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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
September 23, 1861


The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, Volume 3
By Frank Moore
(New York: G. P. Putnam, 1862), p. 157

Doc. 65.

Operations in Western Virginia.

The following account of the operations of Floyd’s and Wise’s forces in Western Virginia, is given by a correspondent of the Richmond Dispatch. Its authorship is attributed to Col. Henningsen, well known for his connection with the filibuster expedition from the South:

Camp Defiance, Sept. 25, 1861 – 10 P. M.

On the 14th of September Gen. Floyd and his forces encamped on the summit of the Big Sewell, and ordered the Wise Legion, which, to cover his rear, was drawn up in order of battle at Locust Lane, to camp east of him, at Smales’, on the turnpike.

The troops of the Wise Legion, who were in no amiable humor at so much retreating, and especially at being obliged to retire from Dogwood Gap without fighting, were much exhausted and annoyed at having been kept on the road from six in the morning till eleven at night, mixed up with an interminable train of wagons belonging to the Floyd Brigade, for the purpose of only proceeding a few miles, and without being able to obtain any definite order as to their destination.

On the eastern slope of the Big Sewell, between two farms called Dixon’s and Vaughan’s, Gen. Wise selected his camping ground at the place since called Camp Defiance, and which undoubtedly is, with Dogwood Gap, one of the strongest positions between the Alleghanies and the Ohio River.

On the 15th and 16th Gen. Floyd was industriously occupied throwing up field-works to the westward of the summit of Big Sewell. The position, however, was not one tenable against a superior force, and this Gen. Floyd seems to have found out. On the night of the 16th to the 17th he made a very precipitate retreat from the Big Sewell, with about three thousand men, to Meadow Bluff, destroying much baggage and abandoning much provision. His troops were under the impression that Gen. Rosecrans was pressing on with fifteen thousand men.

After passing the Wise Legion he ordered Gen. Wise on the following day to prepare to cover his rear and to follow him to Meadow Bluff, having information that the enemy was advancing one column by the Wilderness road. It was impossible for Gen. Wise to comply with both orders, even had they been positive, and in fact one was not executed at all. It was only by maintaining its position at all hazards, that the Legion could protect the rear of the Floyd Brigade. The experience of Dogwood Gap, occupied in force, with artillery, by the enemy, a few hours after the Wise Legion left it, by Gen. Floyd’s order, showed clearly, and the event at Camp Defiance subsequently confirmed, that on the abandonment of the latter position, the enemy would immediately occupy it in force.

Floyd’s Brigade was much demoralized since his retreat from Camp Gauley and the following retreat. The Wise Legion, willing enough to fight, would have been equally demoralized by retreating any further. Meadow Bluff affords no position. No real demonstration had yet or has since been made on the Wilderness road, nor did there exist any reason why there should be, since the enemy could more conveniently, if in force sufficient, strike the turnpike further eastward, as for instance at the Little Sewell.

If the Wise Legion had retreated and been followed up by superior forces its existence was imperilled, and thereby the rear of the Floyd Brigade left unprotected. But, at all events, that retreat was impossible of execution without the abandonment of baggage, because Gen. Floyd had detained many wagons belonging to the already insufficient transportation of the Wise Legion, and because the roads had been so much cut up by the vast train of the Floyd Brigade. The writer counted twenty-eight wagons belonging to and following the last regiment of Gen. Floyd’s brigade, which was just twenty more than accompanied the regiment which closed up Wise’s column.

Under these circumstances Gen. Wise resolved to make a stand where he was encamped, and where, on the morning after his reaching the ground, he had begun to throw up intrenchments. Here it was impossible for an enemy to bring more than two guns or a thousand men to bear on any part of his position; and on every point, within a few minutes, Gen. Wise could bring six of his eight pieces and two-thirds of his force into play, beside the advantage of intrenchments. In addition, most of the officers of the Legion spoke openly of resigning if compelled to retreat any further.

