Series 1, Volume 5, pp. 220-236
OCTOBER 3, 1861. Engagement at Greenbrier River, West Virginia.
No. 1. - Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, U. S. Army.
No. 2. - Col. Nathan Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana Infantry.
No. 3. - Lieut. Col. William P. Richardson, Twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry.
No. 4. - Casualties in the Union forces.
No. 5. - Brig. Gen. Henry R. Jackson, C. S. Army, and response from Secretary of War.
No. 6. - CoL William B. Taliaferro, Twenty-third Virginia Infantry.
No. 7. - Col. Albert Rust, Third Arkansas Infantry.
No. 8. - Capt. L. M. Shumaker, C. S. Army.
No. 9. - Congratulatory orders from Brig. Gen. W. W. Loring, C. S. Army.
Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, U. ~ Army, commanding First Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, A. O. W. VA.,
Elk Water, October 4, 1861.
SIR: On the night of the 2d October, at 12 o’clock, I started from the summit of Cheat Mountain to make an armed reconnaissance of the enemy’s position on the Greenbrier River 12 miles in advance. Our force consisted of Howe’s battery, Fourth regular artillery; Loomis’ battery, Michigan volunteer artillery; part of Dahm’s battery, Virginia volunteer artillery; Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, and Thirty-second Ohio Regiments; Seventh, Ninth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Seventeenth Indiana Regiments (the last four being reduced by continuous hard service and sickness to about half regiments); parts of Robinson’s company of Ohio, Greenfield’s Pennsylvania, and Bracken’s Indiana cavalry; in all about 5,000. Milroy’s Ninth Indiana drove in the enemy’s advanced pickets and deployed to our right, driving the enemy on that flank into his intrenchments. Kimball’s Fourteenth Indiana was advanced directly to the enemy’s front and right, to drive his advanced regiment from a position suitable for our artillery. This was soon done in gallant style, and our batteries promptly took their positions within about 700 yards of the intrenchments and opened fire. Some of the enemy’s guns were visible and others concealed. We disabled three of his guns, made a thorough reconnaissance, and after having fully and successfully accomplished the object of the expedition retired leisurely and in good order to Cheat Mountain, arriving at sundown, having marched 24 miles and been under the enemy’s fire four hours. The enemy’s force was about 9,000, and we distinctly saw heavy re-enforcements of infantry and artillery arrived while we were in front of the works. We took 13 prisoners. The number of killed and wounded could not be accurately ascertained, but from those actually counted in the field and estimated in the trenches, which could be seen from the heights, it is believed the number reached at least 300. Our loss was surprisingly small - 8 killed and 32 wounded - most of them slightly, the proximity of our batteries to the intrenchments causing many shots to pass over us.
Very respectfully, &c.,
J. J. REYNOLDS, Brigadier-General, Commanding.
L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General of the Army, Washington, D. C.
Report of Col. Nathan Kimball, Fourteenth Indiana Infantry.
CHEAT MOUNTAIN SUMMIT, VA., October 4, 1861.
SIR: In obedience to your orders, the Fourteenth Regiment Indiana Volunteers proceeded from this point at 1 a. m. on the 3d instant, as part of the force in making the armed reconnaissance of the enemy’s position at Greenbrier River, near the Alleghany Mountains.
My command, on arriving near the front of the enemy’s position, took post in their front near the main road and awaited your arrival. By your order I deployed one company (C), Captain Brooks, forward as skirmishers, to open up the way for a position for Loomis’ battery. They had proceeded only a few hundred yards when they came in contact with the enemy’s infantry, 600 in number. I immediately ordered the rest of my companies forward, and deploying left companies over mountains which were occupied by the enemy, my whole command was soon engaged, and I am proud, rejoiced, to know that they drove the enemy back.
As the whole of this action was under your immediate observation, I need not tell you how gallantly my men behaved. Having succeeded in clearing the point, Captain Loomis soon had his guns in battery and opening on the enemy. I then moved my regiments forward, one company supporting Howe’s battery in the road, my right resting in a meadow, directly in front of the enemy. At this time Captain Baum brought one gun forward and took position near my left. He behaved with great gallantry, attending his gun in person, doing good execution, amid a perfect storm of shot and shell.
I directed my line up the hill and to the rear of Baum’s piece. We occupied this position during the whole cannonading, the men being exposed to the continuous fire from the enemy’s batteries. And, general, I am proud to say my men stood firm. They had never before been subjected to the hail-storms of ball and shell, yet they did not waver.
Our position was held until we were ordered to deploy to the enemy’s right of the mountain, as skirmishers. I moved with seven companies; the other three were deployed over the summit directly over the face of the mountain, exposed to the fire from the enemy’s batteries. Here I was halted near the enemy’s right by other regiments, which were on my left. Here I formed a junction with Colonel Wagner, and while endeavoring to move forward we were met by a portion of the regiments returning. We remained in this position for one-half hour awaiting the movement of the regiment in our advance; but seeing all of our forces being drawn off, I marched my command in good order back to its former position in the road and retired in front of the enemy’s heavy fire.
General, you witnessed the conduct of my command during most of the day, and it is unnecessary for me to praise them to you. All I will say is, that the Fourteenth were true soldiers, and acted up to their profession and in accordance with their motto, which is, “Keep cool and a steady fire.”
I must not fail to mention that my major (W. Harrow) and adjutant (John J. P. Blinn) were with me, and acted with great gallantry and bravery, and deserve the highest praise. My lieutenant-colonel, owing to severe sickness, did not arrive until towards the withdrawal of the forces.
I have to report the loss of 3 killed and 4 wounded. Two of those reported killed died after we returned to camp. One sergeant (J. Urner Price), Company A, lost his left leg by a fraction of a shell. Price was a noble fellow, and died a Christian, as he had lived one. The other (Harrison Myers), of Company H, had a spherical-case shot in his thigh, which was extracted, but he died immediately afterwards. Amos Boyd, of Company C, was killed on the field by the explosion of a shell from the enemy’s guns. I recapitulate my loss as follows:
Killed: J. Urner Price, Company A; Amos Boyd, Company C; Harrison Myers, Company H.
Wounded: Capt. L. A. Foote, Company A, and private John D. Lyon, Company E.
General, we are ready again, and hope that the Fourteenth will do as well as they have done heretofore.
Very respectfully and obediently,
NATHAN KIMBALL, Colonel, Commanding Fourteenth Regiment Indiana Volunteers.
Brig. Gen. JOSEPH J. REYNOLDS, Commanding.
Report of Lieut. Col. William P. Richardson, Twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry
HDQRS. TWENTY-FIFTH REGIMENT OHIO VOLUNTEERS,
Camp, Cheat Mountain Summit, October 6, 1861.
SIR: When the reserve was ordered up in the affair of the 3d instant I understood your order to me to be to push forward the head of my column to the barn and house in front, and there to wait until I saw the movement commenced on the right, which I understood to be a charge, and then to charge in front, and that I was to occupy the right in front. I did precisely what I was ordered to do, so far as putting my regiment in the assigned position and waiting for the commencement of the charge upon the enemy’s right flank. I waited some twenty minutes, and saw nothing like a charge upon the right, but concluded to proceed to execute your order as I understood it, and had already given the command forward when Lieutenant-Colonel Wilder came up and asked me why I did not move forward. I repeated what I believed to be your order. He said I was mistaken; that your order was that I should proceed around the enemy’s right, and that if I did not immediately proceed he would occupy my place. Afraid, from the fact that I saw no such movement on the right as you had indicated as my guide, that I had mistaken your order, I at once complied with the demand of Lieutenant- Colonel Wilder, and moved up on the hill around the enemy’s right flank as far as I could get without passing other regiments that I found there, which I supposed were intended to precede me. I remained there until several regiments had passed me, making a retrograde movement. I inquired of several of the officers why they were going back, but could elicit no information until Colonel Kimball came along with his regiment. He said the order was to about face and march off the hill. Having no other information, I waited until all the regiments had passed and then brought my regiment off of the hill. Seeing some confusion among some of the regiments, I drew mine up near where one of the guns had been, by the road, and sent my adjutant forward to you for orders. Of the rest of my conduct and that of my regiment you have been apprised by my official report.
