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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
May 23, 1862


Richmond Daily Dispatch
May 31, 1862

The battle of Lewisburg.

[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]

Dublin Depot, Va., May 26, 1862.

You have doubtless learned that the Federals, after taking and holding Giles C. H. for several days, were forced to retire precipitately from the town by Gen. Heth, leaving all the commissary and quartermaster stores which they found there upon their arrival, together with other stores brought there by themselves, it eluding a good lot of coffee. It was, indeed, good fortune for our troops to find so large a quantity of articles so necessary to their comfort and existence. All things rendered it to the interest of the Federals on secure permanently that advance to wards cutting off our communication with the West and South, and in my opinion they would have taken more active steps and more expeditions and effective measures for the holding of the position they had gained had it not been for the erroneous supposition that our forces in this section had been dissipated, together with the active measures taken by Gen. Heth to disperse them and regain the country thus lost. It is with pleasure that I can say that the country has been regained, and that portion of the enemy's forces effectually dispersed. The Narrows of New river, five or six miles beyond the Court-House, and near the mouth of East river, was the position which Heth was determined to retake, and well was it worth the most resolute trial, for it is thought to be the strongest hold in the entire country.

The enemy retreated towards Princeton, where they joined a considerable body of their comrades, when they were attacked by our forces, who drove them back, but for prudential reasons, saw proper to fall back to another position, when directly Heth engaged them successfully in their rear.

After the above engagements, Heth immediately withdrew his forces, and pushed on to Lewisburg, where the enemy were reported to be in force. He arrived in the vicinity of the town a little after daylight, and came up with the enemy on the brow of the hill between him and the town, whereupon, after a few shots, the Federals retired down the hill, our men pressing on till they reached the farther edge of town, when the engagement became fierce and general. The Federals stood behind a fence and fired, while our men stood out on the open field. The forces engaged were the 22d Virginia, the 45th Virginia, Edgar's battalion, a portion of the 8th Virginia cavalry, dismounted, and a battalion of artillery. The dismounted cavalry was held in reserve; the 45th composed the centre. The battle lasted about an hour, being hottest on the flanks; our men gradually driving them, when, from some unknown cause, the 45th became panic stricken and fled. But yet the day was not irretrievably lost. Our men still fought courageously, when, unfortunately, brave Edgar was slain, and his men, being dispirited by his untimely fall, were no longer able to withstand the terrific fire of the enemy, and fled precipitately, and could not be rallied. We had sixteen pieces of artillery, though I understand all were not brought into action. It did good service, one shell having been seen to fall directly in the midst of the vandals, bursting at the right time exactly, playing havoc with them. There were five pieces lost, among them a twelve-pounder and two sixes. Our forces fell back to Union, burning Greenbrier bridge. Heth was to arrive at Pearisburg to- night, (Monday.) Gen. Loring has gone over their, and probably we will hear something stirring in a few days.

The news of Jackson's victory reached us today; it had a very exhilarating effect upon every one. We are looking with interest upon your city and Corinth. We know not at what moment the booming of cannon may open the two great engagements which are to decide the result of the present campaign.

Filurius.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
June 3

[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch]

the B Lewisburg — interesting account — reinforcements wanted.

Salt Sulphur Springs, May , 1862.

As our General allows us a short rest at this place, after our recent hard marching and fight, we will presume to send you a short account of our disaster at Lewisburg. On Monday, the 19th inst, Gen Hern ordered the larger part of his brigades, who were then encamped at the month of wolf Creek, to prepare for a march. The troops c of the 45th and 22d Virginia regiments, commanded by Col. Brown and Lieut-Col. Earbes. Col. Finney's battalion two pieces of Otny's battery; Bryant's battery of four guns, and three mountain Howitzers under Captain Dowry, were ferried across New river during the night, and commenced their journey at daylight the next morning.

