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The telegraph wire was cut, coiled, and burned for half a mile.
A NATIONAL ACCOUNT.
WEBSTER, WEST-VIRGINIA, January 3. The Second, Third, and Eighth Virginia mounted
My march was retarded occasionally by the tempest in the mountains and the icy roads.
I was obliged to swim my command, and drag my artillery with ropes across Craig's Creek seven times in twenty-four hours. On my return, I found six separate commands under Generals Early, Jones, Fitz Lee, Imboden, Jackson, Echols, and McCouslin, arranged in a line extending from Staunton to Newport, upon all the available roads, to prevent my return. I captured a despatch from General Jones to General Early, giving me the position and that of Jackson at Clifton Forge, and Covington was selected to
The water-station, turn-table, and three cars were burned, and the track torn up and rails heated and destroyed as much as possible in six hours. Five bridges and several culverts were destroyed over an extent of fifteen miles. A large quantity of bridge-timber and repair-infantry, Fourteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, Gibing materials were also destroyed. son's battalion and battery G, First Virginia artillery, composing the Mountain Brigade" of General Averill, left New-Creek, West-Virginia, on the morning of the eighth of December, and a march of two days brought us to Petersburgh. On the morning of the tenth, resumed the march, after being joined by detachments from the First Virginia, Fourteenth and Twenty-third Illinois infantry, a section of Rook's Illinois battery, and the Ringgold cavalry, under command of Colonel Thoburn, of the First Virginia infantry. We passed through Franklin, and camped for the night on the South-Branch. During this day's march we again destroyed the saltpetre works that the rebels had begun to repair. Met a party of refugees, who were endeavoring to get into our lines, and at night had a fight with bushwhackers.
The weather thus far had been cold, but after night it began to rain, and next morning we started on the march, Colonel Thoburn in the advance. When we arrived at the cross-roads, Thoburn's brigade taking the road to Monterey and Staunton, whilst our brigade took the road leading to Hightown and the Buck Creek valley. It rained very hard, and we were enveloped in the clouds of the mountain tops. This day captured a rebel mail-carrier, and at night camped near Burdtown.
I marched from the front of Jones to that of Jackson at night. His outposts were pressed in at a gallop by the Eighth Virginia mounted infantry, and the two bridges across Jackson's River were saved, although fagots had been piled ready to ignite.
My column, about four miles along, hastened across, regardless of the enemy, until all but my ambulances, a few wagons, and one regiment had passed, when a strong effort was made to retake the first bridge, in which they did not succeed.
The ambulances and some sick men were lost, and, by the darkness and difficulties, the last regiment was detained upon the opposite side until morning. When it was ascertained that the enemy seemed determined to maintain his position up the cliff's which overlooked the bridges, I caused the bridges, which were long and high, to be destroyed, and the enemy immediately changed his position to the flank and rear of the detachment which was cut off. I sent orders to the remnants to destroy our wagons and come to me across the river, or over the mountains.
They swam the river with the loss of only four men, who were drowned, and joined me. In the mean time, forces of the enemy were concentrating upon me at Callaghan's over every available road but one, which was deemed impracticable, but by which I crossed over the top of the Alleghanies, with my command, with the exception of four caissons, which were destroyed in order to increase the teams of the pieces.
My loss is six men drowned, one officer and four men wounded, and four officers and ninety men missing.
We captured about two hundred prisoners, but have retained but forty officers and eighty men, on account of their inability to walk; we took also about one hundred and fifty horses.
slid, and swam three hundred and fifty-five miles since the eighth instant. W. W. AVERILL, Brigadier-General.
My horses have subsisted entirely upon a very poor country, and the officers and men have suffered cold, hunger, and fatigue with remarkable fortitude. My command has marched, climbed,
Next morning resumed the march down the Buck Creek valley, finding the streams very much swollen from the rains. During the day a party of refugees, who were armed, came to us; they had been lying in the "brush" ever since the Droop Mountain fight, to keep out of the way of the rebel conscript officers. About dark we arrived at Gatewood's, where we intercepted Mudwall Jackson's train, that was on its way from Huntersville to Warm Springs, to get out of reach of Colonel Moore. The train was guarded by two companies of Jackson's ragged chivalry, and loaded with clothing, shoes, and ammunition. We captured in addition to the train twenty-nine prisoners, while the balance escaped to the mountain, and bushwhacked us at long-range, but hurt none.