If I misunderstood your order, and thereby in any manner embarrassed the proceedings of the day, no one can regret it more than myself. If, on the other hand, I correctly understood you, I hope this flank explanation will to some extent exonerate me from blame.
I am, very respectfully, yours, &c.,
Lieutenant- Colonel, Twenty-fifth Ohio.
Brig. Gen. JOSEPH J. REYNOLDS.
Reports of Brig. Gen. Henry R. Jackson, C. S. Army, and response from Secretary of War.
CAMP BARTOW, GREENBRIER RIVER, October 3, 1861.
The enemy attacked us at 8 o’clock this morning in considerable force, estimated at 5,000, and with six pieces of artillery of longer range than any we have. After a hot fire of four and a half hours, and heavy attempts to charge our lines, he was repulsed, evidently with consider- able loss. We had no cavalry to pursue him on his retreat. The loss on our side has been inconsiderable. A fuller report will be given through the regular channels, but for several days my correspondence with General Loring has been interrupted. The enemy’s force was much superior to ours, but we had the advantage in position.
H. R. JACKSON, Brigadier-General, Commanding.
SECRETARY OF WAR.
CAMP BARTOW, GREENBRIER RIVER, October 7, 1861.
COLONEL: In my note of the 3d instant I gave you a brief account of the attack made that day upon our position by the enemy. Advancing along the turnpike with a heavy column, composed of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, numbering, at a safe estimate, from 6,000 to 7,000 men, he drove in our advance pickets at an early hour in the morning. About 7 o’clock he encountered the main body of the advance guard, re-enforced to about 100 strong, and posted on the right side of the turnpike, 1 mile from our lines, by Col. Edward Johnson, of the Twelfth Georgia Regiment, who took command in person. You will find this position designated upon the accompanying map by the capital letter E.
It is but justice to this superior officer and to the gallant band whose movements he directed to say that it would not have been possible for so small a force to have been more skillfully handled, or to have exhibited more obstinate courage in the face of numbers so overwhelming. They held the column of the enemy in check for nearly an hour, pouring into the head of it a galling fire, not withdrawing until six pieces of artillery had opened briskly upon them, and full battalions of infantry were outflanking them on the right, and then retiring in such order and taking such advantage of the ground as to reach our camp with but trifling loss. To this brilliant skirmish, in which Colonel Johnson had his horse killed under him, is doubtless to be ascribed in a measure the exhilarated spirit manifested by our troops during the remainder of the day. Before taking leave of it and referring to former dispatches, I would beg once again to direct to Col. Edward Johnson the special attention of the commanding general, not simply for this peculiarly brilliant service but for his gallant and efficient conduct throughout the entire engagement. So soon as it had become apparent that the enemy contemplated a systematic attack upon our camp, I disposed of my entire force to meet it. To convey a correct idea, not simply of that disposition, but of the subsequent action, I must pray reference to the accompanying map, for which I am indebted to Lieutenant Colonel Barton, of the Third Arkansas Regiment.
As I have already reported to you, our position is not by nature a commanding one. The causes of its weakness are the necessity of defending extended lines on our front (not less than a mile) and on our flanks, and the fact that there are points in our rear which, in possession of an enemy, might give us great trouble. The works essential to our safety were in progress of construction at the time of the attack, but were only partially completed, nothing whatever having been done to strengthen our right lank or our rear.
I am happy to say that during the last three days, through the indefatigable efforts of Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, in immediate charge of the works, backed by the cheerful labor of the men, we are already in condition to defy an approach from any quarter. Not doubting that the attack upon us had been to some extent invited by our commencing to fortify ourselves against it, and fearing that the enemy might have been fully advised of our weak points until he had actually begun his retreat, my mind could not dispossess itself of the idea that he had sent another column over the mountains to turn our right flank. To prepare for this danger I held the First Georgia Regiment, so far as that could be done, in reserve for what I apprehended would be a desperate struggle. I also sent expresses to Colonel Baldwin, whom I had previously ordered to the top of the Alleghany Ridge, directing him to move the Fifty-second Virginia Regiment as rapidly down as possible, and to fall upon the rear of the enemy should he undertake to fall upon ours. That gallant regiment responded, as I have learned, most heartily to the call, and when halted upon the road by the tidings that the day had already been won, despite of its not-to-be-doubted patriotism, could not entirely conceal its chagrin.
The two brigades in this camp, weakened by the absence of the several corps on detached service, the Fifth having been reduced from this cause and from sickness to scarce one-third of its legitimate number, I posted in the following order: The First Georgia Regiment upon our extreme right, under command of Major Thompson, Colonel Ramsey, the field officer of the day, having been cut off from us by the enemy while discharging his duty upon the road; next to it was placed the Twelfth Georgia Regiment both of these regiments designed for the immediate command of Colonel Johnson. At an early moment I threw out what few mounted men were available, under Captain Sterrett, of the Churchville Cavalry, to different points along the valley upon our right, for the purpose of bringing us timely notice of an approach by the enemy, and I also strengthened considerably the picket guards advanced in that direction. The center I intrusted to the Fifth Brigade, under command of Colonel Taliaferro, composed of the Forty-fourth Virginia Regiment, Colonel Scott; the Twenty-third Virginia Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Taliaferro, and Major Reger’s battalion [Twenty-fifth Virginia], commanded in his absence from sickness by senior Captain John C. Higginbotham. This brigade was reduced in the course of the action by the detachment of 100 men, under Major Jones, of the Forty- fourth, to re-enforce our left wing. This detachment marched in gallant style under the enemy’s fire to the position assigned it in line. The troops on this wing, which from the character of the ground were widely dispersed, fell under the general command of Colonel Rust, of the Third Arkansas Regiment, and consisted of his own command, the Thirty-first Virginia Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson, and the battalion of Lieutenant-Colonel Hansbrough, commanded in his absence on account of sickness by senior Capt. J. A. Robertson. Upon this flank also two field pieces had already been placed in battery, enfilading the Huntersville road, which runs at right angles, if, indeed, those terms can be applied to serpentine mountain roads, from the turnpike. These guns were under the immediate charge of Capt. P. B. Anderson, and the zeal, skill, and determination of that officer leave no doubt that they would have done great execution had the enemy ventured to call them into action. Captain Shumaker’s battery, consisting of four pieces (6-pounders), one of them rifled, and one 6-pounder under Captain Rice, was held in readiness for the front and right flank. The places occupied by these various corps you will find specified upon the map.
Our forces were all in position, when at about 8 o’clock the enemy opened a heavy fire from six pieces of different caliber, placed in a field upon the right-hand side (to them) of the turnpike road, and bearing upon our front and center. This number was subsequently increased by two other pieces placed on the opposite side of the turnpike, one near it and the other upon the rise of the hill. This fire (of round shot, spherical case, shell, and occasionally, upon our left wing, of canister) was continued with extraordinary rapidity and without intermission for upwards of four hours, the eight guns constituting the well-known field batteries of Howe and of Loomis.
