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dispatched by railway to check the advance of the enemy; and on the morning of the 15th, the Confederate army left Harper's Ferry for Winchester.
The next morning, after the orders were issued for the evacuation of Harper's Ferry, brought one of those wild, fearful cenes which make the desolation that grows out of war. The splendid railroad bridge across the Potomac-one of the most superb structures of its kind on the continent-was set on fire at its northern end, while about four hundred feet at its southern extremity was blown up, to prevent the flames from reaching other works which it was necessary to save. Many of the vast buildings were consigned to the flames. Some of them were not only large, but very lofty, and crowned with tall towers and spires, and we may be able to fancy the sublimity of the scene, when more than a dozen of these huge fabrics, crowded into a small space, were blazing at once. So great was the heat and smoke, that many of the troops were forced out of the town, and the necessary labors of the removal were performed with the greatest difficulty.
On the morning of the day after the evacuation of Harper's Ferry, intelligence was received that General Patterson's army had crossed the Potomac at Williamsport; also that the Fedmeral force at Romney had fallen back. The Confederate army was ordered to gain the Martinsburg turnpike by a flank - movement to Bunker's Hill, in order to place itself between Winchester and the expected advance of Patterson. On : hearing of this, the enemy crossed the river precipitately. Resuming his first direction and plan, General Johnston proceeded to Winchester. There his army was in position to oppose either McClellan from the West, or Patterson from the North-east, and to form a junction with General Beauregard when necessary.
Intelligence from Maryland indicating another movement by Patterson, Colonel Jackson with his brigade was sent to the neighborhood of Martinsburg to support Colonel Stuart, who had been placed in observation on the line of the Potomac with his cavalry. On the 2d of July, General Patterson again crossed the Potomac. Colonel Jackson, pursuant to instruc tions, again fell back before him; but, in retiring, gave him a scvere lesson. With a battalion of the Fifth Virginia Regi .
: ment and Pendleton's Battery of Field Artillery, he engaged the enemy's advance. Skilfully taking a position where the amallness of his force was concealed, he engaged them for a considerable time, inflicted a heavy loss, and retired when about to be outflanked, scarcely losing a man, but bringing off forty-five prisoners.
Upon this intelligence, the force at Winchester, strengthened by the arrival of General Bee and Colonel Elzey and the Ninth Georgia regiment, were ordered forward to the support of Jackson, who, it was supposed, was closely followed by General Patterson. Taking up a position within six miles from Martinsburg, which town the enemy had invested, General Johnston waited for him four days, hoping to be attacked by an adversary double his number. Convinced at length that the enemy would not approach him, General Johnston returned to Winchester, much to the disappointment of his troops, who, sullen and discontented, withdrew in the face of the enemy.
On the 15th of July, Colonel Stuart, who, with his cavalry, remained near the enemy, reported the advance of General Patterson from Martinsburg. He halted, however, at Bunker's Hill, nine miles from Winchester, where he remained on the 16th. On the 17th, he moved his left to Smithfield. This movement created the impression that an attack was intended on the south of the Confederate lines; but, with a clear and crick intelligence, General Jolinston had penetrated the de
igns of the enemy, which were to hold him in check, while "the Grand Army" under McDowell was to bear down upon General Beauregard at Manassas.
In the mean time, General McClellan's army had moved south westward from Grafton. In the progress of the history of the war, we shall meet with frequent repetitions of the lesson of how the improvident spirit of the South, in placing small forces in isolated localities, was taken advantage of by the quick strategic movements and the overwhelming numbers of the North. The first of the series of these characteristic disasters was now to befall the Soutl,
THE BATTLE OF RICH MOUNTAIN.
The main column of Federal troops under General McClellan was estimated to be twenty thousand strong; his movements were now directed towards Beverley, with the object of getting to the rear of General Garnett, who had been appointed to the command of the Confederate forces in Northwestern Virginia, and was occupying a strong position at Rich Mountain, in Randolph county.
The strength of General Garnett's command was less than five thousand infantry, with ten pieces of artillery, and four companies of cavalry. The disposition of these forces was in the immediate vicinity of Rich Mountain. Col. Pegram occupied the mountain with a force of about sixteen hundred men and some pieces of artillery. On the slopes of Laurel Hill, General Garnett was intrenched with a force or three thousand infantry, six pieces of artillery and three companies of cavalry.
On the 5th of July, the enemy took a position at Bealington, in front of Laurel Hill, and a day or two afterwards a large force appeared in front of Rich Mountain.
