Clement Anselm Evans.

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ing the middle top, which the Federals subsequently
fortified and continued to hold, and reaching Green-
brier river at about daylight of the 13th, where he found
Governor Letcher, and was met by Col. Edward John-


son, advancing with the Twelfth Georgia from the

Hotchkiss and party, learning at Huttonsville that
Scott had gone into camp six miles further on, followed
after ; not finding him there, they went on to the foot of
Cheat mountain, which was reached about dark, where
they gave up the chase, having already marched 30 miles,
since between i and 2 a. m., through swamps and forests
and across Rich mountain, in drenching rains and mud.
They went into camp, putting out pickets from the 75 or
more armed men then in the command. Resuming retreat
on the 13th, they found the Churchville and Bath cavalry
companies and portions of many infantry companies biv-
ouacked on the middle top of Cheat mountain, where
they had spent the night. This body of Virginians, who
had in various ways escaped capture, although of the
rawest kind of soldiery, understood thoroughly the impor-
tance of retaining this stronghold against a Federal
advance further into the State. The oiSicers present
held a conference and delegated Engineer Hotchkiss to
go forward to Greenbrier river and urge Governor
Letcher to allow them to remain and hold Cheat moun-
tain. To this patriotic request the governor consented,
but soon after the envoy left to return to his companions,
he was overtaken by orders to abandon the mountain
and continue the retreat. Scott's exaggerated idea of
McClellan's force and of an energetic pursuit by him, had
so impressed Governor Letcher and Colonel. Johnson, the
latter now in command as the ranking officer present,
that a retreat was ordered to the top of Alleghany moun-
tain, where Brig. -Gen. H. R. Jackson, of Georgia, who
had been sent to take command, met the army and
thence continued the retreat to Monterey, where he
established headquarters on the 14th and awaited rein-
forcements and the return of the remnant of the Laurel
hill force from its circuitous retreat through Maryland,
and Hardy and Pendleton counties, Va. McClellan, with
his advance, reached the Cheat mountain summit at
about 3 p. m. of the 14th, nearly two days after Scott
had passed that point, and about twenty-four hours after
the Confederate cavalry, by orders, had reluctantly
left it.

. When Pegram reached the head of the column that had
waited for him just north of Camp Gamett, soon after


midnight of tlie nth, he continued ihe retreat and
reached the summit of Rich mountain soon after sunrise.
The officers present, familiar with the country, urged him
to push forward to Beverly ; but looking over the valley
to the eastward and seeing troops marching along the
road in that direction, either Tyler's or Hotchkiss' men,
he concluded that Rosecrans had already occupied Bev-
erly (although he did not reach that place until eight
hours later) , so he overruled the others and spent the
whole day wandering along the rough spurs of the eastern
slope of Rich mountain toward Laurel hill. Late in the
afternoon he allowed Heck to reconnoiter to the road
between Beverly and Laurel hill, but he learned nothing
of the movements of the enemy. Pegram then marched
toward the road, but found the way difficult through
the swampy grounds bordering Valley river, which his
men waded three times. When near the road, as his col-
umn was closing up at about dark, his command was fired
into. Instead of pushing boldly forward, he recrossed
the river and put his men in line of battle, having heard
that the enemy, 3,000 strong, were at Leadsville church,
not far from where he Jiad reached the road. Later, he
fell back to the foot of Rich mountain, where, at a
secluded farmhouse, near midnight, he informed his
leading officers that he had concluded to surrender, as he
believed it impossible to escape the enemy, which he
supposed had nearly surrounded him so he could not
cross the valley and get through the mountains to Mon-
terey. Most of the officers appeared to tacitly concur in
this view ; but Lieutenant-Colonel Heck and Capt. J. B.
Moorman, of the Pendleton company, opposed it. The lat-
ter, having marched his company across Cheat mountain
by the Seneca road, in the vicinity of which they then
were, after the Philippi affair, was sure he could safely
lead the whole command out that way. Heck urged trying
this, considering that better than hunting up some one to
surrender to, which could be done later should necessity
demand it. Pegram, however, took his own course and
sent a messenger to Beverly, some 7 miles distant, with
a note to McClellan, saying, that in consequence of
the retreat of Garnett and the condition of his command,
most of whom had been without food for two days, he
desired to surrender his men, as prisoners of war, the
next morning. Between 7 and 8 a. m. of the r3th, two o£


