BATTLE OF WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS
IN August, 1863, Gen. W. W. Averell commenced a movement from the Valley of Virginia for the purpose, as the Confederates understood, of destroying bridges on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, and demolishing the Salt Works in Smythe County, Va. His force was made up of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, the Second, Third, and Eighth West Virginia Cavalry, supported by Ewing's battery and one other section of artillery. Having crossed the mountains, he made his way to Randolph and Pocahontas counties before he met with any opposition.
Gen. William E. Jones, commanding the Confederates in that part of Virginia, had only a small force. Further to the south of the State, in Greenbrier, Monroe, and the Western Virginia counties, General Echols' brigade, then under the command of Col. George H. Patton, was on guard. This brigade was composed of the Twenty-second and Forty-fifth Regiments, the Twenty-sixth Battalion of Virginia Infantry, -commanded by Col. George M. Edgar, -and Chapman's battery.
When General Averell reached Randolph County General Jones fell back in his front, but wherever opportunity presented itself he did not fail to harass and impede General Averell's advance. Colonel Patton was ordered from the Greenbrier section to reenforce General Jones in Pocahontas, and started with his brigade to that county. When he reached the lower end of Pocahontas, he found that General Averell, impeded as he was by General Jones, had crossed the mountains in the direction of Warm Springs, or Covington. After consultation General Jones and Colonel Patton came to the conclusion that General Averell would endeavor to cross from Covington, pass by White Sulphur, and go through Monroe County to the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad; so the Brigade was countermarched, with the purpose of reaching the junction of the Anthony's Creek Road and the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, near the White Sulphur. Celerity was absolutely necessary, for, if General Averell should pass White Sulphur, there would be no force to prevent his reaching the railroad and doing immense injury to the line of transportation and communication between Richmond and Tennessee, and the country to the west. The march, therefore, was continued throughout the night of the twenty-fifth of August.
It was a custom in the Confederate Army when on a march, especially if it were a hurried march, for the regiments to take turn about in marching in the van. The change of front was usually made when the column halted for rest. When Colonel Patton's brigade had reached a point on the Anthony's Creek Road, about four miles from the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, the brigade was halted for a rest. At this halt the turn came for the Twenty-sixth Battalion to take position in the front, which it did, marching past the other regiments; but, instead of halting for the accustomed rest, Colonel Edgar decided to march straightway for the turnpike.
The battlefield of White Sulphur is approached by a narrow valley, along which is the old James River and Kanawha Turnpike, and by the Anthony's Creek Road, which joins the James River and Kanawha Turnpike about the middle of the little valley. The Union troops, under General Averell and Col. J. M. Schoonmaker, approached the battlefield by the James River and Kanawha Turnpike. The Confederate troops, under Colonel Patton and Colonel Edgar, came by way of the Anthony's Creek Road.
The Anthony's Creek Road and the James River and Kanawha Turnpike are nearly at right angles with each other. At the meeting of the roads there stood, -and it yet remains, -a little frame house that was in the midst of the hottest part of the conflict. The little weatherboarded house, built of roughly sawed timber, is scarred with the bullets of the small arms, and through the gable is still to be seen the aperture made by a tenpound solid shot.
The gorge opens into a gently undulating valley, bounded on the right by a hill, the crest of which was wooded, and the lower part of which was a cornfield. This hill gently slopes toward Wade's Creek, and on the Wade's Creek side the valley is bounded by precipitous bluffs, on which grew at that time small cedars and other mountain growth.
When the head of Colonel Edgar's column reached the turnpike the skirmishers of the Federal Army were in sight, approaching the junction of the two roads. Colonel Edgar at once tore down the fences along the road and made a barricade, which extended from the creek, at the foot of the cliff, across the turnpike to the foot of the main rise of the hill where the cornfield then was. This field is now cleared, and the fence that surrounded it was destroyed by Colonel Edgar to make the barricade. This barricade was a few feet on the White Sulphur Springs side of the sugar maple tree, which is still vigorous, and which, having stood in the midst of the fight, still bears, in plain sight, the scars of the bullets upon its trunk.