The hill occupied by Colonel Taliaferro’s brigade, invitingly exposed to all of these batteries, received the greater share of their attention, and but for the protection afforded by the ditch and embankment running along its brow, and constructed under the immediate supervision of Colonel Taliaferro himself we should doubtless have had inflicted upon us a very severe loss indeed. This fire was returned with great energy and, as the result has proved, with signal effect by the guns of Captain Shumaker and Captain Rice and by one piece detached from Captain Anderson’s battery and placed upon the hill occupied by Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson. Lieutenant Massie, its proper chief; being quite indisposed, although he maintained his position near his piece, it was placed under the command of Captain Deshler, aide-de-camp to Colonel Johnson.
From the fact that the rifled gun of Captain Shumaker soon became useless to us (for the cause of this great misfortune see his own report addressed to myself), at no time could we bring more than five pieces into action to return the fire of the enemy’s eight. Yet that fire was returned, and that with so much spirit and energy, as to make this artillery duel, rendered peculiarly interesting by the character of the field and its mountain surroundings, ever memorable by those who beheld it. That the casualties among our cannoneers should have been so few is a subject of sincere congratulation, and is very much ascribable to the sound judgment of Captain Shumaker, who repeatedly changed the position of his guns when those of the enemy had obtained his range. For a minuter description of the action in this its most striking phase I take great pleasure in referring to the report of that consummately cool and skillful officer. From it you will learn why it was that our pieces, at the close of the four hours interchange of fire, were temporarily withdrawn, inducing our friends upon our extreme left and evidently the enemy to suppose that they had been silenced.
At about 9.30 a strong column of infantry was seen to move towards our left flank. Having crossed the so-called river (in fact, a shallow stream of about 20 yards in width); near the point designated on the map by the capital letter A, it undertook to turn our position in that direction. Soon, however, it encountered a portion of the Third Arkansas Regiment, which drove it precipitately back with a destructive fire. The enemy subsequently turned two of his pieces upon this portion of our left wing, pouring out canister and shell in large volumes, but fortunately, on account of the protection afforded by the woods, with but little execution. Simultaneously with this movement towards our left another column of infantry ascended the wooded hill before our right wing at the point designated upon the map by the capital letter B. Having become at its head involved in a slight skirmish with one of our picket guards, it was immediately and strongly re-enforced. Subsequently to the repulse of the column from our left flank it proceeded in the same general direction, ascending the hill at the point designated by the letter C, and swelling the force, which now began to threaten seriously our front and right, to some 4,000 men. They moved along the side of the hill, opening upon our lines a desultory fire of rifled musketry, which was continued until the close of the action. So soon as the designs of this column were fully developed I ordered the Twelfth Georgia Regiment to take position near the stream, where a small detachment of it, under Lieutenant Dawson, had already been posted, with instructions to engage the enemy whenever he should attempt to cross it.
From the fact that this movement was made in full face of largely superior numbers, armed with a superior weapon, and protected by cover of the forest, it was made with an alacrity and a regularity which deserve high commendation, as does also the cool determination with which this command, protecting itself as best it might against enemy’s fire, received it, but returned scarce a shot. Not long thereafter I ordered Captain Shumaker to open upon the same column, directing his fire to where he supposed the head of it to be. This he promptly did with two of his pieces, and so effectively, that in a short time the unmistakable evidence of their rout became apparent. Distinctly could their officers be heard, with words of mingled command, remonstrance and entreaty, attempting to rally their battalions into line and to bring them to the charge; but they could not be induced to reform their broken ranks nor to emerge from the cover of the woods in the direction of our fire. Rapidly and in disorder they returned into the turnpike, and soon thereafter the entire force of the enemy - artillery, infantry, and cavalry - retreated in confusion along the road and adjacent fields, leaving behind them at different points numbers of their killed, guns, knap- sacks, canteens, &c. Among other trophies taken were a stand of United States colors, which are held subject to the order of the commanding general.
This engagement lasted from 7 in the morning to 2:30 o’clock in the afternoon, at which time the enemy, who had come with artillery to bombard and demoralize us, with infantry to storm our camp, with cavalry to rout and destroy us, and with four days cooked rations in his haversacks to prosecute a rapid march either toward Staunton or toward Huntersville, was in precipitate retreat back to his Cheat Mountain fastness; and it is certainly a matter not unworthy of mention that while his first insolent advances were received with defiant cheers, running from one end to the other of our line, he was permitted to take his departure under the simple reports of our pieces firing upon him so long as he continued within their range. The relative weakness of our force and the entire absence of cavalry prevented our pursuing him, and thereby realizing the legitimate fruits of our triumph.
His loss in killed and wounded is estimated at from 250 to 300, among them an officer of superior rank. Our own, I am happy to say, was very inconsiderable, not exceeding 50 in all. This most gratifying result is to be attributed in a great degree to the remarkable coolness of regimental and company officers, who never seemed for a moment to lose their presence of mind, never allowed their men unnecessarily to expose themselves, and profited by every advantage of ground and position to shield them from danger.
In conclusion, I take great pride in saying that the bearing of all the troops, both officers and men, with but few exceptions, was highly creditable to themselves and to the army. Among those who enjoyed the opportunity coveted by all of attracting special notice, in addition to the name of Colonel Johnson, I would mention those of Captain Shumaker, who was wounded at his battery, and to whom I have already had repeated occasion to refer; of Capt. William H. Rice, of whom Captain Shumaker speaks in the following emphatic language: He had been working his piece beautifully for two hours, and too much praise cannot be given him for the deliberate manner with which he loaded and fired his piece, loading and firing by detail for an hour in the midst of a storm of shot and shell from the enemy, until he was stricken to the earth severely wounded; of Captain Deshler, who directed a rapid fire with marked effect, and of Sergeant Graves, who fell mortally wounded in the cool and gallant discharge of his duty. Peculiarly distinguished among the advance guard, where all were distinguished, must be recorded the names of Lieutenant Gibson, of the Third Arkansas Regiment, the officer in immediate command; of Private Slayton, of the Thirty-first Virginia Regiment, who was severely wounded, and of Private J. W. Brown, of Company F, First Georgia Regiment, who, upon hearing the order to fall back, exclaimed, “I will give them one more shot before I leave,” and while ramming down his twenty-ninth cartridge fell dead at his post. Nor can I omit mention in this connection of Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, who, in the absence of engineer staff officers, designed and was in active prosecution of the works to which we are so much indebted for the defense of our position, and who has shown himself at all times prompt to render cheerful and efficient service.
It is hardly necessary to add that Colonel Taliaferro, whose marked coolness and energy could not fail to inspire his men, and Colonel Rust, in command of the left wing, from which the enemy was first repelled, discharged their responsible duty successfully and well. Finally, my own thanks are specially due to my aides, Maj. F. S. Bloom and Lieut. W. D. Humphries, C. S. Army, for the gallant and efficient manner in which they responded to the peculiar and exposing calls made upon them. It is but justice to add that Cadet Henry Jackson, C. S. Army, drew notice to himself by his gallantry under fire.
I have the honor to inclose herewith a list of casualties.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. R. JACKSON,
Brigadier- General, Commanding.
Col. C. L. STEVENSON,
Adjutant General, N. W. A.
CAMP BARTOW, GREENBRIER RIVER,
October 26, 1861.