McClellan's staff and some twenty cavalry brought a note
to "John Pegram, Esq., styling himself Lieut. -Col. P. A.
C. S. , " saying he would receive his officers and men as
prisoners of war, but could not relieve them from any
liabilities incurred by taking up arms against the United
States. Pegram accepted the terms offered, but when
he formed his companies to march to Beverly, he found
that Moorman and his forty brave mountaineers had left
during the night, taking the Seneca road, as he had pro-
posed. These in due time reached Monterey, as could
all of Pegram 's command had he boldly pushed forward
as Heck and Moorman urged. Pegram surrendered 23
officers and 259 men of Heck's regiment, and 8 officers
and 166 men of his own.

Returning to General Garnett, we find that late in the
afternoon of the nth a messenger informed him that the
Federals were in possession of Rich mountain in Pegram 's
rear, and by that time were probably in Beverly. It is
asserted th^t this messenger also reported the road block-
aded between Beverly and Laurel hill by trees felled
across it; which was not true. Threatened by Morris'
large force in his front, and, as he supposed, by a large
one under McClellan advancing to his rear and occupying
his line of retreat to Staunton, Garnett evacuated Laurel
hill about midnight, and fell back to Leadsville, about
halfway to Beverly, where he took a rough country
road, leading northeast by way of New Interest and
across Cheat river to Red House, in western Maryland,
on the Northwestern turnpike leading from Wheeling
across the mountains through Hardy county to Winches-
ter. On the 1 2th, late in the day, he encamped at Kay-
lor's ford of Shaver's fork of Cheat river, after a march
of some 15 miles from Leadsville, his rear extending
back some two miles. He resumed his retreat about
8 a. m. of the rsth, with Taliaferro's and Jackson's regi-
ments, Hansbrough's battalion, a section of Shumaker's
battery and a squadron of cavalry in the lead, followed
by his baggage train, with the First Georgia, the Twenty-
third Virginia, Lanier's section of artillery, and Captain
Jackson's cavalry in the rear. The continuous rains and
the passing of the trains cut up the road and made prog-
ress slow. Before he could cross Kaylor's ford the enemy
fell on his rear. Garnett then rode back, placed the
First Georgia in position, and held the enemy in check


until his train had forded the river. The First Georgia
then fell behind the Twenty-third Virginia, which in the
meantime had taken an advanced position, and that
defended the train until the First Georgia formed again,
further on. Thus skirmishing and retiring, the retreat
was skillfully conducted, without loss, to Carrick's ford
of Cheat river, 3^ miles beyond Kaylor's. That ford,
wide and deep, was now swollen by recent rains, making
the crossing difficult, so that some wagons were stalled
and abandoned. This delay enabled the Federals to
close up, but Taliaferro's Twenty-seventh Virginia, posted
on the high bank on the far side of Cheat river, joined in
a lively engagement, known as the battle of Carrick's
-Ford, in which infantry and artillery engaged from oppo-
site sides of the river, and the Federals were twice driven
back, with considerable damage from Lanier's guns.
Taliaferro continued to fight until his men had expended
nearly all their cartridges and the artillery had been
withdrawn, when, believing that the enemy were attempt-
ing to turn his flank, he ordered his regiment to retire,
which, although it had lost nearly 30 in killed and
wounded, it did very reluctantly. He then moved on to
the opposite side of the next ford, where he found General
Garnett, who directed him to halt his regiment around a
nearby protecting turn of the road, and send him some
good riflemen, remarking : "This is a good place, behind
this driftwood, to post skirmishers. ' ' Taliaferro sent him
a whole company, from which he selected 10 sharpshoot-
ers and ordered the others back to the regiment. While
posting his command to meet an expected attack, Talia-
ferro received orders from Garnett to march rapidly and
overtake the main body. A few minutes later he was
informed, by the officer in charge of his 10 riflemen,
that the brave Garnett had been killed by a Federal
sharpshooter, firing across the river, just as he was order-
ing the skirmishers to retire. One of Lanier's guns was
disabled in this engagement and abandoned after being

Closely followed by the enemy, Taliaferro fell back
4 miles further to Parsons' ford, the last one of Cheat
river to be crossed ; a half mile beyond this he overtook
the main body, halted there by Garnett's order and
drawn up to receive the enemy. After waiting for some
time, and no enemy appearing, the retreat was resumed,


now under the command of Colonel Ramsey of the First
Georgia, up the Horseshoe run road, marching all night
and unmolested, reaching the Red House and the North-
^_western turnpike at about daylight of the 14th, and safely
'passing that danger point of attack from the Federal
forces at Cheat river bridge and elsewhere on the Balti-
more & Ohio, not far away, which McClellan had ordered,
by telegraph, to fall upon Gamett's retreating column.