Though the barricade was hurriedly constructed of fence rails, roughly placed, it formed a fair defense against a cavalry charge. The Union troops immediately charged up the valley and attempted to break through the hasty fortification. Under Colonel Patton's command a splendid resistance was made, and a desperate fight ensued, which lasted from the first onset of the Union soldiers until the next day, when the battle terminated.
The Confederates placed their battery upon the crest of the field to the left of the Anthony's Creek Road. This was on the ridge behind the present frame house. This house has been constructed since the war.
The Union battery was on the same side of the creek, inside the fence and just back of the log house, about fifty yards above the line of the fence and the present road, and was situated about seven hundred yards from the Confederate batteries. The Confederates, after the first charge by the Union Cavalry, themselves charged the Union forces, but were driven back; whereupon the turnpike on the other side of the intersection of the Anthony's Creek Road became the scene of repeated charges of both the Union and Confederate troops. An eyewitness tells me that the whole road, down to the frame house that now stands by the road, which occupies the site of the old Miller residence, was strewn with dead and wounded soldiers. The Miller residence was set on fire by shells from the Union battery. This was done by order of General Averell to prevent the Southern forces from occupying the house as a fortification.
The Union troops made an effort to flank the Confederate forces by coming up the rise just on the other side of the Miller residence, crossing the creek, and ascending the bluff. However, they were checked in this movement, which resulted in much bitter fighting on the bluff and in Wade's Creek that flows under this declivity. Nor were the Union troops ever able to get through the Confederate line, though they made another attempt to reach the Anthony's Creek Road by going through the woods on the crest of the hill above the cleared land. At this place developed a sharpshooters' fight, and again the Union forces were driven back. Along the road and in the bottom of the creek there was desperate fighting.
The Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, under command of Col. J. M. Schoonmaker and Captain Bird, charged through the bottom up to the line of the fortification, and a desperate hand-to-hand combat took place between the opposing forces, -the Confederates, with musket and bayonet, resisting the attack, and the Union soldiers, with saber, attempting to break the Confederate line. An old soldier, a veteran of twenty-seven battles, informed the writer that this charge of the barricade was one of the most desperate combats that he witnessed during the whole war. The fight was kept up during the entire day. All the batteries were at short range and were firing round shot, grape, and canister.
As the writer pens these lines he has on his table a solid shot fired at Derrick's battalion, which came up on the afternoon of the first day to strengthen the Confederate line where it was in danger of being outflanked on the crest of the hill. The battle during this day, considering the number of soldiers engaged, was one of the most desperate fights of the war. The Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry lost on the first day one hundred and three men. When the battle ended it was night, and the soldiers of each side slept on their arms.
Senator Preston told the writer that one of the officers in this engagement informed him that a conference was held that night by the commanders of the Confederates and also one by the Union commanders, and that it was agreed at both conferences to retreat; but, when the morning came, neither General Averell nor Colonel Patton would carry out the decrees of the conference. The next morning, therefore, the fight was renewed. The battle changed from the right to the left of the line, and the Federals, after a fierce combat, were repelled by a Confederate bayonet charge and were driven down the gorge from the main field of battle. The Union forces, pressed by the Confederate troops, fell back six or eight miles, and all day there was practically a rear-guard action, the Federals building barricades across the roads and gallantly resisting the attacks of the Southerners.
General Averell, in his report, speaks of the reenforcement of the Confederate troops during the night. This has been proved a mistake, since the entire Confederate force in that part of Virginia was in the battle from the beginning, and no new troops came to their help. At the close of the conflict the Confederates' ammunition was practically exhausted, and the ammunition of the Federal troops, especially that of the batteries, was almost totally spent. This action was of greater importance than would be indicated by the number of men engaged in the fight, since it kept the Union forces from getting control of this section of the country, and effectually prevented their destroying the Confederate communications to the south and southwest.
