Page images
PDF
EPUB

The victors attempted to follow the flying enemy, but after proceeding a short distance were recalled, and formed in line, in anticipation of an attack from the fort, at the foot of the mountain. It appeared, however, that when their cannon ceased firing they gave up all as lost, and deserted their works. General Rosecranz remained on the field burying the dead, and taking care of the wounded, till next morning, when he marched down to the fort with his forces, and took possession. Several hundred prisoners were taken on the field, and Colonel Pegram, after wandering about nearly two days without finding a chance to escape, surrendered unconditionally to General McClellan, with the remnant of his command, numbering six hundred men.

BATTLE OP OAEEIOK'S POED.

July IS, 1861.

While these stirring events were transpiring, General Garnett, hearing of the combined movements, and conscious that he would be unable to maintain his position, or make a successful retreat if defeated, withdrew his forces from the Laurel Hill camp, and was proceeding towards Beverly, when he received intelligence of the surrender of Colonel Pegram and the rapid advance of General Rosecranz, accompanied by the intrepid Colonel Lander, towards the spot he was himself approaching. He then struck off on the Leading Creek Pike, half a mile from Leadsville, and commenced a rapid retreat towards St. George, in Tucker county.

General Morris's brigade entered the rebel camp at Beverly at 10 A. M. of Friday, the 12th of July. At 11 o'clock the Federal troops detailed to follow General Garnett started in pursuit, under Captain Benham. The advance comprised Colonel Steedman's Ohio Fourteenth, Colonel Milroy's Ninth and Colonel Dumont's Seventh Indiana, and two pieces of artillery, with forty men—total about eighteen hundred and fifty. At two o'clock on the morning of the 13th they set out in a pitiless storm, guided by the baggage, tents, trunks, blankets, knapsacks, aad clothing thrown away by the enemy. The roads had been obstructed by the retreating foe. A guide, however, led them by a cross-road, which enabled them to gain rapidly on the enemy. On reaching the track again, it was found necessary to keep an advance of axe-men to clear the obstructions. This was performed with the greatest zeal and alacrity, while the storm raged furiously around them.

About noon General Garnett had reached and passed Kahler's Ford, twelve miles from St. George. When the advance of the Federal troops emerged from the ford they caught sight of the rear of the enemy, and they were instantly nerved with new life. The retreating Southerners were also excited, and redoubled their speed, if possible, throwing away everything that encumbered their progress. General Garnett had become thoroughly convinced that there was no alternative but to make a stand, and thus test the question of superiority without delay. He continued his course, however, until he came to the fourth ford on the river, known as Carrick's Ford, and prepared to receive his pursuers. On the left bank of the river were level bottom lands, coi n-fields, and meadows. On the right high bluffs commanded the fields below, and its bank was thickly hedged in with impenetrable thickets of laurel. Fording the river, and placing his men on the high bluff on the right, they were completely concealed, while the situation gave his artillery every advantage. The wagon train was left standing in the river, evidently to mislead his pursuers with the idea that they were unable to cross the rocky bed of the stream. The Federal troops advanced to seize the train, and were consequently within range of his artillery on the bluff.

The Federal columns pushed rapidly forward, Colonel Steedmau's Fourteenth Ohio in front, and as they approached the teams their drivers called out that they would surrender. The position, and the conduct of the teamsters, however, excited the suspicions of the regiment, and the men were disposed in order, with skirmishers thrown out towards the ford, the line moving down after them in the finest order. Just as the advance were approaching the stream, and • only about two hundred yards from the steep bluff on the other side, an officer rose from the bushes and gave the order to fire. Immediately a volley of musketry was followed by a discharge of artillery. The Fourteenth Ohio and Seventh Indiana were directly under the fire, and returned it, doing good execution, while that of the enemy flew harmlessly over their heads. The Fourteenth Ohio, being nearest the ford, were almost exclusively aimed at, and for a time the storm of war was frightful. The roar of cannon, the crashing of trees, the bursting of the shells, and quick volleys of musketry made the wild scene of terrible and appalling havoc. . .Amid it all our men stood undaunted, and returned the fire with great rapidity, and in superior order. Burnett's artillery then came up, and opened, and under cover of their fire the Seventh Indiana was directed to cross the river and climb the bluff on the enemy's left. They made the attempt, and two companies had already reached the top, when they were directed to descend and make the ascent so as to turn the enemy's right. Colonel Dumont led his m«u down the stream with such dispatch, that the enemy could not turn his pieces upon them until they were concealed from view by the smoke, and beyond the guns on the bluff. During this movement the Fourteenth Ohio, and Colonel Milroy's Ninth Indiana, with our artillery, kept up a brisk fire in front, until suddenly Colonel Dumont's men, having scaled the bluff, appeared on the right, and poured in a volley. The appearance of our troops there was the signal for a retreat, and the enemy instantly broke up in rout and disorder, precipitately flying from, the field.

Our regiments and artillery then crossed the river in hot pursuit. At a distance of a quarter of a mile the road again crosses the stream, and General Garnett sought in vain to rally his troops at this point. Major Gordon of the Seventh Indiana led the advance, and soon reached the spot where General Garnett, on the opposite side of the river, was endeavoring to rally his forces around him. Gordon called upon Captain Ferry's company, and ordered them to fire. The rebels greeted Major Gordon with one volley and fled. General Garnett turned to. call his men, and motioned them back, but a I in vain. At this moment, Sergeant Burlingame, of Captain Ferry's company, raised his piece, took aim, and fired. General Garnett fell backward, his head lying towards our forces, andswith open mouth, as though gasping for breath. He uttered not a groan, and when Major Gordon reached him, a few moments afterwards, he was just expiring. The Major stooped down, tenderly closed his eyes, disposed his limbs, and left a guard of loyal soldiers around him to protect all that remained of the chivalrous and honored, but mistaken leader of Western Virginia.

