Military Reminiscences of the Civil War V1
Jacob Dolson Cox

Part 2 out of 9

as his military commander. [Footnote: I treated the relations of Lee
and Virginia to the Confederacy in a paper in "The Nation," Dec. 23,
1897, entitled "Lee, Johnston, and Davis."] The affair at Philippi
was, in form, the last appearance of Virginia in the role of an
independent nation, for in a very few days Lee announced by a
published order that the absorption of the Virginia troops into the
Confederate Army was complete. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. ii.
p. 912.] It will be well to understand the topography of the
Virginia mountains and their western slope, if we would reach the
reasons which determined the lines of advance chosen by the
Confederates and the counter moves of McClellan. The Alleghany range
passing out of Pennsylvania and running southwest through the whole
length of Virginia, consists of several parallel lines of mountains
enclosing narrow valleys. The Potomac River breaks through at the
common boundary of Virginia and Maryland, and along its valley runs
the National Road as well as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad also follows this natural highway, which
is thus indicated as the most important line of communication
between Washington and the Ohio valley, though a high mountain
summit must be passed, even by this route, before the tributaries of
the Ohio can be reached. Half-way across the State to the southward,
is a high watershed connecting the mountain ridges and separating
the streams tributary to the Potomac on the north from those falling
into the James and New rivers on the south. The Staunton and
Parkersburg turnpike follows the line of this high "divide" looking
down from among the clouds into the long and nearly straight defiles
on either hand, which separate the Alleghany Mountains proper from
the Blue Ridge on the east and from Cheat Mountain and other ranges
on the west. Still further to the southwest the James River and the
New River interlace their headwaters among the mountains, and break
out on east and west, making the third natural pass through which
the James River and Kanawha turnpike and canal find their way. These
three routes across the mountains were the only ones on which
military operations were at all feasible. The northern one was
usually in the hands of the National forces, and the other two were
those by which the Confederates attempted the invasion of West
Virginia. Beverly, a hundred miles from Staunton, was near the gate
through which the Staunton road passes on its way northwestward to
Parkersburg and Wheeling, whilst Gauley Bridge was the key-point of
the Kanawha route on the westerly slope of the mountains.

General Lee determined to send columns upon both these lines.
General Henry A. Wise (formerly Governor of Virginia) took the
Kanawha route, and General Robert S. Garnett (lately Lee's own
adjutant-general) marched to Beverly. [Footnote: Official Records,
vol. ii. pp. 908, 915.] Upon Porterfield's retreat to Beverly,
Garnett, who had also been an officer in the United States Army, was
ordered to assume command there and to stimulate the recruiting and
organization of regiments from the secession element of the
population. Some Virginia regiments raised on the eastern slope of
the mountains were sent with him, and to these was soon added the
First Georgia. On the 1st of July he reported his force as 4500 men,
but declared that his efforts to recruit had proven a complete
failure, only 23 having joined. The West Virginians, he says, "are
thoroughly imbued with an ignorant and bigoted Union sentiment."
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 239.] Other reinforcements were promised
Garnett, but none reached him except the Forty-fourth Virginia
Regiment, which arrived at Beverly the very day of his engagement
with McClellan's troops, but did not take part in the fighting.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 240, 274.]

Tygart's valley, in which Beverly lies, is between Cheat Mountain on
the east, and Rich Mountain on the west. The river, of the same name
as the valley, flows northward about fifteen miles, then turns
westward, breaking through the ridge, and by junction with the
Buckhannon River forms the Monongahela, which passes by Philippi and
afterward crosses the railroad at Grafton. The Staunton and
Parkersburg turnpike divides at Beverly, the Parkersburg route
passing over a saddle in Rich Mountain, and the Wheeling route
following the river to Philippi. The ridge north of the river at the
gap is known as Laurel Mountain, and the road passes over a spur of
it. Garnett regarded the two positions at Rich Mountain and Laurel
Mountain as the gates to all the region beyond and to the West. A
rough mountain road, barely passable, connected the Laurel Mountain
position with Cheat River on the east, and it was possible to go by
this way northward through St. George to the Northwestern turnpike,
turning the mountain ranges.


Garnett thought the pass over Rich Mountain much the stronger and
more easily held, and he therefore intrenched there about 1300 of
his men and four cannon, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Pegram.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. ii. p. 268.] The position chosen
was on a spur of the mountain near its western base, and it was
rudely fortified with breastworks of logs covered with an abatis of
slashed timber along its front. The remainder of his force he placed
in a similar fortified position on the road at Laurel Mountain,
where he also had four guns, of which one was rifled. Here he
commanded in person. His depot of supplies was at Beverly, which was
sixteen miles from the Laurel Mountain position and five from that
at Rich Mountain. He was pretty accurately informed of McClellan's
forces and movements, and his preparations had barely been completed
by the 9th of July, when the Union general appeared in his front.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 241, 248.]

McClellan entered West Virginia in person on the 21st of June, and
on the 23d issued from Grafton a proclamation to the inhabitants.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 194, 196.] He had gradually collected his
forces along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and these, at the time
of the affair at Rich Mountain, consisted of sixteen Ohio regiments,
nine from Indiana, and two from West Virginia; in all, twenty-seven
regiments with four batteries of artillery of six guns each, two
troops of cavalry, and an independent company of riflemen. Of his
batteries, one was of the regular army, and another, a company of
regulars (Company I, Fourth U. S. Artillery), was with him awaiting
mountain howitzers, which arrived a little later. [Footnote: As part
of the troops were State troops not mustered into the United States
service, no report of them is found in the War Department; but the
following are the numbers of the regiments found named as present in
the correspondence and reports,--viz., 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th,
9th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 22d
Ohio; 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th Indiana, and
1st and 2nd Virginia; also Howe's United States Battery, Barnett's
Ohio Battery, Loomis's Michigan Battery, and Daum's Virginia
Battery; the cavalry were Burdsal's Ohio Dragoons and Barker's
Illinois Cavalry. VOL. I.--4] The regiments varied somewhat in
strength, but all were recently organized, and must have averaged at
least 700 men each, making the whole force about 20,000. Of these,
about 5000 were guarding the railroad and its bridges for some two
hundred miles, under the command of Brigadier-General C. W. Hill, of
the Ohio Militia; a strong brigade under Brigadier-General Morris of
Indiana, was at Philippi, and the rest were in three brigades
forming the immediate command of McClellan, the brigadiers being
General W. S. Rosecrans, U. S. A., General Newton Schleich of Ohio,
and Colonel Robert L. McCook of Ohio. On the date of his
proclamation McClellan intended, as he informed General Scott, to
move his principal column to Buckhannon on June 25th, and thence at
once upon Beverly; [Footnote: Official Records, vol. ii. p. 195.]
but delays occurred, and it was not till July 2nd that he reached
Buckhannon, which is twenty-four miles west of Beverly, on the
Parkersburg branch of the turnpike. Before leaving Grafton the
rumors he heard had made him estimate Garnett's force at 6000 or
7000 men, of which the larger part were at Laurel Mountain in front
of General Morris. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 205.] On the 7th of July he
moved McCook with two regiments to Middle Fork bridge, about
half-way to Beverly, and on the same day ordered Morris to march
with his brigade from Philippi to a position one and a half miles in
front of Garnett's principal camp, which was promptly done.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 200.] Three days later, McClellan concentrated
the three brigades of his own column at Roaring Creek, about two
miles from Colonel Pegram's position at the base of Rich Mountain.
The advance on both lines had been made with only a skirmishing
resistance, the Confederates being aware of McClellan's great
superiority in numbers, and choosing to await his attack in their
fortified positions. The National commander was now convinced that
his opponent was 10,000 strong, of which about 2000 were before him
at Rich Mountain. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 203, 204.] A reconnoissance
made on the 10th showed that Pegram's position would be difficult to
assail in front, but preparations were made to attack the next day,
while Morris was directed to hold firmly his position before
Garnett, watching for the effect of the attack at Rich Mountain. In
the evening Rosecrans took to McClellan a young man named Hart,
whose father lived on the top of the mountain two miles in rear of
Pegram, and who thought he could guide a column of infantry to his
father's farm by a circuit around Pegram's left flank south of the
turnpike. The paths were so difficult that cannon could not go by
them, but Rosecrans offered to lead a column of infantry and seize
the road at the Hart farm. After some discussion McClellan adopted
the suggestion, and it was arranged that Rosecrans should march at
daybreak of the 11th with about 2000 men, including a troop of
horse, and that upon the sound of his engagement in the rear of
Pegram McClellan would attack in force in front. By a blunder in one
of the regimental camps, the reveillé and assembly were sounded at
midnight, and Pegram was put on the _qui vive_. He, however,
believed that the attempt to turn his position would be by a path or
country road passing round his right, between him and Garnett (of
which the latter had warned him), and his attention was diverted
from Rosecrans's actual route, which he thought impracticable.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. ii. pp. 215, 256, 260. Conduct of
the War, vol. vi. (Rosecrans), pp. 2,3.] The alert which had
occurred at midnight made Rosecrans think it best to make a longer
circuit than he at first intended, and it took ten hours of severe
marching and mountain climbing to reach the Hart farm. The turning
movement was made, but he found an enemy opposing him. Pegram had
detached about 350 men from the 1300 which he had, and had ordered
them to guard the road at the mountain summit. He sent with them a
single cannon from the four which constituted his only battery, and
they threw together a breastwork of logs. The turnpike at Hart's
runs in a depression of the summit, and as Rosecrans, early in the
afternoon, came out upon the road, he was warmly received by both
musketry and cannon. The ground was rough, the men were for the
first time under fire, and the skirmishing combat varied through two
or three hours, when a charge by part of Rosecrans's line, aided by
a few heavy volleys from another portion of his forces which had
secured a good position, broke the enemy's line. Reinforcements from
Pegram were nearly at hand, with another cannon; but they did not
come into action, and the runaway team of the caisson on the
hill-top, dashing into the gun that was coming up, capsized it down
the mountain-side where the descending road was scarped diagonally
along it. Both guns fell into Rosecrans's hands, and he was in
possession of the field. The march and the assault had been made in
rain and storm. Nothing was heard from McClellan; and the enemy,
rallying on their reinforcements, made such show of resistance on
the crest a little further on, that Rosecrans directed his men to
rest upon their arms till next morning. When day broke on the 12th,
the enemy had disappeared from the mountain-top, and Rosecrans,
feeling his way down to the rear of Pegram's position, found it also
abandoned, the two remaining cannon being spiked, and a few sick and
wounded being left in charge of a surgeon. Still nothing was seen of
McClellan, and Rosecrans sent word to him, in his camp beyond
Roaring Creek, that he was in possession of the enemy's position.
Rosecrans's loss had been 12 killed and 49 wounded. The Confederates
left 20 wounded on the field, and 63 were surrendered at the lower
camp, including the sick. No trustworthy report of their dead was
made. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. ii pp. 215, 260, 265. C. W.,
vol. vi. (Rosecrans) pp. 3-5.]

