Series I, Vol. 29, Part 1
HDQRS. 4TH SEPARATE BRIGADE, 8TH ARMY CORPS,
Beverly, W. Va., September 1, 1863.
GENERAL : 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 horse-shoes 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 horse-shoe 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 5 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 5 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 3 miles from Huntersville, which was difficult to carry on account of the precipitous character of the sides, I made a false advance, on the 23d, 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 near by. A large number of canteens, stretchers, and hospital supplies fell into our hands.
The 23d 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 tne 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 reconnaissance 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 co-operation 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 Koenigwas received by me, at the head of the column, that the enemy were resisting his advance, and desiring re-enforcements. 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 farther 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 4 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, 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 showed us that both chances had failed; that the enemy had received ammunition, and that re-enforcements 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 re-enforcements 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 eighty 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 Jacob Schoop, wounded.
I was greatly indebted to the following-named officers for their untiring energy and hearty co-operation 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. Lang, acting assistant inspector-general; Lieut. G. H. North, assistant quartermaster; Cols. J. N. 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. Billingsiy, 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,
Report of Col. George S. Patton, Twenty-second Virginia Infantry, commanding brigade.
HDQRS. FIRST BRIGADE, ARMY OF WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Lewisburg, August 31, 1863.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report : I arrived on the morning of the 30th instant, about 9.30 o'clock, with my command (after a march of nearly twenty-four consecutive hours) at the junction of the Huntersville road with the James River and Kanawha turnpike. Information had been received the night before of the presence of the enemy on the latter road, moving in the direction of the White Sulphur Springs and Lewisburg, and I had been ordered by Major-General Jones to endeavor to intercept him. This cross-road is about a mile and a half east of the springs, and is just where the latter road emerges from a mountain gorge.
The enemy's advance was discovered just as the Twenty-sixth Virginia Battalion, under Lieut. Col. George M. Edgar, reached and passed the junction. I immediately ordered Colonel Edgar to countermarch his men and form them in line of battle across the road, facing to the eastward, and to deploy a company of skirmishers to his left and front, and to advance to Miller's house at the point -, on the accompanying diagram. This company, under command of Capt. Edmund S. Read, commenced the engagement by firing upon and driving back the enemy's advance.
Capt. G. B. Chapman's battery of four pieces now came up at a gallop, and immediately formed battery to the left of the Huntersville road in rear of Colonel Edgar's battalion and on a knoll, and opened fire upon the road along which the enemy was advancing and upon his reconnoitering parties, which had now appeared. The Twenty-second and Forty-fifth Virginia Regiments next came up in fine style, and were formed in line of battle, the first on the left and the latter on the right of the battery.
The enemy now brought six pieces of artillery to bear, and opened fire upon Chapman, who replied with great spirit and accuracy. An artillery duel of great heat ensued and lasted for more than two hours, when one of our pieces was disabled and another temporarily silenced.
In the meantime the Twenty-second Regiment was advanced to a fence running across a gentle ascent of open ground, and five of its companies deployed as skirmishers to take possession of the thickly wooded hill on the left of Miller's house, connecting on the right with Colonel Edgar's skirmishers. The Forty-fifth Virginia Regiment also was advanced on the right through a corn-field and took position with Colonel Edgar, who with them hastily threw up a rail barricade across the road and bottom, to an abrupt and well-wooded hill on their right, on which Major Woodram, with three companies, had been posted to observe the enemy's movements in that direction. Observing that the enemy was moving forces to his left, I ordered Colonel Browne, of the Forty-fifth Virginia, to move by the right flank, possess the hill, and hold it against the enemy.
These dispositions were scarcely concluded when the enemy advanced along the whole line and the action became general and heavy. Our skirmishers in advance on the left were now hotly pressed by largely superior numbers, but under the leadership of Lieut. Col. Andrew R. Barbee, of the Twenty-second Virginia Regiment, held their ground with admirable tenacity until their ammunition was exhausted, when they fell back in good order without any confusion, and, with the exception of a part of one company which was able to rejoin its regiment, were, by the nature of the ground, forced to take position on the extreme left of our line. In this change of position Lieut. Col. A. R. Barbee was severely wounded after being conspicuous for gallantry.
