Kain entered Romney. In the same month Colonel Cummins with some Confederate troops retook it.

The loyal Virginians in other parts of the State were active in expeditions to repress hostile organization. One of these was made by Capt. A. G. Jenkins, afterward famous as a cavalry general, in the latter part of June. He advanced from Charleston to Point Pleasant with a mounted party, and secured the persons of several prominent Union men. Colonel Norton, of the First Ohio, at Gallipolis, crossed the river with 100 men and made a vain attempt to overtake Jenkins, after which he ‘scoured the country and took 30 prominent secessionists prisoners.’ These gentlemen, who were carried to Camp Chase, Ohio, were the first to arrive from the South at that noted prison camp. They reached Camp Chase July 5th, but were released a few days later. The names of these loyal Virginians were R. B. Hackney, A. B. Dorst, A. Roseberry, H. J. Fisher, R. Knupp, Jacob C. Kline, Frank Ransom, J. N. McMullen, J. W. Echard, David Long, G. D. Slaughter, A. E. Eastman, J. F. Dintz, Robert Mitchell, S. Hargiss, E. J. Ransom, T. B. Kline, Alexander McCausland, O. H. P. Sebrill, James Johnson, W. O. Roseberry, Benjamin Franklin and James Clark.

On June 6th the Confederate war department, being advised of the contemplated occupation of the Kanawha valley by the United States troops, and fearing for the safety of the Tennessee & Virginia railroad, issued orders designed to protect that region. Ex-Gov. Henry A. Wise, having been commissioned brigadier-general, was ordered to move from Richmond with the force placed at his disposal to the valley of the Kanawha, and Gen. [26] John B. Floyd, an old United States officer, was specially charged with the protection of the railroad. Wise was instructed to rally the people of western Virginia, and rely upon the people of that section not only for supplies but for arms. In case the enemy should largely outnumber the forces he could gather and equip, with such resources, he was to fall back to the mountain passes. The Confederate government then had more formidable attacks to oppose. Patterson advancing from Maryland was threatening Johnston's army in the Shenandoah valley, McDowell before Washington was advancing upon Manassas, and a large force was needed for the defense of Norfolk and the James river. When Johnston was writing that he must retreat from Harper's Ferry, having but forty rounds of ammunition, the government was forced to rely upon the ability of the West Virginians to defend themselves, and that failing, upon the mountains as a line of defense. Wise left Col. J. L. Davis at Richmond for the organization of Wise's legion from Virginia and North Carolina volunteers, and proceeded to Lewisburg and thence to Charleston.

As early as April 29th Lieut.--Col. John McCausland had been authorized to muster into the State service as many as ten volunteer companies, and direct the military operations of that part of the State. He was told that two companies in Kanawha county, Captain Patton's ‘Kanawha Rifles,’ Capt. T. B. Swann's company and two in Putnam, Captain Beckett's and Capt. W. E. Fife's (Buffalo Guards), would doubtless offer their services, and that 500 muskets of the old pattern would be sent and four field pieces. On May 3d a commission as colonel was sent to C. Q. Tompkins, of Charleston, and he was directed to take command of the troops raised in the valley. The latter officer sent Colonel McCausland to Richmond, May 30th, to confer with Governor Letcher on the situation. It was difficult to procure reliable soldiers in large numbers, with perhaps [27] the preponderance of sentiment favoring the Federal cause. By this time McCausland and Tompkins had gathered but 340 men at Kanawha Court House, and when all the companies promised had been formed, the aggregate would hardly exceed , 1000. But with a stout heart Tompkins at once issued from Charleston a proclamation counter to that of McClellan:

Men of Virginia! Men of Kanawha! To Arms!

The enemy has invaded your soil and threatens to overrun your country under the pretext of protection. You cannot serve two masters. You have not the right to repudiate allegiance to your own State. Be not seduced by his sophistry or intimidated by his threats. Rise and strike for your firesides and altars. Repel the aggressors and preserve your honor and your rights. Rally in every neighborhood with or without arms. Organize and unite with the sons of the soil to defend it. Report yourselves without delay to those nearest to you in military position. Come to the aid of your fathers, brothers and comrades in arms at this place, who are here for the protection of your mothers, wives and sisters. Let every man who would uphold his rights turn out with such arms as he may get and drive the invader back.

Out of the troops gathered at Charleston, McCausland subsequently organized the Thirty-sixth Virginia infantry regiment, which he commanded until promoted brigadier-general, and Tompkins formed the Twenty-second, led by Col. George S. Patton, until he fell at Winchester, and afterward by Colonel Barbee. By July 8th, General Wise, who had reached Charleston and assumed command, had a force of 2,600 men, consisting of the First and Second Kanawha regiments, the Kanawha battalion, seven independent companies of infantry, and three companies of mounted rangers. Reinforcements from his legion soon arrived, so that a few days later he had about 4,000 men, with ten small pieces of artillery.