The noise of the engagement had been heard in McClellan's camp, and
he formed his troops for attack, but the long continuance of the
cannonade and some signs of exultation in Pegram's camp seem to have
made him think Rosecrans had been repulsed. The failure to attack in
accordance with the plan has never been explained. [Footnote: C. W.,
vol. vi. p. 6. McClellan seems to have expected Rosecrans to reach
the rear of Pegram's advanced work before his own attack should be
made; but the reconnoissance of Lieutenant Poe, his engineer, shows
that this work could be turned by a much shorter route than the long
and difficult one by which Rosecrans went to the mountain ridge. See
Poe's Report, Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 14.] Rosecrans's
messengers had failed to reach McClellan during the 11th, but the
sound of the battle was sufficient notice that he had gained the
summit and was engaged; and he was, in fact, left to win his own
battle or to get out of his embarrassment as he could. Toward
evening McClellan began to cut a road for artillery to a neighboring
height, from which he hoped his twelve guns would make Pegram's
position untenable; but his lines were withdrawn again beyond
Roaring Creek at nightfall, and all further action postponed to the
next day.

About half of Pegram's men had succeeded in passing around
Rosecrans's right flank during the night and had gained Beverly.
These, with the newly arrived Confederate regiment, fled southward
on the Staunton road. Garnett had learned in the evening, by
messenger from Beverly, that Rich Mountain summit was carried, and
evacuated his camp in front of Morris about midnight. He first
marched toward Beverly, and was within five miles of that place when
he received information (false at the time) that the National forces
already occupied it. He then retraced his steps nearly to his camp,
and, leaving the turnpike at Leadsville, he turned off upon a
country road over Cheat Mountain into Cheat River valley, following
the stream northward toward St. George and West Union, in the
forlorn hope of turning the mountains at the north end of the
ridges, and regaining his communications by a very long detour. He
might have continued southward through Beverly almost at leisure,
for McClellan did not enter the town till past noon on the 12th.

Morris learned of Garnett's retreat at dawn, and started in pursuit
as soon as rations could be issued. He marched first to Leadsville,
where he halted to communicate with McClellan at Beverly and get
further orders. These reached him in the night, and at daybreak of
the 13th he resumed the pursuit. His advance-guard of three
regiments, accompanied by Captain H. W. Benham of the Engineers,
overtook the rear of the Confederate column about noon and continued
a skirmishing pursuit for some two hours. Garnett himself handled
his rear-guard with skill, and at Carrick's Ford a lively encounter
was had. A mile or two further, at another ford and when the
skirmishing was very slight, he was killed while withdrawing his
skirmishers from behind a pile of driftwood which he had used as a
barricade. One of his cannon had become stalled in the ford, and
with about forty wagons fell into Morris's hands. The direct pursuit
was here discontinued, but McClellan had sent a dispatch to General
Hill at Grafton, to collect the garrisons along the railroad and
block the way of the Confederates where they must pass around the
northern spurs of the mountains. [Footnote: Reports of Morris and
Benham, Official Records, vol. ii. pp. 220, 222.]

His military telegraph terminated at the Roaring Creek camp, and the
dispatch written in the evening of the 12th was not forwarded to
Hill till near noon of the 13th. This officer immediately ordered
the collection of the greater part of his detachments at Oakland,
and called upon the railway officials for special trains to hurry
them to the rendezvous. About 1000 men under Colonel James Irvine of
the Sixteenth Ohio were at West Union, where the St. George road
reaches the Northwestern Turnpike, and Hill's information was that a
detachment of these held Red House, a crossing several miles in
advance, by which the retreating enemy might go. Irvine was directed
to hold his positions at all hazards till he could be reinforced.
Hill himself hastened with the first train from Grafton to Oakland
with about 500 men and three cannon, reached his destination at
nightfall, and hurried his detachment forward by a night march to
Irvine, ten or twelve miles over rough roads. It turned out that
Irvine did not occupy Red House, and the prevalent belief that the
enemy was about 8000 in number, with the uncertainty of the road he
would take, made it proper to keep the little force concentrated
till reinforcements should come. The first of these reached Irvine
about six o'clock on the morning of the 14th, raising his command to
1500; but a few moments after their arrival he learned that the
enemy had passed Red House soon after daylight. He gave chase, but
did not overtake them.

Meanwhile General Hill had spent the night in trying to hasten
forward the railway trains, but none were able to reach Oakland till
morning, and Garnett's forces had now more than twenty miles the
start, and were on fairly good roads, moving southward on the
eastern side of the mountains. McClellan still telegraphed that Hill
had the one opportunity of a lifetime to capture the fleeing army,
and that officer hastened in pursuit, though unprovided with wagons
or extra rations. When however the Union commander learned that the
enemy had fairly turned the mountains, he ordered the pursuit
stopped. Hill had used both intelligence and energy in his attempt
to concentrate his troops, but it proved simply impossible for the
railroad to carry them to Oakland before the enemy had passed the
turning-point, twenty miles to the southward. [Footnote: Report of
Hill, Official Records, vol. ii. p. 224.]

During the 12th Pegram's situation and movements were unknown. He
had intended, when he evacuated his camp, to follow the line of
retreat taken by the detachment already near the mountain-top, but,
in the darkness of the night and in the tangled woods and thickets
of the mountain-side, his column got divided, and, with the rear
portion of it, he wandered all day of the 12th, seeking to make his
way to Garnett. He halted at evening at the Tygart Valley River, six
miles north of Beverly, and learned from some country people of
Garnett's retreat. It was still possible to reach the mountains east
of the valley, but beyond lay a hundred miles of wilderness and half
a dozen mountain ridges on which little, if any, food could be found
for his men. He called a council of war, and, by advice of his
officers, sent to McClellan, at Beverly, an offer of surrender. This
was received on the 13th, and Pegram brought in 30 officers and 525
men. [Footnote: Report of Pegram, Official Records, vol. ii. pp.
265, 266.] McClellan then moved southward himself, following the
Staunton road, by which the remnant of Pegram's little force had
escaped, and on the 14th occupied Huttonsville. Two regiments of
Confederate troops were hastening from Staunton to reinforce
Garnett. These were halted at Monterey, east of the principal ridge
of the Alleghanies, and upon them the retreating forces rallied.
Brigadier-General H. R. Jackson was assigned to command in Garnett's
place, and both Governor Letcher and General Lee made strenuous
efforts to increase this army to a force sufficient to resume
aggressive operations. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 247, 254.] On
McClellan's part nothing further was attempted till on the 22d he
was summoned to Washington to assume command of the army which had
retreated to the capital after the panic of the first Bull Run

The affair at Rich Mountain and the subsequent movements were among
the minor events of a great war, and would not warrant a detailed
description, were it not for the momentous effect they had upon the
conduct of the war, by being the occasion of McClellan's promotion
to the command of the Potomac army. The narrative which has been
given contains the "unvarnished tale," as nearly as official records
of both sides can give it, and it is a curious task to compare it
with the picture 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 first occupation of the
country and 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. His personal intercourse with those about him
was so kindly, and his bearing so modest, that his dispatches,
proclamations, and correspondence are a psychological study, more
puzzling to those who knew him well than to strangers. Their turgid
rhetoric and exaggerated pretence did not seem natural to him. In
them he seemed to be composing for stage effect something to be
spoken in character by a quite different person from the sensible
and genial man we knew in daily life and conversation. The career of
the great Napoleon had been the study and the absorbing admiration
of young American soldiers, and it was perhaps not strange that when
real war came they should copy his bulletins and even his personal
bearing. It was, for the moment, the bent of the people to be
pleased with McClellan's rendering of the rôle; they dubbed him the
young Napoleon, and the photographers got him to stand with folded
arms, in the historic pose. For two or three weeks his dispatches
and letters were all on fire with enthusiastic energy. He appeared
to be in a morbid condition of mental exaltation. When he came out
of it, he was as genial as ever. The assumed dash and energy of his
first campaign made the disappointment and the reaction more painful
when the excessive caution of his conduct in command of the Army of
the Potomac was seen. But the Rich Mountain affair, when analyzed,
shows the same characteristics which became well known later. There
was the same over-estimate of the enemy, the same tendency to
interpret unfavorably the sights and sounds in front, the same
hesitancy to throw in his whole force when he knew that his
subordinate was engaged. If Garnett had been as strong as McClellan
believed him, he had abundant time and means to overwhelm Morris,
who lay four days in easy striking distance, while the National
commander delayed attacking Pegram; and had Morris been beaten,
Garnett would have been as near Clarksburg as his opponent, and
there would have been a race for the railroad. But, happily, Garnett
was less strong and less enterprising than he was credited with
being. Pegram was dislodged, and the Confederates made a precipitate



Orders for the Kanawha expedition--The troops and their
quality--Lack of artillery and cavalry--Assembling at
Gallipolis--District of the Kanawha--Numbers of the opposing
forces--Method of advance--Use of steamboats--Advance guards on
river banks--Camp at Thirteen-mile Creek--Night alarm--The river
chutes--Sunken obstructions--Pocotaligo--Affair at
Barboursville--Affair at Scary Creek--Wise's position at Tyler
Mountain--His precipitate retreat--Occupation of
Charleston--Rosecrans succeeds McClellan--Advance toward Gauley
Bridge--Insubordination--The Newspaper Correspondent--Occupation of
Gauley Bridge.