Repeated charges were now made on the right and left, which were in every instance handsomely repulsed. Desperate efforts were made to dislodge the Forty-fifth Regiment, but the steadiness of that regiment and the courage and skill of its commander foiled them all. During this time the fire of musketry and artillery was heavy and continuous. Chapman with his two pieces gallantly holding his own against the six of the enemy.
The enemy were bringing fresh troops into action and strengthening their position and line, and the issue of the contest seemed doubtful, when Lieutenant-Colonel Derrick, with his Twenty-third Virginia Battalion and about 200 of the Thirty-seventh Virginia Cavalry Battalion, arrived from Greenbrier Bridge. Colonel Derrick, with the Twenty-third, was immediately advanced to the left of the Twenty-second Regiment, not in the prolongation of the same line, as at first intended, but equally as near the enemy on the opposite hill, which tended in his direction.
In order to get to his position Colonel D. was compelled to move under a perfect storm of shot and shell, which caused some loss and some confusion, which latter was quickly remedied by that gallant officer. In obedience to my instructions, two companies of the Twenty-third, under Major Blessing, advanced through the open field under a galling fire, and took position on the left of the Twenty- second Regiment, where they remained during the remainder of the action.
At this juncture the enemy made a determined charge against Major Bailey near the center of our lines, who handsomely repulsed them, and drove them back in confusion, capturing their leader, Major McNally, and killing and wounding many within 15 paces of our lines.
This charge had hardly been repulsed when the enemy formed a squadron of cavalry on the main road, who charged Colonel Edgar's position, but were driven back in utter confusion and rout, many of their horses coming into our lines. A second charge was no more successful.
Having thus tried the left and center, a very heavy force of at least two regiments was formed to force my right, but Colonel Browne, ever vigilant, informed me in time to send him Major Claiborne, with about 200 men of the Thirty-seventh Battalion, and with them again repulsed the enemy with great slaughter.
It was now getting late in tne evening. The enemy had been repulsed at all points, and not a foot of ground lost by our men since morning. For some time the action was almost suspended, except for the dropping fire of sharpshooters and the occasional boom of a gun. Just at sunset, however, the increased rapidity of the firing and the reopening of artillery foretold another attack. For a few moments the firing was very heavy, and then the enemy charged Colonel Edgar's position, but, as usual, was repulsed handsomely. It was now night, and, after nine hours of fighting, the action ceased, the enemy still remaining in front. Sentinels were posted in front of the lines, and the two forces lay down to rest less than 300 yards apart.
The night was spent in visiting the lines, strengthening the weak points, and causing the wounded to be removed and cared for. At daybreak the attempt was again made to storm our position, but with so little spirit that it was evident that the enemy had lost confidence. They replied to our artillery, however, and maintained a brisk fire of small-arms until about noon, when, after another ineffectual attack, they commenced to retreat. Pursuit was immediately made by Col. J. M. Corns, of the Eighth Virginia Cavalry, with a portion of his regiment, the Thirty-seventh Battalion, and a piece of artillery, and the infantry advanced.
It was soon found, however, that the enemy had so heavily blockaded in their rear that much delay would be experienced. Pioneer parties were detailed to cut out the blockade, and very early the next morning the cavalry started again in pursuit, the infantry also moving as far as Callaghan's, when it was found that the enemy had passed Gatewood's, where it had been hoped they would have been intercepted by Colonel Jackson's command. I was then ordered by the major-general commanding to return to this point.
My force in the action consisted of the Forty-fifth and Twenty- second Virginia Regiments, Twenty-sixthVirginia Battalion, Twenty- third Virginia Battalion, a detachment of the Thirty-seventh Cavalry Battalion, and Chapman's battery of four pieces; in all about 1,900 men. Colonel Corns, with his cavalry, was not in the action on the first day, and only a mall portion on the second day, yet rendered efficient service in pursuit. The enemy's force was all mounted (about 3,500 strong), under Brigadier-General Averell, and consisted of five regiments, a battalion, and six pieces of artillery.
Our loss was 154 killed and wounded and 18 missing. That of the enemy, as estimated by themselves (especially a captured surgeon), between 400 and 500. We captured 117 prisoners, including a major and 3 captains (many of them wounded), and - pieces of artillery.