In the meantime Ohio troops had been massed at Gallipolis and Point Pleasant, and Gen. J. D. Cox, an officer afterward distinguished at South Mountain and Franklin, [28] was assigned to the command. July 11th he began his movement up the Kanawha river, by boat, with advance guards marching along the river roads, while another column moved up the Guyandotte and another advanced overland from Ravenswood. In anticipation of this advance General Wise arranged to meet the enemy west of Charleston, posting 900 men at Coal and 1,600 at Two Mile and Elk, with outposts at Ripley and Barboursville; while 1,000 men were scattered in the rear from Gauley bridge past Summersville to Birch river, toward Rich mountain. He could not safely make the Parkersburg diversion suggested by Garnett and Lee. Instead he asked that Garnett reinforce the Kanawha army, at the very time that the latter general was engaged in his fatal retreat

On the 16th, Colonel Clarkson, with Brock's and Becket's troops of horse, had a brisk skirmish with the enemy near Ripley, and another fight occurred at Barboursville with the right of Cox's army.

Wise wrote at this juncture that the difficulties of his situation were great, and that ‘this army here has grown by neglect at Richmond. It has been literally created by Colonel Tompkins, at first beginning with Patton's company alone, since assisted by my legion, which I have created between this and Richmond.’

Cox united his three columns at the mouth of the Pocotaligo, and on the afternoon of the 17th sent Colonel Lowe, with the Twelfth Ohio and two companies of the Twenty-first, to make a landing at Scary creek, where Colonel Patton with about 800 men held a position which commanded the river. Patton had been ordered by Wise to retreat to Bunker Hill, but he gallantly turned back of his own accord and met the enemy's advance. The enemy was better armed, and after a half hour's fighting a portion of Patton's command fell back. He rallied his men, however, and returning instantly to action was fifteen minutes later wounded and disabled. Capts. [29] Albert G. Jenkins, Bailey, Swann and Sweeney stood their ground, also Col. F. Anderson, whose two companies on the left had not yet come into action. Now there was a rally by the Confederates and they were gaining the advantage, when a cannon ball from the enemy struck one of Patton's 6-pounder guns, disabling it and killing Lieutenant Welch and fatally wounding a private. The other gun withdrew, and for a time the Virginians were disordered. But A. G. Jenkins came to the rescue and a rally followed in which Colonel Anderson and his men joined, with Bailey, Swann and Sweeney, and reinforcements from Captain Coons on Coal mountain, and the enemy were driven back and forced to recross the river. General Wise, whose report is followed in this account of the fight, reported the capture of Federal Colonels Norton, Woodruff and DeVilliers, Lieutenant-Colonel Neff, Captains Austin and Ward, and some o to 20 privates, and about 30 of the enemy killed. His loss was 1 killed and 2 wounded. Colonel McCausland with 800 men followed this up with an attack on Cox's position on the north side of the river, and drove back the enemy to the shelter of their guns on the Pocotaligo.

This fight of July 17th was a very creditable affair for the Virginians and did much to restore confidence that had flagged under the influence of continued ‘surprises’ and retreats. It was the first victory for the Confederate States in an open fight, Big Bethel being rather a repulse by artillery from behind breastworks. McClellan, though he called it ‘something between a victory and a defeat,’ took it seriously to heart, and adjured the government, ‘In Heaven's name give me some general officers who understand their profession.’ ‘Unless I command every picket and lead every column I cannot be sure of success,’ he added, strangely oblivious to the fact that his success thus far had been entirely due to the energy of Rosecrans as a column leader.

General Wise, though jubilant over his victory, realized [30] the difficulty of his position, and on the 19th sent Maj. C. B. Duffield to Richmond with official reports and a letter, in which he complained bitterly of hostile feeling of the inhabitants of the valley, and of the difficulty of defending a position threatened by over 3,000 Federals at the Pocotaligo, 1,500 from Ripley to Sissonville, and forces from the north by Summersville. He had an engineer, ‘Colonel Adler, a Hungarian, a man of consummate ability, science and bravery,’ aided by Prof. Thomas I. L. Snead, of William and Mary, and Lieut. J. B. Harvie. ‘We are throwing up breastworks and defenses at every pass and mean never to be taken,’ he added.

But on the 24th the fears of General Wise regarding the weakness of his position were justified. Cox, by a circuitous advance among the hills, came upon the Confederate rear at Elk or Tyler mountain, and as soon as the outposts were driven in Wise was compelled to retreat up the river. The enemy brought up artillery to the bluff and nearly succeeded in cutting off 700 of Colonel Tompkins' command at Coal. They escaped but were compelled to burn the steamer on which they were about to start up the river, when the artillery fire was opened upon them. The retreat was made in creditable order, and on the 27th Wise and his army passed through Gauley, destroying the bridges behind them, because there was a great deficiency of transportation and the men, worn out with marching and countermarching, lacking shoes and clothing and without tents, were obliged to move slowly. He reached Lewisburg August 1st, and reported the enemy following in three columns from Fayetteville, Gauley and Summersville.

The Confederate forces were now practically expelled from transmontane Virginia. Wise lay in the Greenbrier valley, and the remnant of the forces that were with Garnett was at Monterey, beyond the limits of what is now West Virginia. Among the volunteers who [31] joined Wise at this time were about 300 from Boone and Logan counties, who mainly entered the Third regiment, Wise legion, later known as the Sixtieth regiment, and commanded by Col. B. H. Jones.

Cox held Gauley, and began fortifications, with an advance guard skirmishing toward Sewell mountain, and a regiment guarding his river communications; while Rosecrans, now the Federal commander of the department, fortified the Cheat mountain pass before Huttonsville, and the mountain pass between Huttonsville and Huntersville. These were advanced posts. His main line was marked by a chain of posts, with a regiment or two at each, at Bulltown, Suttonville and Summersville, between Weston and Gauley.

While the events we have described were taking place, an army was forming at Monterey for the purpose of retrieving the Confederate disasters. Previous to Garnett's defeat there had been assembled near Staunton 5,000 or 6,000 troops for his reinforcement, under the command of Gen. Henry R. Jackson, of Georgia. It will be remembered that the Forty-fourth Virginia was at Monterey during the battle of Rich Mountain. It took a position directed by General Garnett, which happened to be one where no service could be rendered. Col. Edward Johnson's Twelfth Georgia, following, made a forced march to occupy Cheat mountain, but met Colonel Scott returning, was advised of Garnett's retreat and fell back to Jackson's main body. The entire command then retired to Monterey, where, with about 3,500 men, Jackson prepared to combat the expected advance of McClellan by Huntersville and Warm Springs to cut the railroad near Staunton. This, however, was not attempted by the Federals. It was deemed too dangerous an enterprise, and McClellan being transferred to Washington, took with him many of his troops, leaving adequate garrisons at the posts established.

On July 20th Brig.-Gen. William W. Loring, a veteran [32] of the Mexican war, commander of the department of Oregon during the gold excitement, and experienced in mountain warfare, was assigned to the command of the Northwestern army. He was advised by General Lee that, in addition to the forces he would find at Monterey under Jackson, Brigadier-General Floyd, with the brigade he had organized in southwest Virginia, had been directed to move to Covington, Brigadier-General Wise toward the same point, and Col. Angus McDonald with his cavalry legion from the south branch of the Potomac to Staunton. On the 21st, the day of victory at Manassas, three Tennessee regiments, reaching Staunton, were put under General Loring's orders.

Loring reached Monterey July 24th, accompanied by an efficient staff, including Col. Carter L. Stevenson, adjutant-general, and Maj. A. L. Long, chief of artillery, and flushed with the assurance of success which pervaded the Confederate States immediately after the splendid triumph at Manassas. Jackson had found it unadvisable to attempt a direct attack upon the Federal fortifications at Cheat Mountain pass, a narrow gap approachable only by the Parkersburg turnpike, and fitted for effective defense. Col. Edward Johnson, with Anderson's battery, was stationed at Alleghany Mountain pass, supported by Rust's Arkansas and Baldwin's Virginia regiments; Colonel Lee's North Carolina regiment was advanced to Elk Mountain pass, supporting the Bath cavalry at Big Spring. Captain Marye's battery was sent forward to Colonel Lee, and 250 Pocahontas militia being mustered in, 80 of them were put on duty as scouts and guides. With Johnson at Monterey were Fulkerson's and Scott's Virginia regiments, Ramsey's First Georgia, Major Jackson's cavalry and Shumaker's battery. General Loring determined to flank the Federal position by way of the Valley mountain. He ordered Jackson's command over into the Greenbrier valley and made preparations for an advance from Huntersville. At the latter point were Maney's, [33] Hatton's and Savage's Tennessee regiments, Campbell's Virginia regiment (Forty-eighth), Colonel Munford's battalion, Maj. W. H. F. Lee's cavalry squadron, and Marye's and Stanley's batteries. Colonel Gilham was at Valley Mountain pass with his own and another regiment, and Burks' Virginia and a Georgia regiment were en route from Staunton. Loring's force on the Huntersville line was in all about 8,500 effective men. But the prompt advance which was contemplated in the orders of General Lee, was delayed for the establishment of a depot of supplies and the formation of a wagon train.

When General Wise had first been ordered to the Kanawha valley, he had been advised that whenever it became necessary for him to be joined by Gen. John B. Floyd, the latter should have command of the joint forces. The time for this junction had now arrived and trouble immediately resulted. Floyd, also an ex-governor of Virginia, as well as ex-secretary of war of the United States, had been telegraphed to at Abingdon, May 14th, by President Davis, asking him if he could raise a ‘brigade of your mountain riflemen with their own tried weapons.’ Floyd immediately responded that he could and would, and he was commissioned brigadier-general soon afterward. At Abingdon and Wytheville and Dublin Depot he took measures to protect the railroad communications of Richmond with Tennessee, until, under the orders of July, he moved to Covington and thence to the vicinity of Wise's troops at White Sulphur Springs. General Wise immediately objected to passing under the command of General Floyd, and an embarrassing situation followed, which in a large measure prevented effective work in the Kanawha valley. [34]

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