When McClellan reached Buckhannon, on the 2d of July, the rumors he
heard of Garnett's strength, and the news of the presence of General
Wise with a considerable force in the Great Kanawha valley, made him
conclude to order a brigade to that region for the purpose of
holding the lower part of the valley defensively till he might try
to cut off Wise's army after Garnett should be disposed of. This
duty was assigned to me. On the 22d of June I had received my
appointment as Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, superseding my
state commission. I had seen the regiments of my brigade going one
by one, as fast as they were reorganized for the three years'
service, and I had hoped to be ordered to follow them to McClellan's
own column. The only one left in camp was the Eleventh Ohio, of
which only five companies were present, though two more companies
were soon added.

McClellan's letter directed me to assume command of the First and
Second Kentucky regiments with the Twelfth Ohio, and to call upon
the governor for a troop of cavalry and a six-gun battery: to
expedite the equipment of the whole and move them to Gallipolis
_via_ Hampden and Portland, stations on the Marietta Railroad, from
which a march of twenty-five miles by country roads would take us to
our destination. At Gallipolis was the Twenty-first Ohio, which I
should add to my command and proceed at once with two regiments to
Point Pleasant at the mouth of the Kanawha, five miles above. When
all were assembled, one regiment was to be left at Point Pleasant,
two were to be advanced up the valley to Ten-mile Creek, and the
other placed at an intermediate position. "Until further orders,"
the letter continued, "remain on the defensive and endeavor to
induce the rebels to remain at Charleston until I can cut off their
retreat by a movement from Beverly." Captain W. J. Kountz, an
experienced steamboat captain, was in charge of
water-transportation, and would furnish light-draught steamboats for
my use. [Footnote: What purports to be McClellan's letter to me is
found in the Records (Official Records, vol. ii. pt. i. p. 197), but
it seems to be only an abstract of it, made to accompany his
dispatch to Washington (_Id_., p. 198), and by a clerical error
given the form of the complete letter. It does not contain the
quotation given above, which was reiterated before the letter was
closed, in these words: "Remember that my present plan is to cut
them off by a rapid march from Beverly after driving those in front
of me across the mountains, and do all you can to favor that by
avoiding offensive movements."

After the printing of the earlier volumes of the Records, covering
the years 1861-1862, I learned that the books and papers of the
Department of the Ohio had not been sent to Washington at the close
of the war, but were still in Cincinnati. I brought this fact to the
attention of the Adjutant-General, and at the request of that
officer obtained and forwarded them to the Archives office. With
them were my letter books and the original files of my
correspondence with McClellan and Rosecrans in 1861 and 1862.
Colonel Robert N. Scott, who was then in charge of the publication,
informed me that the whole would be prepared for printing and would
appear in the supplemental volumes, after the completion of the rest
of the First Series. Owing to changes in the Board of Publication in
the course of twenty years, there were errors in the arrangement of
the matter for the printer, and a considerable part of the
correspondence between the generals named and myself was
accidentally omitted from the supplemental volume (Official Records,
vol. li. pt. i.) in which it should have appeared. The originals are
no doubt in the files of the Archives office, and for the benefit of
investigators I give in Appendix A a list of the numbers missing
from the printed volume, as shown by comparison with my retained

Governor Dennison seconded our wishes with his usual earnestness,
and ordered the battery of artillery and company of cavalry to meet
me at Gallipolis; but the guns for the battery were not to be had,
and a section of two bronze guns (six-pounder smooth-bores rifled)
was the only artillery, whilst the cavalry was less than half a
troop of raw recruits, useful only as messengers. I succeeded in
getting the Eleventh Ohio sent with me, the lacking companies to be
recruited and sent later. The Twelfth Ohio was an excellent regiment
which had been somewhat delayed in its reorganization and had not
gone with the rest of its brigade to McClellan. The Twenty-first was
one of the regiments enlisted for the State in excess of the first
quota, and was now brought into the national service under the
President's second call. The two Kentucky regiments had been
organized in Cincinnati, and were made up chiefly of steamboat crews
and "longshoremen" thrown out of employment by the stoppage of
commerce on the river. There were in them some companies of other
material, but these gave the distinctive character to the regiments.
The colonels and part of the field officers were Kentuckians, but
the organizations were Ohio regiments in nearly everything but the
name. The men were mostly of a rough and reckless class, and gave a
good deal of trouble by insubordination; but they did not lack
courage, and after they had been under discipline for a while,
became good fighting regiments. The difficulty of getting
transportation from the railway company delayed our departure. It
was not till the 6th of July that a regiment could be sent, and
another followed in two or three days. The two Kentucky regiments
were not yet armed and equipped, but after a day or two were ready
and were ordered up the river by steamboats. I myself left Camp
Dennison on the evening of Sunday the 7th with the Eleventh Ohio
(seven companies) and reached Gallipolis in the evening of the 9th.
The three Ohio regiments were united on the 10th and carried by
steamers to Point Pleasant, and we entered the theatre of war.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 416: my report to

My movement had been made upon a telegram from General McClellan,
and I found at Gallipolis his letter of instructions of the 2d, and
another of the 6th which enlarged the scope of my command. A
territorial district was assigned to me, including the southwestern
part of Virginia below Parkersburg on the Ohio, and north of the
Great Kanawha, reaching back into the country as I should occupy it.
[Footnote: The territorial boundary of McClellan's Department had
been placed at the Great Kanawha and the Ohio rivers, probably with
some political idea of avoiding the appearance of aggression upon
regions of doubtful loyalty.] The directions to restrict myself to a
defensive occupation of the Lower Kanawha valley were changed to
instructions to march on Charleston and Gauley Bridge, and, with a
view to his resumption of the plan to make this his main line of
advance, to "obtain all possible information in regard to the roads
leading toward Wytheville and the adjacent region." I was also
ordered to place a regiment at Ripley, on the road from Parkersburg
to Charleston, and advised "to beat up Barbonsville, Guyandotte,
etc, so that the entire course of the Ohio may be secured to us."
Communication with Ripley was by Letart's Falls on the Ohio, some
thirty miles above Gallipolis, or by Ravenswood, twenty miles
further. Guyandotte was a longer distance below Gallipolis, and
Barboursville was inland some miles up the Gurandotte River. As to
General Wise, McClellan wrote: "Drive Wise out and catch him if you
can. If you do catch him, send him to Colombus penitentiary." A
regiment at Parkersburg and another at Roane Court House on the
northern border of my district were ordered to report to me, but I
was not authorized to move them from the stations assigned them, and
they were soon united to McClellan's own column.

At Gallipolis I heard that a steamboat on the Ohio had been boarded
by a rebel party near Guyandotte, and the news giving point to
McClellan's suggestion to "beat up" that region, I dispatched a
small steamboat down the river to meet the Kentucky regiments with
orders for the leading one to land at Guyandotte and suppress any
insurgents in that neighborhood. [Footnote: Official Records, vol.
Ii. pt. i. p. 417.] It was hazardous to divide my little army into
three columns on a base of a hundred miles, but it was thought wise
to show some Union troops at various points on the border, and I
purposed to unite my detachments by early convergent movements
forward to the Kanawha valley as soon as I should reach Red House,
thirty-two miles up the river, with my principal column.

Before I reached Charleston I added to my artillery one iron and one
brass cannon, smooth six-pounders, borrowed from the civil
authorities at Gallipolis; but they were without caissons or any
proper equipment, and were manned by volunteers from the infantry.
[Footnote: Ibid.] My total force, when assembled, would be a little
over 3000 men, the regiments having the same average strength as
those with McClellan. The opposing force under General Wise was 4000
by the time the campaign was fully opened, though somewhat less at
the beginning. [Footnote: Wise reported his force on the 17th of
July as 3500 "effective" men and ten cannon, and says he received
"perhaps 300" in reinforcements on the 18th. When he abandoned the
valley ten days later, he reported his force 4000 in round numbers.
Official Records, vol. ii. pp. 290, 292; 1011.]

The Great Kanawha River was navigable for small steamboats about
seventy miles, to a point ten or twelve miles above Charleston, the
only important town of the region, which was at the confluence of
the Kanawha and Elk rivers. Steamboats were plenty, owing to the
interruption of trade, and wagons were wholly lacking; so that my
column was accompanied and partly carried by a fleet of stern-wheel

On Thursday the 11th of July the movement from Point Pleasant began.
An advance-guard was sent out on each side of the river, marching
upon the roads which were near its banks. The few horsemen were
divided and sent with them to carry messages, and the boats
followed, steaming slowly along in rear of the marching men. Most of
two regiments were carried on the steamers, to save fatigue to the
men, who were as yet unused to their work, and many of whom were
footsore from their first long march of twenty-five miles to
Gallipolis from Hampden station, where they had been obliged to
leave the railway. The arrangement was also a good one in a military
point of view, for if an enemy were met on either bank of the
stream, the boats could land in a moment and the troops disembark
without delay.