The march continued till Thursday night, when we slept on our arms, about a mile from Greenbrier river bridge, where the enemy's pickets were stationed. About four o'clock Friday morning we drover in the capturing twelve of their, and immediate, double quicked it for two miles, very admirable which commanded the town completely. We then opened a sharp cannonade upon the enemy in the town, in which crowds of Yankees were stationed. Had we continued to hold this position, using the artillery and keeping the infantry as a reserve, there is hardly a doubt but that the day would have been ours. But in an evil hour we were ordered to cease firing and charge the enemy. As our brave men rushed down into the town, to the command, they encountered a most galling fire. Sheltered in the houses behind fences, from every direction the enemy literally mowed down our men; still the brave 22d, led on by the fearless Col. Banbee, pushed on, driving the enemy before them. In a few moments more the aspect of the battle was entirely changed. Our men were in a valley while the enemy were forming their column as along the brave of a hill just above us. There was an almost entire cessation of firing for ten minutes, while our men steadily advanced up the hill. A large portion of the enemy's force was held in ambush. and our men were within shot-gun range of the enemy's front, when suddenly a sheet of five steamed from the woods, and a murderous fire was rained upon Col. Finney's battalion. Most of these men had never bean under fire before. At each discharge from the enemy's guns they fell by scores; they stood till nearly every other man lay dead or wounded, when they broke and retreated in the greatest disorder.

The batteries of Captains Grey and Bryant were now left unprotected. Captain Grey, though wounded, stood by his men, while they strove amid the iron hail to get their guns from the field. A perfect panic now sned Save some few brave spirits, who would not leave the field, everybody seemed to be exerting their utmost power to get before every one else. I am proud to say that the artillerymen stood by their guns till the enemy were not more than forty yards distant, when they were ordered to leave. General Heth made an effort to rally the men. After our threatening column had passed the bridge, it was burnt, and this put a stop to any forward movement of the enemy.

In reviewing the battle, we see that great blame rests on some one. It is hardly just to call men cowards who were posted in such perfect slaughter pens; and no one can doubt for a moment the bravery of General Hath. One fact is certain, we under estimated the force of the enemy. They could not have had less than five thousand men, while from every source of information we could obtain before the fight, we were continually told that there were only two regiments in the town. We left on the field in dead, wounded, and misting, at least four hundred men. The enemy's loss was heavy, but much less than ours. Col. Finney, though he could have retreated, refused to turn his back upon the enemy, and was captured. Major Edgar was left dead, along with may others, who, on that dreadful day, offered themselves upon their country's altar. Perhaps in no battle of the war, of equal duration, was there more terrible fighting or greater carnage. It was all over before 8 o'clock.

If the Southern Confederacy desires to hold the rich domain of Western Virginia, they must send more men for its defence. The enemy are sending their best regiments, armed with the most improved guns, to overrun these fertile fields, and unless prompt and energetic action is taken on our part, the Tennessee Railroad will be in their possession, and the most ruinous effects will follow. Two or three good regiments might prevent all this evil. We then could drive them from Lewisburg, and once more regain the matchless valley of the Kanawha. Dane.


Gallipolis Journal
June 12, 1862

Army Correspondence

[Correspondence of the Gallipolis Journal.]

Meadow Bluff, VA.

June 2, 1862

Mr. Harper—Sir:—Having a few leisure moments, and thinking perhaps some of your readers would be interested in a short detail of the movements of the 3d provisional brigade, and particularly of the 36th regiment O. V. I., I have seated myself for the purpose of informing them, as far as strict laws and my own ability will allow. At Summerville on the 10th of May, by a general order, we were formed into brigades consisting of the 36th, 44th, and 47th Ohio regiments, Col. Geo. Crook, commanding. On the 11th another order was read, announcing the Brigade would concentrate at Meadow Bluffs, and for the 36th to prepare immediately for a march in the direction of Lewisburg. We all welcomed the announcement with immense delight, for having remained there so long, we were glad to leave. On the morning of the 12th we started, and after crossing, or rather wading Gauley river, we began to march across the mountains. For two days we marched in single file over a path used by bushwhackers, and it was not until the third day that we came in sight of anything that betokened civilization.—We then came into the valley some twenty miles North of Lewisburg, where there is some beautiful farming lands. On the third night after we left Summerville, we camped in a nice little village called Frankford, where we heard that a detachment of the 44th and 47th regiments, with Major Hoffman’s battery of cavalry, had taken possession of Lewisburg, after routing the rebel cavalry from that place. On the 16th of May we reached the boasted Lewisburg, the town which the rebel General Heth’s command had boasted they would never give up to the accursed Yankees, but Heth and his command had gone. We rested at Lewisburg one night. Next morning the 36th and 44th started on a march across the Allegheny, to make a dash on the Virginia Central Railroad, and captured all the enemy’s stores at Jackson depot. We passed the White Sulphur Springs and the town of Convington on our route, and on the second day reached the depot, where our commander, Col. Crook, seized the telegraph office, and found that the Provost Marshal of Allegheny county had telegraphed to the rebel General Jackson to send him several regiments of troops, and that he (Jackson) had promised to send them immediately. Col. Crook then burnt the bridge across Jackson river, and fell back to Lewisburg, bringing Capt. Spriggs and other important prisoners.

