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BATTLE OF CARNIFEX FERRY.

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HENRY W. BENHAM.

fearing an ambuscade. The Tenth Ohio, under Colonel Lytle, led the way; and, at about two o'clock in the afternoon, the vanguard came in sight of Floyd's works, a mile distant, beyond a deep wooded valley. These occupied a bald eminence on the north side of the Gauley River, which here swept in a curve, so that each flank of the Confederate intrenchments rested on the stream. Over that eminence, and through these works, passed the road to Carnifex Ferry, a passage of the river just below Meadow Creek, and a battery of twelve guns was so placed upon the hill as to sweep this road back for full a mile, in the face of Rosecrans' approach.

Placing his entire force in proper order for conflict, the commander ordered Benham to advance with his brigade and make a reconnoissance, in force. That brigade was composed of three Ohio regiments and two batteries.' The order was promptly obeyed. The Tenth Ohio still led, and at half-past three o'clock in the afternoon, when Lytle's skirmishers emerged from the woods into an open field of corn, they found themselves near some of the Confederate works. Musket firing immediately commenced, first lightly, but soon it was a perfect storm of lead from the entire Confederate front. The remainder of the regiment was ordered forward to the aid of the skirmishers, and the colors were placed in front, with the intention of attacking the main Confederate battery. This drew upon them the concentrated fire of the foe. The storm was so heavy that the line recoiled and broke, but it was soon rallied, and the batteries of Schneider and McMullen were ordered up to the support of the smitten regiment.

Benham was now satisfied that Floyd's weakest point was on his right wing, and he resolved to attack him there. He ordered the Twelfth and Thirteenth Ohio to advance, pass the deep valley on his left, and under cover of the woods make the attack. While this movement was in progress, Colonel Lytle dashed up the hill with his regiment, to assail the intrenchments in the center. He was so warmly received that he was compelled to direct his men to seek shelter from the storm. He had received a severe wound in his leg, and his horse was fatally shot. He took refuge in a deserted house between the two fires, and lay there until the conflict ceased. Ilis regiment, discouraged at the loss of their Colonel, became somewhat scattered in the woods, but kept up an incessant firing.

Colonel Smith, in the mean time, bad opened upon Floyd's right, and Colonel Lowe with the Twelfth Ohio was led by Adjutant-General Hartsuff into the woods, in a position to work his way up under cover and form on

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i These were the Tenth, under Colonel Lytle, the Twelfth, under Colonel Lowe, and the Thirteenth, under Colonel Smith. A hattery of two rifled 6-poundiers was commanded by Captain Schneider, and another of four mountain howitzers was in charge of Captain McMullen.

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BATTLE OF CARNIFEX FERRY.

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Smith's right, so as to threaten more positively the extreme right flank of the Confederates. Lowe was pushing rapidly forward, when he was instantly killed by a musket-ball that pierced his forehead and entered his brain. Hartsuff hurried McMullen's battery into a position to play effectively on the principal redoubt, whilst Schneider's on the right of the road completely commanded the entire front of the Confederate works. Two of Floyd's guns were soon silenced, and the fire of the others became weaker.

In the mean time Rosecrans was busy on the hill to the right of the road, exposed to the hottest of the fire, in forming Colonel Robert L. McCook's Brigade—the Third, Ninth (his own regiment), and Twenty-eighth Ohiofor co-operation in the movement, with Scammon's Brigade a little in the rear as a reserve. McCook's Regiment was composed mostly of Germans, and these were to lead the column. When they were ready for an advance, Adjutant-General Hartsuff was sent to bring the brigade forward. McCook,

who had been restive in inactivity while the battle had

been raging for nearly an d

hour, now glowed with delight. He was acting as brigadier, and was eager for usefulness and renown. He dashed up and down his line like a weaver's shuttle, distinguished from other officers by his citizen's dress and slouched hat. He told his men what was to be done, and what was expected of them, and asked them if they were ready to do it. He was

answered by cheers that smothered the roar of battle on the left. Then standing high in his stirrups, and snatching his hat from his head, he waved it in the air, and shouted, “Forward, my bully Dutch! We will go over the intrenchments if every man dies on the other side!” Another volley of cheers broke from the column as it moved forward at the double quick to storm the intrenchments, with the calm Hartsuff at their head. Down into the densely wooded ravine they plunged, and McCook's Ninth and Colonel Mohr's Twentyeighth Ohio were already feeling the severe storm from the intrenchments, and fighting bravely, when they were suddenly checked by an order from Rosecrans to halt. The General had more minutely examined the plan (which Hartsuff had submitted and begged permission to carry out) for storming the works in front, and perceiving, as he thought, too much peril to his troops involved in it, he countermanded the order when the movement was in mid career, and at the moment when Colonel Smith, with the Thirteenth Ohio, was at the point, apparently, of successfully carrying the works on Floyd's right. The troops were all recalled from the assault, after fighting between three and four hours.