The Dixon house, on the right hand side of the road, stands practically intact,-just as it stood during the time of the battle. It was repeatedly struck by the flying bullets and it was used as a hospital for both sides. The old log house on the left hand side of the road was also used as a hospital, and over three hundred amputations were made in this building, the legs and arms being thrown out of the windows, making a gruesome pile, which rose as high as the window sills.
One of the guns of Ewing's battery was struck on the muzzle by a solid shot, fired by the Confederate battery. The impact broke off a piece about a foot and a half long. At the time, this gun was in the road where it was abandoned by the Union forces, and it remained above the surface until a short time ago, having been gradually covered by the mud of the little swamp on the edge of which it lay. The writer has started an investigation to ascertain its whereabouts, and, if found, it will be put in the West Virginia Museum as a record of the desperate gallantry of the soldiers who wore the blue and of those that wore the gray.
This region was, during the whole War of Secession, the debatable land. The mountain people were, many of them, for the Union, while those in the large valleys were slaveholders, and joined the Confederacy. Thus neighbor was practically pitted against neighbor, and friends, living in the same county and district, confronted one another in deadly conflict. The majority of the troops engaged in this fight were Virginians, and throughout this entire region the conflicts were marked with desperation, while the White Sulphur was the heart of this internecine contest, its buildings, which were used more frequently by the Confederates than by the Union forces, being utilized as hospitals during a great part of the war.
Though commonly known as the Battle of Dry Creek, this engagement should be named rather the Battle of the White Sulphur. It marked an era in the war in Western Virginia. To-day in the quiet valley only the scars on the trees and the monument of a gallant Union soldier remain to attest that here once was the hiss of the bullet, the bursting of the shell, and the wild scream of the charge. The pellucid creek flows on its way unpolluted with the blood of brothers, and the lobelia, the mountain hemlock, and the yarrow, under the bright and beautiful sunlight of the West Virginia mountains, modestly grow and shed their sweet perfume over the quiet land that once echoed with the wild alarms of battling soldiery.
In order that the reader may have, at first hand, the best information, I subjoin accounts of both the Union and Confederate commanders at the Battle of the White Sulphur and the Battle of Lewisburg.
BATTLE OF WHITE SULPHUR
REPORT OF THE CONFEDERATE COMMANDER
The report of Maj.-Gen. Samuel Jones, C. S. Army, commanding the Department of Western Virginia, of operations, August 20-27, 1863, with congratulatory orders, is as follows:
HEADQUARTERS DEPT. OF WESTERN VIRGINIA,
August 21, 1863.
The enemy, 800 strong, was at Monterey yesterday. Another column reported coming from Franklin by McDowell, supposed to be going to Staunton. Colonel Jackson has fallen back from Huntersville to Back Creek to get in their rear, if they go to Staunton. I have ordered a regiment of infantry to Little Levels, and four companies of cavalry to Marling's Bottom, the latter to scout toward Beverly and Monterey, and harass the enemy if opportunity offers. You can send troops to Staunton, if they are needed, sooner than I can. Can you send Colonel Wharton's command?
I saw your family at the "Warm" yesterday.
All are well as usual.
GENERAL R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, 27th, VIA DUBLIN,
August 28, 1863.
We met the enemy yesterday morning about a mile and a half from this place on road to the Warm Springs. Fought from 9 a. m. to 7 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, Col. George S. Patton commanding; the enemy, about 3,000 and 6 pieces of artillery, under Brigadier-General Averell.
Our loss, about 200 killed and wounded. Enemy's loss not known. We have taken about 150 prisoners and a piece of artillery.
Major-General [C. S. A.]
GENERAL S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector-General.
REPORTS OF FEDERAL COMMANDER
The report of Brig.-Gen. William W. Averell,
U. S. Army, of operations August 5-31, 1863, says:
HUTTONSVILLE, VA., August 30, 1863.