On the morning of the 23d, our brigade was awakened by the noise of drums and muskets, and the firing at the picket post on Greenbrier river indicating that there was work at hand.—Immediately company G, of the 36th, and company D, of the 44th, were sent forward to stop the progress of the rebels. Deceived by the fog, they mistook a hody of rebels for our pickets, approached within close range, and it was not until they received a volley, that they discovered their mistake.

Capt’s. Palmer and Tulleys immediately deployed their companies and commenced falling back, for the whole rebel force was upon them. When the rebels discovered this, they sent up a shout of triumph, but alas! for them, they knew not that two as gallant regiments as ever were formed were waiting patiently for the word “forward,” to avenge the insults our flag had received. The rest of the brigade had now fell into ranks, and were marching down through Main street to form between the rebels and the town, and then to advance on them. By this time they had chosen their position and had commenced shelling our camp, and with one piece they were trying to rake us as we marched through town; one shell burst before us, and another over our heads, and then before they had time to depress their piece, we had filed out of the street, the 44th on the right and the 36th on the left. We formed a line under cover of a hill, and then advanced, and from this I can tell you nothing of the movements of the 44th for we were separated from each other by a row of dwelling houses, but I can say this much, they performed their part nobly, charging on the enemy’s battery, and capturing four of their best pieces, and mowing the rebels down like wheat. When we gained the crest of the hill two regiments of rebels opened a galling fire upon us, (the 36th.) We then received the command, “forward, double quick,” and away we went, driving them before us like chaff before the wind.—Once they rallied behind a fence, but we soon drove them from their positions. Then commenced their retreat, for by this time the 44th had driven them back from the right in confusion. They burnt the bridge across the Greenbrier to cover their retreat, and we marched back to camp considerably elated over our victory; and why not? We had fought at least two to one, and they used artillery while we did not. Their force amounted to 3,000 infantry, 6 pieces of artillery, and 100 cavalry while ours did not at the farthest, amount to over 1,400 infantry. Our loss was 13 killed and 50 wounded, while they left 40 of their dead and 60 wounded on the field. We also captured 300 muskets, four pieces of artillery, and 100 prisoners, among them one Lieutenant Colonel and one Major. Several of our wounded were fired on by the citizens, and one of them killed. The house from which the shot was fired had been burnt, and could the perpetrator of the deed been caught, he would have been hung.

We remained in camp at Lewisburg for five days after the fight, when we were ordered to fall back to Meadow Bluffs.

SHOEMAKER,
Co. I, 36th Reg. O. V.


Gallipolis Journal
June 5, 1862

Army Correspondence

[Correspondence of the Gallipolis Journal.]

Western Virginia}

May 25, 1862}

DEAR HARPER:—Again on the wing and again a few items. It matters not where I am or whither I am bound.—Enough for you to know that I, with my lovely friend Ada, are taking our accustomed annual round of sight-seeing and it seemeth best to us to travel incog. We meet no familiar faces and we have no fears of being recognized. Ada is taking notes of what she sees and hears, and I fear the result will be a 12 mo. volume of 400 pages. She assures me however, that her highest ambition is to gather around our fireside a few choice spirits, and pass the coming winter evenings in reading from her notes and commenting thereon. I trow not, Ada dear, for how oft hast thou wished to see thy name on the title page of a popular book, and set the world on fire by the splendor of thy genius. (There, there, you need not box my ears—I’ll stop right here, Ada dear.)

