Series 1, Volume 5, pp. 184-193
Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, U. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, A. O. W. VA.,
Elk Water, September 17, 1861.
GENERAL: The operations of this brigade for the past few days may be summed up as follows: On the 12th instant the enemy, 9,000 strong, with eight to twelve pieces of artillery, under command of General R. E. Lee, advanced on this position by the Huntersville pike. Our advanced pickets, portions of the Fifteenth Indiana and Sixth Ohio, gradually fell back to our main picket station, two companies of the Seventeenth Indiana, under Colonel Hascall, checking the enemy’s advance at the Point Mountain turnpike, and then falling back on the regiment, which occupied a very advanced position on our right front, and which we now ordered in. The enemy threw into the woods on our left front three regiments, who made their way to the right and rear of Cheat Mountain, took a position on the road leading to Huttonsville, broke the telegraph wire, and cut off our communication with Colonel Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana, commanding on Cheat Summit. Simultaneously another force of the enemy, of about equal strength, advanced by the Staunton pike in the front of Cheat Mountain, and threw two regiments to the right and rear of Cheat, which united with the three regiments from the other column of the enemy. The two posts, Cheat Summit and Elk Water, are 7 miles apart by a bridle-path over the mountains, and 18 miles by the wagon-road, via Huttonsville; Cheat Mountain Pass, the former headquarters of the brigade, being at the foot of the mountain, 10 miles from the summit. The enemy advancing towards the pass, by which he might possibly have obtained the rear or left of Elk Water, was there met by three companies of the Thirteenth Indiana, ordered up for that purpose, and by one company of the Fourteenth Indiana, from the summit. These four companies engaged and gallantly held in check greatly superior numbers of the enemy, foiled him in his attempt to obtain the rear or left of Elk Water, and threw him in the rear and right of Cheat Mountain, the companies retiring to the pass at the foot of the mountain. The enemy, about 5,000 strong, now closed in on Cheat Summit, and became engaged with detachments of the Fourteenth Indiana, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Ohio, from the summit, in all only about 300, who, deployed in the woods, held in check and killed many of the enemy, who did not at any time succeed in getting sufficiently near the field redoubt to give Daum’s battery an opportunity of firing into him.
So matters rested at dark on the 12th, with heavy forces in front and in plain sight of both posts, communication cut off and the supply train for the mountains, loaded with provisions which were needed, waiting for an opportunity to pass up the road. Determined to force a communication with Cheat, I ordered the Thirteenth Indiana, under Colonel Sullivan, to cut their way, if necessary, by the main road, and the greater part of the Third Ohio and Second Virginia, under Colonels Marrow and Moss, respectively, to do the same by the path. The two commands started at 3 o’clock a. m. on the 13th, the former from Cheat Mountain Pass and the latter from Elk Water, so as to fall upon the enemy, if possible, simultaneously. Early on the 13th the small force of about 300 from the summit engaged the enemy, and with such effect that, notwithstanding his greatly superior numbers, he retired in great haste and disorder, leaving large quantities of clothing and equipments on the ground, and our relieving force, failing to catch the enemy, marched to the summit, securing the provision train and reopening our communication. While this was taking place on the mountain, and as yet unknown to us, the enemy, under Lee, advanced on Elk Water, apparently for a general attack. One rifled 10-pounder Parrott gun from Loomis battery was run to the front three-fourths of a mile and delivered a few shots at the enemy, causing him to withdraw out of convenient range and doing fine execution. Our relative position remained unchanged until near dark, when we learned the result of the movements on the mountain, as above stated, and the enemy retired somewhat for the night.
On the 14th, early, the enemy was again in position in front of Elk Water, and a few rounds, supported by a company of the Fifteenth Indiana, were again administered, which caused him to withdraw as before. The forces that had been before repulsed from Cheat returned, and were again driven back by a comparatively small force from the mountain. The Seventeenth Indiana was ordered up the path to open communication and make way for another supply train, but, as before, found the little band from the summit had already done the work. During the afternoon of the 14th the enemy withdrew from before Elk Water, and is now principally concentrated some 10 miles from this post at or near his main camp. On the 15th he appeared in stronger force than at any previous time in front of Cheat and attempted a flank movement by the left, but was driven back by the ever-vigilant and gallant garrison of the field redoubt on the summit. To-day the enemy has also retired from the front of Cheat, but to what precise position I am not yet informed.