The rebels, not expecting another raid, had rebuilt their camp and saltpetre works. These we again burnt, together with the potash factory. Started next morning for Callaghan's; during the morning captured one hundred and fifty cattle, that the farmers were driving out of the valley, and a contraband directed us to an extensive saltpetre works, which we destroyed. We arrived at Callaghan's at four o'clock, where we heard of the operations of General Duffie and Colonel Moore, and the retreat of Echols. We marched out on the Sweet Springs road, and encamped for the night on Dunlap's Creek.
Hitherto our marches had been by easy stages, twenty miles per day, and had taken special care of our horses; but now we were in the enemy's country and the great object of the expedition before us, and our movements must of necessity be rapid. At two o'clock A.M., started for Sweet Springs, in Monroe, where we arrived at ten o'clock, and halted for two hours for refreshment and to groom our horses. At the Springs cap- According to their own accounts, it has taken tured a large quantity of manufactured tobacco, twelve days to put the road in running order that was divided amongst the men, furnishing an again. We did that work in six hours; while abundant supply for a long time. Began the as- Lee, with his, army of seventy-five thousand cent of the mountain at noon, and in the gap men, had the control of the Baltimore and Ohio captured a wagon-load of salt. The day was Railroad for fourteen days, and, after all the fine, and from the top of the mountain had a damage that was inflicted, the Company repaired grand view of the mountains far off in Dixie, as the road in four weeks. In addition to the dewell as the Alleghanies in our rear. These struction of the railroad, was the immense mountains correspond with the North-Shenan- amount of stores destroyed in the three dépôts, doah range. After crossing this mountain and mill, and warehouse; two thousand barrels flour, the valley, we ascended the Eleven Mile or Pe- ten thousand bushels wheat, one hundred thouter's Mountain; and in the gap an amusing inci- sand bushels shelled corn, fifty thousand bushels dent occurred. Our advance captured, not a oats, two thousand Barrels meat, several cords rebel picket, but a wedding party, bride, groom, leather, one thousand sacks salt, thirty-one boxes preacher, and guests. They, together with the clothing, twenty bales cotton, a large amount of whole country through which we had passed, harness, shoes, saddles, and equipments, tools, were taken by surprise; but the scamp of a oil, tar, and various other stores, and one hunpreacher made his escape in the confusion caused dred wagons, and, in addition, three hundred by the tears and distress of the women, who had boxes tobacco. The amount of property deso unexpectedly become acquainted with the stroyed was immense, and we can form some Yankees. We descended the mountain and idea of its value from the prices of the above halted for two hours at Mrs. Scott's tavern, on articles in Dixie. The citizens stated to us that Barbour's Creek. We started up the valley, the value was five millions of dollars. This, inand the advance captured a company of Georgia cluding the damage to the railroad, is not far troops, with ninety horses. We then crossed from the mark. It must be borne in mind that Patt's Mountain, and dashed into New-Castle, Salem is the dépôt for Western Virginia, as well the county-seat of Craig. Here we captured a as for Longstreet's corps, and that the stores portion of the home guard, with their arms, and had been removed from other points to Salem, without halting kept on for Roanoke. Our march for safety. After we had performed this work, was up the Craig Creek valley, and during the we began the retreat, and fell back six miles to morning captured a rebel patrol party, and a the foot of Poverty Mountain, where we camped rebel Colonel Chapman, who attempted to es- for the night. We had two good days in succape, and was killed. We also burned another cession; but after night it began to rain, and saltpetre works, and after crossing two mountains, toward morning began to freeze, and a high, at about half-past ten o'clock reached Salem. blinding wind with it. Our blankets and clothAfter we entered, a train containing a rebel bri-ing became saturated with water, and at daylight gade came up the track from Lynchburgh, but we began the retrograde movement. The march three shots from one of our Parrotts caused the over the mountain was very fatiguing, and the engineer to reverse his engine, and, with a snort road so icy, that we had to dismount and lead from the whistle, the train took the back track. our horses. We found the Catawba very much swollen, and across the mountain, and after we reached the Craig Creek valley, the rain poured down in torrents, and it was a work of great labor for the artillery and the trains to move. Every small stream had become a foaming torrent, carrying rocks and drift before it; the pine-trees forming a crystal forest, with beautiful festoons and arches bending over the road.