On the 18th Gen. Wise addressed the troops of his Legion, stating substantially that hitherto he had never retreated but in obedience to superior orders. That here he was determined to make a stand. That his force consisted only of one thousand seven hundred infantry and artillery, and that the enemy was alleged to be fifteen thousand strong. That this he did not believe, but that his men must be prepared to fight two or three or several to one, and even if the enemy were in the full force stated, the position admitted of successful defence, and he was determined to abide the issue. He warned them that they would probably be attacked front and rear for successive days, and he called on any officer of soldier who felt doubtful of the result, or unwilling to stand by him in this trial, to step forward, promising that they should be marched at once to Meadow Bluff. This speech, delivered successively to the three regiments of infantry and to the artillery, was received with the wildest enthusiasm. Not one solitary individual in the Legion failed to respond, and the spirits of the corps were raised and maintained at the highest fighting pitch. The provisions and baggage-wagons were withdrawn into safe positions, and the camp on all sides strengthened. In this attitude the Legion remained till about the 20th, when it was strengthened by the arrival of Capt. Romer’s artillery company, with one gun, and by that of one Virginia, one North Carolina, and three Georgia companies, which swelled the forces of the Wise Legion to over two thousand men.

About this time Gen. Lee arrived in Gen. Floyd’s camp at Meadow Bluff, and wrote to Gen. Wise, advising him to fall back if executable, without delay. Before acting on this advice Gen. Wise requested Gen. Lee to inspect the position in person. On the 22d Gen. Lee arrived at Camp Defiance, and, after a careful survey of the ground, ordered Gen. Wise to maintain his position until further orders.

The enemy had meanwhile advanced to within three or four miles, and several skirmishes had taken place between his outposts and the remaining cavalry of the Legion, under Major Bacon, formerly captain of mounted rangers in Nicaragua, and afterward aid to Gen. Garnett, and wounded by the side of that General when he fell. The rest of the cavalry was still under its gallant colonel, J. L. Davis, and Lieut.-Col. Clarkson, south of the New River, where they had pushed a daring and successful foray up to within twelve miles of Charleston.

One night Gen. Wise, with a few picked companions, including the Richmond Blues and Mississippi Rangers, of the Second regiment, under Capt. Imboden, attempted to feel and ambuscade the enemy and drive in their outposts, killing three of them, the General himself lying down for several hours in a pitiless shower. Notwithstanding, all that could be ascertained of the enemy was that he was on the turnpike, probably from five thousand to six thousand strong.

On the afternoon of the 23d, while the infantry and artillery of the Legion were rehearsing their part on the contemplated points of attack, the enemy suddenly appeared, driving in our pickets. The next morning the summit of the Big Sewell was whitened with his tents, and skirmishing commenced and continued till the evening. On our side two gun detachments of the artillery and three companies of the Second regiment of the Legion, of which Col. Henningsen is colonel, but in consequence of his having charge of the infantry and artillery, under the immediate command of Lieut.-Col. Frank Anderson – who distinguished himself by the daring exploit of capturing Castillo, in Nicaragua, with forty-eight men, and Lockridge and Titus had failed with eight hundred – Capt. Imboden’s, Capt. Lewis’s, and Capt. Crane’s University company were the companies engaged, with one six-pounder and one howitzer, under Major Gibbs, of South Carolina, Capt. McComas and Lieut. Pairo, of Richmond. The casualties were but trifling on our side, though we have to regret the death of Lieut. Howell, of Mississippi, (of Capt. McDonnell’s company,) and that of one of Capt. Imboden’s gallant rangers. Capt. Lewis was shot through the breast, but is doing well. Three privates were wounded in the above-named companies, one very severely. The only loss in the artillery was Lieut. Pairo’s horse, shot under him. The enemy was obviously only feeling for the flanks of our position, and evidently could make nothing of it, and “no wonder,” as Prof. Snead remarked, “since it has no flanks at all.”

The guns were only advanced to avenge the casualties which befell our men, firing a few rounds and then retiring. For instance, when the ranger fell, a six-pounder suddenly advanced along a ridge where a gun could never have been expected, and drove the enemy from a stable, laying out four of them. In sight, on another occasion, seven were dropped before the howitzer. A company of the enemy’s reconnoit[e]ring, and commanded by a mounted officer, came on a picket of the University company. The sentry shot the mounted officer down, received the volley of the company and retired unhurt. Major Lawson, of the Second regiment, having seized a rifle to surprise one of the enemy’s scouts, was himself surprised by another who sent a shot through his coat. The major, however, avenged himself on this interloper by shooting him dead.