It was near the end of twilight when this conflict, known as the Battle

PLAN OF TIIE BATTLE OF CARNIFEX FERRY,

LEE IN WESTERN VIRGINIA.

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1861.

OF CARNIFEX FERRY, ceased. Rosecrans intended to renew it in the morning, and his troops lay on their arms all night, some of them within a hundred yards of the intrenchments. When day dawned," Floyd, who had been wounded in the arm, had fled. Terrified by the Sept 11, fury of the assault on the previous day, he had stolen softly away in the dark, leaving a large amount of ammunition, arms, stores, and equipage behind. He crossed the Gauley over a hastily constructed bridge of logs, which he broke down behind him, destroyed the ferry-boat, and hastened to Dogwood Gap, and thence to a secure spot on the summit of Big Sewell Mountain, near New River, thirty miles distant from the battle-field. After resting there a few days, he pushed on to Meadow Bluff, whilst Wise, who had refused to send him re-enforcements at the Ferry, and now refused to follow him,' strengthened the position on Big Sewell Mountain, and called it “Camp Defiance."

The Battle of Carnifex Ferry was regarded as a decided victory for the Nationals, and an excellent test of the quality of the soldiers. These troops, with the exception of the cavalry of Stewart, of Indiana, and Schaumberg, of Chicago, were all from Ohio. They went into the battle after a hard march of seventeen miles, not more than four thousand strong, and fought nearly two thousand men, behind intrenchments,' for three or four hours, losing fifteen killed, and seventy wounded. The Confederates reported their loss at one killed and ten wounded.

The expulsion of Floyd from Carnifex Ferry was soon followed by a conflict between the forces of General Reynolds, of the National army, and those of General Lee, of the Confederate army, at important posts among the mountains farther to the northward. Reynolds’s troops, forming

. the first brigade of Rosecrans's Army of Occupation in Western Virginia, consisted of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Indiana Regi

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ROBERT E, LEE.

1 Wise could not reconcile his pride and duty. The former prevailed, and made him insubordinate. He refused to send re-enforcements to Floyd, at Carnifex Ferry, and the latter declared to his superiors at Richmond that the failure to receive them was a capital reason for his inability to hold that position. Wise, at that time, According to Pollard, was endeavoring to win laurels exclusively for himself in another direction; but, as usual, he failed. He was quick to follow Floyd in his retreat before danger; but, as soon as that danger seemed remote, he again became insubordinate, and, as we have observed in the text, remained on the summit of Big Sewell Mountain, and established " Camp Defiance" there. There, on the 18th, he made a speech to his Legion, in which he told them that hitherto he had never retreated, excepting in obedience to superior orders, and that there he was determined to make a stand, notwithstanding his own troops numbered only 1,700, while those of his foe were reported by Floyd to be 15,000. He did not believe this statement; “ nevertheless, they must be prepared to fight great odds, front and rear, for successive days.”

2 Pollard, in his First Year of the War, page 165, says: “ The force of General Floyd's command was 1,740 men. Others put it at a much higher number. It was probably about 2,000."

• Report of General Rosecrans to Adjutant-General Townsend, September 11th; of General Benham to General Rosecrans, September 13th ; of Colonels Lytle and Smith, and Lieutenant-Colonel White, September 11th, 1861; and of General Floyd, to the Confederate " Secretary of War," September 12th ; also army correspondence of the Cincinnati Gazette and Lynchburg (V2) Republican.

VOL. II.—7.

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REYNOLDS AND LEE AMONG THE MOUNTAINS.

ments, the Third and Sixth Ohio, detachments of the First and Second Virginia, Burdsall's Ohio, and Bracken's Indiana cavalry, and Loomis's Michigan Battery. With these forces he held the roads and passes of the more westerly ranges of the great Allegheny chain, from Webster, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, to the head waters of the Gauley, among the spurs of the Greenbrier Mountains. His head-quarters, at the time of Rosecrans's movement from Clarksburg, were at Cheat Mountain Pass (Crouch’s), at the western foot of the hills over which goes the highway from Huttonsville to Staunton. There he had the Thirteenth Indiana, Colonel Sullivan, with two pieces of artillery, and a small cavalry force. These were disposed along the approaches to the Pass, to guard against surprise. On the Summit of the Cheat, as we have observed, General McClellan had left Colonel Kimball with the Fourteenth Indiana as an outpost,' which that officer had strengthened, and where he now hail the aid of about forty cavalrymen.