Our first day's sail was thirteen miles up the river, and it was the
very romance of campaigning. I took my station on top of the
pilot-house of the leading boat, so that I might see over the banks
of the stream and across the bottom lands to the high hills which
bounded the valley. The afternoon was a lovely one. Summer clouds
lazily drifted across the sky, the boats were dressed in their
colors and swarmed with the men like bees. The bands played national
tunes, and as we passed the houses of Union citizens, the inmates
would wave their handkerchiefs to us, and were answered by cheers
from the troops. The scenery was picturesque, the gently winding
river making beautiful reaches that opened new scenes upon us at
every turn. On either side the advance-guard could be seen in the
distance, the main body in the road, with skirmishers exploring the
way in front, and flankers on the sides. Now and then a horseman
would bring some message to the bank from the front, and a small
boat would be sent to receive it, giving us the rumors with which
the country was rife, and which gave just enough of excitement and
of the spice of possible danger to make this our first day in an
enemy's country key everybody to just such a pitch as apparently to
double the vividness of every sensation. The landscape seemed more
beautiful, the sunshine more bright, and the exhilaration of
out-door life more joyous than any we had ever known.

The halt for the night had been assigned at a little village on the
right (northern) bank of the stream, which was nestled beneath a
ridge which ran down from the hills toward the river, making an
excellent position for defence against any force which might come
against it from the upper valley. The sun was getting low behind us
in the west, as we approached it, and the advance-guard had already
halted. Captain Cotter's two bronze guns gleamed bright on the top
of the ridge beyond the pretty little town, and before the sun went
down, the new white tents had been carried up to the slope and
pitched there. The steamers were moored to the shore, and the low
slanting rays of the sunset fell upon as charming a picture as was
ever painted. An outpost with pickets was set on the southern side
of the river, both grand and camp guards were put out also on the
side we occupied, and the men soon had their supper and went to
rest. Late in the evening a panic-stricken countryman came in with
the news that General Wise was moving down upon us with 4000 men.
The man was evidently in earnest, and was a loyal one. He believed
every word he said, but he had in fact seen only a few of the
enemy's horsemen who were scouting toward us, and believed their
statement that an army was at their back. It was our initiation into
an experience of rumors that was to continue as long as the war. We
were to get them daily and almost hourly; sometimes with a little
foundation of fact, sometimes with none; rarely purposely deceptive,
but always grossly exaggerated, making chimeras with which a
commanding officer had to wage a more incessant warfare than with
the substantial enemy in his front. I reasoned that Wise's troops
were, like my own, too raw to venture a night attack with, and
contented myself with sending a strong reconnoitring party out
beyond my pickets, putting in command of it Major Hines of the
Twelfth Ohio, an officer who subsequently became noted for his
enterprise and activity in charge of scouting parties. The camp
rested quietly, and toward morning Hines returned, reporting that a
troop of the enemy's horse had come within a couple of miles of our
position in search of information about us and our movement. They
had indulged in loud bragging as to what Wise and his army would do
with us, but this and nothing more was the basis of our honest
friend's fright. The morning dawned bright and peaceful, the
steamers were sent back for a regiment which was still at Point
Pleasant, and the day was used in concentrating the little army and
preparing for another advance.

On July 13th we moved again, making about ten miles, and finding the
navigation becoming difficult by reason of the low water. At several
shoals in the stream rough wing-dams had been built from the sides
to concentrate the water in the channel, and at Knob Shoals, in one
of these "chutes" as they were called, a coal barge had sometime
before been sunk. In trying to pass it our leading boat grounded,
and, the current being swift, it was for a time doubtful if we
should get her off. We finally succeeded, however, and the
procession of boats slowly steamed up the rapids. We had hardly got
beyond them when we heard a distant cannon-shot from our
advance-guard which had opened a long distance between them and us
during our delay. We steamed rapidly ahead. Soon we saw a man
pulling off from the south bank in a skiff. Nearing the steamer, he
stood up and excitedly shouted that a general engagement had begun.
We laughingly told him it couldn't be very general till we got in,
and we moved on, keeping a sharp outlook for our parties on either
bank. When we came up to them, we learned that a party of horsemen
had appeared on the southern side of the river and had opened a
skirmishing fire, but had scampered off as if the Old Nick were
after them when a shell from the rifled gun was sent over their
heads. The shell, like a good many that were made in those days, did
not explode, and the simple people of the vicinity who had heard its
long-continued scream told our men some days after that they thought
it was "going yet."

From this time some show of resistance was made by the enemy, and
the skirmishing somewhat retarded the movement. Still, about ten
miles was made each day till the evening of the 16th, when we
encamped at the mouth of the Pocotaligo, a large creek which enters
the Kanawha from the north. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. li.
pt. i. p. 418.] The evening before, we had had one of those
incidents, not unusual with new troops, which prove that nothing but
habit can make men cool and confident in their duties. We had, as
usual, moored our boats to the northern bank and made our camp
there, placing an outpost on the left bank opposite us supporting a
chain of sentinels, to prevent a surprise from that direction. A
report of some force of the enemy in their front made me order
another detachment to their support after nightfall. The detachment
had been told off and ferried across in small boats. They were dimly
seen marching in the starlight up the river after landing, when
suddenly a shot was heard, and then an irregular volley was both
seen and heard as the muskets flashed out in the darkness. A
supporting force was quickly sent over, and, no further disturbance
occurring, a search was made for an enemy, but none was found. A gun
had accidentally gone off in the squad, and the rest of the men,
surprised and bewildered, had fired, they neither knew why nor at
what. Two men were killed, and several others were hurt. This and
the chaffing the men got from their comrades was a lesson to the
whole command. The soldiers were brave enough, and were thoroughly
ashamed of themselves, but they were raw; that was all that could be
said of it. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 421.]

We were here overtaken by the Second Kentucky, which had stopped at
Guyandotte on its way up the river, and had marched across the
country to join us after our progress had sufficiently covered that
lower region. From Guyandotte a portion of the regiment, under
command of Lieutenant-Colonel Neff, had gone to Barboursville and
had attacked and dispersed an encampment of Confederates which was
organizing there. It was a very creditable little action, in which
officers and men conducted themselves well, and which made them for
the time the envy of the rest of the command.

The situation at "Poca," as it was called in the neighborhood, was
one which made the further advance of the army require some
consideration. Information which came to us from loyal men showed
that some force of the enemy was in position above the mouth of
Scary Creek on the south side of the Kanawha, and about three miles
from us. We had for two days had constant light skirmishing with the
advance-guard of Wise's forces on the north bank of the river, and
supposed that the principal part of his command was on our side, and
not far in front of us. It turned out in fact that this was so, and
that Wise had placed his principal camp at Tyler Mountain, a bold
spur which reaches the river on the northern side (on which is also
the turnpike road), about twelve miles above my position, while he
occupied the south side with a detachment. The Pocotaligo, which
entered the river from the north at our camp, covered us against an
attack on that side; but we could not take our steam-boats further
unless both banks of the river were cleared. We had scarcely any
wagons, for those which had been promised us could not yet be
forwarded, and we must either continue to keep the steamboats with
us, or organize wagon transportation and cut loose from the boats.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 420; dispatch of
17th also.] My urgent dispatches were hurrying the wagons toward us,
but meanwhile I hoped the opposition on the south bank of the river
would prove trifling, for artillery in position at any point on the
narrow river would at once stop navigation of our light and unarmed
transports. On the morning of the 17th a reconnoitering party sent
forward on the south side of the river under command of
Lieutenant-Colonel White of the Twelfth Ohio, reported the enemy
about five hundred strong intrenched on the further side of Scary
Creek, which was not fordable at its mouth, but could be crossed a
little way up the stream. Colonel Lowe of the Twelfth requested the
privilege of driving off this party with his regiment accompanied by
our two cannon. He was ordered to do so, whilst the enemy's
skirmishers should be pushed back from the front of the main column,
and it should be held ready to advance rapidly up the north bank of
the river as soon as the hostile force at Scary Creek should be

The Twelfth and two companies of the Twenty-first Ohio were ferried
over and moved out soon after noon. The first reports from them were
encouraging and full of confidence, the enemy were retreating and
they had dismounted one of his guns; but just before evening they
returned, bringing the account of their repulse in the effort to
cross at the mouth of the creek, and their failure to find the ford
a little higher up. Their ammunition had run short, some casualties
had occurred, and they had become discouraged and given it up. Their
loss was 10 men killed and 35 wounded. If they had held on and asked
for assistance, it would have been well enough; but, as was common
with new troops, they passed from confidence to discouragement as
soon as they were checked, and they retreated.

The affair was accompanied by another humiliating incident which
gave me no little chagrin. During the progress of the engagement
Colonel Woodruff and Lieutenant-Colonel Neff of the Second Kentucky,
with Colonel De Villiers of the Eleventh Ohio, rode out in front, on
the north bank of the river, till they came opposite the enemy's
position, the hostile party on our side of the stream having fallen
back beyond this point. They were told by a negro that the rebels
were in retreat, and they got the black man to ferry them over in a
skiff, that they might be the first to congratulate their friends.
To their amazement they were welcomed as prisoners by the
Confederates, who greatly enjoyed their discomfiture. The negro had
told the truth in saying that the enemy had been in retreat; for the
fact was that both sides retreated, but the Confederates, being
first informed of this, resumed their position and claimed a
victory. The officers who were captured had gone out without
permission, and, led on by the hare-brained De Villiers, had done
what they knew was foolish and unmilitary, resulting for them in a
severe experience in Libby Prison at Richmond, and for us in the
momentary appearance of lack of discipline and order which could not
fairly be charged upon the command. I reported the facts without
disguise or apology, trusting to the future to remove the bad
impression the affair must naturally make upon McClellan.

The report of the strength of the position attacked and our
knowledge of the increasing difficulty of the ground before us, led
me to conclude that the wisest course would be to await the arrival
of the wagons, now daily expected, and then, with supplies for
several days in hand, move independent of the steamers, which became
only an embarrassment when it was advisable to leave the river road
for the purpose of turning a fortified position like that we had
found before us. We therefore rested quietly in our strong camp for
several days, holding both banks of the river and preparing to move
the main column by a country road leading away from the stream on
the north side, and returning to it at Tyler Mountain, where Wise's
camp was reported to be. I ordered up the First Kentucky from
Ravenswood and Ripley, but its colonel found obstacles in his way,
and did not join us till we reached Charleston the following week.