SIR: Your kind favor of the 12th instant [following] came duly to hand. How much needed by this branch of the army, by soldiers as well as by officers, some expression of approval was can only be known by one personally familiar with the campaign in this part of Virginia, unequaled in its peculiar hardships, in the asperities of country and climate which have been encountered, in sickness and suffering, in disappointed hopes and untoward events, fate seeming at times to have decreed a terrible antithesis - the misery and obscurity here, the sympathy and the glory elsewhere. As you must be aware, this command is mainly composed of the wrecks of General Garnett’s army, and the annals of warfare might be searched in vain to find a more pitiable picture of suffering, destitution, and demoralization than they presented at the close of their memorable retreat. It has required the untiring efforts of the most energetic officers and all the encouragement which could be brought to bear upon them to restore the troops to anything like the efficiency of which they were originally capable. In the battle to which you have been pleased to refer in complimentary terms the disparity of numbers between our force and that of the enemy was greater than has been assumed. I did not think it advisable to expose our real condition of weakness. The strongest of our regiments (Colonel Fulkerson’s) had been previously withdrawn to protect Colonel Gilliam’s flank. The reports of the morning preceding the 3d did not show more than 1,800 men for duty, and the pickets and guards which our position requires ns to keep up in all directions had taken many of these from the line. Considerably more than trebling us in numbers, doubling us in artillery of superior character, and confident of success, the enemy was repulsed simply by the happy disposition of our forces, the boldness of our movements, and the cool determination of officers and men. What would have been the results of our defeat who can fully estimate? And yet, because it was comparatively bloodless, for the achievement of the victory who will ever give us full credit?
You will discern in what I have now said some reason for the detail character of my report and for the mention by me of so many names. It was necessary as well as proper, and if it be deemed of any importance to foster the spirit of this division of the Army some appreciation of meritorious service must be exhibited.
I would remark, in the same connection, that I delayed acknowledging the receipt of your letter because I contemplated a course of action in reference to certain newspaper publications which I knew would fail to meet your approval. Such publications may be disregarded by the statesman or the soldier of established reputation, but they can do much to wound the officers and men of a young corps like the one I command, who have endured the sufferings without being adjudged the laurels of veterans. Fully sensible, however, of the impropriety of complicating public position with personal feuds, I delayed writing you for the purpose of asking permission to retire from the Army so soon as the winter should withdraw this branch of it from the field. Circumstances of which it is unnecessary to speak have intervened to thwart my intention for the present.
Begging to return my thanks to the President and to yourself for your kind expressions toward my command and toward me, I have the honor to remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. R. JACKSON.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, October 12, 1861.
SIR: I have received through the Adjutant-General your report of the action of 3d instant at Greenbrier River. I congratulate both yourself and the officers and men under your command for your brilliant conduct on this occasion and your successful defense of the important position held by you against a force so superior. The President joins me in the expression of the satisfaction we both feel in finding our confidence in you and your command so fully justified. In this connection I beg to say that the President submitted to my perusal your private letter to him in relation to a newspaper report relating to the affair at Cheat Mountain. He has answered your letter, as he informs me. It gives me pleasure to assure you that there is not a syllable in General Lee’s report that reflects in the remotest manner any discredit on you, and I hope you will not feel offended at my expressing surprise that you should attach any importance or feel any sensitiveness in relation to sensation articles or reports in the newspapers. I have the pleasure of seeing my own action and opinions almost daily misconceived or misrepresented on the most reliable information with perfect equanimity, and you may well trust to your own well-earned reputation as a perfect shield against all anonymous attacks.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN, Acting Secretary of War.
Brig. Gen. HENRY R. JACKSON,
Headquarters, Greenbrier River.
Report of Col. William B. Taliaferro, Twenty-third Virginia Infantry.
HDQRS. FIFTH BRIGADE, ARMY OF NORTHWEST,
Camp at Greenbrier River, October 4, 1861.
GENERAL: I have the honor, in obedience to your orders, to make a report of the operations of the troops under my immediate command in the action between your forces and the enemy on yesterday.
According to your instructions my command, consisting of the Twenty- third and Forty-fourth Virginia Regiments and a battalion of the Twenty-fifth Virginia Regiment, supported by Shumaker’s and Rice’s light batteries, occupied the center of your line of defense.
As soon as it became manifest that the enemy were approaching in force I ordered the infantry to occupy the lines of trenches defending the front approach and the artillery to be placed in position to command the turnpike and meadow on the left and front of our position.
After a gallant resistance by our picket guard, re-enforced by a detachment headed by Colonel Johnson, who maintained an extraordinary struggle with an overwhelming force of the enemy, their troops in great numbers were seen to debouch from the turnpike and from across the river flat, whilst a heavy column was seen to occupy the hills on the right of the road. Very soon after this their batteries were established in the meadow and on the road, and opened upon our position, and poured with- omit intermission a storm of shot and shell for four hours and a quarter upon it. Our batteries replied with remarkable spirit and determination, and with telling effect, as soon as the enemy approached within range of our pieces. The infantry of the enemy fell back just without range and made an effort to turn our left flank, but could soon be seen recrossing the river and concentrating upon the left of their lines. Leaving a supporting force with their artillery, they formed on the slope of the hills overlooking the road, and evidently made all these dispositions and preparations either for attacking our center by seeking the shelter of the wooded hills until they could approach our front at the nearest point of range, when they would cross the river and attack our front, or otherwise continuing along the right bank to attempt to turn our right flank. Advancing to a point opposite the center of my position their column halted, being menaced by the troops of your right wing, and marched down the hill-side to the meadow, for the purpose of attempting the assault upon our works. Here they opened preparatory to an assault a fire upon us with their long-range muskets, but our artillery being directed upon them with terrible effect at this moment they were thrown into confusion, and notwithstanding the efforts of their officers, whose words of command and entreaties could be distinctly heard, could not be reformed, and after some time being spent in the effort to bring them to the charge fell back to the hills, and under such cover as they afforded from our artillery, which played upon them during the whole time, regained the turnpike, and withdrew their batteries and retired. The loss to the enemy must have been very great, as their force, as far as I could estimate, exceeded 5,000, which, whenever it ventured within range, received a storm of missiles from our batteries. The loss sustained by my command was very small. I cannot speak in too great praise of the conduct of the officers and men of my command. All evinced under the heavy fire to which they were subjected extraordinary coolness and gallantry. The artillery, which was unprotected by epaulements, behaved with unflinching bravery. Captain Rice, commanding one of the batteries, distinguished by his intrepidity, had his leg carried away by a round shot while nobly encouraging his men to their duty, and the conduct of Private Brookes, of his battery, deserves especial notice. Captain Shumaker and Lieutenant Wooding distinguished themselves by their skill and gallantry, and Sergeant Jones, who commanded the piece on the right of my line, deserves the highest praise. Colonel Scott, commanding Forty-fourth; Lieut. Col. A. G. Taliaferro, commanding Twenty-third, and Captain Higginbotham, commanding Twenty-fifth Regiment, exhibited great coolness, determination, and anxiety to be engaged in action, which was shared by their officers and men. I take occasion to notice the admirable conduct of Surgeon Daily, of the Twenty-third Regiment, who amid the heaviest fire administered relief to the wounded, and the good conduct of Lieutenant Pendleton, acting assistant adjutant-general. Captain Anderson’s battery, part of my brigade, was assigned to duty with the command on the left, when Captain Shumaker’s was temporarily transferred to my command. The report of the operations of the former will be made by the officer who commanded on the left, while the casualties in Captain Shumaker’s command will be communicated by the officer commanding the brigade to which he is attached.
I append a list of the killed and wounded of my brigade, amounting to 2 killed and 6 wounded.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. B. TALIAFERRO,
Colonel Twenty-third Regiment, Commanding Brigade.
General HENRY R. JACKSON
Commanding Monterey Line.
Report of Col. Albert Rust, Third Arkansas Infantry.
BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS, October 3, 1861.