When we came to Craig's Creek, the water was so deep, and the current so strong, and besides, the drift was running, it was supposed that our way was completely blockaded; but our General was equal to the emergency, and we were ordered to attempt the ford-the General directing and encouraging in person-the men riding into the cold icy water cheerfully, and by using caution, and obeying the directions
The citizens had been apprised that we were in the country, but had not expected us so soon, and to our utter surprise, both along the road and in the town, we were received with a kind and cordial greeting, and the waving of white handkerchiefs. Now that we had arrived, we were invited to their houses, and treated with kindness and hospitality; and our healthy appearance, our clothing, and especially our boots, as well as our gentlemanly deportment, were all subjects of wonder and admiration.
The destruction on the railroad and dépôts began immediately; the government buildings and dépôts were fired, and the Third Virginia and the Fourteenth Pennsylvania were sent out each way to tear up and destroy; and most effectually they did the work; fine bridges were
destroyed, and fifteen miles of the road torn up, and the rails heated, water-station and turn-table burned, together with the materials that were on the ground for repairs. This was a heavy blow to the rebels, considering their facilities for repairing a damaged road, and the absolute necessity for keeping open communications with Longstreet.
of the General and the officers, the first, second, this road we met a party of Jackson's cavalry, and third fords were crossed. This consumed and skirmished with them, pressing them close. nearly the whole day, with the train, the artil- When we reached the river, they turned to the lery, and the rear-guard still to cross. We were right, in the direction of Jackson River dépôt, now on the New-Castle side, and, by the road, while we turned to the left, toward Covington. several more fords to cross; but as it was but a Here we captured a messenger from Jones to few miles to town, it was determined to cut a Early, with a despatch to be forwarded to Early road through the woods, which was done, and by Jackson, by telegraph. (Early was supposed at eleven o'clock at night, the Eighth entered the to be at Warm Springs.) This proved of imtown. Here we took possession of the govern-portance to the General, for it disclosed the rement corn-cribs, where the corn-tithe, or tenth, bel plans, and the movements of Jones, Echols, was deposited. This we fed to our horses, and and McCauslin. The advance hastened at a trot afterward made demonstrations on the different toward the bridge, and when they came to it, roads, while the balance of the brigade were the rebel guard opened fire upon them, but we endeavoring to extricate themselves from the charged through with a cheer and at a gallop, watery blockade that had so suddenly stopped the rebs retreating at their highest speed. We our progress; but it was not until the next found piles of combustibles on the bridge ready evening that the artillery and train reached the for the torch, and fire burning and torch ready; town. The efforts of the quartermasters, of- but the advance, by its gallantry, saved the ficers, and men were very fatiguing and labor-bridge. As the brigade moved so rapidly, it ious, in dragging the artillery and wagons through left the artillery, trains, and rear-guard far in the water by means of ropes, and the whole the rear, with perhaps a gap of two miles open. work superintended by the General, who had This was taken advantage of by Jackson, who made it a point of honor to save the artillery marched in his force, and ambushed themselves and transportation; but the provisions were lost, in the cliffs with the cavalry, ready to make a except the soldier's great reliance, coffee. This charge on the trains. They made a dash to take was preserved, and when the brigade reached the bridge, but were repulsed by the guard that the town, it was issued to the men. we had left there; and next morning, Jackson's force, with artillery, infantry, and cavalry, made an attack on the rear-guard and the train, but were repulsed, while we succeeded in destroying the train, to prevent its falling into their hands, and the loss that we met with, was in having a portion of the men, who were cut off, captured. Our loss was sixty men captured. These were mostly dismounted men. We also lost three officers captured.