The results of these affairs are that we have killed near 100 of the enemy, including Col. John A. Washington, aide-de-camp to General Lee, and have taken about 20 prisoners. We have lost 9 killed, including Lieutenant Junod, Fourteenth Indiana, 2 missing, and about 60 prisoners, including Capt. James Bense and Lieutenants Gilman and Scheiffer, of the Sixth Ohio, and Lieutenant Merrill, of the Engineers. I append the reports of Colonel Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana; Captain Higgins, Twenty-fourth Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel Owen and Colonel Wagner, of the Fifteenth Indiana.
J. J. REYNOLDS,
Brigadier. General, Commanding First Brigade.
Adjutant- General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.
Report of Col. Nathan Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana infantry.
CAMP, CHEAT MOUNTAIN SUMMIT, WEST VIRGINIA,
September 14, 1861.
GENERAL: On the morning of September 12 I started my train (teams from the Twenty-fourth Ohio Regiment) to your camp. When about three-fourths of a mile out they were attacked by a party of the enemy. Information being at once brought to me, I proceeded to the point of attack, accompanied by Colonel Jones, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio, and Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert, of the Twenty-fourth Ohio, and Companies C (Captain Brooks) and F (Captain Williamson), of the Fourteenth Indiana. I at first supposed the attack was made by a scouting party of the enemy, and sent Captains Brooks and Williamson into the woods, deployed as skirmishers. They soon overhauled the enemy, numbering 2,500. My captains immediately opened fire, and informed me the enemy were there in great force. I ordered them to hold their position. They did so, and soon had the pleasure of seeing the whole force of the enemy take to their heels, throwing aside guns, clothing, and everything that impeded their progress. In the mean time I had detailed a guard of 90 men to be sent forward to relieve Captain Coons, of the Fourteenth Indiana, who had been stationed as a picket on the path between Elk Water Camp and my own. This detail was from the Fourteenth Indiana, Twenty-fourth Ohio, and Twenty-fifth Ohio, under Captain Higgins, Lieutenants Green and Wood. They had proceeded about 2 miles from the point of first attack when they met the Tennessee brigade, gave them battle, and drove them back. Captain Coons, of the Fourteenth Indiana, had met this same force earlier in the morning and undertook to resist them, and did so until driven back. He then came in their rear whilst they were engaged with the command under Captain Higgins, Company C, Twenty-fourth Ohio, Lieutenant Green, of the Fourteenth Indiana, and Lieutenant Wood, of the Twenty- fifth Ohio.
At this juncture I was informed that the enemy was moving in my front above the hill east of my camp, where we have usually had a picket station, which point was occupied by Lieutenant Junod, Company E, Fourteenth Indiana. The enemy surrounded Junod’s command, consisting of 35 men, with a force 500 strong, and killed Lieutenant Junod and 1 private. The others have all come into camp. I soon found that Captains Brooks and Williamson were driving the enemy to my right flank. I then dispatched two companies, one from the Fourteenth Indiana, Company A, Captain Foote, and one from the Twenty-fourth Ohio, Captain ____ , up Cheat River, to cut off the enemy’s retreat. My captains met the enemy 2 miles above the bridge, scattering them and killing several, capturing 2 prisoners, and retaking one of the wagoners taken early in the morning. The enemy’s force on my right flank consisted of the Twenty-fifth Virginia, Colonel Heck, Twenty-third, Thirty-first, and Thirty-seventh, and also one battalion of Virginians, under command of Colonel Taliaferro. The force which met Captain Higgins and Lieutenants Green and Wood consisted of the First Tennessee, Col. George Maney; the Seventh Tennessee, Col. R. Hatton; the Fourteenth Tennessee, Colonel Forbes, mustering in all 3,000, commanded by General Anderson. The aggregate of the enemy’s force was near 5,500; ours, which engaged and repulsed them, was less than 300. We killed near 100 of the enemy, and wounded a greater number, and have 13 prisoners. We recaptured all our teamsters and others whom the enemy had captured in the morning. We have lost a few noble fellows killed, among whom is Lieutenant Junod, Company E, Fourteenth Indiana. I append a list of killed, wounded, and missing of my command.