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 Springs Mountain in a series of skirmishes; destroyed their saltpeter works; burned Camp Northwest and a large amount of arms, equipments and stores; fought a severe engagement with a superior force under command of Maj.-Gen. Samuel Jones and Colonel Patton at Rocky Gap, near White Sulphur Springs.
The battle lasted during two days. We drove the enemy from his first position, but the 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 100 officers and men killed and wounded, among whom are Capt. Paul Baron von Koenig, aide-de-camp, killed while leading an assault upon the enemy's right, and Major McNally, Second (West) Virginia, and Captain Ewing, artillery, dangerously wounded. I have reason to believe the enemy's loss equal to, if not greater, than our own.
One Parrott gun burst the first day, and, becoming worthless, was abandoned. Great efforts up to noon to-day have been made by the combined forces of Imboden and Jackson to prevent our return, but without success.
We have brought in over 30 prisoners, including a major and two or three lieutenants, a large number of cattle, horses, &c. Your aide-de-camp, Lieut. J. R. Meigs, who accompanied me, is safe.
I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. AVERELL,
HDQRS. 4TH SEPARATE BRIGADE, 8TH ARMY CORPS.
BEVERLY, W. VA.,
September 1, 1863.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my brigade from the time I assumed command of it to this date:
On August 5, I left Winchester and marched over North Mountain to Wardensville, 28 miles. A lieutenant and 10 men of Imboden's command were captured on the way by Captain von Koenig, who led the advance during the day. I arrived at Moorefield with my command at 8:30 p. m. on the 6th, after a tedious march of 30 miles over a difficult road.
At Lost River a company of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania was sent to Moorefield, via Harper's Mills, where it captured a lieutenant and a party of the enemy, but subsequently, falling into an ambush after dark, lost its prisoners and 13 men captured. Four of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania were wounded, and 3 of the enemy were killed and 5 wounded.
On the 9th, left Moorefield and marched to Petersburg, 11 miles, leaving Gibson's battalion on the South Fork. My command was at this time badly in want of horseshoes and nails, clothing and ammunition, requisitions for which had been made by my quartermaster, at Cumberland, on the 7th.
The order of Brigadier-General Kelley to move was received on the 15th, at Petersburg, but it was not until noon of the 17th that horseshoe nails arrived. Some ammunition for Ewing's battery was also received, but I was unable to increase my supply for small arms, which amounted to about thirty-five cartridges to each man. This was sufficient for any ordinary engagement, but we had a long march before us, entirely in the country occupied by the enemy, and I felt apprehensive that the supply would be exhausted before the expedition should be ended.
It was my opinion that the delay which would ensue by awaiting the arrival of ammunition would be more dangerous to us than undertaking the expedition with the supply we had. Therefore, on the 18th, Colonel Oley, of the Eighth (West) Virginia, was sent, with his regiment, up the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac, and Gibson's battalion up the South Fork, and on the morning of the 19th I, moved with the Third (West) Virginia, Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry and Ewing's battery nearly to Franklin, sending forward two squadrons to destroy the saltpeter works five miles above.
On the 20th, proceeded up the South Branch to Monterey, over a rough road, the Eighth (West) Virginia and Gibson's battalion joining the column on the march. A few guerrillas were captured on the road.
At Monterey the quarterly court was found in session. Upon my arrival it was adjourned and the principal officials arrested. It was learned that Imboden had been there the day previous to hold a conference with Maj.-Gen. Samuel Jones upon the subject of attacking me at Petersburg. The road to Huntersville was taken on the 21st as far as Gibson's Store, my advance, conducted by Lieutenant Rumsey, aide-de-camp, driving about 300 of the enemy before it, during the march, to within five miles of Huntersville.
Our casualties during the day were only 4 wounded, and 6 horses killed and disabled, although constantly annoyed by shots from guerrillas who infested the bushes along the way.