We now found that the rebels held the gap, to dispute our march, and heard that Fitz-Hugh Lee was in our rear. We did not fear the rebel force in our front, for they had not sufficient time to unite their scattered forces. A squadron of the Eighth was sent to force them back, and a brisk skirmish ensued, when reënforcements from the Second and Eighth were sent to assist in driving back the enemy. The rebels retired, and at midnight the brigade reached Mrs. Scott's, at the foot of the Eleven Mile Mountain. But here a new danger arose, for Jones held the Sweet Springs Mountain in force, and that was our only apparent outlet, and besides, our limited supply of ammunition had become partially damaged from the wet. Here our young chief performed a master-stroke of generalship, completely deceiving, as well as mystifying Jones. He sent a force to the top of the Eleven Mile Mountain, to make a bold demonstration, drive in the rebel pickets, and make the rebels believe that our whole force was advancing. In the mean time, the column was ordered to move up a creek and by-road, in the direction of the Covington and Fincastle turnpike. The General had got the information of this road from a citizen, with the statement that no vehicle had passed over the road in two years, and Jones's scouts told him that the road was totally impracticable, but we passed through in safety, Jones waiting the whole day, and expecting an attack every hour. In the afternoon, we struck the Fincastle pike, and distant from Covington ten miles. We had now eluded two rebel armies, but still we knew that they were on both flanks, and perhaps in our front; but we were ordered to move rapidly, and the advance to dash to the Jackson River bridge, to prevent its being burnt. On
The brigade moved rapidly to Covington, where the advance captured several of the home guard and a number of fine horses, and pushed on toward Callaghan's. The advance crossed the second bridge and surprised a rebel picket of sixteen men. These, with their horses, arms, and equipments, were captured except one of the party, the captain, who escaped.
When we reached Callaghan's, strong pickets were sent out on all the roads. We began to breathe more freely, but our privations began to tell from hunger and cold. Our clothing was frozen stiff, a large proportion of the men had their feet and fingers frozen, but the greatest suffering was from want of sleep. The pickets were forbidden to make fires. After the videttes had been placed, the balance of the men lay down in the road, and the night was intensely cold, but the officers aroused the men and would not permit them to sleep; and a short time before day they were permitted to make fires in the pine-thickets, and with the comfortable bed, and a cup of strong coffee, they soon regained their accustomed spirits. Our crackers were now exhausted, and nothing to eat but fresh pork and coffee.
Here the General sent out scouting-parties to ascertain the movements of the enemy. We here learned that Early held the Back Creek valley, and that there was a force at Gatewood's, cover
morning, resumed the march over the same kind of roads, crossed Elk Mountain, and camped for the night on the top of the Valley Mountain, at the Mingo Flats.
Here we felt almost home, and visions of crack
ing the Huntersville road, while it was supposed small allowance of hay for our horses. that Echols was in the direction of the White Sulphur and Rocky Gap. With the detachment and train on the other side of the river, our General, who had shared all our privations, and by his skill had brought us through so many dangers, felt his responsibility, and was greatly dis-ers and bacon began to float in our imaginations, turbed; but if he could have heard the kind and at this time our stock of coffee was exhaustwords of sympathy that fell from the lips of ed. We reached the mouth of Elkwater at noon, those tired, rugged veterans, he would have felt where we met a supply-train from Colonel Moore, refreshed and encouraged, but he was equal to with the wished-for crackers, and with our crackthis emergency also. Although it was thought ers and coffee forgot, in a measure, the hardships that we were surrounded by six rebel columns, of the expedition. We camped for the night near yet there was one road open; he sent an order to Huttonville, and Christmas day, in the afternoon, Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson to burn the bridges, made our triumphal entry into Beverley, where and, if the rebels changed position, for the rear- we rested one day, and, by easy marches, reached guard to swim the river; this was done, and a the railroad on New-Year's day. IRWIN. Union lady pointed out a ford by which they crossed.
In the afternoon, the brigade started up a path that led up a ravine, from Callaghan's to the top of the Alleghanies, and crossed with the artillery, and camped for the night on Dunlap's Creek, with three open roads, but supposed that the enemy held the one leading to Huntersville.
