Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
July 11, 1861

Staunton Spectator
July 16, 1861

Fight on Rich Mountain--Gallant Fighting but Disastrous Defeat.

On Thursday last, at three o'clock P. M. a portion of Col. Pegram's command (formerly Col. Heck's) numbering only about 250 were attacked by 4,000 of the enemy. Our small force fought bravely and repulsed the enemy twice, but was finally forced to yield to overpowering numbers. A dispatch from Col. Scott, of the 44th Regiment of Virginia Volunteers, to Gov. Letcher, a copy of which was received here on Sunday, states that our loss in killed was 150 and that the loss of the enemy was between 300 and 500. The same dispatch states that every officer of Buckingham company was killed, and that all the company but fifteen met the same sad fate, and that all the Buckhannon company, of Upshur, were killed with the exception of twenty. Capt. Curry's company of Rockbridge suffered a very great loss in the engagement. Capt. Curry himself was wounded and taken prisoner. We have not learned whether seriously or not. We understand that a portion of the Churchville Cavalry were engaged and that the commanding officer, Capt. Sterrett, was shot in the side of the head, though not dangerously wounded. It is reported that the gallant veteran, Capt. Anderson, who commanded the Lynchburg Artillery was killed, but not till all of the men at the cannon had fallen, and he had himself loaded and fired it three times after the death of his men.--Col. Pegram, it is supposed, was wounded. He was taken prisoner.

Col. Scott, with his regiment, arrived at the place of battle about the time the fighting ceased. His men, it is reported, were anxious to give battle to the enemy, but he deemed it more prudent not to do so. He retreated to Beverly where some of those who had been engaged in the battle united with him. It is supposed that the force of the enemy at Rich Mountain was about 10,000 though only 4,000 were engaged in fighting our brave, gallant and heroic little force of only 250. These 250 were stationed on the mountain between Camp Garnett and Beverly, about two miles from the former and about six from the latter place. The enemy passed around on the mountain and came in on the rear of Camp Garnett located at Rich Mountain, about 8 miles from Beverly.

The camp at Laurel Hill, under the command of Gen. Garnett, is upon another road about 15 miles from Beverly, and separated from Camp Garnett at Rich mountain, a distance of 12 miles, with a high mountain intervening. The force of the enemy which was threatening an attack upon the camp at Laurel Hill was supposed to be from 18,000 to 25,000.

P. S.---Later intelligence satisfies us that the first reports were greatly exaggerated. The report now is that our loss in killed is no t more than 50 and may not be more than 20. The enemy had 9000 against our gallant little force of only 250. Col. Heck destroyed his wagons and camp equipage at Camp Garnett and left it.---The enemy afterwards made an attack up that encampment supposing that our force was still there, but found that they were firing upon an evacuated camp. About 1000 of that force effected a union with Col. Scott in his retreat, and about 500 went in a different direction. Up to this time (Monday morning) they have not been heard of. Geo. Garnett, it is supposed, is retreating in good order through Hardy County. Our forces which retreated from Beverly and Camp Garnett, are now on the East side of the Alleghany mountain.

Still later. Since the above was written, we have learned that the 1000 of col Heck's command made a stand on Cheat Mountain instead of connecting with Col. Scott as above stated, who retreated to the East of that Mountain.---This stand of Col.Heck's men at Cheat Mountain, supported as he will be by Col.Scott's regiment, the 12th Georgia regiment and the North Carolina regiment, renders Tygart's vally and all that of it perfectly safe. Col. Scott should have made a stand on Cheat Mountain.

There is no cause of alarm-all will yet be well. We would counsel the people to remain calm and composed, and to increase, if possible their brave, firm and determined purpose to repel the ruthless invaders or die in the effort.

STILL LATER.--A dispatch was received here last night stating that Gen. Garnett was killed on Saturday, that his command had been routed, and that Col. Pegram's (formerly Heck's) command had surrendered.

This dispatch was received by Maj. Harman, and is believed to be correct.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 22, 1861

Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.

Fight at Rich Mountain.

Staunton, July 19, 1861.