Learning during the night of the 21st that the enemy had assumed a position in a ravine about three miles from Huntersville, which was difficult to carry on account of the precipitous character of the sides, I made a false advance on the 22nd with Gibson's battalion, while the main body, taking a by-road to the right, reached Huntersville without meeting resistance, rendering the position of the enemy useless to him and causing him to retire in haste toward Warm Springs.
Colonel Oley, with the Eighth (West) Virginia and one squadron of the Third (West) Virginia, was sent after the retreating enemy and overtook his rear guard at Camp Northwest, from whence it was driven several miles. Camp Northwest was burned and destroyed, with commissary buildings and stores, blacksmith shops, several wagons, a number of Enfield rifles, gun equipments, and a quantity of wheat and flour at a mill nearby. A large number of canteens, stretchers and hospital supplies fell into our hands.
The 23rd was spent at Huntersville awaiting the arrival of the Second and Tenth (West) Virginia. The Tenth and a detachment of about 350 of the Second (West) Virginia, and a section of Keeper's battery, arrived during the day from the direction of Beverly. The Second had 40 rounds of ammunition per man, with 1,000 rounds additional, which were transferred to the Third (West) Virginia. During the day, a reconnoissance under Lieutenant-Colonel Polsley, Eighth (West) Virginia, was made toward Warm Springs. One lieutenant and 5 men of the enemy were captured and 12 killed and wounded. Our loss was only 5 horses shot.
On the 24th, the march was resumed toward Warm Springs, through which Jackson and his forces were driven over the mountains east of that place toward Millborough. Our losses during the day were 2 men severely wounded, some slightly hurt, and a few horses shot. Captured many arms, saddles, and other stores from the enemy.
The forces under Jackson having been driven out of Pocahontas County too soon to permit them to form a junction with any other bodies of the enemy, and the prospect of overtaking him being very small, I determined to turn my column toward Lewisburg, hoping that my movement up to the Warm Springs had led the enemy to believe that I was on my way to his depots in the vicinity of Staunton. I relied also upon some cooperation from the direction of Summerville. I therefore sent the Tenth (West) Virginia back to Huntersville, and on the 25th made a rapid march of 25 miles to Callaghan's, in Alleghany County, destroying the saltpeter works on Jackson's River on my way. Arrived at Callaghan's, reconnoitering parties were sent toward Covington and Sweet Springs. Some wagons of the enemy were captured near Covington and the saltpeter works in that vicinity destroyed.
At 4 a. m. on the 26th, my column was formed, en route to White Sulphur Springs, in the following order, viz.:
1. Advance guard, under charge of Captain von Koenig, consisting of two companies of the Second (West) Virginia and two companies of the Eighth (West) Virginia.
2. Second (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry.
3. Eighth (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry.
4. Gibson's battalion.
5. Ewing's battery.
6. Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
7. Third (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry. The road crossed two mountain ranges before 10 miles had been traveled over. About 9:30 a. m., when about 12 miles from Callaghan's, a message from Captain Koenig was received by me, at the head of the column, that the enemy were resisting his advance, and desiring reenforcements. A squadron of the Second was sent on at a trot, and a squadron of the Eighth ordered forward. A few minutes elapsed, when the enemy's cannon announced his purpose of disputing our further progress and indicated his strength.
I at once started the column forward at a rapid gait down through a narrow pass, which soon opened out into a little valley a mile long, inclosed on each side by rugged rocky heights, covered with a stunted growth of pine, oak and chestnut trees. At the opening the projectiles from the enemy's cannon first struck the head of our column. A jutting cliff on the right afforded protection for the horses of the Second and Eighth, and the dismounted men of the Second were at once ordered to the summit of the ridge on our right and the squadron of the Eighth dismounted to the hill on our left. A section of Ewing's battery was brought up rapidly and planted on the first available position, where it opened briskly and with great accuracy.
The squadron of the Eighth, ordered to the left, mistook the direction in some way, and found itself on the right with the Second (West) Virginia. The main body of the Eighth (West) Virginia, led by Colonel Oley, however, soon made their way to the crest on our left. The Third (West) Virginia and Fourteenth Pennsylvania were ordered forward, and came to the front dismounted very soon.
I beg to call your attention to the fact that my column of horses, nearly four miles long, was now in a narrow gorge, and that during the time necessary for the Third (West) Virginia and Fourteenth Pennsylvania to arrive at the front, it was necessary that Ewing, supported only by the advance guard, should maintain his position against an attack of the enemy's artillery and infantry combined. The Second on the right, and the Eighth on the left, afforded some support, but Ewing's battery, with canister, not only resisted the approach of the enemy, but actually advanced upon him, in order to obtain a better position, and held him at bay until the arrival of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania and Third (West) Virginia, which were at once deployed to the right and left of the road, thus filling up the gap in my line.
The enemy gave away his position to us, and endeavored to assume another about half a mile in rear of the first, with his right resting upon a rugged prominence, his center and left protected by a temporary stockade, which he had formed of fence rails. I resolved to dislodge him before he should become well established, and then, if possible, to rout him from the field.
One of the guns of Ewing had burst, and the other five were advanced to within 600 yards of the enemy. Captain Koenig was sent to advance the Third and Eighth, and orders were sent to the right also to advance. Gibson's battalion was thrown into a house and the surrounding inclosures which stood in front of the enemy's center. The enemy clung tenaciously to the wooded hill on their right, and Gibson's battalion was driven from the house by a regiment of the enemy which at that moment arrived upon the field. I immediately caused the house to be set on fire by shells, which prevented the enemy from occupying it.
The right was able to gain only a short distance by hard fighting. It then became an affair of sharpshooters along the whole line at a distance of less than 100 yards. The effort which my men had made in scaling a succession of heights on either hand had wearied them almost to exhaustion. A careful fire was kept up by small arms for three hours, it being almost impossible for either side to advance or retire. During this time I reconnoitered the position, going from the hills on the right to the left.
At about 4 p. m. I determined to make another effort to carry the position. A squadron of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania, which had not been dismounted, was brought up and instructions sent to the commanders along the line that a cavalry charge was about to be made on the enemy's center, and directing them to act in concert. The charge was splendidly made by Captain Bird, of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, who led his men until he came to a stockade which the enemy had thrown across the road.
Orders had been given to the officers commanding the regiments on the right to press forward at the same time and endeavor to gain the Anthony's Creek Road, which came in on the enemy's left. The order to the Second to advance was conveyed by Lieutenant Combs, and the Adjutant of that regiment, who, failing to find the Colonel commanding the regiment in time, delivered the order to that portion of the regiment nearest to him.
Major McNally, on the right, and Lieutenant Combs, on the left, of the regiment, with less than 100 men, advanced on the enemy's line and drove them out of the stockade, but, being unsupported by the remainder of the regiment, were forced to fall back, leaving Major McNally mortally wounded in the hands of the enemy.
The effect of the cavalry charge was to cause about 300 of the enemy to run away from the stockade, exposing themselves to a deadly fire from the Fourteenth Pennsylvania, Colonel Schoonmaker, but their position was soon regained by their reserves. No united effort was made to attain the road on the extreme right, as directed.
Reports soon reached me from all parts of the line that ammunition was falling short. The slackened firing of the enemy evidently indicated that his supply was not plentiful.
The night came with no change in position and no tidings from the west, whence General Scammon was expected. During the night all the ammunition in the wagons was brought up and equitably distributed, and every available man was brought to the front.
It was quite evident to my mind that if the resistance of the enemy was kept up, I could go no farther in that direction. It was impossible to retire during the night without disorder, and perhaps disaster. By remaining until morning two chances remained with me-first, the enemy might retreat, and, second, Scammon might arrive.