General, I think my men have done wonders, and ask God to bless them.
The woods are literally covered with the baggage, coats, and haversacks, & c., of the enemy. Though almost naked, my command are ready to move forward.
Your obedient servant,
Colonel Fourteenth Indiana Volunteers, Commanding Post.
Brig. Gen. JOSEPH J. REYNOLDS, Commanding.
Report of Col. George D. Wagner, Fifteenth Indiana Infantry.
HDQRS. FIFTEENTH REGIMENT INDIANA VOLUNTEERS,
September 12, 1861.
DEAR SIR: On the 9th of the present month I ordered Captain Templeton to take Companies D and F and take possession of and hold the Point Mountain pike at its junction with the Huntersville pike, supported by Major Christopher, of the Sixth Regiment Ohio, with 100 men, at Conrad’s Mill, 2 miles in the rear. The first position was about 8 miles in advance of my camp and 4 miles from the enemy’s encampment.
On morning of the 11th Captain Templeton’s pickets were attacked by the enemy’s column, advancing down the road. They fell back on the main force. The enemy still advancing in force, Captain Templeton dispatched a dragoon for re-enforcements. I immediately sent the left wing of the Fifteenth Indiana, under command of Major Wood, with orders to hold the position; but soon after a scout, who had been posted 3 miles east of Captain Templeton, with instructions to report to me any movements of the enemy on the left flank, came in and reported a column of 2,000 troops marching in this direction, with the evident intention of cutting off Captain Templeton and Major Christopher. I immediately sent orders for the entire force to fall back on the main force, which they did in good order, bringing off their wounded, having 2 men killed, 1 taken prisoner, and 3 wounded. Privates Kent and Bealer killed, of Company F, Captain White; T. Spoonmore, of same company, was taken prisoner. The wounded are Corporal Clark and Private Richards, both seriously, Clark having been hit by four balls. Both will recover, but Richards has had his leg amputated. Private Hovey is slightly wounded. All of Company D, of my regiment.
At this time you arrived on the ground and took command. Let me say that officers and men all did their duty, and I must be allowed to commend to your notice Sergeant Thompson, of Company D, who having command of the first party engaged, as well as the men with him, stood and fought until half of the party was shot down before they would fall back.
I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,
G. D. WAGNER,
Brig. Gen. JOSEPH J. REYNOLDS.
Report of Lieut. Got. Richard Owen, Fifteenth Indiana Infantry.
CAMP, ELK WATER, RANDOLPH COUNTY, VIRGINIA,
September 18, 1861.
SIR: In accordance with your order to proceed on the Marlin turnpike until I met the enemy, but not to bring on a general engagement, I marched my command of 285 infantry and 4 dragoons (the latter designed to be used as messengers) on Sunday, the 8th September, at noon, out of camp, under the guidance of Dr. Singer, a Union Virginian, who, having formerly practiced in this and adjoining counties, was thoroughly acquainted with all the localities. The infantry consisted of portions of Company B, Captain Wing, Third Ohio; Company A, Captain Rice; Company C, Captain Comparet; Company E, Captain Lambe; Company K, Captain McCutchen, and Company H, under Lieutenant Warren, all of the Fifteenth Indiana Volunteers. Lieutenant Driscoll, of the Third Ohio, volunteered to lead a scouting party consisting of 10 Ohio and 10 Indiana riflemen. Lieutenant Bedford, acting captain of our scouts, volunteered to accompany the expedition. The cavalry was taken from Captain Bracken’s Indiana company.