GENERAL: This morning, about 7 o’clock, hearing of the advance of the enemy upon us in force, I ordered my men, the Third Arkansas Regiment, to get ready to repel an attack from him, and obeyed a summons to report myself to you at your quarters. You placed me in command of the left wing of our forces, composed of my own regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson’s Virginia Regiment, Hansbrough’s Virginia battalion, and Anderson’s two pieces of artillery, and ordered me on no account to allow the enemy to turn our left flank, and suggested the disposition to be made of the most of the infantry under my command, the artillery having already been planted. After forming my men, and while marching them to the position designed for them, the enemy commenced a rapid firing of artillery, and before I had satisfactorily formed that portion of the men under my immediate command between the river and the terminus of abatis to the right of Anderson’s battery on the Greenbank road, the advance guard of a column of the enemy, marching by flank, had crossed the river some distance below us, as had been anticipated, and upon ascending the first mountain came upon the left flank of my force, which promptly fired a volley into them, which caused them instantly to retire, recross the river, rapidly traverse the meadow, unite with another force, with which a like attempt was made to turn our right flank with a similar result, and, as you are already aware, rapidly and in disorder retreated from the field.
Before the retreat of the enemy began, and while I supposed he was advancing beyond the position occupied by my command, I sent a lieutenant to Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, of my own regiment, who was on my right, to close up my line by falling down the river some 60 or 80 yards, until he united with me, preparatory to making a charge upon the rear and flank of the enemy across the river and meadow beyond it. The lieutenant returned and reported Colonel Barton not present, which I have ascertained was not true, as he was not absent from his post for a moment during the engagement, and had conceived the same idea of attacking the enemy in flank as myself. However, as the enemy had fully eight times as many infantry in the meadow and in the skirt of the woods beyond it as I could have assailed him with, supported by six or seven pieces of artillery, which kept up a continuous and extraordinarily rapid fire during the whole time, the propriety of making the attack is very questionable.
The men and officers, with one or two exceptions, behaved admirably.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General HENRY R. JACKSON, Commanding Brigade.
Report of Capt. L.M. Shumaker, C. S. Army, commanding light battery.
CAMP AT GREENBRIER RIVER, October 4, 1861.
SIR: In obedience to your oral order I have the honor to report that at daybreak yesterday, October 3, in pursuance of your instructions, given in person, I proceeded to get my battery ready for action. I placed my rifled piece in position on a hill in rear of Yager’s house, just vacated by Captain Anderson, and then returned to my camp, and sent Lieutenant Wooding to take charge of it. Before getting my other pieces in position word was brought that the rifled gun was useless, a ball having lodged in it near the muzzle. I galloped to the place at once, and had it withdrawn to a position where the men could drive the ball up. I then ordered Lieutenant Wooding to take a gun and go across the river and report to Colonel Johnson, who had sent for it to support his skirmishers. I then brought up one of my bronze 6-pounder guns to the position occupied by the rifled piece, and directed fire upon three of the guns of the enemy in battery in a meadow about 800 yards distant. At this time the enemy had opened a steady and well-directed fire upon position from six guns of different caliber. After the men had succeeded in ramming home the ball lodged in the rifled piece I brought it up to the front and opened fire upon the enemy’s caissons; but, unfortunately, the balls would lodge, owing to the close fit and to the gun’s fouling easily. Finding the last ball hopelessly lodged, as I supposed, I sent it to the rear, out of the way.
At this time the fire of the enemy was very severe, and so well aimed as to make it necessary to change my position several times. About this time Lieutenant Wooding returned and informed me that the skirmishers had all fallen back, and that Colonel Johnson had directed him to return across the river, and that he had broken his lanyard. I ordered him to take position in front of Yager’s house, where he could enfilade the road leading to our position, and to open fire upon the enemy’s batteries, changing his position whenever the range of their fire made it necessary. At this time we were replying to them with only four pieces – two of my own, one of Captain Rice’s, who commanded his piece, and a gun on a high hill to my left under the command of Captain Deshler. I galloped at once to the rear and brought up my fourth gun, under command of Sergt. Joseph H. Jones, and placed it in the best position that the nature of the ground and the tents of the infantry encampments would allow. The fire of the enemy had now become so severe as to compel me to order the removal of every gun a few feet after every third fire, and I sent word to Captain Rice (who had been working his piece beautifully for two hours, and to whom too much praise cannot be given for the deliberate manner with which he loaded and fired his piece, loading and firing by detail for an hour in the midst of a storm of shot and shell from the enemy) to change his position at once. He withdrew to a position about 250 feet in rear, and rested his men and awaited the cooling of his gun.
Observing at this time that the enemy had been driven back from the river to our left by a fire from Colonel Rust’s regiment, and that they were forming in two lines for a demonstration in front, I ordered the fire to cease, and directed my chiefs of piece to rest their men, cool their guns, then load their pieces with canister, and await my order to fire. The enemy meanwhile had been moving down to our right flank to the number of 2,000, when I heard two guns open to my left. I galloped to the point and found my men in confusion, all of Captain Rice’s gone but 2, 1 man dying, and was told that Captain Rice and 1 of my corporals were badly wounded. I reprimanded the sergeant, and he informed me that Colonel Johnson and Colonel Taliaferro ordered him to fire, and that he told them he had orders from me not to fire. Colonels Johnson and Taliaferro were not with the guns when I came up. I found two of Captain Rice’s drivers, and ordered them to take the harness off one of the wounded horses, and get another, and take their gun to the rear. I called upon several of Colonel Scott’s men, who came forward and assisted us in getting the gun off. Having no men that I could spare to work this gun, I sent it over the hill to a place of safety. I then returned to the gun on our right, and awaited the appearance of the enemy, who was evidently preparing to charge across the river. Just then your aide, Lieutenant Humphries, brought me your order to open fire upon them, when I supposed the head of their column was in evident confusion. I at once opened with two guns, and at the third fire they broke and ran from the woods in the wildest confusion. I continued to fire upon them with shot and spherical case as long as they were in range, when I ordered my men to wash out their guns, get water, and lie down to rest. In a short time I was satisfied that the day was won, and that the enemy were in full retreat. The casualties were 3 men wounded: Private Alexander M. Earles, bullet from shell through the thigh; Corporal Calvin H. P. Eaton, flesh torn from the thick part of thigh by round shot, and Joseph H. Dickerson, shot from shell through the side, neither of them dangerously. Thomas A. Elliott was knocked down by a piece of shell, but soon recovered and kept his place by his gun. Thomas Winsey (a driver) was struck by a Minie ball on the thigh, only a bruise; Sergeant Jones had his horse shot; one of the wheels of my guns was injured in the hub, and two of the caisson wheels had spokes knocked out of them. These constitute the injury sustained by my command. I take pleasure in calling attention to the officers and men who were with me, and whose gallantry and good conduct has won for themselves and their company the praise of the good and true all over our beloved country. Lieutenant Wooding went promptly wherever I ordered him, and kept up a galling fire upon the enemy’s batteries and columns during the engagement, firing about ninety rounds, and for a while with only four men to work his gun. Sergeant Jones behaved with great coolness and judgment, and obeyed every order with promptness, managing his gun himself. His gun fired only forty rounds, being for much of the time out of range, but his fire was very destructive. Sergeant Brently, owing to his youth and temperament, was not efficient as a sergeant; yet the gun was well managed by Corporal Calvin H.P. Eaton until he was wounded, and then by Corporal Oliver P. Carter, who came back from the rifle piece to assist. This gun was worked more than either of the others under my command. My first sergeant, Timothy H. Stamps, was, unfortunately for myself and the company, at Monterey. I had to send him with my company wagons to buy or press forage for my horses. He started when he heard the first gun fired, and reached us just as the fight was over. Had he been with us, I am satisfied that much of the difficulty with our long-range gun would have been avoided, as he succeeded in getting the ball up soon after he came. My first lieutenant, Lanier, was absent on recruiting service, and Second Lieutenant Brown was at home collecting supplies of winter clothing for the men. Serg. William H. Parham was with Lieutenant Wooding, and did his duty well. Corporals Oliver P. Carter, John Q. Adams, and Calvin H. P. Eaton did their duty like brave men and good soldiers. Privates Alexander M. Earles, John H. Welles, James Royster, James T. Williams, Andrew L. Crutchfield, James G. Covey, James M. Terry, Romulus S. Gaines, Thomas A. Elliott, Martin Crawley, Hermann Mantel, Benjamin W. Walton, Samuel Prescott, and John Murphy deserve especial praise for their bravery and good conduct. The drivers managed their horses well and kept them in place in the midst of a most terrific fire.