A rebel column came to Callaghan's the same evening, and encamped five miles from us.
Our march the next day was over by-roads; and late in the afternoon crossed the Green Briar, and, after a rest of an hour, pushed on to Hillsborough, and camped on part of the Droop Mountain battle-field. Here we began to feel a degree of security, as we knew that we had an open road before us, and the enemy were far in our rear.
Major Gibson was sent with his battalion to blockade the Huntersville road, but found that Jackson had done it effectually, from fear of Colonel Moore; so, after the most comfortable night's rest that we had enjoyed during our retreat, and paying a visit to our wounded that had been left after the Droop Mountain fight, we resumed the march. Our rations consisted of parched-corn, coffee, and frozen apples. The wind was so cold that it was painful to the eyes, and our poor horses almost worn out. Their shoes, owing to the rocks and ice, were worn perfectly smooth. We left Marling Bottom during the morning, and began the ascent of the Green Briar Mountain; it began to sleet, and the icy road so smooth that it was with the utmost difficulty that our poor horses could walk at all. The sufferings of the men and horses were almost intolerable, and our march was very slow, and a number of the horses that had stood the other raids were abandoned that evening and night. It was touching to see the poor animals, after being stripped of saddles and equipments, with sunken eyes, the brightness gone, shivering in the road, with not sufficient life to get out of the way of the moving column, which would part to the right and left, as if commiserating the condition of the poor animals that a sad necessity consigned to the cold solitude of the mountains.
This night we encamped near Mrs. Gibson's, on the head of Elk River, and within our own lines, but had hardly any thing to eat, and a
REBEL NARRATIVES RICHMOND, December 28, 1863. An officer who participated in the recent fight between the forces under General William L. Jackson and the Yankees under Averill, gives us the following interesting narrative of that gallant affair:
On the thirteenth instant, scouts belonging to General Jackson's brigade reported that a Yankee force of about five thousand cavalry, including two batteries of artillery, were advancing down Black Creek, toward Gatewood's, within twelve miles of Warm Springs, in Bath County.
Information had at that time been received from General Samuel Jones, that a heavy force of Yankees were also advancing upon Lewisburgh from the Kanawha valley. General Jackson at once concluded that the force of five thousand under Averill would strike for the Tennessee Railroad, by way of the Sweet Springs, and he immediately put his force in motion to intercept them on their return, as he could not pursue them, owing to having only about one hundred and twenty-five mounted men, the balance of his command being dismounted infantry. Crossing at McGraw's Gap, General Jackson came to Jackson's River, and found it swollen and past fording, with no bridge except the railroad bridge. Infantry could cross on that, but it seemed to be madness to attempt to cross wagons and artillery on it. Jackson, however, with indomitable energy and perseverance, had the wagons and artillery drawn over the bridge by the men. He then continued the march on to Callahan's, but, from information derived from his scouts, he was convinced that Averill would return by the Rich Patch road, which taps the Covington turnpike near Jackson's River dépôt. He forthwith moved his command down to Jackson's River dépôt, and directed the Island Ford bridge to be burned as soon as it was ascertained that the enemy were advancing toward it. Jackson then took a strong position near the Jackson's River dépôt, at the point where the Rich Patch road connects the Covington turnpike. He then directed his mounted men, under Captain Sprague, to move on the Rich Patch road until they met the enemy's advance, and to attack them desperately,
the Shenandoah Mountains, through Covington to Salem, burnt things generally, and returned over nearly the same route. Imboden seized the gap where the Parkersburgh turnpike crosses the Shenandoah, and prevented a raid on Staunton. Averill left five hundred men to hold Imboden there, and pushed on toward Salem. That General could not pursue without uncovering Staunton, the force threatening nearly equalling his own. General Lee was informed of the situation of affairs.