Sleeping the first night on our arms, with half the command awake at a time, with no fires and perfect silence, after picketing wherever the cross-roads pointed out by Dr. Singer seemed to demand it, we proceeded at 4 a.m. on the 9th instant towards the Confederate camp at Marshall’s store, carefully scouting the laurel bushes. Immediately after the main body, with Captain Wing in the advance guard, emerged from a dense thicket which lined each side of the road, our scouts commenced firing, having come so close to the enemy and so suddenly that a hand-to-hand scuffle ensued between Private Edwards, of the Fifteenth Indiana, and a North Carolina secessionist, while another Fifteenth Indiana scout, Private J. F. Morris, surprised four dragoons at their breakfast in a house which proved to be on the farm of Henry Thomas, about three-quarters of a mile north of their camp. In accordance with instructions previously given to my command, I ordered them to fire by section, and countermarch to reform and load in the rear. This was carried out in good order, and with such execution that, as prisoners afterwards taken by Colonel Sullivan, of the Thirteenth Indiana, informed him, we killed 15 and wounded about as many more. An officer, who proved to be Major Murray, of the Virginia troops, was shot, it is believed by Lieutenant Bedford, with an Enfield rifle.
Knowing that, although there were but three full companies in sight, the enemy was in strong force at a short distance, I considered it prudent, in accordance with your instructions, to retire the command after all firing on the part of the enemy had ceased, forming for some time as before, faced to the front, but afterwards marching in common time to our camp 11 1/4 miles, delaying long enough on the route to dress the wounds of one of our men, Private Frank Conner, of Company G, Third Ohio, who was wounded in two places, besides receiving a ball through his haversack, but is now doing well.
The force represented by the prisoners as being in camp near Marshall’s store amounted to 8,000 men, and they also report that two pieces of artillery and two regiments of infantry were ordered out in pursuit, doubtless the same a portion of which next day attacked the two companies of your regiment occupying the outposts on that road, viz, Company D, Captain Templeton, and Company F, under Lieutenant Dean, who so successfully and creditably sustained themselves. The above brief report of our skirmish is submitted with the hope that we carried out your instructions in the manner you designed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant- Colonel Fifteenth Indiana Volunteers.
Col. G. D. WAGNER,
Commanding Fifteenth Regiment Indiana, Volunteers.
Report of Capt. David J. Higgins, Twenty fourth Ohio Infantry.
CAMP, CHEAT MOUNTAIN SUMMIT, VIRGINIA,
September 17, 1861.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command at the skirmish which occurred 4 miles from camp on the 12th instant:
My command was composed of 90 men, detailed 30 each from the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry and the Fourteenth Indiana, accompanied by Lieut. John T. Wood, Company H, Twenty-fifth Ohio, and Lieut. M. N. Green, Company B, Fourteenth Indiana. I was ordered to proceed with haste to the relief of Captain Coons, of the Fourteenth Indiana, who the evening of the 11th instant had been ordered to guard a pass 5 miles northwest from camp, leading from the main road to Elk River. Half a mile from camp I found three wagons, whose horses and drivers had that morning been taken by the rebels, who during the night had lain in large force near the camp. Hastening on, we were met by a cavalry soldier leading a wounded horse, who stated that the enemy had collected at the entrance of the pass, had shot his horse, and that Captain Coons and party were doubtless cut off. Sending a squad of men into the woods on both sides of the road, I proceeded cautiously within sight of the spot where the horse had been shot, when I sent Lieutenant Green with his men to deploy on the left of the road and Lieutenant Wood with his men on the right, holding the detail of the Twenty-fourth on the right near the road on line with the others as reserve to check any advance of the enemy on the road, ordering the whole line to move cautiously, covering themselves by trees. The right had proceeded about 3 rods in this manner when it was saluted by a volley of at least 100 guns, with no loss on our side. We returned the volley, and immediately advanced upon the ambush, receiving and returning a second volley.