On the 23d of July I had succeeded in getting wagons and teams
enough to supply the most necessary uses, and renewed the advance.
We marched rapidly on the 24th by the circuitous route I have
mentioned, leaving a regiment to protect the steamboats. The country
was very broken and the roads very rough, but the enemy had no
knowledge of our movement, and toward evening we again approached
the river immediately in rear of their camp at Tyler Mountain. When
we drove in their pickets, the force was panic-stricken and ran off,
leaving their camp in confusion, and their supper which they were
cooking but did not stop to eat. A little below the point where we
reached the river, and on the other side, was the steamboat "Maffet"
with a party of soldiers gathering the wheat which had been cut in
the neighboring fields and was in the sheaf. I was for a moment
doubtful whether it might not be one of our own boats which had
ventured up the river under protection of the regiment left behind,
and directed our skirmishers who were deployed along the edge of the
water to hail the other side. "Who are you?" was shouted from both
banks simultaneously. "United States troops," our men answered.
"Hurrah for Jeff Davis!" shouted the others, and a rattling fire
opened on both sides. A shell was sent from our cannon into the
steamer, and the party upon her were immediately seen jumping
ashore, having first set fire to her to prevent her falling into our
hands. The enemy then moved away on that side, under cover of the
trees which lined the river bank. Night was now falling, and,
sending forward an advance-guard to follow up the force whose camp
we had surprised, we bivouacked on the mountain side.

In the morning, as we were moving out at an early hour, we were met
by the mayor and two or three prominent citizens of Charleston who
came to surrender the town to us, Wise having hurriedly retreated
during the night. He had done a very unnecessary piece of mischief
before leaving, in partly cutting off the cables of a fine
suspension bridge which spans the Elk River at Charleston. As this
stream enters the Kanawha from the north and below the city, it may
have seemed to him that it would delay our progress; but as a large
number of empty coal barges were lying at the town, it took our
company of mechanics, under Captain Lane of the Eleventh Ohio, but a
little while to improvise a good floating bridge, and part of the
command passed through the town and camped beyond it. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 425.] One day was now given to
the establishment of a depot of supplies at Charleston and to the
organization of regular communication by water with Gallipolis, and
by wagons with such positions as we might occupy further up the
river. Deputations of the townspeople were informed that it was not
our policy to meddle with private persons who remained quietly at
home, nor would we make any inquisition as to the personal opinions
of those who attended strictly to their own business; but they were
warned that any communication with the enemy would be remorselessly

We were now able to get more accurate information about Wise's
forces than we could obtain before, and this accorded pretty well
with the strength which he reported officially. [Footnote: _Ante_,
p. 63 note.] His infantry was therefore more than equal to the
column under my command in the valley, whilst in artillery and in
cavalry he was greatly superior. Our continued advance in the face
of such opposition is sufficient evidence that the Confederate force
was not well handled, for as the valley contracted and the hills
crowded in closer to the river, nearly every mile offered positions
in which small numbers could hold at bay an army. Our success in
reaching Charleston was therefore good ground for being content with
our progress, though I had to blame myself for errors in the
management of my part of the campaign at Pocataligo. I ought not to
have assumed as confidently as I did that the enemy was only five
hundred strong at Scary Creek and that a detachment could dispose of
that obstacle whilst the rest of the column prepared to advance on
our principal line. Wise's force at that point was in fact double
the number supposed. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. ii. p. 1011.]
It is true it was very inconvenient to ferry any considerable body
of troops back and forth across the river; but I should nevertheless
have taken the bulk of my command to the left bank, and by occupying
the enemy's attention at the mouth of Scary Creek, covered the
movement of a sufficient force upon his flank by means of the fords
farther up that stream. This would have resulted in the complete
routing of the detachment, and it is nearly certain that I could
have pushed on to Charleston at once, and could have waited there
for the organization of my wagon train with the prestige of victory,
instead of doing so at 'Poca' with the appearance of a check.

McClellan recognized the fact that he was asking me to face the
enemy with no odds in my favor, and as soon as he heard that Wise
was disposed to make a stand he directed me not to risk attacking
him in front, but rather to await the result of his own movement
toward the Upper Kanawha. [Footnote: Dispatches of July 16 and 20.]
Rosecrans did the same when he assumed command; but I knew the hope
had been that I would reach Gauley Bridge, and I was vexed that my
movement should have the appearance of failing when I was conscious
that we had not fairly measured our strength with my opponent. As
soon, therefore, as the needful preparations could be made, I
decided upon the turning movement which I have already described,
and our resolute advance seems to have thrown Wise into a panic from
which he did not recover till he got far beyond Gauley Bridge.

At Charleston I learned of the Bull Run disaster, and that McClellan
had been ordered to Washington, leaving Rosecrans in command of our
department. The latter sent me orders which implied that to reach
Charleston was the most he could expect of me, and directing me to
remain on the defensive if I should succeed in getting so far,
whilst he should take up anew McClellan's plan of reaching the rear
of Wise's army. [Footnote: Dispatches of July 26 and 29.] His
dispatches, fortunately, did not reach me till I was close to Gauley
Bridge and was sure of my ability to take possession of that defile,
some forty miles above Charleston. An additional reason for my
prompt advance was that the Twenty-first Ohio was not yet
re-enlisted for the war, was only a "three months" regiment whose
time was about to expire, and Governor Dennison had telegraphed me
to send it back to Ohio. I left this regiment as a post-garrison at
Charleston till it could be relieved by another, or till my success
in reaching Gauley Bridge should enable me to send back a detachment
for that post, and, on the 26th July, pushed forward with the rest
of my column, which, now that the First Kentucky had joined me,
consisted of four regiments. Our first night's encampment was about
eleven miles above Charleston in a lovely nook between spurs of the
hills. Here I was treated to a little surprise on the part of three
of my subordinates which was an unexpected enlargement of my
military experience. The camp had got nicely arranged for the night
and supper was over, when these gentlemen waited upon me at my tent.
The one who had shown the least capacity as commander of a regiment
was spokesman, and informed me that after consultation they had
concluded that it was foolhardy to follow the Confederates into the
gorge we were travelling, and that unless I could show them
satisfactory reasons for changing their opinion they would not lead
their commands further into it. I dryly asked if he was quite sure
he understood the nature of his communication. There was something
probably in the tone of my question which was not altogether
expected, and his companions began to look a little uneasy. He then
protested that none of them meant any disrespect, but that as their
military experience was about as extensive as my own, they thought I
ought to make no movements but on consultation with them and by
their consent. The others seemed to be better pleased with this way
of putting it, and signified assent. My answer was that their
conduct very plainly showed their own lack both of military
experience and elementary military knowledge, and that this
ignorance was the only thing which could palliate their action.
Whether they meant it or not, their action was mutinous. The
responsibility for the movement of the army was with me, and whilst
I should be inclined to confer very freely with my principal
subordinates and explain my purposes, I should call no councils of
war, and submit nothing to vote till I felt incompetent to decide
for myself. If they apologized for their conduct and showed
earnestness in military obedience to orders, what they had now said
would be overlooked, but on any recurrence of cause for complaint I
should enforce my power by the arrest of the offender at once. I
dismissed them with this, and immediately sent out the formal orders
through my adjutant-general to march early next morning. Before they
slept one of the three had come to me with earnest apology for his
part in the matter, and a short time made them all as subordinate as
I could wish. The incident could not have occurred in the brigade
which had been under my command at Camp Dennison, and was a not
unnatural result of the sudden assembling of inexperienced men under
a brigade commander of whom they knew nothing except that at the
beginning of the war he was a civilian like themselves. These very
men afterward became devoted followers, and some of them life-long
friends. It was part of their military education as well as mine. If
I had been noisy and blustering in my intercourse with them at the
beginning, and had done what seemed to be regarded as the
"regulation" amount of cursing and swearing, they would probably
have given me credit for military aptitude at least; but a
systematic adherence to a quiet and undemonstrative manner evidently
told against me, at first, in their opinion. Through my army life I
met more or less of the same conduct when assigned to a new command;
but when men learned that discipline would be inevitably enforced,
and that it was as necessary to obey a quiet order as one emphasized
by expletives, and especially when they had been a little under
fire, there was no more trouble. Indeed, I was impressed with the
fact that after this acquaintance was once made, my chief
embarrassment in discipline was that an intimation of
dissatisfaction on my part would cause deeper chagrin and more
evident pain than I intended or wished.

The same march enabled me to make the acquaintance of another army
"institution,"--the newspaper correspondent. We were joined at
Charleston by two men representing influential Eastern journals, who
wished to know on what terms they could accompany the column. The
answer was that the quartermaster would furnish them with a tent and
transportation, and that their letters should be submitted to one of
the staff, to protect us from the publication of facts which might
aid the enemy. This seemed unsatisfactory, and they intimated that
they expected to be taken into my mess and to be announced as
volunteer aides with military rank. They were told that military
position or rank could only be given by authority much higher than
mine, and that they could be more honestly independent if free from
personal obligation and from temptation to repay favors with
flattery. My only purpose was to put the matter upon the foundation
of public right and of mutual self-respect. The day before we
reached Gauley Bridge they opened the subject again to Captain
McElroy, my adjutant-general, but were informed that I had decided
it upon a principle by which I meant to abide. Their reply was,
"Very well; General Cox thinks he can get along without us, and we
will show him. We will write him down."