L. M. SHUMAKER,
Captain, Commanding Light Battery, C. S. Army.
Brig. Gen. HENRY R. JACKSON,
Commanding Force Monterey Line.
Congratulatory orders from Brig. Gen. W. W. Loring, C. S. Army.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 11.
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE NORTHWEST,
Sewell Mountain, October 7, 1861.
The general commanding has the pleasure to announce to the Army of the Northwest a signal defeat of the enemy from the fortifications of Cheat Mountain by the division of Brigadier-General Jackson.
After three attempts of four and a half hours to force our lines in front and on both flanks with a superior force of artillery, some with longer range, he was repulsed with a considerable loss.
The general commanding tenders his thanks to Brigadier-General Jackson, his officers and soldiers, for their gallant conduct in this engagement, and assures them that they will have the grateful remembrance of our people.
By command of Brigadier-General Loring:
C. L. STEVENSON,
Assistant Adjutant- General.
Series 1, Volume 51, Part I, pp. 43-45
OCTOBER 3, 1861.Engagement at Greenbrier River, W. Va.
Report of Lieut. Col. Alexander U. Taliaferro, Twenty-third Virginia Infantry.
SIR: The Twenty-third Regiment, under my command, occupied the trenches in front of the position. The officers and men bore themselves admirably. They were perfectly steady, cool, and deliberate, and impatient for the conflict, and this amid showers of shot and shell, which fell upon and around them for upward of four hours. The casualties were two men severely and probably mortally wounded, whose names are given below, a Companies A and I, of this regiment, gallantly volunteered under a heavy fire to cross the river and attack r reporting to Colonel Johnson, the enemy in the open field and after who was to command the attacking party, but who afterward concluded,in the face of the immense force of the enemy now visible, to change his plans, were ordered to re-enforce the command detailed to hold the river-bank, and on the left flank, which position they maintained during the action.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
ALEX. G. TALIAFERRO,
Lieutenant- Colonel, Commanding.
Col. WILLIAM B. TALIAFERRO,
Acting General of Brigade, Headquarters Greenbrier River.
Report of Capt. John C. Higginbotham, Twenty-fifth Virginia Infantry.
HDQRS. TWENTY-FIFTH REGIMENT VIRGINIA VOLS.,
Camp Bartow, W. Va., October 4, 1861.
COLONEL: In obedience to your order issued me upon the morning of the 3d instant my regiment was formed calmly and marched immediately to the trench assigned and marked as my destination and post in the then coming engagement. We were not there long until ordered to leave our arms and return to quarters to obtain breakfast for the command, but were soon seen to retrace our steps back as the roll beat to arms. The enemy were then in full view of the left of our lines, but did not advance sufficiently near to open the conflict until, I think, 8:05 a. m., when we were kept under a heavy fire from their artillery, increasing gradually as an advance was made upon us, and new batteries being located, with which they seemed fortunate enough almost, in two or three instances, to get the range of our ditches. Your order was promptly complied with by sending a re-enforcement of twenty men under Lieutenant Fitchett, of the Upshur Greys, to the aid of Colonel Scott whilst they were exposed to a good and tolerably well-directed fire from the enemy’s guns. My command was not brought into action at any time during the engagement, but I can with pleasure state I never saw more caution, good, soldier-like behavior, and true eagerness for the fray than was exhibited upon the part of the men and officers yesterday.
With the highest respect, I am, yours in obedience,
JNO. C. HIGGINBOTHAM,
Captain, Commanding Twenty-fifth Regiment Virginia Volunteers.
Actg. Brig. Gen. WILLIAM B. TALIAFERRO, Comdg.
Fifth Brigade of Virginia Vols., at Greenbrier River.
Report of Col. William C. Scott, Forty-fourth Virginia Infantry.
HDQRs. FORTY-FOURTH REGIMENT VIRGINIA VOLUNTEERS,
October 4, 1861.
The undersigned, colonel of the Forty-fourth Regiment of Virginia Volunteers, being directed by Col. W. B. Taliaferro to report to him the movements of the enemy, so far as they come within his observation, together with the action and behavior of his regiment in the battle of yesterday, begs leave to submit the following report:
The Forty-fourth Regiment occupying that part of the intrenchments nearest the enemy, and immediately between their batteries and those attached to the brigade which you command, whilst it exposed that regiment and their camp greatly to the effect of the enemy’s shot, it the better enabled the undersigned to watch and ascertain their movements. The battle commenced about a. in. and lasted till p. m., during the whole of which time an active cannonading took place, with scarcely any intermission, but although the Forty-fourth Regiment was comparatively greatly exposed from the cause above mentioned, and one who served our artillery was killed and several others wounded in a few feet of our line, yet the undersigned is pleased to state that not one of our regiment was killed and but two stunned and knocked down by a cannon ball, and two or three others slightly wounded from the effects of shells. The enemy being near the river for some time after the battle commenced, of their attempt to cross it for the purpose of attacking on our left flank, the undersigned knows nothing. But this the undersigned does know, that a large force of the enemy did proceed under cover of a wood within about 600 yards of our intrenchments, evidently with the intention of emerging from the wood in line of battle parallel to our intrenchments, and of attacking us in front, but after getting into the wood parallel to our intrenchments, or nearly so, they were fired on by ____ Battery, and although the privates were urged by every kind of language by their officers to attack us, they could not be prevailed on to do so, and at last retired the same way they came in evident trepidation and confusion. While this force was forming immediately in our front, another large force of the enemy emerged from the valley and entered the wood, evidently for the purpose of acting as a reserve to the first in the attack on our front. On the retirement of these two forces the battle ceased and the whole force of the enemy retired. After the first-mentioned force entered the wood, the under- signed explained to his regiment their object in doing so; that being nearer to them and immediately opposite to them, and the declivity of the hill in our front being less than in almost any other part of the intrenchments, there could be no doubt their first attack would be upon us, and he particularly cautioned his men not to fire until he gave the word of command to do so. And during the whole period of the cannonading and the above-mentioned movements, the undersigned watched the countenances and bearing of his men and he is pleased to say that without exception officers and privates appeared cheerful amid indeed anxious for the enemy to make the contemplated attack, and many of them expressed their wishes to that effect. In the early part of the action Maj. A. C. Jones, with Company A and a portion of Company B, was sent on detached service by your order.
W. C. SCOTT,
Colonel Forty-fourth Regiment Virginia Volunteers.
Col. WILLIAM B. TALIAFERRO,
Commanding Fifth Brigade.
The battle on Greenbrier river
Interesting and authentic particulars.
[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
The battle on Greenbrier river
Interesting and authentic particulars.
[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
October 5, 1861.
A great battle was fought here on the 3d instant, between our forces, under Gen. Jackson, and the enemy. As soon as it was known that the enemy intended to attack us in force, we were ordered to take our positions on our line of defence. The whole were under the command of Gen. Jackson; Col. Johnston, of Virginia, commanding the 12th Georgia regiment, commanded the right wing; Col. Wm. B. Taliaferro, of the 23d regiment, the centre; Col. Rust, of the 3d Arkansas regiment, the left wing, and Col. Wm. L. Jackson, of the 35th regiment, was posted on the hill to the left of the centre.