General Lee's head-quarters, at this time, were at Huntersville, in Pocahontas County. His scouts were active everywhere, and so were those of Reynolds. The adventures of these men during several weeks furnish material for the wildest romances. The opposing parties frequently met, and engaged in sharp conflicts; and scarcely a day passed that the sound of the desultory firing of small-arms was not heard among those solitary hills. Scouting became a most exciting pleasure to many who were engaged in it; but time and circumstances soon brought about more sober work.

It was evident, from the movements of Lee's scouts on the mountains, early in September, that he was contemplating an expedition against some of Reynolds's important posts, for the purpose of capturing his army in detail, or of breaking through and severing his lines of communication, and marching to the Ohio; or, possibly, for the interception of Rosecrans in his march toward the Gauley. He was watched with sleepless vigilance, and on the day after Floyd's retreat from Carnifex Ferry, it was evident that he was moving against the post on the Summit, and another at Elk Water, at the western foot of the mountain, seven miles from the former by a bridle-path over the hills, and eighteen by the road. His object was to secure the great Cheat Mountain Pass, and have free communication with the Shenandoah Valley at Staunton. For this purpose he marched from IIuntersville on the

night of the 11th of September," with nine thousand men, and

nearly a dozen pieces of artillery. Ile had succeeded, with great difficulty, in placing his troops to make a simultaneous attack upon the Summit, Elk Water, and the Pass. A storm was sweeping over the mountains, and favored the expedition. At midnight the telegraph wires between. Kimball, at the Summit, and head-quarters, were cut, and all communication ceased. The last message to the Colonel from General Reynolds was one from Elk Water, warning him of impending danger. It was heeded, and promptly acted upon. The bridle-path between the Summit and Elk Water was immediately picketed, and, on the morning of the 12th, a horseman was sent down the mountain with dispatches for Reynolds. He met some wagons without horses or men. It was a supply-train, that had been moving

a 1861.

1 See page 536, volume I.

A STRIFE FOR THE SUMMIT.

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up under the escort of the Twenty-fifth Ohio, and had been cut off. He hastened back with the news, when Colonel Kimball, at the head of the Fourteenth Indiana and twelve dragoons, hurrieed to the spot, near which they met the Confederates in force, and drove them. Kimball then detailed one hundred men, under Captain Iliggins, to re-enforce Captain Coons, who was closely invested on a ridge near the Pass. They fought their way down, and found Coons stubbornly holding his position, having repelled every assault. In a short time the Confederates in that vicinity, driven at several points by the men of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Indiana, and Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Ohio, were discomfited and dispersed, and in their flight cast away every thing that might encumber them. So the attempt to reach the rear of the National works on the Summit was foiled, and another portion of the Confederate troops, which appeared on and near the Cheat River, on the front and flank of Kimball's position, were at about this time routed by a few Indiana and Ohio troops, under Captain Foote, of the Fourteenth Indiana. The Confederates engaged in this attempt upon the Summit and the Pass were nearly five thousand in number, and were led in person by General Anderson, of Tennessee.' Thé troops that opposed them did not number more than six hundred.

General Reynolds, who had hastened around to Elk Water, was ignorant of these mportant movements on the mountain. He arrived there toward evening," and found a large force of Confederates,

a Sept. 12, under General Lee, threatening the position. They were kept at a respectful distance by the Parrot guns of Loomis's battery, and all was silent at the gathering of darkness on the evening of the 12th. Reynolds was satisfied that Kimball had performed all that could be done in defense of his post, yet he was determined to open communication with him. He ordered Colonel Sullivan to take his Thirteenth Indiana, and cut his way, if necessary, by the main road; and Colonels Morrow and Moss were ordered to do the same by the bridle-path. These troops left at three o'clock on the morning of the 13th; the former from the Pass, and the latter from Elk Water. They found their prescribed work already performed. They secured the provision train, and reached the Summit at dawn. At the same time Lee advanced in heavy force upon Elk Water, with the apparent intention of making a direct attack. Reynolds's pickets were driven in, when a 10-pounder Parrot gun of Loomis's battery was pushed about three-fourths of a mile to the front, and did such execution that the Confederates withdrew. In that position both armies remained until night, when Lee withdrew still farther under cover of the darkness, and the following day took post along the slopes of the Greenbrier Mountains, about ten miles from Elk Water. He attempted a flank movement on the Cheat Summit, on the 15th, but was driven away. The repulse of Anderson on the mountain had satisfied Lee that his grand strategic plan for severing and destroying Reynolds's army, and pushing on to the Ohio, had failed. In the encounters during these two or three days, the Nationals lost ten

6 Sept.

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* General Anderson's brigade consisted chiefly of Tennessee and Arkansas troops, with some Virginians. Those employed against the Summit and the Pass were the Twenty-third, Twenty-fifth, Thirty-first, and Thirtyseventh Virginia Regiments, a Virginia battery under Colonels Taliafcro and leck, and the First Seventh, and Fourteenth Tennessee, under Colonel Manly.

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