and cut the column in two if possible. At four o'clock on Saturday evening, the nineteenth instant, a courier from Captain Sprague announced the approach of the enemy by that road, and that he had commenced a skirmish with Averill's advanced forces. Jackson immediately ordered an advance of the Twentieth Virginia regiment by a blind road, so as to attack the enemy obliquely. He also ordered the Nineteenth Virginia regiment to advance on the Covington turnpike road, and to attack the enemy directly. At that point Jackson conceived the idea of taking a detach- Here commences the reign of Major-Generals ment of about fifty men, and move forward with and military science. Major-General Tubal A. them for the purpose of striking the enemy vig- Early came; Major-General Fitz-Hugh Lee came ; orously and cutting his column in two. In this Brigadier-General Walker came; Brigadier-GenJackson succeeded perfectly. One half of the eral Thomas came; their staffs came. They all Yankees were thus separated from the other half, took a drink. General Early took two. Brigawhich was under the immediate command of dier-General Wickham came; Colonel Chambliss, Averill, and who rapidly passed forward toward commanding a brigade, came. They smiled also. the Island Ford bridge. Persons intrusted with When Averill was opposite Staunton, Fitz Lee the burning of the Island Ford bridge failed to was at Fry Dépôt, on the Virginia Central Raildo so, however, owing to the rapid advance of road, a day's march from that town--a fortunate the enemy upon that point. The advance, under occurrence, indeed. Every body thought Averill Averill in person, thus managed to make their was "treed" now. Lee was ordered across the escape across the bridge; but that portion of his Blue Ridge. He passed through Brown's Gap, command which had been cut off-consisting of and struck the valley turnpike at Mount Crawone regiment and an entire wagon train-were ford, eight miles above Harrisonburgh—a misheld in check by Jackson's detachment of fifty erable mistake; one day's march lost. He then men during the entire night. Soon after sunrise marched toward Staunton; another day gone for on Sunday, the twentieth, the heavy force which nothing. He finally reached Staunton, where Averill had left at the bridge after he had cross- he ought to have been the first night. Still, ed, to prevent Jackson from burning it, them- there was plenty of time to cut Averill off. Lee selves fired it, and in a short time it fell into the and Imboden marched day and night to Lexingriver; and this produced much consternation ton, and then toward Covington. They had yet among the Yankees who had been cut off from time enough to intercept him. Here was comthe bridge by the detachment under Jackson. mitted the fatal and foolish blunder. While Lee Had Jackson's order to attack the Yankees furi- and Imboden were on the road to Covington, in ously not been so tardily obeyed, the whole striking distance of that place, word was sent force which had been cut off, together with the that the Yankees were marching toward Buchanentire wagon train, would have been captured. an instead of Covington. No man ought to have By failing, however, thus to attack, the Yankees put credence in a statement so utterly absurd as had time to burn their train and to escape by that the enemy was going from Salem to that swimming; in doing so, however, many of them place. Such a statement presupposes Averill were drowned. deliberately placing himself past escape, and, therefore, run raving mad. Such improbable rumors should never be entertained a moment, much less made the basis of important military movements. The order was obeyed. The troops turned and marched back, and at night were neither at Buchanan nor Covington.
The story is told in a few words. The Yankees passed through Covington, and, to their great amazement, escaped. The rumor about Buchanan was the tale of some frightened fool. The enemy, in terror and demoralization, fled Jack-from Salem at full speed, destroying their train and artillery. Jackson knocked some in the head; the citizens beat the brains out of others. One farmer in Alleghany killed six. Some are scattered in the mountains, and are being picked up here and there. The rapid streams drowned many, but the main part have gone whence they came, wondering how they did get away. It is hardly necessary to add, the humblest private in the ranks, if he possessed sense enough to eat and drink, not only could but would have man
The result of Jackson's operations was the complete capture of the Yankee ambulance train, about two hundred prisoners, their horses and equipments, a number of carbines and revolvers, forty or fifty negroes, (whom the Yankees were taking off,) eight of Averill's officers, including his adjutant-general, a lieutenant-colonel, Averill's horse, his servant, and a number of his maps of fifteen or twenty counties, in which nearly every house was put down, and, in numerous instances, the occupants of the houses given. Jackson also captured a number of mules and wagons. son's loss was small.
To the Editor of the Richmond Examiner: