Page images

overlooking the enemy. But it was not altogether a surprise. Just before they reached the town the troops had passed a farm-house. A woman within that house sprang from her bed as she saw the lines of troops filing slowly by in the misty gray of the dawn, and guessed their object. She instantly aroused her little son and sent him by a short cross-road to give the alarm. The boy was quick of foot, but the hopes of conflict had so aroused the energies of these jaded men that he was but a few minutes in advance of them.

Lander's troops took position on a hill across the river and below the town, commanding it and the encampments around. He "at once planted two pieces of artillery, and prepared to open fire at exactly four o'clock, the hour agreed upon for the attack, which was to be made at once by both divisions. Lander was to assault them in front, while Kelly was to attack the rear and cut off all retreat. But Lander found his division alone before the enemy. The terrible night, the almost impassable roads, and a march of twenty-two miles had delayed Kelly's forces, and when he did arrive it was to come in by mistake below the town.

The presence of. Lander's troops aroused the town and threw it into terrible commotion. In vain Lander searched the distant hills, impatient for Kelly's appearance. The hour of attack had arrived and passed. The men became impatient as their leader, who, in his indomitable courage commenced the battle with a portion of his forces.

"When Lander gave the order his eager men sprang to their posts, and the artillery opened fire. As the first gun awoke its thunder on the encampments, Kelly advanced, but in the wrong direction. He instantly comprehended Lander's action, and with prompt courage charged upon the encampments. The batteries had by this time obtained the range, and were pouring in their messengers of terror and death, tearing through tents and cabins, and scattering the rebels like chaff in every direction. After firing a volley of musketry, Lander advanced.

Colonel Kelly's command was close upon the enemy, the Virginia troops in advance, the Henry Clay Guards in front, and Colonel Kelly and Captain Fordyce leading, while Colonel Lander's force came rushing down the hill to the bridge and joined in an impetuous pursuit of the fugitives. Colonel Kelly, who, with a bravery amounting almost to rashness, had been foremost from the very first, was shot by a concealed foe, the ball entering the left breast and lodging beneath the shoulder blade. As his men conveyed him to a place of safety, this brave man, while in the agony of his pain, exclaimed, "I expect I shall have to die. I would be glad to live, if it might be, that I might do something for my country, but if it cannot be, I shall have at least the consolation of knowing that I fell in a just cause." But he was not destined to he cut off in the zenith of his fame and usefulness. After a few weeks of danger and anguish he was again performing nohle duty for the country he loved so well.

In this dashing victory fifteen of the rebels were killed, a large number wounded, and ten taken prisoners, together with a quantity of camp equipage, arms, <&c. The organization of the rebels at that point was completely broken up, and the men driven to the mountains.


The bitter animosity of the rebel army was strikingly illustrated on the 23d July, by the destruction of a large number of locomotives and cars of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad by secession troops under the command of Colonel Thomas J. Jackson., Forty-eight locomotives and three hundred cars were blown up or burned, one of the engines having been previously wrapped in our national ensign. The road had been rendered impassable by the destruction of bridges, and, therefore, the rolling stock could not have been rendered available. Theestimated loss was about three-quarters of a million of dollars.


General McClellan, during the time that elapsed since his appointment, had been actively engaged in organizing his forces and getting them ready for efficient service. Scouting parties—an important feature of his department—were detailed for service, and raw troops replaced by experienced men. Colonel Kelly, who was now recovering from the wounds received at Phillipi, had been appointed by Governor Pierpont to the command of the Virginia brigade of volunteers. Gens. Morris, Hill, Schenck and Schleich were assigned their respective positions—the telegraph lines were put in order, and new ones for military purposes were constructed where necessary. The arrival of fresh regiments, among which Colonel Rosecranz made his appearance, added great activity to the department. On the side of the enemy were Generals Robert S. Garnett, Henry A. Wise, Ex-Governor, John B. Floyd, Ex-Secretary of War, and Colonel Pegram.

Columns of Federal troops were dispatched to attack the enemy, simultaneously, at three different points, and the first collision between them occurred on the 10th of July.