Col. Johnston's command consisted of the 1st and 12th Georgia, (Col. Ramsey's regiment;) Col. Taliaterro's command consisted of the 23d, 25th, and 44th (Col. Scott's) Virginia regiments, and Shumaker's and Rice's batteries. Col. Rust's command consisted of the 3d Arkansas regiment and a battalion from the 5th brigade and Auderson's battery.
Col. Jackson's command consisted of the 35th Virginia, regiment, with Hansbrough's battalion, with a piece of Anderson's battery under Capt. Deshier, C. S. A., and Lieut. Massie.
Our pickets, under Col. Johnston, offered a gallant resistance to the overwhelming force of the enemy. Their troops, amounting to about ten thousand, formed across the river flat and the hills on the right of the road, and poured incessantly shot and shell for four hours and a quarter on our forces. It was soon evident that the shot from our batteries produced a telling effect on their men and guns.
The infantry of the enemy made an effort to turn our left flank, but was driven back by Col. Rust's command with considerable loss. They then formed on the slope of the hills, wooded, and immediately in front of the 14th regiment, and made an effort to attack our front and centre, and turn our right flank, without success. Preparatory to making this assault they marched to the meadow and opened a fire upon us with their longrange muskets; but we opened upon them with such terrible effect that they were thrown into great confusion and could not be reformed, though their officers used every effort to get them to do so and to make the assault, and being unable further to stand our fire, left the field and fled to the woods, leaving many of their dead upon the field, one stand of colors, any quantity of knapsacks, &c., and many dead horses. All our officers and men behaved admirably. There is no complaint from any quarter. I can speak from my own knowledge of the command of Col. Taliaferro. By his skill and judgment and great presence of mind, he has won not only the confidence of his brigade, but the reputation with all portions of the army here of being a splendid officer.
The 44th regiment, (Col. Scott's,) except Company A and a portion of Company B, detatched from the regiment and under the command of Major Jones, was directly in front of the batteries of the enemy, and stood the brunt of the constant and heavy fire to which they were subjected without flinching, and with anxiety to meet the enemy. Col. Scott, this staff, officers, and men, behaved with extraordinary coolness and gallantry, as did Lieut. Col. A. G. Taliaferro, commanding the 23d regiment, his officers and men. We predict for Cols. Scott and Taliaferro a brilliant military career. Too much praise cannot be awarded to Capts. Shumaker, Rice, Deshier, Anderson, Lieut. Wooding, Sergeant Jones, and private Brooks, of Capt. Rice's company. Captain Rice, while nobly encouraging his men, had his leg carried away by a round shot. Our loss was small, and that of the enemy was very great.
The battle on Greenbrier River.
interesting particulars — the strength of the enemy — Gallantry of our troops — cowardice of the enemy, &c.
[Special Correspondence of the Dispatch.]
The battle on Greenbrier River.
interesting particulars — the strength of the enemy — Gallantry of our troops — cowardice of the enemy, &c.
[Special Correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Camp Bartow, Greenbrier River,Pocahontas Co., Oct. 8, 1861.
Doubtless you have received the details of the decided victory we gained over the enemy at this post on Thursday last, and I propose now to give you a few incidents of the battle:
The enemy in sight.
About 7 o'clock our pickets, under command of Col. Ramsey, of the 1st Georgia regiment, discovering a large force of the enemy coming down the mountain, immediately fired into them, and held them in check for a long time, and then retreated in good order to camp. The enemy, finding that our pickets (about 200 men) behaved so bravely, tired into them with cannon — a most cowardly act, and one unheard of in civilized warfare.
The enemy then advanced to an open field, (7,000 strong,) placed six cannon in position, and commenced a rapid fire into our encampment, and, after receiving five or six rounds, Captain Shumaker opened on them with his battery, Captain Rice joining in with his pieces, and for four hours and a quarter an incessant cannonading was kept up. In the meantime the infantry of the enemy tried to outflank us on the left and right; but, to their surprise, they found that the Arkansas regiment was ready to receive them, and therefore retired, the Arkansans cursing that they would not come close enough for them to get a shot; on the right, they were equally surprised at finding the 1st and 12th Georgia regiments ready to receive them, and did not venture near them, although the Georgians told them they would not fire on them until they could get in the open field, the enemy then being in the woods and covered by trees.
The enemy retreated in double-quick time after they found they could not out flank us, leaving a large number of wounded and dead on the field. Our loss in this engagement was seven killed and missing, and twenty-one wounded. Their loss is estimated at between one and two hundred killed, and a large number wounded.
Great credit is due to Capts. Shumaker and Rice and their brave men, for the gallant manner in which they handed their beautiful little pieces. We regret that Capt. Rice had his foot shot off, which had to be amputated. He is now improving slowly. We cannot particularize instances of bravery, but Capt.Rice acted "well his part." In fact, all the troops behaved with the utmost coolness and bravery.
The Arkansas regiment captured the "Stars and Stripes," the flag of the enemy, a beautiful silk one, and brought it to camp. The staff had been shot off, and the flag has been sent to Richmond.
Colonel Ramsey was in command of the pickets, and was cut off from them, after having his horse shot from under him, and, he being lame, was forced to take to the woods, and was in the rear of the enemy during the battle, and says he counted twenty-five wagons full of dead and wounded that passed by him, and that for a mile the road was covered with blood. Colonel Ramsey displayed great courage with his pickets, and they nobly sustained him in his efforts.
During a portion of the battle, the enemy upon the right was called upon to charge on the Georgians by the commanding officer; but "nary" charge could be got out of them. The following dialogue was distinctly heard by our troops: The Yankee officer to Colonel.--"Why in the h--11 don't you charge on them? Haven't you heard the order?" Colonel.--"Yes; but they won't do it, and I'll be d — d if I can. I can't carry them on my shoulders." Man in the ranks.--"Pay us, and we will fight."
Before the fight commenced a white flag was placed over a house containing a number of sick men; but, instead of humanely keeping their shot from, they fired incessantly at it, and one or two balls passed completely through the building, but luckily without hurting any one. Such cowardly conduct is in keeping with the miserable tool to whom they belong.
During the cannonading, Col. Taliferro's horse, a very fine bay, was tied by our entrenchments, and the old fellow being asleep, a bombshell bursted right over him; he mere by raised his head, looked around, and then turned to his former position, as if in utter contempt of the parties from whence it came. A little kitten, belonging to a company of the 23d, during the engagement, was seen running along the entrenchments, and whenever a ball struck near it and raised the dirt, the little thing would jump and gambol around it in playful glee.
I cannot give you the names of all the wounded, but all of them are doing well.--Private Gus. A. Rhineheart, of the Richmond Sharp-Shooters, received a very severe wound on the top of the head by the bursting of a shell, and was insensible for three days, but he is improving rapidly.
Some seem to think that the enemy will attack us again, and others that they will not: but should they call to see us, they will find us at home, better prepared-to give them a specimen of Southern hospitality. Ned.
Another account of the battle on Greenbrier River.
October 12, 1861
Another account of the battle on Greenbrier River.
Camp Bartow, Greenbrier River,Pocahontas Co., Oct. 4, 1861.
Editors of Dispatch: Almost are the rattle of the enemy's artillery in full retreat is silenced by distance, I find myself endeavoring to communicate to you the facts and particulars of our little engagement with the Yankees, on yesterday, 3d of October.