On the evening of the 24th Gen. Lee arrived with his regiments and two pieces of cannon. Late on the 25th Gen. Wise received a communication from the Secretary of War, requiring him to report immediately to Richmond. Having ordered Col. Henningsen to accompany him, he left Camp Defiance for that city the same evening, with Majors Duffield and Stanard, Captains Farish and Sneed, and Lieut. Wise, of his staff.

The position at Camp Defiance, when Gen. Wise left, was defended by about five thousand five hundred men, with eleven pieces of cannon, (which in twenty-four hours would be reinforced to near seven thousand men,) commanded by Gen. Lee in person, who has vindicated Gen. Wise’s military judgment by determining to try conclusions with the enemy in the position selected by the latter. They are doubtless impregnable, even by a force of twenty thousand men. It can hardly, however, be anticipated that the enemy, even though reinforced as ascertained by three thousand men, will venture to attack General Lee with his present force, after hesitating to attack Gen. Wise when he had only one thousand seven hundred soldiers. If Gen. Lee should fall back, it will only be on account of demonstrations on his rear. Gen. Floyd was at Meadow Bluff with one thousand five hundred men.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
September 25, 1861

The Army in Western Virginia--advance of the enemy — junction of Gens. Floyd's and Wise's Brigades.

The editor of the Lynchburg Republican writes the following interesting letter to that journal, by which it may be conjectured that important events are about to transpire in the West:

Top of Big Sewell Mountain, Sept.16, 1861.

We are encamped upon the summit of this mountain, one of the highest of those giant ranges which so distinctly mark the geography of this section of Virginia. Our brigade, together with the 13th North Carolina and 14th Georgia Regiments, occupy the plateau, while the white tents of the Wise Legion dot the eastern slope of the mountain, about one mile distant. This spot is a lovely one. The mountain breezes are fresh and pure, while on every hand, and to the full limit of the human vision, is presented a prospect of natural scenery more beautiful and imposing than the poet's pen or painter's pencil can delineate. In the clear, bright morning, the dense fog hanging in silvery white folds along the far distant hills and valleys gives beautiful variety to the extending landscape, while in the evening the full glories of a golden sunset converts the whole scene into one of transcendent loveliness. Nor is this scene loss ravishing when night draws its curtains around us, and the silvery moon, rolling its brilliant orb above the distant horizon, and, riding in quiet splendor along the clear blue sky, lends a mellow tinge to surrounding nature. But this is the most that can be sold in behalf of this mountain pass, except that, naturally, it presents strong defences against the approaches of an enemy. Few people inhabit its slopes and projecting ridges, and but few fine farms dot the valleys below. The [ conseqence ] is, that all kinds of provisions for man and beast are exceedingly scarce, and we suffer for the want of such supplies. But I do not think we shall remain here long. The enemy is crossing Ganley in large numbers, at Ganley Bridge and Carnitax's Ferry, below us, and at Hughes' Ferry, above us — their purpose doubtless being to take us both in our front and rear. This movement will probably necessitate our falling back fifteen miles farther, to Meadow Bluff, beyond which point the enemy cannot flank us. If they fight us at either place we shall whip them, unless their numbers double ours.

We have now the addition of Colonel Clark's North Carolina, and Col.Ector's Georgia regiments, two as fine bodies of men, and commanded by as brave and efficient officers, as are in the service. They are greatly chagrined at not being able to reach us in time for our fight at Ganley, and when the tug of another battle comes, they will not dishonor their gallant States, whose sons they are, or the glorious cause they represent upon the field. These Colonels both fought through the Mexican war, the former having been wounded six times.

The movement of Rosencranz, the other day, in getting away from Lee and Loring, and precipitating his forces upon us, was a brilliant one, and shows that officer to be far superior to any of his masters. He no doubt expected, however, to wipe us out at a single brush, and to return to his headquarters flushed with easy victory; but in this he was sadly disappointed, and will have to take back with him a flea in his ear, which will tickle anything but his vanity.