The retreat from Laurel hill was managed so skillfully
by General Garnett that Morris did not know he had left
until daylight of the 12 th. The pursuit was not contin-
ued, except by scouts, beyond Cheat river, where his
command closed up about 2 p. m. The Confederate loss
was small, but it included the brave and skillful Garnett,
who was the first officer of rank to lay down his life for
his native State. Ramsey continued his retreat on the
14th, followed at some distance in the rear by numerous
Federal troops from along the Baltimore & Ohio, which
failed to overtake him; crossed Alleghany mountain
through Greenland gap ; reached the South Branch val-
ley at Petersburg, where the Federal pursuit ended, and
thence turned up that valley and arrived at Monterey,
54 miles distant, several days later, with his command
thoroughly disorganized but having suffered little loss.

McClellan telegraphed to Washington his first report of
the battle from his camp in front of Rich mountain, on
the 12th, and followed it with other announcements, of
which Gen. J. D. Cox has written (Battles and Leaders
of the Civil War) :

It is a curious task to compare the official narrative with the pict-
ure of the campaign and its results, which was then given to the
world in the series of proclamations and dispatches of the young
general, beginning with his iirst occupation of the country pind
ending with his congratulations to his troops, in which he announced
that they had "annihilated two armies, commanded by educated
and experienced soldiers, intrenched in mountain fastnesses fortified
at their leisure." The country was eager for good news, and took
it as literally true. McClellan was the hero of the moment, and
when, but a week later, his success was followed by the disaster to
McDowell at Bull Run, he seemed pointed out by Providence as the
ideal chieftain, who could repair the misfortune and lead our armies
to certain victory.

On the 1 6th, leaving a force at Huttonsville and on
Cheat mountain, McClellan returned to Beverly and
proceeded to reorganize his army.


JULY. 1861.

WE now turn to a consideration of the Kanawha val-
ley campaign of the early part of 1 861, as that
was a portion of Scott's plan of invasion of Vir-
ginia that was intrusted to McClellan ; deferring
until later the consideration of military operations along
the Potomac, which, in sequence of time, would at
this point demand attention. McClellan's original inten-
tion was to begin the invasion of Virginia from Ohio by
way of the Kanawha valley along the great stage road to
Staunton, having the same objective as Patterson from
Pennsylvania up the Shenandoah valley; but events,
treated of in the preceding chapter diverted him to the
lines of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, and led to the
Rich Mountain campaign and the handing over of oper-
ations on the Kanawha line to a subordinate, with whom
he was in constant telegraphic communication.

Previous to the building of the Baltimore & Ohio rail-
road, the most important way of travel across Virginia ta
the west was, as it had been from time immemorial, by
the valleys of the James across the Appalachians, and
down the Great Kanawha to the Ohio. Vast herds of
buffaloes, from the rich open pasture lands of the Great
Valley, first engineered and opened trails which the
Mound Builders and the Indians followed, and which in
turn became the bridle paths for the white men into th&
great Trans- Appalachian basin of the Ohio. Along these
trails took place, for many years, numerous combats
between the white man in his westward progress and the
Indian who sought to stay that progress, until the deci-
sive battle at Point Pleasant at the mouth of the Big^
Kanawha in the River Ohio, on October 9, 1774, broke the
power of the great Indian confederacy of the northwest,
and established the supremacy of the Virginia white
man in that direction. The bridle paths were gradually
widened into rude wagon ways, along which a steady