The morning [August 27th] showed us that both chances had failed; that the enemy had received ammunition, and that reenforcements were coming to him from the direction of Lewisburg. The battle was renewed, but every arrangement made in rear for a prompt withdrawal. The ambulances loaded with wounded, the caissons, wagons, and long columns of horses were placed in proper order upon the road, details made for the attendance of the wounded, trees prepared to fall across the gorge when our artillery should have passed, and commanding officers received their instructions. The enemy's reenforcements arrived and attempted to turn my left about 10 a. m.
At 10:30 o'clock the order to retire was given, and in forty-five minutes from that time my column was moving off in good order, my rear guard at the barricades repulsing the enemy's advance twice before it left the ground. Successive barricades were formed, and my column reached Callaghan's about 5 p. m., where it was halted, fires built, and the men and horses given the first opportunity to eat for thirty-six hours. After dark the fires were left burning and the column took the road to Warm Springs.
A scouting party of the enemy in front of us had left word with the citizens that Jackson was at Gatewood's, with a strong force. This shallow attempt at deception did not deter us from marching to that point, where we arrived at daylight on the 28th.
At 9 a. m. the march was resumed to Huntersville, without interruption, but with considerable annoyance from guerrillas. At evening we marched to Greenbrier Bridge, or Marling's Bottom, where Colonel Harris, with the Tenth (West) Virginia, was posted. The ensuing day the command moved to Big Spring, where it was ascertained that a party of the enemy had entered the road before us for the purpose of blockading it.
At 2 a. m. on the 30th, we were again en route, and at daylight came upon a blockade, half a mile long, made by felling large trees across the road. While delayed in cutting it out the animals were fed, and a strong blockade made in rear.
The command arrived at Beverly on August 31, having marched, since June 10, 636 miles, exclusive of the distance passed over by railroad and of the marches made by detachments, which would increase the distance for the entire command to at least 1,000 miles.
This command has been mounted, equipped and drilled; has marched over 600 miles through a rugged, mountainous region, fighting the enemy almost daily; had one severe battle; destroyed the camps of the enemy; captured large amounts of supplies and 266 prisoners, in less than 80 days.
The strength of the enemy opposed to me in the engagement at Rocky Gap was 2,500, as near as could be ascertained by observations and from the reports of prisoners, and also from statements of rebel officers. I did not have 1,300 men in the front the first day.
I inclose tabular statement of my loss; also the report of the medical director, and a copy of orders received from Brigadier-General Kelley at Petersburg.
I cannot conclude this report without expressing my high commendation of the conduct of the officers and men of my command, who, heretofore accustomed to a lax discipline, have yielded to me always a cheerful obedience. With few exceptions, their behavior in battle has been worthy of great praise.
Among those who particularly distinguished themselves in action for gallantry and ability I would mention the following officers, viz.:
Capt. Paul von Koenig, aide-de-camp, killed.
First (West) Virginia Artillery: Capt. C. T. Ewing, wounded.
Second (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry:
Maj. P. McNally, died of wounds.
Eighth (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry:
Capts. W. L. Gardner, W. H. H. Parker, and Lieut. J. A. Morehart, killed.
Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry: Capt. John Bird, wounded and prisoner: Lieuts. John W. McNutt, M. W. Wilson, James Jackson and Ja- cob Schoop, wounded.
I was greatly indebted to the following named officers for their untiring energy and hearty cooperation during the battle: Lieuts. J. R. Meigs, of the Engineers, U. S. Army, and Will Rumsey, Capt. C. F. Trowbridge, and Lieut. L. Markbreit, aides-de-camp; Maj. T. F. Land, acting Assistant Inspector-General; Lieut. G. H. North, Assistant Quartermaster; Cols. J. M. Schoonmaker, Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and J. H. Oley, Eighth (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry; Lieuts. J. Combs, Adjutant Second (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry, and B. H. H. Atkinson, Battery B, First (West) Virginia Artillery.