I have read the Northern telegraphic account of our battle with Rosencranz. It represents that we had five thousand men and sixteen pieces of artillery, when the truth is, we only had 1,750 men and six pieces of artillery, four pieces of which only were actively in the fight all the time. These were of the Guy Battery, from Goochland county, and were managed with great bravery and consummate skill. The same account states the loss of the enemy to have been about 120 in killed and wounded, when the truth is, that we have from a dozen different sources — from their own men and friend — that it was not less than from six to nine hundred. Indeed, reliable men who have passed through their camp put it down at a much higher figure. Certain it is, that if they lost but the number stated by them they must have been consummate cowards to permit themselves to be driven back four times with their guns silenced. They state farther that they silenced two of our guns, and that our loss must have been very heavy. The truth is, they never touched one of our guns, and only two of their shots touched our earthworks. They never killed a man and only wounded seven. This they must have known before they sent out their lying telegram, because there was not a grave or a drop of blood to be found inside our lines. They frankly admit that our fire upon them was perfectly "terrific," and it certainly was. They admit that Col. Lytell, in his charge upon our guns with his Irish regiment, was shot from his horse and his men repulsed. They admit, also, that Col. Lowe was killed in another charge, and that, finally, Col. McCook, with his German brigade, was repulsed. This is all so, and shows not only that our fire was "terrific," but that their loss was equally "terrific," or, they the greatest cowards that ever trod a step to the sound of martial music.

On Wednesday and Thursday last, Rosencranz built new boats and threw some 5,000 of his men across to this side of Ganley, his purpose doubtless being to form a junction with General Cox's forces, which will come up fifteen miles from Ganley bridge. This will give him a column of about 10,000 men with which to march upon us at this point. About 4,000 of this number are now encamped at "Alderson's," twelve miles distant, and the smoke from their camp-fires is plainly visible from our tents this evening.

For the short time I have been in the service I have seen much of the article we call war, in all its degrees of sunshine and of shadow. I have seen the sick and the wounded, the dead and the dying. I have seen our brave men marching along almost impassable roads, and soaked by the most drenching rains. I have seen them sometimes hungry, and thirsty, and compelled to lie down at night upon the naked earth for their beds and a single blanket for their covering. All these things and more are the necessary concomitants of war, and never fail to touch the sympathies of the human heart. But that sight which has touched me most, and which makes the blood of our soldiers burn hottest, is that of the helpless families of women and children who have been compelled to flee past us to escape the vandalism of the scoundrels who are so wickedly invading our soil. These helpless people are compelled to bundle up what little of their chattels they can carry with them, on horses and in their hands and, leaving their comfortable homes and property to the savage depredations of the enemy, flee to the rear of our lines for safety. It is too bad, but I trust the day is not far distant when we shall be able to carry all these evils of this unholy war to the homes and firesides of those who have so sinfully provoked its horrors.

I had designed giving you some of the incidents of the late battle and a sketch of camp life, but our movements are so hurried just now, and my means of writing so imperfect, that I am compelled to defer them to a more convenient season.

R. H. G.

P. S.--Just as I close this letter orders are issued to our forces to fall back to Meadow Bluff, distant fifteen miles. This is to prevent the enemy from getting in our rear, and to give him battle with all his force in front.

You need not be surprised, therefore, to hear of another engagement in this quarter in a few days. The enemy outnumbers us heavily, but our men are in good spirits, and with a glorious cause to nerve our arms, and a smiling Providence to give us the victory, we do not fear.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
October 1, 1861

The Army of the Kanawha — Highly Interesting Details.

The following communication, written by a distinguished officer, was received at a late hour on Sundaynight. It loses none of its interest, however, by the slight delay in its publication:

[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]

Camp Defiance,
September 25, 10 P. M.