At about 6 o'clock A. M. a messenger from our pickets reported the enemy advancing in full force, with cannon, wagons, and every thing necessary, and indicative of an immediate attack. Two companies were promptly dispatched in double-quick time to sustain our pickets, and check their advance until our camp was put in a thorough state of defence. In less than thirty minutes we were ready to receive our enemy with — not open, but loaded arms. At 6 o'clock and 45 minutes our whole force of pickets — probably two hundred--holding an advantageous position in a short bend in the road, about one mile from camp, and under the immediate command of Col. E. Johnson, poured such a full and steady charge of musketry into their ranks as to confuse and scatter the whole column. Lieut. J. G. Gibson deserves to be mentioned here, (officer of the picket,) as being cool and calculating equal to any emergency. In this fight with our pickets, who were only driven back by a flank movement of the enemy, and in the thickest of which the intrepid Johnson was constantly seen, we lost, in killed and wounded, five men.--Our pickets being at last compelled to fall back from post to post, merely escaped behind our entrenchments, in a perfect shower of grape and canister. All of our available pieces, five 6-pounders, including one rifle piece, was immediately opened upon those of the enemy, eight in number, including one 12-pound howitzer. For six mortal, rather immortal, long hours these terrible engines of war replied to each other so furiously as to drown effectually the continuous rattling of musketry, Capt. James Deshler, temporarily in command of a detachment of Capt. P. B. Anderson's (Lee) battery, proved himself an excellent marksman.--Capt. Shumaker, and the accomplished, brave Massey, rendered service, also, of the greatest importance. The tried old veteran, Capt. Anderson, had two pieces, supported by Capt. Sam. Reid, in what our best engineers considered the most important position; but, owing to the fine disposition of our infantry, was not in action at all. The old Captain, also Capt. Sam., regretted their disposition extremely, and were only aggravated by bursting shells and whistling balls that they could not reply to. At 11Â½ o'clock three regiments were ordered to flank us in the woods, on the left. A mortal foe, the Arkansas 3d, divided, under Col. Rust and Lieut. Colonel Barton, like so many spirits called up for the occasion, easily drove back the vandals in the face of fierce showers of grape, which, cutting through the branches of pine trees, fell far beyond, or lodged overhead without doing even the least injury. Unsuccessful in executing a left flank, they fell back beyond musket range, but could not evade the range of our cannon, which dealt death in their confused ranks profusely. Desperate, defeated in all but name, they made a last bold effort to flank us on the right. The First Georgia leaped from their entrenchment, met, and gallantly repulsed them. Their 12-pound howitzer being crippled, which, added to their ill-success in flanking, the galling fire of our well-aimed pieces, and their natural cowardice, caused them to withdraw, carrying with them some 20 wagon-loads of dead and wounded. They were, probably, 6,000 strong, and lost at least 300 killed and wounded. We were considerably the weaker party, and lost, killed and wounded--I know to a certainty--not exceeding 18. Capt. Reld, of the 3d Ark. volunteers, lost one--Wm. O. Blocker — killed, and one--John G. Carter — missing. They were pickets, and never did braver boys die more gallantly, Blocker continuing to load and shoot after being shot through the jaw, could not be prevailed on to withdraw to a safe place, was found today immediately in the road, whose body was at least a monitor to the murderous souls of our enemy of a fact they ought by this time to realize, that many such brave and noble youths will block their passage to our homes. Peace be with you, my friend — a better, braver boy never met a more honored fate. We fear the worst for our follow-soldier from Kentucky, J. G. Carter, We will, however, yet hope to see him return, believing an All wise providence favors the brave and just, and that our esteemed friend has not fallen, but will yet turn up, probably now lost in the mountains.
Special couriers from Huntersville state that the main den of the Yankees--Huttonsville --is certainly in the possession of our troops. I believe no one in our camp doubts it, for heavy cannonading has been heard in it, for heavy cannonading has been heard in that direction all day. We are expecting an attack momentarily, and are fully prepared to welcome them again warmly.
October 14, 1861
The map referred to in the above report represents two curvilinear ranges of hills, lying nearly parallel to each other, and stretching towards the left hand, first Southwest, then West, then Northwest. The valley between is traversed by the Greenbrier river.--Its course is here very circuitous, forming almost a semi-circle. Where it comes upon the map, it is close against the Northern range of hills; it then crosses the valley diagonally, and impinges against the Southern range about the centre of the map. Just here it is crossed at right angles by the turnpike road. The river thence flows along the foot of the Southern range. Our troops were posted on this Southern range on both sides the turnpike road. The enemy approached by the turnpike from the Northwest, and took post on the Northern hills. Most of their artillery took a position in advance on the Southwest of the turnpike, and a portion of their troops crossed the intervening valley and river on the same side, where they met Col. Rust, and were driven back--Eds. Enquirer.]
List of casualties of the "battle of Greenbrier river," October 3, 1861.
Commissioned Officers.--Wounded--Capt. Shumaker, Danville Artillery, slightly; Capt. Rice, Rice's Battery, severely; Second Lieut. Mann, 44th Regiment Virginia Volunteers, slightly; Second Lieut. F. Bartlett, 31st Regiment Virginia Volunteers, severely.
Non-commissioned Officers--Wounded--Sergeant Graves, Rice's Battery, mortally; Corporal C. H. P. Eaton, Shumaker's Battery, severely; Corporal B. B. Slaven, 31st Virginia Volunteers, severely; Corporal Labon Exline, do., slightly. Missing--A. F. Hoffman, 31st Virginia Volunteers.
Privates Killed.--John Crie, 12th Georgia Regiment; J. W. Brown, 1st Georgia;--Tiddler, Rice's Battery; John Agnew and William O. Blocker, 3d Arkansas; John Munford, 31st Virginia Volunteers.
Wounded.--S. T. Stephens, 3d Arkansas Regiment, slightly; Milton Calhoun, do., do.; Anderson C. Scott, do., mortally;--Fitzgerald, 44th Virginia Volunteers, slightly;--Kelly,--Payne,--Kaid, do., do.; John Dean, 12th Georgia Regiment, slightly; D. W. Fare, W. F. Andrews, David F. Terrill, do., do.; D. L. Beck, 1st Georgia, severely;--Stillwell, Rice's battery, slightly;--Rosby,--Crank, do., do.;--Reinhart, 23d Virginia, severely;--Fleming, Jos. R. Dickenson, do., do.; Thomas A. Elliott, Thomas Wimsey, do., slightly; W. W. Slayton, Eugene Matthews, 31st Virginia Volunteers, severely.
Missing.--James W. Brooks, (also known to have been wounded in the picket skirmish,) 3d Arkansas Regiment; John C. Carter, J. S. Harris, John Garron, do.; George P. Morgan, 31st Virginia Volunteers; James H. Key, Evan Evans, Thos. West, Philip Wolf, Jostan Thompson, Solomon Gainer, Jas. H. Alford, do., do., do.
|Total of casualties||49|
October 18, 1861
Map of the battle-ground at Greenbrier river.
We have seen a map of the battle-ground at Greenbrier river, and of the surrounding country as far as the enemy's encampment on Cheat Mountain, which was drawn by Lieut. C. S. Morgan, of Richmond. This map enables one to see at a glance the respective positions of all of our regiments and batteries, as well as those of the enemy, and delineates the features of the country so clearly that the whole scene is present to the mind of the spectator. The style of its execution is highly creditable to our young townsman, who has gone to the Northwest, the home of his ancestors, to aid in redeeming their graves from the possession of the Federal vandals. Though a lieutenant in rank, he is acting Adjutant of Lieut. Colonel Hansbrough's battalion, his military education having qualified him peculiarly for such a post.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: October 1861