Every Virginian among the followers of this gallant man fled, and left him to fall and expire alone. But a young soldier wearing the Georgia uniform and button, sprang to his side, only to share his fate, for a musket shot answered this devotion with death, and he fell side by side with bis commander. The Federal troops, even in the glow of victory, stopped to pay a tribute of respect to this generous youth. They placed a board at his grave and cut rudely upon it, "A brave fellow, who shared his General's fate and fell fighting by his side. Name unknown."

The loss of our troops was killed, two; wounded, twelve. The enemy lost eight on the field, three died in hospital, and ten others were wounded. A large number of prisoners were taken, including six Georgia captains and lieutenants, a surgeon, and a numbed of noncommissioned officers. Beside prisoners, there were also captured two stands of colors, one rifled cannon, forty loaded wagons, hundreds of muskets and side arms, with other effects of various kinds.

Tins action is honorable in the highest degree to all engaged in it. They had pursued and overtaken an enemy who had twelve hours advance; they had made a forced march of nearly thirty miles in less than twenty-four hours, over the worst of roads, and with scarcely any food, some of the men having been without nourishment for thirty-six hours. They then fought a battle, cut off the enemy's baggage train, captured their cannon, routed their army, and found themselves in full possession of the field. The day and the event will ever be memorable, and Ohio and Indiana may well be proud of their sons.

The remainder of General Garnett's army effected their escape through the Cheat Mountain Gap, which was seized and fortified by General McClellan. In these two engagements 150 of the enemy were killed, 300 wounded, upwards of 1000 prisoners were taken, and nearly all their war material fell into the hands of the victors.

The loyal troops were too much exhausted by the incessant labors and privations of their three days' struggle to pursue the scattered and dispirited enemy any further through the mountains, and went into camp at Huttonville and Law el Hill, to await the next call to duty. General McClellan closed his dispatch of July 14th, with the words, "I firmly believe that secession is killed in this section of the country."

During the battle an incident illustrating the coolness, bravery and generosity of Colonel-Lander towards a brave foeman occurred, that deserves honorable mention. The horse of the Colonel had been shot from under him, and he, dismounted, had taken his stand upon a rock directly in front of a rebel gun. Discharging musket after musket, as fast as they could be loaded for him, he remained a noted mark for the enemy to shoot at. At a short distance, all the men belonging to a cannon of the Confederates had been shot down or fled, and their Lieutenant was undauntedly serving and firing it, single-handed. Three times had it belched forth flame and ball, when Colonel Lander, noticing the bravery of the man, called out to him—

"If you fire that gun again you are a dead man!"

"Sir, I shall fire it as long as I have life in my body!" was the cool, fearless and curt reply.

This was an instance of noble courage well calculated to be appreciated by a true soldier, and the Union Colonel, leaping from the rock, shouted to his men—

"Boys, that is too brave a man for me to kill."

-l

* ■

On the 21st of July the Federal army under General McDowell, having suffered severely, and retreated from Manassas, General McClellan, who by his achievements had earned a brilliant prestige, was ordered, on the 22d, to Washington, to take command of the Department of the Potomac, and General Rosecranz was appointed to succeed him in the Department of the Ohio.

THE WEST.

Comprehended within the boundaries' of that noble portion of our country called "The West," is a people who can justly claim to be not only of the best muscle and nerve of the land, but second to none in intellectual vigor and sterling integrity of character. A single thought tells us how just this claim is. The West was settled by the picked men and women of the old States. When the sloping-roofed farmhouses of New England became too circumscribed for the sons and daughters that filled them, the most enterprising members of a household left the rest to till the homestead acres while they went forth into the wilderness to cut the forest trees away, and let sunshine into the shadowy bosom of the woods, to build their log cabins in the first clearing, and so work out a sure independence for themselves, as they became benefactors to the world.

In the end both position and wealth followed .these daring pioneers. As the roving Indian slowly retreated from the frontier which was stretching westward every hour, sweeping the wilderness away with it, he found the rich earth lavish of her returns for his self-sacrifice and his labor. He drank in enlargement of thought and purpose from amid the luxuriant prairies and vast wilderness which spread its untrodden bosom between his home and the Rocky Mountains. He watched the Father of Rivers cleaving the best portions of a continent with his broad waters, and drank in lessons of true freedom which will never lose their value to his descendants. With a rifle for his companion and an axe for his best friend, the backwoodsman of America learned the art of border warfare, and trained himself in a school of hardship that made his sinews firm as iron and capable of resisting any fatigue.

With hearts and minds expanding with the boundless scenes around them, these adventurous men grew so careless of danger that the word fear was blotted from their lexicon long before the present generation came into existence.

Is it strange that the descendants of such men should be open-handed, grand-hearted and brave, as we have found them in this war for our common Union? The enthusiasm of the old men who have dropped quietly away into their western graves, has broken forth anew in. this younger generation. Like a spark of fire dropped upon a prairie in the autumn, their enthusiasm is easily enkindled. A single word against the old flag, one sacrilegious touch upon its flag-staff, was enough to rouse them into action. Nowhere on earth is the stars and stripes held more sacred than in the West. The first ball that cut through the flag

« PreviousContinue »