On the 14th of September, General Floyd and his forces encamped on the summit of the Big Sewell, and ordered the Wise Legion, which, to cover his rear, was drawn up in order of battle at Locust Lane, to camp east of him at Smales's, on the turnpike. The troops of the Wise Legion, who were in no amiable humor at so much retreating, and especially at being obliged to retire from Dogwood Gap without fighting, were much exhausted and annoyed at having been kept on the road from six in the morning till eleven at night, mixed up with an interminable train of wagons belonging to the Floyd Brigade, for the purpose of only proceeding a few miles, and though not being able to obtain any definite order as to their destination. On the eastern slope of the Big Sewell, between two small farms called Dixon's and Vaughn's, General Wise selected his camping ground at the place since called Camp Defiance, and which undoubtedly is, with Dogwood Gap, one of the two strongest positions between the Alleghanies and the Ohio river. On the 15th and 16th Gen. Floyd was industriously occupied throwing up field-works to the westward of the summit of Big Sewell. The position, however, was not one tenable against a superior force, and this Gen. Floyd seems to have found out. On the night of the 16th to the 17th he made a very precipitate retreat from the Big Sewell with about 3,000 men to Meadow Bluff, destroying much baggage and abandoning much provision. His troops were under the impression that Gen. Rosencranz was pressing on with 15,000 men.

After passing the Wise Legion he ordered General Wise, on the following day, to prepare to cover his rear and to follow him to Meadow Bluff, having information that the enemy was advancing one column by the Wilderness road. It was impossible for General Wise to comply with both orders, even had they been positive, and in fact one was not executable at all. It was only by maintaining its position at all hazards that the Legion could protect the rear of the Floyd Brigade. The experience of Dogwood Gap, occupied in force with artillery by the enemy a few hours after the Wise Legion left it by Gen. Floyd's order, shewed clearly, and the event at Camp Defiance, subsequently confirmed, that on the abandonment of the latter position, the enemy would immediately occupy it in full force. Floyd's Brigade was much demoralized since his retreat from Camp Gauley and the following retreats. The Wise Legion, willing enough to fight, would have been equally demoralized by retreating any further. Meadow Bluff affords no positions. No real demonstration had yet or has since been made on the Wilderness road, nor did there exist any reason why there should be, since the enemy could more conveniently, if in force sufficient, strike the turnpike further eastward, as for instance at the Little Sewell. If the Wise Legion had retreated and been followed up by superior forces, its existence was imperilled, and thereby the rear of the Floyd Brigade left unprotected.--But, at all events, that retreat was impossible without the abandonment of baggage, because Gen. Floyd had detained man, wagons belonging to the already insufficient transportation of the Wise Legion, and because the roads had been so much cut up by the vast train of the Floyd Brigade. The writer counted twenty-eight wagons belonging to and following the last regiment of Gen. Floyd's Brigade, which was just twenty more than accompanied the regiment which closed up Wise's column. Under these circumstances Gen. Wise resolved to make a stand where he was camped, and where, on the morning after his reaching the ground, he had began to throw up entrenchments. Here it was impossible for an enemy to bring more than two guns or a thousand men to bear on any part of his position, and on every point, within a few minutes, Gen. Wise could bring six of his eight pieces and two thirds of his force into play, besides the advantage of entrenchments. In addition, most of the officers of the Legion spoke openly of resignation if compelled to retreat any further.

On the 18th, General Wise addressed the troops of his Legion, stating substantially that hitherto he had never retreated but in obedience to superior orders. That here he was determined to make a stand. That his force consisted only of 1,700 infantry and artillery, and that the enemy was alleged to be 15,000 strong. That this he did not believe, but that his men must be prepared to fight two or three or several to one, and even if the enemy was in the full force represented, the position admitted of successful defence, and he was determined to abide the issue. He warned them that they would probably be attacked front and rear for successive days, and he called on any officer or soldier who felt doubtful of the result, or unwilling to stand by him in this trial, to step forward, promising that they should be marched at once to Meadow Bluff. This speech, delivered successively to the three regiments of infantry and to the artillery, was received with the wildest enthusiasm. Not one solitary individual in the Legion failed to respond, and the spirit of the corps was raised and maintained at the highest fighting pitch.