The rebels fled up from the right to the road, where Lieutenant Green came in sight of them, and poured in a destructive fire. At this moment we saw a large body of men in utter confusion pressing back upon what seemed a larger force in line of battle, in spite of all efforts of officers to rally them. Lieutenant Green, seeing so large a force, fell back upon the reserve, bringing in 2 wounded men--Private Leonard Daum, wounded in the arm, and Private John Killgannon both of Company B, Fourteenth Indiana. I directed the line to be deployed again, but to make no advance, determining to hold the position until the arrival of re-enforcements.
After waiting half an hour Major Harrow, of the Fourteenth Indiana, came up with two companies. He immediately sent forward a squad of men to reconnoiter. These returned, bringing in two prisoners, who reported the force in our front to be General Andersons brigade of Tennesseeans, numbering 3,000; that we had fallen upon the left wing of his line, and that his was one of three columns of rebel infantry which during the night had collected at three points to attack the camp. Learning these facts, Major Harrow ordered me to draw in my men and post them as advanced guard 2 miles nearer camp. This I did, and held the place unmolested until morning, when I was relieved.
From the most reliable information I can get the rebels have lost in that engagement at least 50 killed, besides many wounded. The actual skirmishing lasted about thirty minutes, but the whole time we held the ground was one hour.
I wish to call the attention of the colonel commanding this post to the general bravery and coolness of all the men under my command during the engagement. Particularly I wish to notice the gallant conduct of Lieut. M. N. Green, of Company B, Fourteenth Indiana, and Lieut. John T. Wood, of Company H, Twenty-fifth Ohio whose steady coolness and daring example had great force in keeping the deployed line unbroken and in causing so destructive a fire to be poured upon the enemy.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
DAVID J. HIGGINS,
Captain Company C, Twenty-fourth Ohio infantry, Comdg. Scout.
Col. NATHAN KIMBALL, Commanding Post.
Report of Col. Albert Rust, Third Arkansas Infantry.
CAMP BARTOW, September 13, 1861--10 p. m.
GENERAL: The expedition against Cheat Mountain failed. My command consisted of between 1,500 and 1,600 men. Got there at the appointed time, notwithstanding the rain. Seized a number of their pickets and scouts. Learned from them that the enemy was between 4,000 and 5,000 strong, and they reported them to be strongly fortified. Upon a reconnaissance their representations were fully corroborated. A fort or block-house on the point or elbow of the road, intrenchments on the south, and outside of the intrenchments and all around up to the road heavy and impassable abatis, if the enemy were not behind them. Colonel Barton, my lieutenant-colonel, and all the field officers declared it would be madness to make an attack. We learned from the prisoners they were aware of your movements, and had been telegraphed for re-enforcements, and I heard three pieces of artillery pass down toward your encampment while we were seeking to make an assault upon them. I took the assistant commissary, and for one regiment I found upon his person a requisition for 930 rations; also a letter indicating they had very little subsistence. I brought only one prisoner back with me. The cowardice of the guard (not Arkansian) permitted the others to escape. Spies had evidently communicated our movements to the enemy. The fort was completed, as reported by the different prisoners examined separately, and another in process of construction. We got near enough to see the enemy in the trenches beyond the abatis. The most of my command behaved admirably. Some I would prefer to be without upon any expedition.
General Jackson requests me to say that he is in possession of the first summit of Cheat Mountain, and hopes you are doing something in Tygart’s Valley, and will retain command of it until he receives orders from your quarters. My own opinion is that there is nothing to be gained by occupying that mountain. It will take a heavy force to take the pass, and at a heavy loss. I knew the enemy had four times my force; but for the abatis we would have made the assault. We could not get to them to make it. The general says, in his note to me, his occupying Cheat Mountain may bring on an engagement, but he is prepared, and will whip them if they come. I see from the postscript that he requests his note to me to be inclosed to you. I can only say that all human power could do towards success in my expedition failed of success. The taking of the picket looked like a providential interposition. I took the first one myself, being at the head of the column when I got to the road.
In great haste, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, & c.
General LORING, Commanding, &c.