It would be invidious, where all conducted themselves so well, to make particular mention of any, but I feel bound to express my appreciation of the high service of the regimental and battalion commanders, and Capt. G. B. Chapman, of the battery. I also take great pleasure in mentioning the valuable services of Major McLaughlin, chief of artillery of this department, who was with me during the entire action, and aided me much by his excellent judgment, and acted with conspicuous gallantry.
My thanks are also especially due to Lieut. J. W. Branham, of General Echols' personal staff, who has been serving with me since the general has been absent. He did us great service by a reconnaissance in rear of the enemy, the result of which he reported just as we were going into action, and during the fight he exhibited the utmost energy, skill, and courage.
I take occasion also to call favorable attention to the conduct and gallantry of Lieut. Noyes Rand, acting assistant adjutant-general of the brigade ; Lieut. E. C. Gordon, ordnance officer ; Lieut. James F. Patton, acting brigade inspector, and Lieut. Henry C. Caldwell, volunteer aide.
Lieut. Col. A. C. Dunn, although under arrest, offered his services on the field ; throughout behaved in the most soldierlike and gallant manner, and at a critical moment encouraged his men by his voice and example.
My thanks are also due to Maj. W. B. Myers, assistant adjutant- general; Capt. R. L. Poor, Engineer Corps, and Lieut. P. C. Warwick, of General Jones' staff, who gave me their services and behaved most gallantly.
I must not omit to mention the valuable services of the medical staff of the brigade, who were always on hand and promptly attended to the wounded. Dr. Beard, of Greenbrier, not in the service, was present as acting surgeon of the Twenty-sixth Virginia Battalion, and was most conspicuous for energy ana efficiency.
I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
GEO. S. PATTON,
Maj. C. S. STRINGFELLOW,
Report of Maj. R. Augustus Bailey, Twenty-second Virginia Infantry.
LIEUTENANT : I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Twenty-second Virginia Regiment in the action of August 26 and 27, near the White Sulphur Springs:
In obedience to an order from Col. George S. Patton, commanding the Confederate forces, the Twenty-second Regiment, consisting of nine companies (Company K being stationed at the Narrows of New River), was formed in line of battle to support and immediately in front of Chapman's battery, with orders to hold the position at all hazards, this being the center of the Confederate lines. The strength of the regiment actually in the fight was about 500, aggregate.
Soon after forming, the following companies, i. e., Companies A, B, E, G, and H, were detached by Lieutenant-Colonel Barbee and deployed as skirmishers on a ridge about 1,000 yards in front of and stretching some distance to the left of the four remaining companies under my charge. The skirmishing companies soon became hotly engaged, holding their ground for some time, stubbornly resisting and beating back the enemy until, being attacked by a much superior force, they were compelled to fall back on the line. In making this movement Companies H, E, G, B, and a portion of Company A, all under the command of Lieut. Col. A. R. Barbee, took position on the extreme left of the line, with Colonel Derrick. The other portion of Company A fell back to the companies under my command. Of the further action of the four above-mentioned companies I am unable to speak, as they were not ordered up to my line till the fight was over.
About this time Lieutenant-Colonel Barbee was wounded, when the command of the regiment devolved upon me. The four companies and the half of the fifth under my charge went into the fight with the following numbers: Company A, 30 privates and 3 commissioned officers (during the night the remainder of this company was brought up); Company C, 45 privates and non-commissioned officers and 1 commissioned officer; Company D, 44 privates and non-commissioned officers and 3 commissioned; Company F, 44 privates and non-commissioned officers and 3 commissioned officers, and Company G, 35 privates and non-commissioned officers and 4 commissioned officers.
The position assigned my command - an open field, without any protection save such as was afforded by a low rail fence - was much exposed during the entire fight to a heavy fire of musketry and the frequent discharge of grape, shell, and canister, which the enemy threw with great accuracy, in consequence of which we lost heavily the first day.
Notwithstanding the great disadvantages under which they labored; the officers and men acted most nobly, repelling the oft-repeated and daring attempts of the enemy to dislodge them. The commanders of companies and their subaltern officers are entitled to much praise for their coolness under fire and the tenacity with which they held their ground.
The enemy, having signally failed with artillery in all their attempts to drive my command back, brought one regiment up in front, with one more as a support, and commenced a spirited and bold charge on my lines. This may be considered the most critical moment. My ammunition was almost entirely exhausted - few had more than five rounds, many none at all. This caused some to break to the rear, but they were easily rallied by their company officers. The enemy, advancing with loud cheers, made a most desperate assault on our lines. Here the bravery of the troops was conspicuous. Led on by their company officers, they determinedly met the foe and repulsed them in handsome style, driving them in confusion beyond their own lines, killing many, and wounding and capturing the field- officer who headed the charge.
My thanks are due Lieut. E. T. Jackson, acting adjutant, for his prompt execution of orders, and Sergeant-Major Quarrier for his exertions in keeping the men at their post.
Too much credit cannot be given Capt. John K. Thompson, acting field-officer, who assisted me much by his coolness and conspicuous gallantry.
While the enemy were vigorously attacking my lines two companies from Derrick's battalion came bravely to our assistance and rendered good service. After this charge was broken we were exposed to a continuous fire of artillery and small-arms till after nightfall. During the night the command was busily engaged preparing for the following day.
At daybreak of the 37th, the enemy opened on us again and kept up a spirited fire until about 11 a. m., when they again attempted to form and charge us; but were whipped, scattered, and driven in disorder back before they could form, and being repulsed along the entire line, retreated hastily from the field.
My command was under fire twelve hours the first day and about five the second. Captured 20 prisoners, among them 1 field-officer, and brought off a good many guns and pistols.
Attached to this report you will find a list of the casualties in this regiment.
I have the honor, lieutenant, to remain, very respectfully, &c.,
R. A. Bailey,
Major, Twenty-second [Virginia Infantry].
Lieut. Noyes Rand,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
Report of Lieut. Col. Clarence Derrick, Twenty-third Virginia Infantry Battalion.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS,
SIR : I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Twenty-third Battalion in the battle of White Sulphur Springs on the 26th and 27th instant:
I arrived on the field about 10 a. m,, and was ordered to support the Twenty-second Regiment Virginia Volunteers. I immediately proceeded by the most direct route to gain a position on the prolongation of the line occupied by the Twenty-second, but upon arriving on the ground I found that it would be utterly impossible to maintain that position. I therefore placed my command some hundred yards to the rear of the left of the line previously occupied by our force. I then made dispositions of the force under me to secure the left of the line in my front, and also to prevent any flank movement of the enemy on our extreme left.
In obedience to instructions received from yourself, I ordered two companies from my right to strengthen and support the left of the Twenty-second Virginia. These companies, led by Major Blessing, gallantly charged to the position assigned them through a perfect storm of shot, shell, and ball about 1 p.m. on the 26th. The position thus obtained by the Twenty-third Battalion was maintained until the enemy retreated. The line was almost continuously engaged from the time the troops arrived on the field until about 12 m. on the 27th instant.
The following is a list of casualties in the battalion.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Col. GEORGE S. PATTON,
Commanding First Brigade.
Report of Lieut. Col. George M. Edgar, Twenty-sixth Virginia Infantry Battalion.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. VA.,
August 29, 1863.
LIEUTENANT: It becomes my duty to submit, through you, to the colonel commanding a report of the part which the Twenty-sixth Virginia Battalion bore in the engagement of the 26th and 27th instant:
Upon the approach of the enemy I was ordered to throw my battalion across the turnpike at its intersection with the road leading from Anthony's Creek. I immediately formed four of my companies on the left of the intersection of the two roads, and ordered Major Woodram to form the other four on the right. Major Woodram formed his companies farther to the right than was intended, placing them in the edge of the woods on the right of the bottom; but the position selected by him being a good one, he was ordered to remain there.
While the battalion was forming I caused the road to be blockaded, and threw forward a company (Capt. E. S. Read's) as skirmishers in front of my left wing. Shortly after these dispositions were made the Forty-fifth Virginia Regiment was ordered up to occupy the space left between, my right and left wings. I then withdrew one company from Major Woodram and placed it on my left. Soon afterward the Forty-fifth Regiment was ordered to another position, leaving me with but four companies to defend the whole line from the mountain on my right to the field occupied by the Twenty-second Virginia Regiment on my left.
My skirmishers opened the engagement about 9.30 a. m., and after exhausting their ammunition were compelled to fall back to the left of the line occupied by the Twenty-third Virginia Battalion. The firing then became general between my main line and the enemy's (infantry and artillery), and continued with scarcely any intermission until about 2 o'clock, when a furious charge was made on my center by a squadron of cavalry, numbering about 100 men. This charge was successfully resisted, not more than five of the enemy returning in their saddles. A second charge was soon after made by a company of cavalry, which was resisted with equal success. In these charges a number of wounded prisoners, horses, and cavalry equipments were captured.
There was but little firing upon my line from this time (about 2.30 p. m.) until 5 or 5.30 p. m., when a heavy fire was opened upon it and continued until 8 p. m., during which a heavy line of the enemy's infantry charged upon my position, delivering its fire, as nearly as I could judge (for it was after dark), not more than 50 yards from our position. This charge was most successfully resisted, but with heavy loss, the enemy retiring about 8 o'clock.
During the night of the 26th, my line was strengthened, the three companies in command of Major Woodram being withdrawn from the mountain to strengthen my right, and a company of the Eighth Virginia Cavalry, under Major Bowen, being placed on my left flank.
On the morning of the 27th, my line was further strengthened by the accession of a company of the Eighth Virginia Cavalry to my right flank. My pickets were driven in about 5 a. m. and a desultory fire was kept up between our sharpshooters and those of the enemy until about 11 a. m., at which time a spirited fire was commenced, which was continued until the enemy retired, about 12 m. My skirmishers then advanced, by order of Colonel Patton, commanding brigade, until it became known that the enemy's position had been abandoned and his forces were in precipitate retreat.
It gives me great pleasure to be able to bear testimony to the general good conduct of the officers and men of my command during the entire engagement. Though my command occupied a much longer and weaker line than it was reasonable to expect so small a command to hold, there was not a moment at which there was the least faltering. On the contrary, both officers and men displayed at all times courage and efficiency that I have never seen excelled. But while all did their duty, I desire especially to commend the gallantry and efficiency of Maj. Richard Woodram, Capt. John S. Swann, Capt. T. C. Morton, Capt. James H. Peck, Adjt. H. B. Craig, Lieut. J. W. McDowell, and Cadet Welch; Private Peters, of Company C, and Private Jones, of Company E.
The following persons are highly commended by their company commanders: Sergeants Wertenbaker and Woods; Privates Joseph A. Holcomb, Edward S. Raines, J. P. Hannah, and George A. Peal, Company A; Privates Fulton Scudder and William Loudermilk, Company B ; Sergeant Thompson, Corpl. J. F. Erwin, and Private Robert R. Humphreys, Company D; First Lieut. C. M. D. Spradlin, and Sergt. J. L. A. Cawley, Company F, and Lieut. James B. Peck and Sergt. Robert P. Haynes, Company H.
Capt. Edmund S. Read's company having been compelled, while deployed as skirimshers, to retire to the left of the Twenty-third Battalion, I had no opportunity of noticing the conduct of its officers on the field, but feel confident they sustained their reputation for gallantry and efficiency in action.
The strength of the battalion on the 26th was about 300, and on the 27th about 325 men.
Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing was 33 officers and men, a list of whom is herewith inclosed.
I take great pleasure in adding that the conduct of the officers and men of the Eighth Virginia Cavalry who supported my right and left flanks on the 27th was in the highest degree praiseworthy. I am, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. M. EDGAR.
Lieut. Noyes Rand,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, First Brigade.
Report of Col. William H. Browne, Forty-fifth Virginia Infantry.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. VA.,
COLONEL: Pursuant to General Orders, No. - , I respectfully submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment in the battle of White Sulphur Springs on the 26th and 87th instant:
Under your direction I formed my line of battle, the left joining Lieutenant-Colonel Edgar's right, at the junction of the White Sulphur Springs and the Warm Springs turnpike with the Anthony's Creek road, my line extending across the low ground to the base of the ridge on the right. By your order I also sent 100 men under Captain Thompson, Company A, to occupy the ridge upon our right.
Soon after I had formed my line of battle and caused a barricade of rails to be built in my front Captain .Thompson notified me that the enemy was pressing him. I immediately sent another company with Lieutenant-Colonel Harman and ordered him to take command upon the ridge. In a very short while Lieutenant-Colonel Harman sent me word the enemy in force were endeavoring to turn our right flank, which information was sent to you. I awaited your order, which was to occupy the ridge with my whole regiment. I did so, my right resting on the brow of the first hill at a point opposite the toll-gate, my left opposite a point on the road about 100 yards below the burned house and facing from the same, thus forming a line longer than my regiment, which I occupied by placing my men on the strongest points.
Previous to my arrival, Lieutenant-Colonel Harman had repulsed the advance of the enemy. While placing my men in the position indicated, my left was attacked. Major Davis, whom I had left in charge of the center, ordered a company forward to support the left wing, and skirmishers under Lieutenant-Colonel Harman. This order being promptly executed, the enemy was repulsed. This company moved forward 100 yards beyond and perpendicular to the line of my left wing, which line I afterward adopted, as my line of defense.
When I first occupied the ridge under your order, I found Major Woodram, of the Twenty-sixth Virginia Battalion, with one company and parts of two companies of said battalion. I placed this detachment, with two companies of my regiment, on a ridge upon my right, and left them in charge of Major Woodram.
The company which had advanced to the front of the left wing being heavily pressed by the enemy, another company was placed in position upon its left. These two companies, under Lieuienant- Colonel Harman, repelled four successive charges of the enemy. During this time the enemy were skirmishing in front of my center and right flank, but was promptly driven back, and Lieutenant- Colonel Harman re-enforced by two companies and a half from my first line.
Ascertaining the enemy was preparing to attack me in greater force, I found it necessary to strengthen my line of defense, and Colonel Dunn's battalion was ordered forward to my right, which was promptly done under direction of Major Davis, and in time to assist me in resisting two furious attacks of the enemy re-enforced. This battalion was under command of Major Claiborne. I take pleasure in attesting the gallant bearing of the officers and men of that command while these events were transpiring. Lieutenant- Colonel Edgar requested re-enforcements, and I sent him about 40 men.
During the night Lieutenant-Colonel Edgar's men, under Major Woodram, were sent to him, and my re-enforcement to Colonel Edgar withdrawn. My line extended to the right by the addition of the companies withdrawn from Major Woodram, and Lieutenant-Colonel Edgar was strengthened by rails and logs forming a barricade. My entire regiment now occupied the line of my defense. At dawn of day on the morning of the 27th, I repulsed another attack of the enemy, after which there was no more fighting upon my front, except an occasional shot from the tree-tops.
During the engagement I kept a line of skirmishers from my left wing along the ridge in the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Edgar's right, who, in connection with my left wing, gave a cross-fire to any advance upon Lieutenant-Colonel Edgar's front.
During the engagement I repulsed eight separate and distinct charges of the enemy, besides frequent engagements with his skirmishers. In a majority of these charges the enemy came within the distance of fifteen or twenty paces of my line, and I am well satisfied I did him great damage, capturing some, killing and wounding large numbers. Notwithstanding the long marches my men had made (having marched about 100 miles during the four days preceding the engagement), I had no stragglers or skulkers. I have never on any battle-field seen men act cooler and braver; they fought with a determination to do or die.
I hope it will not be invidious to particularize Company F, commanded by Lieutenant Crockett, and Company C, commanded by Captain Cox. until he was wounded, afterwards by Lieutenant Blevins. Men never acted better, having alone repulsed four attacks of the enemy in vastly superior force.
The assistance rendered by my field-officers and adjutant was inestimable. It is scarcely necessary to say that they behaved with marked gallantry.
My surgeon, Dr. B. H. Hoyt, rendered every needful attention to the wounded, and exhibited the highest surgical skill in his operations and treatment.
Inclosed you will find a list of the casualties in my regiment resulting from the action.
Your obedient servant,
WM. H. BROWNE,
Colonel, Comanding Forty-fifth Virginia Regiment.
Col. GEORGE S. PATTON,
Commanding First Brigade, Army of Western Virginia.
Report of Maj. William McLaughlin, C. S. Artillery.
LEWISBURG, W. VA.,
COLONEL: At your request I submit the following report of the operations of the artillery in the battle of White Sulphur Springs on the 26th and 27th instant:
Having ascertained that the enemy were advancing in force, I ordered up two pieces of Captain Chapman's battery, which were rapidly brought up and placed in position and opened upon the enemy, which, with the assistance of Captain Read's company of the Twenty- sixth Virginia Battalion deployed as skirmishers, succeeded in checking the enemy until the other troops could be put in position. The other two pieces of the battery were soon placed in position in the same neighborhood.
This battery (the only one present) then engaged the enemy's battery of four Parrott and two 6-pounder guns, and at intervals during the day and the morning of the next day continued to fire upon the enemy's artillery and infantry, a more detailed statement of which will be found in Captain Chapman's report.
It affords me great pleasure to bear testimony to the efficiency with which the battery was handled, and to its marked effect upon the enemy, as attested by the destruction of the timber in and around his battery, and by one of his guns being permanently disabled and another dismounted, the carriage of which was left upon the field.
The men of the battery stood bravely and steadily by their guns, though subjected to a steady, hot, and well-directed fire from the enemy's guns, and too much credit cannot be awarded to Captain Chapman for the zeal, gallantry, and energy displayed by him throughout the engagement.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major, Commanding Artillery, Dept. of Western Virginia.
Col. George S. Patton,
Commanding First Brigade.
Report of Capt. George B. Chapman, Virginia Artillery.
Camp Sam. Jones,
SIR : My battery - consisting of two 3-inch rifled guns, one 13- pounder howitzer, and one 24-pounder howitzer - was placed in position at 9 a. m., August 25, on an eminence commanding the approach of the enemy. We immediately opened on their columns, firing slowly and deliberately. Their artillery soon returned our fire with rapidity and accuracy. In a short time one of my rifled guns was dismounted, the enemy's shot having twice struck the axle-body of the gun carriage. The piece was immediately sent to the rear for repairs.
We maintained our position with the remaining pieces until the wheel of one was struck and canister had lodged in the bore of the other. An incrustation of rust, caused by repeated firing, collected on the interior of the bore and reduced the windage to such a degree, that we were unable to drive the canister home. I moved these pieces to the rear for repairs and ordered the remaining piece to maintain its position. This piece was ordered to the rear during my absence from the field without my knowledge or consent.
The pieces having been repaired, we ascended to our former position. When we had almost gained the summit of the hill I espied what I supposed to be four artillery horses. Believing them to be the horses I had ordered to remain, I directed one of the officers to move his gun to a better position. He soon returned and reported that it was one of the enemy's pieces. I immediately executed a left- about with the pieces, occupied the first knoll in our front, and ordered the guns to unlimber and prepare for firing. Fortunately, however, the piece whose limber was supplied with .canister became choked and we were compelled to move it to the rear.
The above mistake, under the circumstances, was exceedingly natural, for it was supposed that our left flank was giving way, and the reports that met us as we ascended the hill were of rather a gloomy nature. The enemy's shells bursting so close to the horses, we mistook for the flash of a gun. We have great reasons to be thankful that our gun became unfitted for firing at this particular time, for had we opened on what we supposed to be the enemy's gun we might have damaged our own cause and demoralized our men.
The pieces having been repaired, we again ascended the hill and maintained our position until the enemy retreated. We pursued, with one rifled gun, and shelled the ravines and gorges whenever an opportunity afforded.
We have the proud satisfaction of knowing that no piece was ordered to the rear unless disabled or for want of ammunition. The battery was frequently struck, but no permanent injuries inflicted. We lost 1 man killed and 5 wounded; 3 horses killed and 8 wounded. It may not be amiss to call the attention of the commanding officer to the caliber and quality of the guns composing the batteries of the enemy. My battery should be supplied with guns of a similar quality if it be expected to contend successfully with the enemy's artillery. The members of the battery deserve some praise for the manner in which they maintained their posts and performed their duties. I will cite no instances of individual gallantry for fear of doing injustice to others equally brave. I know not the extent of damage inflicted on the enemy by our artillery. If we committed any errors we trust we may be afforded an opportunity in future to rectify them.
G. B. Chapman
Captain, Commanding Battery.
Lieut. Noyes Rand,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General