stream of emigration poured, especially after the Revo-
lution, robbing Virginia of many of her best citizens, to
the enrichment of the great central west. The State
and allied companies then began the construction of well-
graded turnpikes along these natural highways, until
good roads from nearly every county town in the basin
of the Big Kanawha led into the James river and Ka-
nawha turnpike, the main stage road from Staunton
through Lewisburg, Charleston, and thence to the mouth
of the Kanawha, and also to that of the Guyandotte near
the Kentucky boundary. From the days of Washington
Virginia spent lavishly of her means in the opening of a
great waterway, from the head of tide at Richmond, up
the James and across to and down the waters of the
Kanawha to its head of steamboat navigation ; and when
the civil war began, the James River & Kanawha canal
was in operation for 198 miles, from Richmond to
Buchanan, in the heart of the Great Valley. In the same
general direction, at an early date, the State co-operated
in the construction of a railway, 195 miles of which, from
Richmond to Jackson's river, well within the Appalach-
ians, were in operation as the Virginia Central at the
beginning of the war, and large numbers of men were
then at work constructing the continuation of that line
to the Ohio at the mouth of the Guyandotte. That work
is now known as the Chesapeake & Ohio f ailway.

The basin of the Big Kanawha as a whole was one of
the most important portions of Virginia, rich in agricult-
Tiral, forest and mineral wealth, especially coal and salt.
The coals which underlie the larger portion of its area
were then in demand down the Ohio. In the year of
grace 1898, they were one of the most important factors
in the magnificent victories won by the sea power of the
United States at Manila and Santiago. The loyal Vir-
ginians of that region promptly prepared for home
defense by the organization of military companies, and
demanded arms and aid from the more thickly settled
portions of the State, as their territory was peculiarly
vulnerable by way of the Ohio and the navigable waters
•of the Big Sandy, the Guyandotte and the Big Kanawha.
These waterways gave easy access for the troops and
supplies of the enemy for more than 100 miles toward
the interior of the State, and made the problem of its
defense one difficult to solve.


On the 29th of April, six days after he took command
of the forces of Virginia, General Lee sent Lieut. -Col.
John McCausland, a native of the Kanawha valley and a
graduate of the Virginia military institute, to muster
into the service of the State ten companies of volunteers
from the Kanawha region, take command of these, and
direct military operations for strictly defensive purposes.
On May 3d, Col. C. Q. Tompkins, a West Point graduate
and former officer in the United States army, having his
home in the Kanawha valley, was appointed colonel of
volunteers in the Virginia service and directed to take
command of the forces in the Kanawha region and carry
out the orders already gpLven to McCausland.

Colonel Tompkins reported from Charleston, May 23d,
that he found some 350 men, in five companies, at
Buffalo ; that within two or three weeks he could prob-
ably raise fifteen or sixteen companies, but that the
cotmtry was destitute of fabric suitable for uniforms.

McCausland, covering the front on the Ohio river,
reported Federal troops concentrating at and about Gal-
lipolis, Ohio, on the 26th, and Tompkins, hastening to
Charleston from his post at Kanawha Falls, sent McCaus-
land as a special messenger to Governor Letcher to
inform him of the disaffection of the population of the
Kana,wha region, of the difficulty of procuring reliable
troops, and the imminent danger of invasion. After
sending this dispatch on the 28th, Tompkins issued a
spirited appeal, calling the "men of Virginia — men of
Kanawha, to arms."

On the 23d of April, ex-Gov. Henry A. Wise tendered
his services to Virginia. Subsequently he was appointed
brigadier-general and given authority to raise a force to
be called "Wise's legion. " While engaged in organiz-
ing this body, he was, on the 6th of June, ordered to take
the force he had in hand and proceed, as speedily as pos-
sible, to the valley of the Kanawha and rally the people
to resist the invading army reported to be already on the
march. He was informed that he must rely upon the
people for a supply of arms from those in their own
hands, and upon their valor and knowledge of the country
as a substitute for organization and discipline. Wise's
popularity in western Virginia was very great, and it
was supposed that his appearance in command on the
Xanawha line would stem the tide of opposition to State


authority that was so strongly rising in that region.
Before leaving Richmond, Wise was informed that Joha
B. Floyd, recently United States secretary of war, had
also been appointed brigadier-general, and specially
charged with organizing a large body of troops in the
southwestern part of the Great Valley and adjacent
regions, the locality of his home where he was extremely
popular, and with the protection of the Virginia & Ten-
nessee railroad, the great route of travel to the Confed-
erate capital from aU the southwest ; and that it woutd
doubtless occur that there would be a junction of his
force with that of Wise, in which event Floyd, as the
ranking oificer by commission, would command their
united forces.