I will attempt to give you a description of the fight at Rich Mountain as far as I saw and participated in it. We were attacked about 12 o'clock, M. When the firing commenced I was at the camp cooking dinner for our company that were in the trenches on the mountain. When I heard the first gun I caught up my musket and ran up to the trenches where I left my company, but found they had left for a point farther up the mountain. I followed on to overtake my company and found them in a ravine, stationed behind trees, to tickle the enemy's rear if they attempted to come down that way; but they didn't come. After waiting some time our captain marched up to the road, intending to march us up to aid those on the mountain.--We had gone about twenty feet up the road when we were fired upon by the enemy from the bushes. After the first volley our men fell back and sheltered themselves behind trees to gain time to rally the men for another charge. We again emerged into the road and marched up through the fire of the enemy within ten feet of the enemy's bayonets, when the fire became so hot that we had to retreat. We retreated about twenty yards down the road, where we again formed a line, but concluded not to advance again as we had only 83 men and the enemy between four and five hundred men, and the most of them were in ambush. We marched down the mountain about two hundred yards, when we met Col. Pegram with about three hundred men to reinforce us. He then led us up to the top of the mountain for the purpose of driving the enemy from that position; but after getting there and finding the enemy in such force he abandoned the idea and placed us under the command of Major Tyler, to join Col. Garnett's command, but after getting to Beverly we heard that Gen. Garnett was retreating from Laurel Hill. We then marched to Huttonsville and joined Col. Scott's regiment. Col. Pegram is now a prisoner in Beverly and Gen. Garnett is dead.

A Survivor of Rich Mountain.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 29, 1861

The Rich Mountain fight.

Statement of Col. Fulkerson.

Camp at Monterey, July 24, 1861.

To the Editors of the Dispatch:

As there will probably be no official report of the unfortunate retreat of the lamented Gen. Garnett and his command from Laurel Hill, and of the events which immediately led to the retreat, and as untrue statements may be circulated in relation thereto, I feel it to be duel to myself, as well as to the gallant officers and men under my command, to make a brief statement of facts. If that gallant soldier and good man, Gen. Garnett, had lived to make his official report, full justice would have been done to all concerned.

On the morning of the 7th July, our scouts came in and reported that the enemy was advancing upon our position from the direction of Phillippi. The report proved to be true, and the enemy halted and took position about two miles from our camp; but he drove back a Georgia company, which was on picket duty, and with an advance party took possession of a thickly-timbered hill, near the village of Burlington.

Colonel Ramsey, of the Georgia Regiment, with two or three companies of his regiment. was ordered down and gallantly drove the enemy from the hill, and held it till about two o'clock, when he was relieved by the 23d Virginia Regiment, under the command of Col. Tallaferro. The 23d and the enemy kept up a sharp skirmish till near night, when I was ordered down with seven of my companies to relieve the 23d, and to hold the hill during the night. My companies were Capts. White's, Graham's, Wood's, Gibson's, J. L. White's, Terry's and McElhenney's. The skirmishing was renewed as soon as we got in position, and was kept up till dark. During the night an occasional gun was fired, but things were comparatively quiet. The firing was resumed again at daylight, and continued pretty brisk till 8 o'clock, when we were relieved by he Georgia Regiment, and they kept up the skirmish till about 2 P. M., when I relieved them with six companies of my regiment, Captain Gibson's company being left out of the seven which were out the night previous.

We again resumed the skirmish, which grew warmer as the day advanced. Our men were sheltered behind trees, and near sundown had advanced on some parts of the fine to the skirts of the woods nearest the enemy. Some of the enemy had taken shelter nearest our line in a stable, and in the houses of Burington, and commenced cannonading our position. One ball out off a tree on and near the centre of our line, and several exploded very near us A little before sundown the enemy advanced up the road in strong force, and Capt Wm. White, who had proceeded farthest towards the enemy, fell back to the line and formed Capt. White had been much exposed and gallantly stood the enemy's fire. The enemy proceeded up the road with loud yells, till a turn in the road brought them within range of the guns of Capts Graham and Wm. White, when the fire opened on both sides, and the enemy, after one fire, hastily retreated down the road again.