The provision and baggage wagons were withdrawn into safe positions, and the camp on all sides strengthened. In this attitude the legion remained till about the 20th, when strengthened by the arrival of Capt. Romer's artillery company, with one gun by that of one Virginia, one North Carolina, and three Georgia companies, which swelled the forces of the Wise Legion to over 2,000 men. About this time Gen. Lee arrived in Gen. Floyd's camp, at Meadow Bluff, and wrote to Gen. Wise, advising him to fall back, if executable, without delay. Before acting on this advice Gen. Wise requested Gen. Lee to inspect the position in person. On the 22dGen. Lee arrived at Camp Defiance, and after a careful survey of the ground ordered Gen. Wise to maintain his position until further orders. The enemy had meanwhile a vance to within three or four miles, and several skirmishes had taken place between his outposts and the remaining cavalry of the Legion under Major Bacon, formerly Captain of Mounted Rangers in Nicaragua, and afterward aid to Gen. Garnett, and wounded by the side of that General when he fell.--The rest of the cavalry was still under its gallant Colonel, J. L. Davis, and Lieut.-Col. Clarkson, south of New river, where they had pushed a daring and successful foray up to within 12 miles of Charleston. One night Gen. Wise, with a few picked companies, including the Richmond Blues and the Mississippi Rangers, of the 2d Regiment, under Capt. Imboden, attempted to feel and ambuscade the enemy, and drive in their outposts, killing three of them — the General himself lying down for several hours in a pitiless shower. Notwithstanding, all that could be ascertained of the enemy was, that he was on the turnpike, probably from 5,000 to 6,000 strong. On the afternoon of the 23d, whilst the infantry and artillery of the Legion were rehearsing their part on the contemplated points of attack, the enemy suddenly appeared, driving in our pickets. The next morning the summit of the Big Sewell was whitened with his tents, and skirmishing commenced and continued till the evening. On our side two gun detachments of the artillery and three companies of the 2d Regiment of the Legion, of which Col. Henningsen is Colonel, (but in consequence of his having charge of the infantry and artillery under the immediate command of Lieut.-Col. Frank Anderson, who distinguished himself by the daring exploit of capturing Castillo in Nicaragua, with 45 men, after Lockbridge and Titus had failed with 800.) Capt. Imboden's, Capt. Lewis's, and Capt. Crane's University company were the companies engaged, with one six-pounder and one howitzer, under Major Gibbes, of South Carolina, Capt. McComas and Lieut. Pairo, of Richmond.

The casualties were trifling on our side, though we have to regret the death of Lieut. Howell, of Mississippi, of Capt. McDonnell's company, and that of one of Capt. Imboden's gallant Rangers. Captain Lewis was shot through the breast, but is doing well. Three privates were wounded in the above named companies, one very severely. The only loss in the artillery was Lieut. Pairo's horse shot from under him. The enemy was obviously only feeling for the flanks of our position and evidently could make nothing of it, and "no wonder," as Prof. Shead remarked, "since it has no flanks at all." The guns were only advanced to avenge the casualties which befall our men, firing a few rounds and then retiring. For instance, when the Ranger fell a six-pounder suddenly advanced along bridge where a gun could never have been expected and drove the enemy from a stable, laying out four of the enemy in sight. On another occasion seven were dropped before the howitzer. A company of the enemy reconnoitering, and commanded by a mounted officer, came on a picket of the University company. The sentry shot the mounted officer down, received the volley of the company and retired unhurt. Major Lawson, of the 2d regiment, having seized a rifle to surprise one of the enemy's scouts, was himself surprised by another who sent a shot through his coat; the Major, however, avenged himself on the interloper by shooting him dead.

On the evening of the 24th, Gen. Lee arrived with four regiments and two pieces of cannon. Late on the 25thGen. Wise received a communication from the Secretary of War requiring him to report immediately in Richmond, Having ordered Col. Henningsen to accompany him, he left camp Defiance for that city the same evening, with Majors Duffield and Standard, Captains Farish and Snead, and Lieut. Wise, of his staff.

The position at camp Defiance, when Gen. Wise left, was defended by about 5,500 men and eleven pieces of cannon, (which, in 24 hours, would be reinforced to near 7,000 men,) commanded by Gen. Lee in person, who has vindicated Gen. Wise's military judgment by determining to try conclusions with the enemy in the positions selected by the latter.--They are doubtless impregnable, even by a force of 20,000 men. It can hardly, however, be anticipated that the enemy, even though reinforced as ascertained by 3,000 men, will venture to attack Gen. Lee with his present force, after hesitating to attack Gen. Wise when he had only 1,700 soldiers. If General Lee should fall back, it will only be on account of demonstrations on his rear. Gen. Floyd was at Meadow Bluff with 1,500 men.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
October 11, 1861

Gen. Floyd and the Wise Legion.