Nothing more fully illustrates the poverty of prepara-
tion that Virginia had made for a most gigantic warfare
than General Floyd's appeal of July ist, by special mes-
senger, to the governors of South Carolina and Georgia,
for the loan of arms, sajring that he had three regiments-
and a fourth rapidly forming, but needed i,6oo guns to-
arm them, and giving as his excuse for thus applying
that neither the Confederate government nor the State
of Virginia could furnish arms for his troops, and he was.
fretting under the delay caused by this want.

On June 23d, Wise, with his legion, reached Gauley

bridge, 100 miles beyond the terminus of the Virginia

Central railroad, and reported from Charleston, on the

6th of July, that he had 2, 705 men in his command, all

infantry but 181.

; Gen. J. D. Cox began his invasion of the Great Kana-

' wha valley on the i ith of July, in accordance with instruc-

. tions from McClellan, crossing the Ohio from Gallipolis.

to Point Pleasant, and moving up the Kanawha. Cox's

movements were greatly facilitated by the use of Ohio

river steamboats, which, thrown out of trade by the war,

were plentiful, and accompanying his columns, made the

problem of supplies and transportation for the larger

/ portion of his troops an easy one to solve. In moving up

the Kanawha detached columns of troops marched along

the roads on each side of the river, while his main body

followed in a fleet of steamboats, keeping in rear of his

marching columns, but near enough to reinforce either

bank in case of attack.

The first day, July nth, his command made 13.


miles, Cox himself directing operations from the top of
the pilot house of the leading steamboat, while military
bands on board enlivened this novel mode of campaign-
ing. The movement was without opposition until the
third day, when, at the mouth of the Pocotalico, some
resistance was met from Wise's advance pickets, and
Cox learned that the Confederates were in force some
12 miles further on, at Tyler mountain. Cox decided
to await at Pocotalico the coming in of his flanking

On the 1 6th the forward movement of the Second Ken-
tucky (Federal) began at Guyandotte, a-few miles beyond
which, at Barboursville, a lively skirmish took place with
O. J. Wise's advance cavalry pickets, which fell back,
pursued by the Federals, to the force encamped near
\Scary creek, some 24 miles from Charleston, which, on
the afternoon of the ryth, met and repulsed this pursuit.

After the engagement at Scary, the Federals crossed the
river and encamped on the north side. The next day
Wise attacked Cox's advance post with some 800 men of
all arms under McCausland, forcing them to retreat to
their intrenched camp near the mouth of the Pocotalico. N

The retreat of Gamett's forces from Rich mountain
and Laurel hill, and the advance of McClellan to Cheat
mountain, thus threatening a movement on Staunton, or
^ to the Virginia Central railroad, or to the Kanawha line
t at Lewisburg, induced the Confederate authorities to
promptly reinforce the Northwestern army in McClel-
lan's front, and to concentrate forces on the Kanawha
line by withdrawing Wise toward Lewisburg and advanc-
ing Floyd from the valley in the southwest to the same
line. Col. A. W. McDonald, in command of a large cav-
alry force at Romney, was ordered to march with his
command to Staunton, and unite with the forces there
concentrating. Gen. W. W. Loring was assigned to the
command of the army of the Northwest.

Acting under discretionary orders. Wise abandoned
Charleston July 24th, marching up the Kanawha; left
Gauley bridge, which he burned behind him, on the
27 th, and after a march of over 100 miles arrived at
Lewisburg on the last day of the month, and located his
\, camp at Hunger's mill, 4 miles west of that town.

These brief Northwestern Virginia campaigns, the first
of the war and of barely two months' duration, ending


with July, were very far-reaching in their results. Mc-
Clellan, by the 'force of numbers many times increased
in efficiency^ by the aid of steam power on navigable
rivers and railways, by the use of field telegraphs follow-
ing his movements, and by superior strategy, made pos-
sible by these agencies, compelled the Confederates to
retreat from the banks of the Ohio to near the Alleghany
range of the Appalachians, and abandon to Federal con-
trol — ^which thenceforward during the war was well nigh
continuous — most of Trans-Alleghany Virginia, nearly

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 6 of 153)