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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
October 6, 1861


Richmond Enquirer
October 10, 1861

Retreat from Sewell Mountain

We are informed by officers, just from Sewell mountain, that the enemy broke up their encampment during Saturday night, and precipitately retreated towards Gauley. The cavalry were sent in pursuit and for fifteen miles saw nothing of the enemy.

The late camping ground of the enemy, on the top of the Western ridge of the Big Sewell, was visited by the officers, from whom we derive our information, on Sunday morning. They could find camping ground for only six regiments. One prisoner stated their force at 17,000; an intercepted letter declared it but 8,000; the probability is that it was less than either estimate. On the ground were found many evidences of haste, including three good United States wagons and seven horses abandoned, also cooking utensils, bread, soap and a few ordnance stores. They had cooked two days’ rations, from which it was inferred they intended to recross the Gauley. The prisoners declared that they intended going into winter quarters in Kanawha valley, at Charleston or Point Pleasant.

Such was the complete mystery in which the woods shrouded camp Defiance, our officers declare that not a tent or embrasure could be seen from the enemy’s encampment, whereas, we had plainly noted their movements, and counted their tents with some accuracy during their stay.

We have confidence that General Lee will avail himself of their retreat, as far as circumstances place it in his power, and it may be that he will drive the spoilers from the Kanawha Valley, ere the advancing season compels him to retire into winter quarters.

General Wise’s stand on Sewell mountain, together with the repulse he gave the enemy before reinforcements arrived, has thus resulted in the safety and protection of Lewisburg; and his judgment in taking position at Sewell mountain is now fully vindicated by the retreat of the enemy.


Staunton Spectator
October 15, 1861

No News from Sewell Mountain nor the Greenbrier River.

On the 6th inst., Gen. Rosencrantz, with the whole of his forces on Sewell Mountain, retreated in the direction of Gauley Bridge. He was pursued by our forces, or a part of them, for the distance of 17 miles, but they could not overtake the enemy. Since that time, we have heard no news from that quarter of any interest.

We have received no news of special interest from our camp on Greenbrier River since the engagement of the 3rd inst. The enemy, with their characteristic truthfulness, report that they killed 500 of our men and routed and scattered the whole command. They have the happy faculty of converting disgraceful defeats into glorious victories. Falstaff would blush at his attempts in that line, if he could read the reports in the Northern papers.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
October 18, 1861

From Western Virginia.

A gentleman who left General Floyd's camp on the 16th inst., gives us some interesting information in regard to the movements of our army in the West, some portion of which we are permitted to make public General Floyd, with his command, left Big Sewell Mountain on Sunday last, and was at New river, in Raleigh county, (twenty-two miles distant,) on Wednesday. His intent on is to get a fight if possible, and will attack the enemy wherever he encounters him. Rosencranz has scattered his forces, and is foraging about the country, committing all kinds of depredations and outrages, in which the Union men are not spared. A portion of his army is in Nicholas county, and the remainder at Dogwood Gap and on the Gauley. It is conjectured that General Lee may start in pursuit, but of this nothing is positively known.

We learn with regret that one of the most valuable men in Western Virginia lost his life on Wednesday morning last. His name was John Amick, and he had rendered most important service to Gen. Floyd in the capacity of a scout. His house, on the Wilderness road, some sixteen miles from Meadow Bluff, was surrounded by about seventy Hessians, who had marked him as a victim. Amick, nothing daunted, made an attempt to dash through them and effect his escape; but was twice shot through the body, and mortally wounded. His loss is deeply regretted, by Gen. Floyd.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
October 23, 1861

From the army of the Kanawha.

The retreat of Rosencranz--Gen. Floyd's Column on the March--appearance of an army in motion — an Incident, &c., &c.

The Lynchburg Republican, of the 22d, contains an interesting letter from its editor, R. H. Glass, Esq., attached to General Floyd's staff, dated "Richmond Ferry, 20 miles west of Sewell, Oct. 12," from which we extract the following:

The latest information in reference to the movements of Rosencranz is, that he has retired the last of his men from the south side of the Gauley, and is, probably, in hasty retreat with his main strength to the banks of the Ohio. He has probably left small detachments at Gauley Bridge and Carnifax's Ferry, to defend those passes, but this is only conjecture. We are little capable up here of judging the cause of this sudden backward movement of the enemy, but we have reasons to suppose that it was occasioned in great part by the conscious impossibility of breaking through our compact lines at Sewell, and by the imminent dangers which seem to threaten Cincinnati itself.

The rapidly advanced movements of the Confederates in Kentucky and Missouri will have a wonderful tendency to weaken the enemy's lines in Western and Northwestern Virginia.

