Battle of Cheat Mountain

Donated by Conway L. Johnson

W. G. Graham to Captain Jones
September 21, 1861
(It appears Graham was a member of the 1st Tennessee Infantry)

Valley Mountain Camp
September 20th 1861

To Capt. Jones

Dear Friend Your favor of the 1st was recieved this morning, and it was with very great pleasure that I read of home and home friends. Letters received here in the mountains are "God send" nothing does more to lessen the solitude that the soldiers mind and heart too often falls into. I suppose that you have already heard some account of the late movements of our troops in this part of the state. You home folks cannot be more disappointed at the defeat of Gen Lees plans than we soldiers are. I will show you on the inclosed piece of yellow paper (which you will excuse me for using) how our troops as well as the enemy are posted. By referring to my rough sketch you see the road running north and south intersects what is called the Staunton and Parkersburg pike 20 miles from Valey mountain. Where the two roads intersect the enemy are strongly entrenched with a force of ten thousand men. 8 miles east on the Staunton road they have another much stronger entrenchment defended by 2 or 3 thousand men following the road on to the east some 20 or 30 miles. Monterrey a small town is defended by 7 or 8 thousand of our troops (who are also entrenched) commanded by Gen. Jackson. Gen Lee's head quarters are at Valey Mountain, where Anderson's and Donelsons brigades and Loring's brigade also are in position their forces amounting to about six thousand.Lee is in command of all our forces in western Virginia and he had matured a plan of attack which had it been carried out, must have succeeded though at a heavy sacrifice of human life. On the 10th our brigade commanded by Gen Anderson in person recieved orders to move forward by a mountain path that led by a circuitous route to a point on the Staunton and Parkersburg pike, between the two entrenchments ocupied by the enemy, and to hold the road for three hours on the morning of the 12th After the most wearysome march ever made by American soldiers we arrived at the appointed time and place. Immediately on arriving at the pike each company unslung knapsacks pike them on the side of the road and filed of down the road and fell in preparatory to marching half mile so as to gain better position. The left wing of our regiment marched in front, our company being the third from what was then the head of the colum, The bushes were so thick that you could not see ten feet into the woods, and our Gen, apprehending some danger of an ambuscade sent out skirmishers on both sides of the road with orders that at the appearing of the enemy to fire on them and retreat back to the main body. We had marched but two hundred yards before a shot was fired and our men run in. In less than ten seconds a voley was fired into the head of our column our men returned the fire and for about five minutes the bullets whistled merrily. Our company recieved the heaviest fire, We had one killed (an Irishman that joined us in East Tennessee) and three wounded John Groves Hugh Padgett and Dr Hooper, being situated as we were fired on by a concealed enemy, while we could only stand like a solid wall and guess where they were located. I think that they done some of the poorest shooting that I ever saw. After they had run away we found two or three of their dead within twenty feet of the road. There was two companies of them and under the circumstances they ought to have killed at least 25 or thirty of us when they only killed two, one from our company and one from the Pulaski company. I never got scared until about ten minutes after the fight was over. I do not know how many we killed I suppose about six or seven we wounded nine that we took as prisoners. We also took several prisoners who were passing the road among others a Lieutenant. You see two mountain paths marked on my map our brigade took the out side one Donelsons brigade started on the inside one at the same time, Gen Jackson was to attack the enemy at Cheat Mountain the fireing of his canon was to be a signal for Loring and Donelson to begin the attack at the intersection of the two roads our brigade being between the two positions held by the enemy who would prevent their reinforcing either and we would have cut off their retreat from either place Gen Jackson did not attack, I don't know why though I suppose he had good reason write soon to your friend W. G. Graham

(on top of first page)
I think from the movement of our troops and wagon trains that the campaign is over for the season in this part of the state W. G. G.

Civil War

West Virginia Archives and History