The following card from General John B. Floyd is published by request:

Hdq'rs Army of the Camp on Sewell, October 6th, 1861.
Editors of Enquirer:

Gentlemen — In the Enquirer of October 1st you have published certain letters, dated in Camp Defiance, purporting, under my command. These persons pretend to narrate my conduct in this campaign, particularly in the late actions on the Gauley and retreat to Meadow Bluff. Their statements are calumniatory falsehoods, having no shadow of truth for their foundation; but their intention, and not less their malignity, is too obvious to permit me to believe that they can be injurious either to my own reputation or that of the army which I then commanded. Even were it otherwise, I should leave the judgment of those affairs to my Government, which, having been exactly informed of their details, has honored their conduct with a cordial approbation, and remit my personal vindication from malicious detraction to history, as also to those among my living countrymen who love justice.--But the duty of a commander compels me to demand of you the names of those individuals who have so far forgotten the honor of gentlemen and the character of officers, as to invent and publish libels on their General and their companions in arms, thus vile in spirit and untruthful in material, that they may be tried by the military tribunals, and punished, if guilty, according to the laws of the army.

I am, sir, your obd't serv't,
John B. Floyd.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
October 12, 1861

From Western Virginia.

--It will be seen from the following letter to the Lynchburg Virginian, that Gen. Lee expected to make an attack upon Rosencranz about the time the latter's forces slipped away:

Sewell Mountain, Lee's Encampment, October 2d, 1861.

Mr. Editor:
Yesterday evening we arrived here, after five days weary and toilsome march from Jackson river. We are now encamped within two miles of the enemy. From a high hill where our cannon are planted, the enemy's encampment is plain to view. I visited the heights yesterday evening, and viewed the encampments of both armies; and from all the information that I can collect, the enemy has about 15,000 men, (though there are rumors that they have more,) and 20 pieces of cannon, pretty strongly fortified on top of Big Sewell mountain. Our army has 17,000 or 18,000 men and 28 pieces of cannon, and are well fortified on the same heights, within less than two miles of the enemy's camp, on the eastern side of Big Sewell mountain. If they would attack us, we could whip them without, perhaps, the loss of a man; but if we have them to attack, the thing will be different. Of the former, we have no hope or prospect; but General Lee says that he will wait only one or two days longer for them to attack, and, if they do not, he will. So, if the weather is favorable, the battle will be over before next Monday. I will write you more when the battle is over, if anything occurs to change the plan of action. I could write more now, but have no time as the mail is closing.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
October 12, 1861

Gen. Floyd and the Enquirer.

--We published on yesterday the letter of Gen. Floyd to the Editors of the Enquirer, in relation to alleged libels made upon him by correspondents of that journal. We subjoin the reply of the editors, published is the Enquirer, of yesterday, with their comments appended:

Enquirer Office, Oct. 10, 1861.
John B. Floyd, Esq;

Sir:

--Your letter of October 6th, 1861, is before us. Not recognizing any authority in yourself, either individually or as commander of the Army of Kanawha, to demand the names of our correspondents, we decline to comply with your request. Tyler, Wise & Alleger.

We declined to furnish the names of our correspondents to Gen. Floyd, because of his purpose to seek his vindication through a court-martial, instead of the usual mode among gentlemen. Whenever Gen. Floyd proposes a personal vindication, the names of our correspondents shall be furnished.

We shall dismiss this letter with the statement that the characters of our correspondents have never been stained by the suspicion of a crime, and that a charge of falsehood against them is much easier made than proved. They are gentlemen the equals of Gen. Floyd in every respect, and what they have averred in their communications we believe to be true in letter and spirit.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
October 4, 1861

From Western Virginia.

The mails — death of Col. Spalding--the defence of Gauley, &c., &c.