DEAR COLONEL: Return into camp with your command. So soon as you arrive address a letter to General Loring, explaining the failure and the reasons of it. Show this to Captain Niell, quartermaster, and let him at once furnish an express ready to take your letter by the near route. If possible, get the postmaster, Mr. Abagast, to go, and go rapidly, and at once. Say in your letter that I am in possession of first summit of Cheat Mountain, and am in hopes of something going on in Tygart’s Valley, and shall retain command of it until I receive orders from headquarters. It may bring on an engagement, but I am prepared, and shall whip them if they come.
H. R. JACKSON.
P. S.--I cannot write here. Inclose this scrawl in your own letter. You had better return yourself at once to camp, leaving your command to follow. We had several skirmishes yesterday and killed several of the enemy.
General Lee’s orders.
SPECIAL ORDERS, No. ___ HEADQUARTERS OF THE FORCES,
Valley Mountain, W. Va., September 9, 1861.
The forward movement announced to the Army of the Northwest in Special Orders, No. 28, from its headquarters, of this date, gives the general commanding the opportunity of exhorting the troops to keep steadily in view the great principles for which they contend and to manifest to the world their determination to maintain them. The eyes of the country are upon you. The safety of your homes and the lives of all you hold dear depend upon your courage and exertions. Let each man resolve to be victorious, and that the right of self-government, liberty, and peace shall in him find a defender. The progress of this army must be forward.
R. E. LEE,
SPECIAL ORDERS, No. ___ HEADQUARTERS,
Camp on Valley River, Va., September 14, 1861.
The forced reconnaissance of the enemy’s positions, both at Cheat Mountain Pass and on Valley River, having been completed, and the character of the natural approaches and the nature of the artificial defenses exposed, the Army of the Northwest will resume its former position at such time and in such manner as General Loring shall direct, and continue its preparations for further operations. The commanding general experienced much gratification at the cheerfulness and alacrity displayed by the troops in this arduous operation. The promptitude with which they surmounted every difficulty, driving in and capturing the enemy’s pickets on the fronts examined and exhibiting that readiness for attack, gives assurance of victory when a fit opportunity offers.
R. E. LEE,
September 17, 1861
Up to this time (Monday evening) we have received no news here of any definite or satisfactory character in reference to the Cheat Mountain expedition. The following is a Northern telegraphic despatch:
CLARKSBURG, Va., Sept. 14.--The Confederates commenced advancing yesterday morning on both turnpikes towards Elk River and Cheat Mountain. They surrounded the fort on the summit, cut the telegraph wires, and continued to advance on Elk River until within two miles, when shells from Loomis Battery stopped them. Skirmishing was kept up all night. Two of the Confederate officers, spying around the Federal camp, were surprised by the Federal pickets, who shot one, said to be John A. Washington, of Mount Vernon.
September 24, 1861
ELKWATER, VA., SEPT. 16—The body of Col. John A Washington was sent over to the enemy yesterday, under a flag of truce. While on its way it was met by a similar flag coming from the enemy, for the purpose of obtaining information as to his condition.
On the 12 instant a detachment of 300 men from the 14th Indiana and 24th and 25th Ohio Regiments dispersed three Tennessee Regiments under Gen. Anderson, on the West side of Cheat Mountain, completely rooting them, killing eighty and obtaining most of their equipment.
The enemy made an advance on Elkwater on the same day, with a force supposed to be 15,000, but were driven back by detachments from the 15th Indiana and 3d and 6th Ohio, and shells from Loomis’ battery. They have retreated some eight or ten miles. A strong force of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia troops, also threatened the east side of Cheat Mountain, but have not yet had a general engagement.
A shell was thrown from one of the Loomis guns into the enemy’s camp, a distance of two miles, killing ten and wounding four.
The 13th Indiana had a skirmish with a superior number of the enemy, on the 11th and killed ten or eleven with a trifling loss on our side.
As the enemy advanced on Elkwater the column was handsomely checked by a detachment of the 17th Indiana.