They left the camp the same evening, and wrote letters to their
papers describing the army as demoralized, drunken, and without
discipline, in a state of insubordination, and the commander as
totally incompetent. As to the troops, more baseless slander was
never uttered. Their march had been orderly. No wilful injury had
been done to private property, and no case of personal violence to
any non-combatant, man or woman, had been even charged. Yet the
printing of such communications in widely read journals was likely
to be as damaging as if it all were true. My nomination as
Brigadier-General of U. S. Volunteers was then before the Senate for
confirmation, and "the pen" would probably have proved "mightier
than the sword" but for McClellan's knowledge of the nature of the
task we had accomplished, as he was then in the flood-tide of power
at Washington, and expressed his satisfaction at the performance of
our part of the campaign which he had planned. By good fortune also,
the injurious letters were printed at the same time with the
telegraphic news of our occupation of Gauley Bridge and the retreat
of the enemy out of the valley. [Footnote: As one of these
correspondents became a writer of history, it is made proper to say
that he was Mr. William Swinton, of whom General Grant has occasion
to speak in his "Personal Memoirs" (vol. ii. p. 144), and whose
facility in changing his point of view in historical writing was
shown in his "McClellan's Military Career Reviewed and Exposed,"
which was published in 1864 by the Union Congressional Committee
(first appearing in the "New York Times" of February, March, and
April of that year), when compared with his "History of the Army of
the Potomac" which appeared two years later. Burnside accused him of
repeated instances of malicious libel of his command in June, 1864.
Official Records, vol. xxxvi. pt. iii. p. 751.] I was, however,
deeply convinced that my position was the right one, and never
changed my rule of conduct in the matter. The relations of newspaper
correspondents to general officers of the army became one of the
crying scandals and notorious causes of intrigue and demoralization.
It was a subject almost impossible to settle satisfactorily; but
whoever gained or lost by cultivating this means of reputation, it
is a satisfaction to have adhered throughout the war to the rule I
first adopted and announced.

Wise made no resolute effort to oppose my march after I left
Charleston, and contented himself with delaying us by his
rear-guard, which obstructed the road by felling trees into it and
by skirmishing with my head of column. We however advanced at the
rate of twelve or fifteen miles a day, reaching Gauley Bridge on the
morning of the 29th of July. Here we captured some fifteen hundred
stands of arms and a considerable store of munitions which the
Confederate general had not been able to carry away or destroy. It
is safe to say that in the wild defile which we had threaded for the
last twenty miles there were as many positions as there were miles
in which he could easily have delayed my advance a day or two,
forcing me to turn his flank by the most difficult mountain
climbing, and where indeed, with forces so nearly equal, my progress
should have been permanently barred. At Gauley Bridge he burned the
structure which gave name to the place, and which had been a series
of substantial wooden trusses resting upon heavy stone piers. My
orders definitively limited me to the point we had now reached in my
advance, and I therefore sent forward only a detachment to follow
the enemy and keep up his precipitate retreat. Wise did not stop
till he reached Greenbrier and the White Sulphur Springs, and there
was abundant evidence that he regarded his movement as a final
abandonment of this part of West Virginia. [Footnote: Floyd's
Dispatches, Official Records, vol. li. pt. ii. pp. 208, 213.] A few
weeks later General Lee came in person with reinforcements over the
mountains and began a new campaign; but until the 20th of August we
were undisturbed except by a petty guerilla warfare.

McClellan telegraphed from Washington his congratulations,
[Footnote: Dispatch of August 1.] and Rosecrans expressed his
satisfaction also in terms which assured me that we had done more
than had been expected of us. [Footnote: Dispatch of July 31.] The
good effect upon the command was also very apparent; for our success
not only justified the policy of a determined advance, but the
officers who had been timid as to results were now glad to get their
share of the credit, and to make amends for their insubordination by
a hearty change in bearing and conduct. My term of service as a
brigadier of the Ohio forces in the three months' enrolment had now
ended, and until the Senate should confirm my appointment as a
United States officer there was some doubt as to my right to
continue in command. My embarrassment in this regard was very
pleasantly removed by a dispatch from General Rosecrans in which he
conveyed the request of Lieutenant-General Scott and of himself that
I should remain in charge of the Kanawha column. It was only a week,
however, before notice of the confirmation was received, and
dropping all thoughts of returning home, I prepared my mind for
continuous active duty till the war should end.



The gate of the Kanawha valley--The wilderness beyond--West Virginia
defences--A romantic post--Chaplain Brown--An adventurous
mission--Chaplain Dubois--"The River Path"--Gauley Mount--Colonel
Tompkins's home--Bowie-knives--Truculent resolutions--The
Engineers--Whittlesey, Benham, Wagner--Fortifications--Distant
reconnoissances--Comparison of forces--Dangers to steamboat
communications--Allotment of duties--The Summersville post--Seventh
Ohio at Cross Lanes--Scares and rumors--Robert E. Lee at Valley
Mountain--Floyd and Wise advance--Rosecrans's orders--The Cross
Lanes affair--Major Casement's creditable retreat--Colonel Tyler's
reports--Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton--Quarrels of Wise and
Floyd--Ambushing rebel cavalry--Affair at Boone Court House--New
attack at Gauley Bridge--An incipient mutiny--Sad result--A notable
court-martial--Rosecrans marching toward us--Communications
renewed--Advance toward Lewisburg--Camp Lookout--A private sorrow.

The position at Gauley Bridge was an important one from a military
point of view. It was where the James River and Kanawha turnpike,
after following the highlands along the course of New River as it
comes from the east, drops into a defile with cliffs on one side and
a swift and unfordable torrent upon the other, and then crosses the
Gauley River, which is a stream of very similar character. The two
rivers, meeting at a right angle, there unite to form the Great
Kanawha, which plunges over a ledge of rocks a mile below and winds
its way among the hills, some thirty miles, before it becomes a
navigable stream even for the lightest class of steamboats. From
Gauley Bridge a road runs up the Gauley River to Cross Lanes and
Carnifex Ferry, something over twenty miles, and continuing
northward reaches Summersville, Sutton, and Weston, making almost
the only line of communication between the posts then occupied by
our troops in northwestern Virginia and the head of the Kanawha
valley. Southwestward the country was extremely wild and broken,
with few and small settlements and no roads worthy the name. The
crossing of the Gauley was therefore the gate through which all
important movements from eastern into southwestern Virginia must
necessarily come, and it formed an important link in any chain of
posts designed to cover the Ohio valley from invasion. It was also
the most advanced single post which could protect the Kanawha
valley. Further to the southeast, on Flat-top Mountain, was another
very strong position, where the principal road on the left bank of
New River crosses a high and broad ridge; but a post could not be
safely maintained there without still holding Gauley Bridge in
considerable force, or establishing another post on the right bank
of New River twenty miles further up. All these streams flow in
rocky beds seamed and fissured to so great a degree that they had no
practicable fords. You might go forty miles up New River and at
least twenty up the Gauley before you could find a place where
either could be passed by infantry or wagons. The little ferries
which had been made in a few eddies of the rivers were destroyed in
the first campaign, and the post at the Gauley became nearly
impregnable in front, and could only be turned by long and difficult

An interval of about a hundred miles separated this mountain
fastness from the similar passes which guarded eastern Virginia
along the line of the Blue Ridge. This debatable ground was sparsely
settled and very poor in agricultural resources, so that it could
furnish nothing for subsistence of man or beast. The necessity of
transporting forage as well as subsistence and ammunition through
this mountainous belt forbade any extended or continuous operations
there; for actual computation showed that the wagon trains could
carry no more than the food for the mule teams on the double trip,
going and returning, from Gauley Bridge to the narrows of New River
where the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad crossed upon an important
bridge which was several times made the objective point of an
expedition. This alone proved the impracticability of the plan
McClellan first conceived, of making the Kanawha valley the line of
an important movement into eastern Virginia. It pointed very
plainly, also, to the true theory of operations in that country.
Gauley Bridge should have been held with a good brigade which could
have had outposts several miles forward in three directions, and,
assisted by a small body of horse to scour the country fifty miles
or more to the front, the garrison could have protected all the
country which we ever occupied permanently. A similar post at
Huttonsville with detachments at the Cheat Mountain pass and
Elkwater pass north of Huntersville would have covered the only
other practicable routes through the mountains south of the line of
the Baltimore and Ohio Railway. These would have been small
intrenched camps, defensive in character, but keeping detachments
constantly active in patrolling the front, going as far as could be
done without wagons. All that ever was accomplished in that region
of any value would thus have been attained at the smallest expense,
and the resources that were for three years wasted in those
mountains might have been applied to the legitimate lines of great
operations from the valley of the Potomac southward.


Nothing could be more romantically beautiful than the situation of
the post at Gauley Bridge. The hamlet had, before our arrival there,
consisted of a cluster of two or three dwellings, a country store, a
little tavern, and a church, irregularly scattered along the base of
the mountain and facing the road which turns from the Gauley valley
into that of the Kanawha. The lower slope of the hillside behind the
houses was cultivated, and a hedgerow separated the lower fields
from the upper pasturage. Above this gentler slope the wooded steeps
rose more precipitately, the sandstone rock jutting out into crags
and walls, the sharp ridge above having scarcely soil enough to
nourish the chestnut-trees, here, like Mrs. Browning's woods of
Vallombrosa, literally "clinging by their spurs to the precipices."
In the angle between the Gauley and New rivers rose Gauley Mount,
the base a perpendicular wall of rocks of varying height, with high
wooded slopes above. There was barely room for the road between the
wall of rocks and the water on the New River side, but after going
some distance up the valley, the highway gradually ascended the
hillside, reaching some rolling uplands at a distance of a couple of
miles. Here was Gauley Mount, the country-house of Colonel C. Q.
Tompkins, formerly of the Army of the United States, but now the
commandant of a Confederate regiment raised in the Kanawha valley.
Across New River the heavy masses of Cotton Mountain rose rough and
almost inaccessible from the very water's edge. The western side of
Cotton Mountain was less steep, and buttresses formed a bench about
its base, so that in looking across the Kanawha a mile below the
junction of the rivers, one saw some rounded foothills which had
been cleared on the top and tilled, and a gap in the mountainous
wall made room on that side for a small creek which descended to the
Kanawha, and whose bed served for a rude country road leading to
Fayette C. H. At the base of Cotton Mountain the Kanawha equals the
united width of the two tributaries, and flows foaming over broken
rocks with treacherous channels between, till it dashes over the
horseshoe ledge below, known far and wide as the Kanawha Falls. On
either bank near the falls a small mill had been built, that on the
right bank a saw-mill and the one on the left for grinding grain.