[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]

White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier Co., Va. Sept. 30, 1861.

The mails here from the East are three days behind hand. We have no mail from Richmond since Friday last. A traveller by some private conveyance came through yesterday with a copy of the Dispatch, containing, as I hear, news of the taking of Lexington, Missouri, after a hard-fought battle, and a great victory for the Confederates. I have not seen it, (the paper,) but the news is the cause of much rejoicing among the people, who have been a little depressed at the long pause in the movements in Virginia beyond the mountains, and the infringing of the enemy in the West upon the Alleghanies.

The cause of the delay in the mails — always slow enough in this region — at this time is an immense flood, which happened at the close of last week. The mountain streams at this place rose higher than they have risen since '42, and the old people say they have not been higher for fifty years. Much damage has been done to farms in washing lands and sweeping off fences. Some farmers on Greenbrier river have lost heavily in the drowning of cattle, sheep, and hogs. The roads were awfully cut up, and in many places rendered impassable.

I have been pained to hear of the death of Colonel J. W. Spalding. He was killed on Saturday last in a skirmish on Sewell Mountain with the enemy. He had arranged an ambuscade to entrap the enemy's scouts; but they had formed a counter ambush, and in the firing which took place upon the development of their situation, the Colonel fell. He was as brave and generous-hearted a man as I ever knew.--His death will be much lamented by numerous friends. Early in the war he fled for safety from his home in the Northwest, upon the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The traitors of that region had marked him. He left his young wife and only child — if possible to follow him — and escaped very narrowly. He came to Richmond, and soon after joined the volunteer company of Capt. Wallace, with which, as Lieutenant, he came to the West, and joined Wise's Legion. He was here but a little while before he was made a Colonel, and has acquitted himself in that post very gallantly. He was a brave and true man, and so died.

I have no particulars of this skirmish, further than the death of Col. S. For this kind of fighting there is very little scope in this region — the narrow passes and tall mountains narrowing the line of march everywhere to a very limited degree. I learn that the enemy occupies one of the elevations of Sewell and our troops the other, and that they are not over a mile and a half a part. A severe battle has been daily expected. Indeed, we have been expecting severe battles for many weeks; but, save some skirmishing and the brave defence by Floyd's Brigade at Gauley, we have had nothing. Save this much, no blow to stagger the enemy has been struck here or elsewhere in Virginia. The defence at Gauley was indeed a glorious one. Seventeen hundred men against eleven thousand--the smaller body holding the larger in check and repelling it without losing a man! The Federal loss was, beyond doubt, very heavy. There is no mode of ascertaining it positively; but persons who come from the vicinity of the battle represent the number buried as exceeding a thousand. Our men were all good marksmen and took deadly aim; while Capt. Guy's cannon were fired with wonderful effect, carrying death to the ranks of the enemy with every missive they projected. A spectator tells me that the Captain's shot opened lanes through the Federal regiments. The splendid regiment commanded by Col. Benham, who was a classmate of Col. Reynolds's, of Floyd's brigade, was twice brought to the charge with bayonet, but was compelled to fall back, with fearful loss. That regiment charged full upon Reynolds's skeleton regiment of less than 300, and was sent reeling before the fire of that little band; whose courage was so cool and calm, and whose aim was so true, that their fire was terrific. The thousand of Benham reeled, and wheeled, and fled from the remnant of the regiment commanded by his gallant classmate of the Confederate Army. Col. Reynolds and Col. Heath held the centre, assisted by four of Guy's guns, and their position it was which was chiefly assailed by the overwhelming ranks of the enemy under Rosencranz. They covered themselves with glory.

Col. Reynolds's regiment having been reduced to so meagre a number by disease, he has been ordered to this place to recruit, and to take command here for the purpose of reducing to order the hospitals, and establishing a more vigilant military discipline generally.

I regret to learn that Gen. Floyd suffers considerably from his wound, but I hope to hear that it will soon be healed. Messrs. W. B. Preston, Miles of South Carolina, and Venable of North Carolina, have arrived here, to inspect the hospitals in this part of Virginia. They were appointed as a committee to make a general investigation of hospitals and report to Congress. B.


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

West Virginia Archives and History