Have you ever been up New river and drank in the magnificence and beauty which greets your eyes and every side? The cascades, which dot the mountain side, the river flowing hundreds of feet beneath you as you wind your way up the ountain, and on and on until you reach the climax—the Hawk’s Nest. Oh! it is grand beyond conception. I am not going to attempt a description of it here. I say untio you, come and see. Your soul will expand with more exalted ideas of the infinite architect of nature’s own temple, and you , too, “will look from nature up to nature’s God.” As we stoop upon the summit of Hawk’s Nest, and gazed into the abyss below, Ada cast a pebble, as she supposed, into the river. Trying with all the strength she had she failed to throw the stone into the water. How dainty gingers, pencil in hand, flew over the pages of her note book, endeavoring to transfer to paper the beauty and grandeur she beheld. Let us leave this glorious scene and turn to a more inviting, but, just at this time more popular theme—war.

Sixty-five miles beyond Gauley Bridge in situated Lewisburg, the headquarters of our advance columns, in the Mountain Department, Col. Geo. Crooke commanding. I am not going to tell you how many regiments we have there or what our effective force is, for that is contraband. Suffice it to say there has been a battle there which will take rank among the brilliant actions of this war. On the morning of the 23d, at precisely 5 A. M., whiz came a shell into our camp, in came our pickets on the double quick and we were attacked. On the hill east of our camp was Gen. Heath with over 3,000 infantry, a few cavalry and six pieces of artillery.—1,300 of our men were instantly in line of battle. Two companies of the 44th Ohio were sent forward to hold the enemy in check. They marched to the hill and deployed as skirmishers, holding the rebel army of over 3,000 in check until our force could come up. The enemy had all the advantage of position in addition to superior numbers. It would have done your heart good to see our brave boys of the 36th and 44th march up the hill without once flinching. How they pour the shot into the enemy, volley after volley, in quick succession, and onward they steadily move. How they pour the shot into the enemy, volley after volley, in quick succession, and onward they steadily move. The enemy are thunder struck; they waver as we pour into them our murderous fire they stagger and reel like drunken men. The order is given: “charge bayonet”—with a spring and a ringing shout that shook the hills, they rush forward sure of victory. The enemy can’t stand cold steel. They break and fly and the boys of the 44th seize a cannon, loaded with canister, before they can touch it off. The enemy are routed, and fly in utter confusion and the field is ours. The fruits of victory are 4 cannon, 2 rifle and 2 smooth, 300 stand of arms, 125 prisoners—among them one Lt. Colonel, one Major, and several Captains and Lieutenants. In the earlier part of the engagement they carried off their dead and wounded, but notwithstanding this, 38 of their dead, including many officers, and 66 wounded fell into our hands. Our loss was 9 killed, 70 wounded and 6 missing. The total loss of the enemy is said to be 64 killed and 120 wounded. The cannon captured are 10 and 12 pounders; the rifled pieces are Parrott guns. The battle lasted one hour and eighteen minutes. I have only aimed to give an outline of the fight, as it would take a man better versed in military science to give each and every particular movement on the battlefield. I do not wish to single out individual acts of daring and bravery to the disparagement of others. I could not do it if I wished to, where all were so brave—all honor to the brave boys of the 36th and 44th Ohio Regiments.—Col. Crook and Col. Gilbert are both military men, and if I am not greatly mistaken both graduates of West Point. Col. Gilbert I am personally acquainted with—a better officer, a finer man in every sense of the word we have no in the service. He assisted Prof. Bache in the coast survey, in fact he and a Mr. Stillwell, now in California, surveyed the entire coast bordering on the Gulf of Mexico. The President and the Senate could not do a better day’s work than to make Cols. Crook and Gilbert, Brigadier Generals. None better would be in the field. I have extended this letter beyond my expectation. If it should prove a bore I pray you destroy it. Where we shall next be the deponent saith not, but wherever it is you will hear from us, always provided we can up items of sufficient interest to your readers. Au revoir,

Henry Mortimer.

I neglected to say that the enemy in their retreat burned the fine bridge over Greenbrier river. Also, that they threw away their blankets, coast, hats, &c. Burning the bridge prevented us from following the enemy.

H. M.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: May 1862

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