Lieut. Morrill, of the Topographical Engineers, was taken prisoner by the rebels while on his way to Cheat Mountain.
September 18, 1861
The march upon Cheat Mountain.
--In the hurried notice published in this paper yesterday morning of the march of the Confederate forces upon the Federal fort on the top of Cheat Mountain, it was erroneously stated that the force from Gen. Lee's camp, under Col. Anderson, was intended to join that from Gen. Jackson's camp, in the attack upon the Federal fortification. Col. Anderson was only to engage the enemy stationed at the foot of Cheat Mountain, on the west side, not far from Huttonsville, while Col. Rust assaulted the fort. Col. Anderson advanced upon the enemy as arranged, and had engaged him, the firing being heard by Col. Rust's men. The result of it was not known at Gen. Jackson's camp Saturday night.
The fort on Cheat Mountain is said to be a defence almost impregnable. Some of our men, Col. Rust himself among them, have approached it so nearly as to look over into it and see all that was going on in it and also the exact nature of the fortification. It is built on the summit of Cheat Mountain, in Randolph county, just where the road crosses upon a hill which has no level land on its top, but suddenly descends on both sides. The forest along the road at this point, as for many miles of the adjacent country, consists of the white pine, which are tall and stand close together, while the undergrowth is almost wholly mountain laurel, so dense and interlocked as to be almost impenetrable. Here the enemy cleared several acres on each side of the road. On the outer boundary they placed the tall pines they had cut down, partially trimmed and skinned, with their tops outward; presenting to any one approaching a mass of sharp points raised to a considerable height, and strongly interlocked. Inside of this they built a wall of logs and cut a deep ditch. In the road they built up, in line with the fortification, breastworks of great strength and mounted them with pivot guns; while in the centre they erected a block-house pierced and armed also with cannon.--On the east side from the fort to the Cheat River, one mile and a quarter distant, they cleared the road for some distance on both sides, and this can be all the way swept by the cannon. The same is the case on the road westwardly for some distance.
This powerful fort or stockade it was thought might be surprised and taken, and it was for this that the force under Colonels Rust and Taliaferro left the camp of General Jackson on Monday, the 9th inst. That camp is in Pocahontas county, on Greenbrier river at the foot of Greenbrier Mountain (and not the Cheat, as has been stated.) Taking four days provisions they marched, in high spirits, by a circultous route which was fully twenty miles to the fort, while the direct one was only ten. This route was much of it impassable to horses, and almost to man. It lay through the pine and laurel thickets, and along the bed of the Cheat river itself, in which for miles the men patiently marched over rocks and through deep holes, as preferable to the dense forest. Wednesdaynight they slept on the wet ground, in hearing of the enemy's camp. The next morning they approached it, killed several pickets, and arrested some prisoners. They got on both sides the fort and reconnoitred it fully, and decided not to attack. In the afternoon they resumed their return march, and on Friday striking a shorter route than that they had gone, they reached "Slaven's Cabin," on the Parkersburg Road, where they met soldiers with provisions, which were very timely, as they had only taken four-days' supply with them. Fatigued and almost worn out, this in trepid-expedition reached the camp on Saturday, the 14th inst. There could not be a more laborious and fatiguing march than that they had endured. A good part of the time it rained in torrents, and they returned drenched, as well as weary. Col. Anderson, it is supposed, also had a march of great hardship. He left General Lee's camp, which is, or was on the line of Randolph and Pocahontas counties, at Valley Mountain. It was understood that he was to reach the enemy at the foot of Cheat Mountain, on the West side, without observation, if possible. He therefore traveled through much such obstacles as those the troops on the other side of the mountain encountered. He accomplished his object and engaged the enemy as is known; but the result has not yet come to hand.
General Lee had, before Col. A. marched in this expedition, issued an order for an advance; but whether his whole body has advanced or not we have not heard. The following order, of the 9th, speaks of the previous one for an advance:
Headquarters, valley Mountain,
September 10, 1861.
Special Orders, No.--
The forward movement announced to the Army of the Northwest, in special orders, No. 28, from its headquarters of this date, gives the general commanding the opportunity of exhorting the troops to keep steadily in view the great principles for which they contend, and to manifest to the world their determination to maintain them. The eyes of the country are upon you. The safety of your homes, and the lives of all you hold dear depend upon your courage and exertions. Let each man resolve to be victorious, and that the right of self-government, liberty, and peace, shall in him find a defender. The progress of this army must be forward!
(signed,) R. E. Lee,
Recurring to the remarkable fort on Cheat Mountain, while it is creditable to the ingennity of the enemy, it induces a very earnest regret that we ourselves had not held that position when we had it. But if it cannot be taken, of course it can and will be turned. Gen. Lee has, indeed, already turned it; but he had still some hope of taking it, which we suppose this expedition will induce him to abandon. It is defended by 1,200 men, who are good with their protection against probably as many thousand. But if our forces march on beyond it, the position is useless to the enemy, and will have to be abandoned.
From the Northwest
A reconnaissance and retreat — health of soldiers &c
September 20, 1861
From the Northwest
A reconnaissance and retreat — health of soldiers &c
Camp Bartow, Green brier River,
Pocahontas Co. Va., Sept, 17, 1861,
On the 19th inst., five regiments from Gen. Jackson's command--Cols. Rust's, Johnson's, Scott's, Hansborough's, and Fullerton's --left Camp Bartow, ostensibly for the purpose of reinforcing Gen. Lee, who, report said, was about closing in on the Yankees at Huttonsville. After a few hours' march, however, by the Huntersville road, the gladsome joy of joining so able a General as the invincible Lee was changed to the more gloomy reflections consequent upon another rough mountain march, as the head of our dense column "field right," bidding adieu to the cosy cabins and the rich, luxuriant fields of this beautiful valley, and were again hidden by towering pines and the thickly-matted laurel everywhere to be found in the vicinity of Cheat Mountain. On the thirdmorning we surprised the pickets of the enemy, took 7 prisoners without firing a gun, (Rust himself taking two,) and but for a cowardly loafer near their camp, who, instead of halting as commanded, begged so loudly for mercy as to arouse our enemy, our surprise would have been perfect, and victory easy. We approached by the woods to within 150 yards of their fortification, calmly surveyed the scene before us, considered the probabilities of the result of a charge, and satisfied that we could not storm their fort without great loss, (the opinion of Lieut. Col. Barton,) we withdrew further into the woods, where Hansborough had been engaging and killed the few who dared to venture from their den. We broke up one or two teams destined to Huttonsville for supplies, took an assistant Commissary in an Ohio regiment prisoner, left their dead and dying scattered through the woods. The whole command, like frightened sheep, gathered into their block-houses and behind their breastworks, expecting, as they deserved, punishment for daring to desecrate the soil by their filthy presence. I do not know how many were killed on their side. We lost one man from Col. Fullerton's regiment, and owing to the impossibility of traveling over mountains with weight, dropped our blankets, and occasionally a knapsack. We could take nothing with us to eat except in our haversacks, and, this giving out, we were forced to return without doing any considerable damage, except by fright.
On the same day, (the 12th) General Jackson approached them via the Parkersburg and Staunton turnpike, and, had his Artillery--four small pieces — unfortunately not been damaged, we would have made an attack from opposite points simultaneously.--We are now closing in on them, and scouts and pickets daily bring in a prisoner, a hat perforated with bullet holes, a gun, or some Yankee equipment that has fallen into their possession.
Our regiment now has marching orders; and though Dame Rumor has suggested a thousand points of destination, your correspondent knows nothing definitely. We may go to Petersburg.
The health of troops here is as good as can be expected, when so many are assembled at one point, our regiment being, I believe, from the change of climate the greatest sufferers.
The news from General Lee is encouraging. He has driven them behind their entrenchments, and takes all who dare to venture out.
The ball is rolling vigorously in Western Virginia. Expect, ere long, to hear the reverberation of glad mountain shouts. More anon. Orderly.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: September 1861