On the morning of the 11th instant, General Garnett received a note from Colonel Pegram at Rich Mountain, stating that his pickets had that morning taken a prisoner, who stated that there were in front of Rich Mountain nine regiments of seven thousand men and a number of pieces of artillery; that General McClellan had arrived in camp the evening before, and had given orders for an attack the next day; that General Rosecrans had started a night before with a division of the army three thousand strong, by a convenient route, to take him in the rear, while McClellan was to attack in front; that he had moved a piece of artillery and three hundred men to the point by which General Rosecrans was expected, and that he had requested Colonel Scott, with his regiment, to occupy a position on the path by which the enemy must come. As soon as General Garnett received this note, he sent a written order to Colenel Scott to move to the point indicated by Colonel Peuram, and to defend it at all hazards.
The attack on Colonel Pegram was met with the most gallant resistance. The figlit lasted nearly three hours. The enemy
advanced by a pathless route through the woods, the whole division moving in perfect silence through the brush, laurel, and rocks, while the rain poured down upon them in torrents. The expectation however of surprising the little force on the mountain was disappointed. As the enemy advanced, our artil lery, posted on the top of the mountain, opened upon them, but with little effect, as their lines were concealed by the trees and brushwood. The earth of the mountain seemned to tremble under the thunders of the cannon. The tops of immense trees were cut off by our fire, which was aimed too high; the crash of the falling timber mingled with the roar of the cannon, and as our artillery again and again belched forth its missives of destruction, it seemed as if the forest was riven by living streams of lightning. While the cannonading progressed, an incessant fire of musketry was kept up in the woods, where the sharpshooters, wet to the skin in the rain, kept the advancing lines of the enemy at bay. For more than two hours the little army of Colonel Pegram maintained its ground. Its situation, however, was hopeless. Finding himself with three thousand of the enemy in his rear and five thousand in front, Colonel Pegram endeavored to escape with his command, after a small loss in the action. One part of the command, under Major Tyler, succeeded in escaping; the other, about five hundred in number, were compelled to surrender, when it was found that General Garnett had evacuated Laurel Hill. Among the pris oners taken by the enemy was Colonel Pegram himself. Thrown from his horse, which was wounded and had become unmanageable, he refused to surrender his sword to his captors, and a messenger had to ride six miles to find an officer to receive it from the hands of the ill-starred commander.
When Gen. Garnett heard of the result of the engagement at Rich Mountain, he determined to evacuate Laurel Hill as soon as night set in and retire to Huttonsville by the way of Beverley. This design was baffled, as Col. Scott with his regiment had retreated beyond Beverley towards Huttons ville, without having blocked the road between Rich Mountain and Beverley.* General Garnett was compelled by this untoward
It is proper to state, that there was some controversy as to the precise orders given to Colonel Scott. That officer published a card in the newspapers
circumstance, and by the mistaken execution of another order by which the road was blocked from Beverley towards Laure Hill, instead of that between the former place and Rich Moun tain, to retreat by a mountain road into Hardy county.
The retreat was conducted in good order, amid distresses and trials of the most extraordinary description. The road was barely wide enough for a single wagon. In the morning, the army arrived at a camp on the Little Cheat, and after resting on the grass in the rain a few hours, took up their dreary lino of march through the forest. On the morning of the second day of the retreat, soon after leaving the camp on the branch of the Cheat River, the pursuing enemy fell upon the rear of the distressed little army, and skirmishing continued during the day. Four companies of the Georgia regiment were cut off.
At one of the fords, a sharp conflict ensued, in which the enemy were held at bay for a considerable time.
This action, known as that of Carrock's Ford, more than retrieved the disasters of the defeat. It was a deep ford, rendered deeper than usual by the rains, and here some of the wagons became stalled in the river and had to be abandoned.
The enemy were now close upon the rear, which consisted of the 23d Virginia regiment, and the artillery ; and as soon as
; the command had crossed, Colonel Taliaferro commanding the 23d was ordered to occupy the high bank on the right of the ford with his regiment and artillery. On the right, this position was protected by a fence; on the left, only by low bushes; but the hill commanded the ford and the approach to it by the road, and was admirably selected for a defence. In a few minutes, the skirmishers of the enemy were seen running along the opposite bank, which was low and skirted by a few trees, and were at first taken for the Georgians, who were known to have been cut off, but our men were soon undeceived, and with a simultaneous cheer for“ Jeff. Davis” by the whole command, they opened upon the enemy.
Tlie enemy replied with a heavy fire from their infantry and artillery. A large force was brought to the attack, but the
got the time, relieving himself from censure and showing that he occupied on The day of the battle the position to which he was peremptorily ordered by General Garnett at the instance of Colonel Pegram,