As the enemy approached, the 23d Virginia Regiment arrived, and although not in position to effect much, its presence doubtless hastened the retreat of the enemy. My own and the 23d instantly re-arranged our positions, expecting that the enemy might renew the attack; but night coming on, he did not appear again. We did not ascertain what was the effect of our fire, owing to the night coming on; but the enemy report some loss at that point. We remained in position till about ten o'clock at night, when, by order of Gen. Garnett, we were withdrawn, and we did not occupy that hill again. The next two days a hill about midway between the two forces was occupied and held alternately by the different regiments of Gen. Garnett's command. In this position the enemy, with his long range guns, annoyed us from a house and barn in a field, but were made to scamper away by a few soot from Capt. Shoemaker's battery. On the 11th, General Garnett received information that the enemy had gained Colonel Pegram's rear at the Rich Mountain, which placed him in our rear.

The General determined to abandon Laurel Hill at once, and we marched about twelve at night. My regiment was assigned to bring up the rear, and with Gen. Garnett and Capt. Shoemaker's battery we remained at the trenches till the balance of the command had gone some distance up the mountain. On getting within a few miles of Beverly, the General was informed that the road had been blockaded, and he then determined to proceed through Tucker and Preston and into Hardy, and having passed the road that led that way, we reversed the order of march, which threw my regiment to the front, which order was preserved during the day, except that Colonel Hansbrough's Battalion passed us to the front. That night we camped on Cheat river, and next morning Col. Hansbrough, Col. Jackson, and myself were marched in front of the train.

Gen. Garnett, now anticipating an attack from Gen. Hill, (as I understood,) also placed Capt. Shoemaker with his battery in front of the train. We were now upon a narrow, mountainous country road, and with a long train of wagons our line was necessarily extended for a considerable distance. Col. Tallaferro's Virginia and Col.Ramsey's Georgia Regiments were in the rear of the train. During the day, Gen. Garnett, being in front, received information that the enemy was at tacking the rear. My regiment was crossing the river, (wading it,) and when it was nearly over Gen. Garnett ordered me to draw up on the far side and await further orders. He then re-crossed the river, and I did not see him afterwards. I drew up my regiment, as ordered, and waited for some time, when I was informed that Gen. Garnett had been killed, and in a short time Col. Tallaferro's and Col. Ramsey's commands passed us, leaving my regiment again in the rear. We remained in line for a considerable time, but the enemy not appearing, and receiving no orders from any one, we marched off, Col. Jackson immediately preceding my regiment.

It was the determination of Col. Jackson and myself to fight the enemy at that ford of the river, if he made further pursuit. At the time of the attack the Georgia Regiment was in the rear, of which seven of the companies were cut off from the Balance of the command, and made their way through the mountain no this place. The other three companies fell back upon Colonel Tallaferro's Regiment, at which point one of Capt. Shoemaker's pieces, in charge of Lieut. Lanier, was put in position, which, together with two or three of Col. Tallaferro's companies, poured a destructive fire into the enemy's ranks, and kept it up till a retreat was ordered. The cannon wagon being broken by the fall of a wounded horse, the piece was abandoned.

All speak in high terms of the gallant conduct of Lieut. Lanier and men, and of Col. Tallaferro's companies.

My regiment kept the rear all that night and till some time next day; while thus situated, with our wagons several miles in front, an officer had our baggage thrown out. Next morning found us in the State of Maryland, and from thence we marched us the South Branch of the Potomac to this place, the enemy being in front or rear or on our flank most of the way. The march was an exceedingly difficult and arduous one.

I cannot close without a word relative to our late commander, General Garnett. That he was brave, the very manner of his death testifies; that he was a courteous, high minded, honorable gentleman, all who had intercourse with him bear witness; that he was a cool, calm, sagacious commander, is amply shown by his being able to hold his position against a far superior force, headed by an accomplished officer, for several weeks, in a hostile country; that he was a good and true man, is known to all who knew him at all. He will long be lamented by the brave and the good.

Samuel V. Fulkerson,
Col. Comn'g 37th Regt. Va. Vol.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
August 5, 1861

Col. Wm. C. Scott and the Rich Mountain Affair.

--To the editor of the Whig: As much has been said in regard to the action of the 44th regiment of Virginia Volunteers, and great injustice, in some instances, done to our Colonel, (Scott,) the undersigned, officers of that regiment, beg leave to submit to the public the following statement of facts:

We started from Staunton on Thursday for Laurel Hill, and, after an arduous match of seven days, pitched our camp at Severly on the night of Wednesday, the 10th ult. During the march Col. Scott had been met by several messengers from Gen. Garnet, requesting him to hasten his march to Laurel Hill as much as possible, and with there requests he complied.

On the morning of Thursday, the 11th inst., before starting from Severly, he received another dispatch from Gen. Garnett, reiterating his order to him to march to Laurel Hill. Accordingly, as soon as we could get breakfast, we started on our march, but after proceeding about four or five miles, we were overtaken by a messenger from Lieut. Col. Pegram, stating that it was almost certain that the enemy would turn his right flank that day and enter the turnpike leading from his camp to Beverly, about one and a half miles from Beverly, by a road leading round the right of his camp and intersecting with the Beverly turnpike at that point, remarking in it the danger of allowing the enemy to get in his rear and out off our supplies, of which there were large quantities at Beverly.

With this request Col. Scott complied, without a moment's hesitation, notwithstanding Gen. Garnett's orders to hasten to Lauren Hill. And having distributed an additional number of cartridges to his men, turned back and hastened as rapidly as his men could go to Beverly, and thence at right angles up the turnpike leading to camp Garnett for one mile and a half, to the point interested by the road by which the enemy were expected to enter, and which Col. Scott was requested by Col. Pegram to guard. Here Col. Scott halted, and took position, awaiting the arrival of the enemy, and to prevent him from getting in the rear of Camp Garnett, either to cut off our stores at Beverly, or attack Camp Garnett in the rear.

Shortly after taking his position, as directed by Col. Pegram, a desultory fire was heard, either at or about Camp Garnett, some five or six miles distant. Of this we did not know the meaning. We did not know whether the fort was attacked in front of rear. We did not know but that the enemy were attacking in front, with a view of allowing another detachment to get in the rear by the road which Col. Pegram had requested Colonel Scott to guard.

Col. Scott expressed great anxiety to communicate with Col. Pegram, but was afraid to leave he position taken by him, for fear the enemy would get into our rear and the rear of Camp Garnett, this being the only way by which it was supposed they could get into Col. Pegram's rear.

For the purpose of communicating with Col. Pegram and of ascertaining now matters stood, he sent Mr. Hughes, who had been with our regiment for several days, to Col. Pegram for orders, and to ascertain the situation of affairs. Having waited for an answer, at length a message came from Col. Pegram requesting Col. Scott to hasten up the mountain is rapidly as he could without fatiguing his men. The same messenger, being joined by one or two others from the battle, informed Col. Scott that our forces were on the right and the enemy on the left of the road leading up the mountain, and that our men had one piece of artillery on the right of that road.

Fifteen or twenty minutes before arriving near the top of the mountain the firing ceased and a loud cheer was given on the right of the road.

Colonel Scott halted his regiment and inquired of the guides what that meant, and was told that it indicated that the enemy had driven our men from the field and taken our piece of artillery.

Colonel Scott expressed his anxiety to know how matters stood, and Mr. Richard Linford, from Fluvanna offered his services to acquire this information. Having mounted the horse of Lieut. Corcoran, of Augusta, and borrowed one of Colonel Scott's pistols, he dashed off up the mountain; but he had not proceeded more than half a mile before three shots were fired in rapid succession, apparently at him, and he never returned.

Colonel Scott then inquired of the guides, who had been in the battle, the strength of the enemy engaged, and was informed that they numbered between three and five thousand.

It being the unanimous opinion of all the officers who expressed their opinions, and also of the guides, that our regiment, numbering only about 20, but little drilled and worn down by a long march, would stand but a poor chance in a contest with one piece of artillery, and a knowledge of the ground by which they could choose position. Col. S. concluded to retire. Having spent an hour in Beverly collecting his wagons, stores, prisoners, &c., he conducted his retreat in good order that night, and next morning took breakfast at Huttonsville, where he was overtaken by a dispatch from General Garnett, directing him to retire and take position beyond Huttonsville, and to draw his supplies from Richmond. Here our regiment was joined by a portion of the 20th Regiment under Major Tyler, and a number of other fugitives from Camp Garnett He (Colonel S.) conducted his retreat in good order, until he reached Greenbrier river, at the foot of Cheat Mountain, where he met Governor Letcher and Col. Johnston of the Confederate Army.

It has been said that Colonel Scott should have stopped and fortified the top of Cheat Mountain. Now it is only about ten miles from the top of that mountain to Greenbrier river, on its Eastern base; and from the time that Colonel Johnston of the Confederate Army, left Staunton with a Georgia regiment, we had every reason to believe he would be at Greenbrier river, one of the regular stands for our troops on Fridaynight.--Colonel Scott, therefore, concluded to unite with that regiment that night, and then if it should be advisable, to fortify Cheat Muntain, to do so with two regiments instead of one.

He did meet with Colonel Johnston and his regiment at that river, but Colonel Johnston, the commanding officer of the two regiments, deemed it advisable to retire still further and was shortly afterwards met by General Jackson, who concluded to retire to Monterey, steps which fully justify Colonel Scott in retiring as far as Greenbrier river at the base of Cheat Mountain, where the command passed out of his hands.

It has been stated in the papers that on arriving near the field of battle, after it had been decided. Col. Scott's men begged him to allow them to engage the enemy but that he would not permit. If such had been the case, it would have only shown Col. Scott's good judgment, but it was not so. For every one who expressed an opinion at all, considered it would be folly to engage the enemy with such disparicy of numbers, especially when they had one piece of artillery.

Again it has been stated that Col. Pegram sent a messenger to Col. Scott, requesting him to come to his assistance, after Col. Scott had taken his position on the road as requested and that Col. Scott refused to do so. This is equally false. Col. Scott frequently expressed great anxiety to hear from Col. Pegram, and obeyed with promptness the first message to go up the mountain, and in going up the mountain Col. S frequently hurried his men, and commanded them to go up as rapidly as the nature of the ground would permit.

Col. Pegram was entirely mistaken in supposing that the enemy would turn his right flank by the road in which he placed Col. Scott.

They turned his left flank by a read they had out the night before. Had Col. Scott received Col. Pegram's orders to come up half an hour earlier, and been furnished with a guide to show him the different positions of friends and foes, he might have rendered material assistance, as it was, he was utterly unable to do so.

In the first place, he would have abandoned the position in which he had been placed by Col. Pegram; and, in the next, had he gone without a guide, he would have gone up the mountain road and subjected his men to the fire of both friends and enemies. Several of our friends engaged in the battle assure us that if he had gone up without notice, we would have been fired into by them.

Col. Pegram could have communicated with Col. Scott, but Col. S. could not with Col. P., and in attempting had his messenger killed, as it afterwards appeared.

It had been said that Mr. Hughes was drunk when killed; if so, he must have gotten drunk after he left our regiment, for none of us discovered that he was in the least under the influence of ardent spirits. We presume the reason he stated he belonged to the Northern army was because Col. Pegram's letter stated that the enemy were making their way around his right flank, and the men he saw being on his right flank, he mistook them for the enemy. It has been said that Col. Scott was posted only four hundred yards from the battle, whereas it was not less than four or five miles.

Upon a review of all that has occurred, we are perfectly satisfied that Col. Scott acted properly throughout this whole matter, and that had asted in any other way than he did, under the circumstances in which he was placed, his whole command would either have been destroyed or taken prisoners, and all his wagons lost. An it was, he has saved his whole command, all his wagons, all the arms, munitions of war and military stores at Beverly, and all the prisoners confined there in jail.

F. R. Farrar, acting Major 44th Regiment
J. L. Bubard, Lieutenant Colonel 44th Regiment Virginia Volunteers
C. Y. Stepton, Adjutant 44th Regiment Virginia Volunteers.
J. R. Robertson, Captain Company "A."
William T. Lact, Captain Company "B."
T. R. Buckere. Captain Company "C."
Jos.L. Smelton, Captain Company "D."
Edward M. Alfriend, Lieutenant Commanding Company "M."
Charles A. James, Lieutenant Commanding Company "F."
Norvel Cobb, Captain Company "G."
Thomas N. Coleman, Captain Company "H."
Wm. H. Marshall, Captain Company "I."
D. W. Anderson, Captain Company "K."
au 5--1t

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: July 1861

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