On Fridaymorning last our encampment on Sewell was struck, and General Floyd's column took up its line of march to the Kanawha Valley by the road running west of New River, through Fayette, Raleigh, Boone, &c., while Lee and Loring still remain on Sewell. It is the purpose of Gen. Floyd to strike the Kanawha about ten miles above Charleston, and thus throw himself in the rear of the enemy, unless he retreats before him to the Ohio. In either event, the expedition, it is confidently believed, will prove a most important and successful one. It is understood that the movement will be greatly strengthened by the speedy advance of the central column of Lee and Loring along the line of Rosencranz's retreat. You will not be surprised, therefore, if our combined forces winter in the rich valley of the Kanawha, and the enemy be expelled our soil in that section of the State.

We felt sad in leaving our entrenched position upon Sewell, where we expected our little army to have covered itself again with the laurels of a glorious victory. But it may be that our work has not been in vain, as the continually changing tide of war may yet float us back to them, and make them of great importance in our defence. They cover a space of about four miles, and though temporary in their character, were nevertheless quite formidable. The earthen portion of them on Burwell's Mount will probably remain for a century, and be the object of curious interest to our children's children.--"'I was from this point," they may exclaim, "that the tide of Northern aggression was turned back in the war of our independence in 1861.

You can form no adequate conception of the condition of the roads in these mountains. The like of them, I presume, has never been seen. Between the two Sewells they are impassable to any single team. It requires six horses to move a two-horse load, and even then it is a slow and tedious business. It is almost impossible for a horse to move out of a walk from General Floyd's to Gen. Lee's camp, and before we could take up our march on yesterday, we had to cut a new road nearly four miles long! It was impossible to move over the old road, and, even now, we have to keep large forces in front repairing the road to make it passable.

Did you ever see an army in motion? It is a most interesting and imposing sight, though the most tedious mode of traveling in the world. A regiment moves off in double file, led by its Colonel, and is followed by a long train of lumbering wagons. Then comes another regiment, followed by its baggage train; then comes a park of artillery, then another regiment and its train, and so on, alternately, moves the line for miles out of your sight. If a single wagon stalls the whole rear train has to stop until the vehicle is dragged out of the mud, for in many places the road is so narrow that not even a horse, and sometimes not a footman, can pass a single wagon. The consequence is we move about ten miles a day, and when night comes both men and horses are well broken down with the excessive labors of the day. We then have our horses to feed, our beeves to butcher, our tents to pitch, and our suppers to cook, when refreshing sleep closes in upon our labors. But when the roads and the weather are good we make 15 or 20 miles a day with much less fatigue and trouble.

I have been curious to note how soon volunteer service accustoms men to all the hardships and inconveniences of life. A thousand incidents, which would cause men to curse themselves out of their boots at home, are endured in the army with the greatest patience, and sometimes become the sources of his greatest amusement. We soon learn to laugh at our own troubles, and to surmount difficulties, incur dangers, and endure hardships from which we would involuntarily shrink at home. War, therefore, as well as adversity, bath its uses, and is to a nation what the latter is to an individual. When peace returns, we will be a more hardy, self-reliant, moral, and religious people.

I had intended to sketch several interesting and heroic incidents connected with the battle of the Gauley, but I have deferred it so long, that I shall omit it altogether now.--But there is one incident which I will venture, even at this late day, to record. When Gen. Floyd had crossed the river in his retreat, he discovered that, by the oversight of his servants, his fine sword, which he seldom wore, had been left at his late headquarters. To get it was a question of intense importance to him and his friends, for I verily believe he would as soon lose his life as his sword should have fallen into the hands of the despised foe. Day had just dawned — our troops were all across the river — it was a full mile and a half to our deserted breastworks, and to return to them was certainly a most perilous undertaking.

The Rev. J. J. McMamon, of Smythe county, chaplain in the 45th regiment, happened to be the only person by the General at the moment the loss was discovered, and without a moment's hesitation he heroically volunteered to return for the left prize. He trudged the whole distance on foot, passed through our encampment to the point where the General's headquarters had been, directly at the breastworks, and in full view of the enemy's position, obtained the sword, and returned with it to the river, just as the bridge was thrown down and the last boat but one had been destroyed! Such an act of disinterested courage is seldom performed, and never by one who is not a brave man and a true friend.

We have been deeply pained to learn to-day of the death of Mr. J. A. Totten, a volunteer from Logan county, who, for a long time, has been acting at our headquarters as Clerk, Provost Marshal, and Postmaster. He was much esteemed by all of us for his business habits and private virtues. He had just been promoted to a Quartermaster's place, when he was stricken down by that terrible scourge of the soldier — typhoid fever. He was a good Christian, but leaves a large and dependent family to mourn his loss.

Lieut. Arrington, of Concord, is quite sick, and has been removed to Lewisburg. A good many of his companions are also sick, and one of them, whose name I have forgotten, has died. Capt. Rector, himself, has been quite sick, and is not yet fit for duty.


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

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