Our encampment necessarily included the saw-mill below the falls,
where the First Kentucky Regiment was placed to guard the road
coming from Fayette C. H. Two regiments were encamped at the bridge
upon the hillside above the hedgerow, having an advanced post of
half a regiment on the Lewisburg road beyond the Tompkins farm, and
scouting the country to Sewell Mountain. Smaller outposts were
stationed some distance up the valley of the Gauley. My headquarters
tents were pitched in the door-yard of a dwelling-house facing the
Gauley River, and I occupied an unfurnished room in the house for
office purposes. A week was spent, without molestation, exploring
the country in all directions and studying its topography. A ferry
guided by a cable stretching along the piers of the burnt bridge
communicated with the outposts up the New River, and a smaller ferry
below the Kanawha Falls connected with the Fayette road. Systematic
discipline and instruction in outpost duty were enforced, and the
regiments rapidly became expert mountaineers and scouts. The
population was nearly all loyal below Gauley Bridge, but above they
were mostly Secessionists, a small minority of the wealthier
slaveholders being the nucleus of all aggressive secession
movements. These, by their wealth and social leadership, overawed or
controlled a great many who did not at heart sympathize with them,
and between parties thus formed a guerilla warfare became chronic.
In our scouting expeditions we found little farms in secluded nooks
among the mountains, where grown men assured us that they had never
before seen the American flag, and whole families had never been
further from home than a church and country store a few miles away.
From these mountain people several regiments of Union troops were
recruited in West Virginia, two of them being organized in rear of
my own lines, and becoming part of the garrison of the district in
the following season.

I had been joined before reaching Gauley Bridge by Chaplain Brown of
the Seventh Ohio, who had obtained permission to make an adventurous
journey across the country from Sutton to bring me information as to
the position and character of the outposts that were stretching from
the railway southward toward our line of operations. Disguised as a
mountaineer in homespun clothing, his fine features shaded by a
slouched felt hat, he reported himself to me in anything but a
clerical garb. Full of enterprise as a partisan leader of scouts
could be, he was yet a man of high attainments in his profession, of
noble character and real learning. When he reached me, I had as my
guest another chaplain who had accepted a commission at my
suggestion, the Rev. Mr. Dubois, son-in-law of Bishop McIlvaine of
Ohio, who had been leader of the good people at Chillicothe in
providing a supper for the Eleventh Ohio as we were on our way from
Camp Dennison to Gallipolis. He had burned to have some part in the
country's struggle, and became a model chaplain till his labors and
exposure broke his health and forced him to resign. The presence of
two such men gave some hours of refined social life in the intervals
of rough work. One evening walk along the Kanawha has ever since
remained in my memory associated with Whittier's poem "The River
Path," as a wilder and more brilliant type of the scene he pictured.
We had walked out beyond the camp, leaving its noise and its warlike
associations behind us, for a turn of the road around a jutting
cliff shut it all out as completely as if we had been transported to
another land, except that the distant figure of a sentinel on post
reminded us of the limit of safe sauntering for pleasure. My
Presbyterian and Episcopalian friends forgot their differences of
dogma, and as the sun dropped behind the mountain tops, making an
early twilight in the valley, we talked of home, of patriotism, of
the relation of our struggle to the world's progress, and other high
themes, when

"Sudden our pathway turned from night,
The hills swung open to the light;
Through their green gates the sunshine showed,
A long, slant splendor downward flowed.
Down glade and glen and bank it rolled;
It bridged the shaded stream with gold;
And borne on piers of mist, allied
The shadowy with the sunlit side!"

The surroundings, the things of which we talked, our own sentiments,
all combined to make the scene stir deep emotions for which the
poet's succeeding lines seem the only fit expression, and to link
the poem indissolubly with the scene as if it had its birth there.

When Wise had retreated from the valley, Colonel Tompkins had been
unable to remove his family, and had left a letter commending them
to our courteous treatment. Mrs. Tompkins was a lady of refinement,
and her position within our outposts was far from being a
comfortable one. She, however, put a cheerful face upon her
situation, showed great tact in avoiding controversy with the
soldiers and in conciliating the good-will of the officers, and
remained with her children and servants in her picturesque home on
the mountain. So long as there was no fighting in the near vicinity,
it was comparatively easy to save her from annoyance; but when a
little later in the autumn Floyd occupied Cotton Mountain, and
General Rosecrans was with us with larger forces, such a household
became an object of suspicion and ill-will, which made it necessary
to send her through the lines to her husband. The men fancied they
saw signals conveyed from the house to the enemy, and believed that
secret messages were sent, giving information of our numbers and
movements. All this was highly improbable, for the lady knew that
her safety depended upon her good faith and prudence; but such camp
rumor becomes a power, and Rosecrans found himself compelled to end
it by sending her away. He could no longer be answerable for her
complete protection. This, however, was not till November, and in
August it was only a pleasant variation, in going the rounds, to
call at the pretty house on Gauley Mount, inquire after the welfare
of the family, and have a moment's polite chat with the mistress of
the mansion.

For ten days after we occupied Gauley Bridge, all our information
showed that General Wise was not likely to attempt the reconquest of
the Kanawha valley voluntarily. His rapid retrograde march ended at
White Sulphur Springs and he went into camp there. His destruction
of bridges and abandonment of stores and munitions of war showed
that he intended to take final leave of our region. [Footnote: My
report to Rosecrans, Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 40. Wise
to Lee, _Id_., vol. ii. p. 1012; vol. v. p. 769.] The contrast
between promise and performance in his case had been ludicrous. When
we entered the valley, we heard of his proclamations and orders,
which breathed the spirit of desperate hand-to-hand conflict. His
soldiers had been told to despise long-range fire-arms, and to trust
to bowie-knives, which our invading hordes would never dare to face.
We found some of these knives among the arms we captured at the
Gauley,--ferocious-looking weapons, made of broad files ground to a
double edge, fitted with rough handles, and still bearing the
cross-marking of the file on the flat sides. Such arms pointed many
a sarcasm among our soldiers, who had found it hard in the latter
part of our advance to get within even the longest musket-range of
the enemy's column. It was not strange that ignorant men should
think they might find use for weapons less serviceable than the
ancient Roman short-sword; but that, in the existing condition of
military science, officers could be found to share and to encourage
the delusion was amusing enough! With the muskets we captured, we
armed a regiment of loyal Virginians, and turned over the rest to
Governor Peirpoint for similar use. [Footnote: In some documents
which fell into our hands we found a series of resolutions passed at
a meeting in the spring at which one of the companies now with Wise
was organized. It shows the melodramatic truculence which was echoed
in the exhortations of the general and of other men who should have
had more judgment. The resolutions were these:--

"_Resolved:_ 1. That this company was formed for the defence of this
Commonwealth against her enemies of the North, and for no other

_Resolved:_ 2. That the so-called President of the United States by
his war policy has deliberately insulted the people of this
Commonwealth, and if blood he wants, blood he can have.

_Resolved:_ 3. That we are ready to respond to the call of the
Governor of this Commonwealth for resisting Abraham Lincoln and the
New York stock-jobbers, and all who sympathize with them.

_Resolved:_ 4. That we have not forgotten Harper's Ferry and John

On the 5th of August Lieutenant Wagner of the Engineers arrived at
Gauley Bridge with instructions from General Rosecrans to
superintend the construction of such fortifications as might be
proper for a post of three regiments. I had already with me Colonel
Whittlesey, Governor Dennison's chief engineer, an old West Point
graduate, who had for some years been devoting himself to scientific
pursuits, especially to geology. In a few days these were joined by
Captain Benham, who was authorized to determine definitely the plans
of our defences. I was thus stronger in engineering skill than in
any other department of staff assistants, though in truth there was
little fortifying to be done beyond what the contour of the ground
indicated to the most ordinary comprehension. [Footnote: The cause
of this visit of the Engineers is found in a dispatch sent by
McClellan to Rosecrans, warning him that Lee and Johnston were both
actually in march to crush our forces in West Virginia, and
directing that Huttonsville and Gauley Bridge be strongly fortified.
Official Records, vol. v. p. 555; _Id_., vol. ii. pt.. 445, 446.]

Benham stayed but two or three days, modified Wagner's plans enough
to feel that he had made them his own, and then went back to
Rosecrans's headquarters, where he was met with an appointment as
brigadier-general, and was relieved of staff duty. He was a stout
red-faced man, with a blustering air, dictatorial and assuming, an
army engineer of twenty-five years' standing. He was no doubt well
skilled in the routine of his profession, but broke down when
burdened with the responsibility of conducting the movement of
troops in the field. Wagner was a recent graduate of the Military
Academy, a genial, modest, intelligent young man of great promise.
He fell at the siege of Yorktown in the next year. Whittlesey was a
veteran whose varied experience in and out of the army had all been
turned to good account. He was already growing old, but was
indefatigable, pushing about in a rather prim, precise way, advising
wisely, criticising dryly but in a kindly spirit, and helping bring
every department into better form. I soon lost both him and McElroy,
my adjutant-general, for their three months' service was up, and
they were made, the one colonel, and the other major of the
Twentieth Ohio Regiment, of which my friend General Force was the

We fortified the post by an epaulement or two for cannon, high up on
the hillside covering the ferry and the road up New River. An
infantry trench, with parapet of barrels filled with earth, was run
along the margin of Gauley River till it reached a creek coming down
from the hills on the left. There a redoubt for a gun or two was
made, commanding a stretch of road above, and the infantry trench
followed the line of the creek up to a gorge in the hill. On the
side of Gauley Mount facing our post, we slashed the timber from the
edge of the precipice nearly to the top of the mountain, making an
entanglement through which it was impossible that any body of troops
should move. Down the Kanawha, below the falls, we strengthened the
saw-mill with logs, till it became a block-house loopholed for
musketry, commanding the road to Charleston, the ferry, and the
opening of the road to Fayette C. H. A single cannon was here put in
position also.