I regret to report that Capt. Robert Pollock, Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, failed to make his appearance within view of the enemy and remained behind in a secluded place, with most of his company, where, I am informed, he was found asleep by the enemy after the command had been withdrawn.
Capt. James K. Billingsly, Second (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry, was too much intoxicated to perform his duties properly. He will be brought before a general court martial.
WM. W. AVERELL,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
BRIG.-GEN. LORENZO THOMAS,
BATTLE OF LEWISBURG
REPORT OF FEDERAL COMMANDER
FLAT TOP, May 24, 1862.
My Third Brigade, Colonel Crook commanding, was attacked yesterday morning at Lewisburg by General Heth, with 3,000 men, and after a lively engagement he [sic] routed them and they fled in confusion. Four of the enemy's cannon, 200 stand of arms and 100 prisoners taken. Our loss, 10 killed and about 40 wounded.
J. D. Cox,
Brigadier-General, Commanding District.
COL. ALBERT TRACY,
REPORT OF CONFEDERATE COMMANDER
UNION, MONROE COUNTY, VA.,
May 23, 1862.
I have the honor to state that after the rout of Cox's army by the combined forces of General Johnson and my own I at once concluded to attack the force at Lewisburg, and was the more determined upon this course when I learned that the enemy had divided his force at Lewisburg and sent a portion of it in the direction of Covington. This plan was communicated to you on assuming the command of the department; in fact, the movement had then already commenced.
I proceeded rapidly in the direction of Lewisburg. I had the most accurate information of the enemy's force in every respect. He numbered about 1,500 men (infantry)-two regiments-two mountain howitzers, and about 150 cavalry. The force I led against him numbered, about 2,000 infantry, three batteries and about 100 cavalry.
My chance of success was good, provided I could surprise the enemy and get into position. This I succeeded in doing far beyond my expectation. Most of his pickets were captured, and I attained without firing a shot that position in front of Lewisburg which I would have selected. The enemy retired to a range of hills corresponding in height on the west side of the town. As my regiments and batteries arrived they were deployed as follows:
Finney's battalion on the left, the Forty-fifth Regiment in the center, and the Twenty-second Virginia Regiment on the right; LieutenantColonel Cook's battalion of dismounted men, Eighth Virginia Cavalry, as the reserve.
While deploying and getting my batteries into position, the enemy, evidently in order to cover the retreat of his wagons, threw forward his smallest regiment, sending one-half to the right and the other to the left of the main approach to the town.
I advanced to meet him. I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Finney, commanding battalion, to occupy a small body of oak timber. In doing this Colonel Finney had to cross a wheat field. The enemy, numbering only three companies, opened upon his battalion a very severe fire, which possibly compelled his command to fall back. At this time the left of the enemy was in full retreat.
One of those causeless panics for which there is no accounting seized upon my command. Victory was in my grasp, instead of which I have to admit a most disgraceful retreat.
The field officers, among whom none were more conspicuous than the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Finney, as well as some few captains, threw themselves between the enemy and their retreating men, but threats and persuasions were alike unavailing. The result is, we mourn the loss of many a brave officer.
The only excuse that can be offered for the disgraceful behavior of three regiments and batteries is that they are filled with conscripts and newly officered UNDER THE ELECTION SYSTEM. I cannot as yet ascertain our exact loss, but will furnish you reports at my earliest convenience. By far the greater portion of the casualties was among the officers-a consequence of the panic.
I do not wish to be understood as shifting the responsibility of what has occurred upon the shoulders of my troops, for as a general is the recipient of honors gained, so he should bear his proportion of the result of the disaster. I simply give you a plain statement of facts apparent to all present.
I move to-morrow or next day to my original position at The Narrows, as the tents of my command are there.
I have the honor to be, &c.,
MAJ.-GEN. W. W. LORING,
Commanding, Department of Southwest Virginia.