A brigade of rebels under Governor "Wise, crossed the Alleghanies to the head-waters of the Kanawha, with the intention of attacking the rear of McClellan's forces, while General Garnett was prepared to meet him in front. General Cox had been dispatched to this section with a considerable force of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky troops, and was encamped on the Kanawha about ten miles below its junction with Scarey Creek. Hearing that a portion of the rebel force had taken position at Scareytown, but four miles above his camp, on the other side of the river, and were entrenching themselves there, General Cox dispatched a force of about 1,000 men, consisting of the Twelfth Ohio, a portion of the Twenty-first Ohio, the Cleveland Artillery, and a detachment of cavalry, all under the command of Colonel Lowe, to dislodge the rebels if practicable. The column was ferried across the stream, and moved cautiously onward, the scouts semiring the country as they advanced. The enemy was found to be entrenched on the opposite side of Pocatallico Creek, here intersecting the Kanawha, protected by breastworks, and also sheltered by woods, about half 'way up a slope of high hills, having two pieces of artillery in position, while a portion of their infantry had possessed themselves of ten or twelve log huts, constituting the village of Scareytown, in which they had improvised loop-holes. The Federal troops were met by a discharge from the rebel battery as soon as they made their appearance; but the artillery of Captain Cotton soon got in position, and returned the fire of the enemy with good effect. The infantry were now ordered to advance, and rushed fearlessly across the stream, which was fordable, in the face of a heavy fire. The left wing, composed of portions of the Twelfth and Twenty-first Ohio, had reached the enemy's entrenchments, but being unsupported by the right, and a fresh regiment of the rebels appearing on the ground, they were compelled to retreat, leaving many of their dead and wounded on the field.

The loss of the Federal forces by this engagement was nine killed, thirty-eight wounded, and three missing. Of the rebel loss we have no record.

A great misfortune of the day, however, was the capture of five of the principal officers of General Cox's command, who were not attached to the expedition.

Colonels Woodruff and De Villers, Lieutenant-Colonel Neff, and Captains Austin and Hurd, prompted by an eager desire to witness the engagement in which they were not assigned a part, rode up the banks of the river to its junction with the creek, and hearing a loud shout, i

were led to believe that the Federal forces were victorious. They

procured a skiff, crossed the creek, and inadvertently strayed within the enemy's lines, where they were all made prisoners.


General Ganiett had at this time nearly 10,000 men under his command, and occupied a position at Beverly, on Tygart's Valley river, Randolph Co., in a valley of the Alleghany Mountains. Two good roads unite at an acute angle at this place, one leading westwardly to Buckhannon, and the other northwest to Phillipi. A mountainous ridge crosses both these roads in front of Beverly, and at each point of intersection General Garnett had an intrenched camp. The first was on the road to Buckhannon, called the Rich Mountain Camp, under command of Colonel Pegram; and the second, on the road to Phillipi, called Laurel Hill Camp, under General Garnett's personal command.

Early on the morning of the 11th of July, General Rosecrans was dispatched to attack Colonel Pegram, and dislodge him from his posi tion. General Morris was to make a simultaneous movement on the . position held by General Garnett.


Jolt 12, 1862.

The rebel entrenchments at Rich Mountain were very strong in their position, and were evidently to be taken only by a great sacrifice of life. They had rolled great trees down the steep sides of the mountain, and banding their branches into a general entanglement, filled the open spaces with earth and stones. The dense forest on all sides made the approach almost impassable. General Rosecranz was accordingly directed to attack them in their rear. For this purpose he took with him the Eighth and Tenth Indiana, and the Nineteenth Ohio, and under the leadership of an experienced guide, started about day- . light to ascend the mountain. The path was exceedingly difficult and < tedious, most of the distance being through thick laurel underbrush, almost impenetrable woods, and a broken, rocky region, which gave them a toilsome march of nearly nine miles. Meantime a courier from General McClellan with dispatches for General Rosecrans, had been captured by the rebels, who instantly took the alarm, and a body of 2,500 men were sent to the top of the mountain by a short route

which they commanded, and on the arrival of the Union forces they stood ready for defence. The rebels had three cannon in place, and awaited the troops, facing that part of the road where they would emerge from the timber. For some time there was skirmishing, the rebels firing their cannon into the woods at random. The Union troops had no cannon, and left the sheltering trees only long enough to deliver a volley at any one time, and then retired back to the bushes. They thus succeeded in drawing the enemy from his earthworks, and leading him into the open fields, where the encounter took place.

[graphic][merged small]

Colonel Lander called for twenty sharpshooters, who speedily left the cannon without men to work them. Their places were filled by others, when the Nineteenth Ohio, which had gained a position on high ground in the rear, poured in a tremendous volley, and giving loud cheers, rushed forward for a closer struggle. The Eighth and Tenth immediately charged upon the guns and carried them, and then the entire entrenchment. The enemy found it impossible to resist the impetuous and daring onset, and broke up instantly in a total rout. The action was short, but fiercely contested. One hundred and forty rebels were found killed, while the Federal loss was only twenty-five or thirty.

« PreviousContinue »