All this took time, for so small a force as ours could not make very
heavy details of working parties, especially as our outpost and
reconnoitring duty was also very laborious. This duty was done by
infantry, for cavalry I had none, except the squad of mounted
messengers, who kept carefully out of harm's way, more to save their
horses than themselves, for they had been enlisted under an old law
which paid them for the risk of their own horses, which risk they
naturally tried to make as small as possible. My reconnoitring
parties reached Big Sewell Mountain, thirty-five miles up New River,
Summersville, twenty miles up the Gauley, and made excursions into
the counties on the left bank of the Kanawha, thirty or forty miles
away. These were not exceptional marches, but were kept up with an
industry that gave the enemy an exaggerated idea of our strength as
well as of our activity.

About the 10th of August we began to get rumors from the country
that General Robert E. Lee had arrived at Lewisburg to assume
direction of the Confederate movements into West Virginia. We heard
also that Floyd with a strong brigade had joined that of Wise, whose
"legion" had been reinforced, and that this division, reported to be
10,000 or 12,000 strong, would immediately operate against me at
Gauley Bridge. We learned also of a general stir among the
Secessionists in Fayette, Mercer, and Raleigh counties, and of the
militia being ordered out under General Chapman to support the
Confederate movement by operating upon my line of communications,
whilst Floyd and Wise should attack in front.

The reported aggregate of the enemy's troops was, as usual,
exaggerated, but we now know that it amounted to about 8000 men, a
force so greatly superior to anything I could assemble to oppose it,
that the situation became at once a very grave one for me.
[Footnote: On the 14th of August Wise reported to General Lee that
he had 2000 men ready to move, and could have 2500 ready in five
days; that 550 of his cavalry were with Floyd, besides a detachment
of 50 artillerists. This makes his total force 3100. At that time he
gives Floyd's force at 1200 with two strong regiments coming up,
besides 2000 militia under General Chapman. The aggregate force
operating on the Kanawha line he gives as 7800. (Official Records
vol. v. p. 787.)] To resist this advance, I could keep but two
regiments at Gauley Bridge, an advance-guard of eight companies
vigorously skirmishing toward Sewell Mountain, a regiment
distributed on the Kanawha to cover steamboat communications, and
some companies of West Virginia recruits organizing at the mouth of
the Kanawha. By extreme activity these were able to baffle the
enemy, and impose upon him the belief that our numbers were more
than double our actual force.

Small hostile parties began to creep in toward the navigable part of
the Kanawha, and to fire upon the steamboats, which were our sole
dependence for supplying our depots at Charleston and at the head of
navigation. General Rosecrans informed me of his purpose to march a
sufficiently strong column to meet that under Lee as soon as the
purpose of the latter should be developed, and encouraged me to hold
fast to my position. I resolved, therefore, to stand a siege if need
be, and pushed my means of transportation to the utmost, to
accumulate a store of supplies at Gauley Bridge. I succeeded in
getting up rations sufficient to last a fortnight, but found it much
harder to get ammunition, especially for my ill-assorted little
battery of cannon.

The Twenty-sixth Ohio came into the Kanawha valley on the 8th
through a mistake in their orders, and their arrival supplied for a
few days the loss of the Twenty-first, which had gone home to be
mustered out and reorganized. Some companies of the newly forming
Fourth Virginia were those who protected the village of Point
Pleasant at the mouth of the river, and part of the Twelfth and
Twenty-sixth Ohio were in detachments from Charleston toward Gauley
Bridge, furnishing guards for the steamboats and assisting in the
landing and forwarding of supplies. The Eleventh Ohio, under
Lieutenant-Colonel Frizell, which still had only eight companies,
had the task of covering and reconnoitring our immediate front, and
was the advance-guard already mentioned. Part of the Twelfth under
Major Hines did similar work on the road to Summersville, where
Rosecrans had an advanced post, consisting of the Seventh Ohio
(Colonel E. B. Tyler), the Thirteenth (Colonel Wm. Sooy Smith), and
the Twenty-third (Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley Matthews). On the 13th
of August the Seventh Ohio, by orders from Rosecrans, marched to
Cross Lanes, the intersection of the read from Summersville to
Gauley Bridge, with one from Carnifex Ferry, which is on the Gauley
near the mouth of Meadow River. A road called the Sunday Road is in
the Meadow River valley, and joins the Lewisburg turnpike about
fifteen miles in front of Gauley Bridge. [Footnote: See Official
Atlas, Plate IX. 3, and map, p. 106, _post_] To give warning against
any movement of the enemy to turn my position by this route or to
intervene between me and Rosecrans's posts at Summersville and
beyond, was Tyler's task. He was ordered to picket all crossings of
the river near his position, and to join my command if he were
driven away. I was authorized to call him to me in an emergency.

On the 15th Tyler was joined at Cross Lanes by the Thirteenth and
Twenty-third Ohio, in consequence of rumors that the enemy was
advancing upon Summersville in force from Lewisburg. I would have
been glad of such an addition to my forces, but knowing that
Rosecrans had stationed them as his own outpost covering the Sutton
and Weston road, I ordered Tyler to maintain his own position, and
urged the others to return at once to Summersville. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. pp. 449, 453, 454.] The road by
which they had expected the enemy was the Wilderness road, which
crossed the Gauley at Hughes' Ferry, six miles above Carnifex. If
attacked from that direction, they should retire northward toward
Rosecrans, if possible.

Rosecrans gave orders to the same effect as soon as he heard of the
movement, saying that his intention had been to station Smith and
Matthews at Sutton, where their retreat toward him in case of
necessity would be assured. [Footnote: Dispatch of August 16.] His
orders for Tyler were that he should scout far toward the enemy,
"striking him wherever he can," and "hold his position at the
ferries as long as he can safely do it, and then fall back, as
directed," toward Gauley Bridge. [Footnote: Dispatch of August 17.]
The incident throws important light upon the situation a week later,
when Tyler was attacked by Floyd.

Floyd and Wise were now really in motion, though General Lee
remained at Valley Mountain near Huntersville, whence he directed
their movements. On the 17th they had passed Sewell Mountain, but
made slow progress in the face of the opposition of the Eleventh
Ohio, which kept up a constant skirmish with them. [Footnote:
Official Records, vol. v. pp. 792, 799; _Id_., vol. li. pt. i. pp.
450-453.] On the 19th Floyd's advance-guard passed the mouth of the
Sunday Road on the turnpike, and on the 20th made so determined a
push at my advance-guard that I believed it a serious effort of the
whole Confederate column. I strengthened my own advance-guard by
part of the Twelfth Ohio, which was at hand, and placed them at Pig
Creek, a mile beyond the Tompkins place, where the turnpike crossed
a gorge making a strongly defensible position. The advance-guard was
able to withstand the enemy alone, and drove back those who
assaulted them with considerable loss. It has since appeared that
this movement of the enemy was by Wise's command making a direct
attack upon my position, whilst Floyd was moving by the diagonal
road to Dogwood Gap on the Sunday Road where it crosses the old
State Road. There he encamped for the night, and next day continued
his march to the mouth of Meadow River near Carnifex Ferry.
[Footnote: _Id_., vol. v. p.800.] It was an affair of advance-guards
in which Wise was satisfied as soon as he found serious resistance,
and he retired during the night. On the first evidence of the
enemy's presence in force, I called Tyler from Cross Lanes to
Twenty-mile Creek, about six miles from Gauley Bridge, where it was
important to guard a road passing to my rear, and to meet any
attempt to turn my flank if the attack should be determinedly made
by the whole force of the enemy. [Footnote: Dispatch of August 20.]
As soon as the attack was repulsed, Tyler was ordered to return to
Cross Lanes and resume his watch of the roads and river crossings
there. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. li. pt. i. p. 454.] He was delayed by
the issue of shoes and clothing to his men, and when he approached
his former position on the 24th, he found that Floyd was reported to
have crossed the Gauley at Carnifex Ferry. Without waiting to
reconnoitre the enemy at all, Tyler retreated to Peters Creek,
several miles. Floyd had in fact succeeded in raising two small
flatboats which Tyler had sunk but had not entirely destroyed. With
these for a ferry, he had crossed and was intrenching himself where
he was afterward attacked by Rosecrans.

In the hope that only a small force had made the crossing, I ordered
Tyler to "make a dash at them, taking care to keep your force well
in hand so as to keep your retreat safe." [Footnote: Dispatch of
August 24.] I added: "It is important to give them such a check as
to stop their crossing." Meanwhile my advance-guard up New River was
ordered to demonstrate actively in front and upon the Sunday Road,
so as to disquiet any force which had gone towards Tyler, and I also
sent forward half a regiment to Peters Creek (six miles from Cross
Lanes) to hold the pass there and secure his retreat in case of
need. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 457.]

But Tyler was new to responsibility, and seemed paralyzed into
complete inefficiency. He took nearly the whole of the 25th to move
slowly to Cross Lanes, though he met no opposition. He did nothing
that evening or night, and his disposal of his troops was so
improper and outpost duty so completely neglected that on the
morning of the 26th, whilst his regiment was at breakfast, it was
attacked by Floyd on both flanks at once, and was routed before it
could be formed for action. Some companies managed to make a show of
fighting, but it was wholly in vain, and they broke in confusion.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 458, 459, 461.] About 15 were killed and 50
wounded, the latter with some 30 others falling into the enemy's
hands. Tyler, with his lieutenant-colonel, Creighton, came into
Gauley Bridge with a few stragglers from the regiment. Others
followed until about 200 were present. His train had reached the
detachment I had sent to Peters Creek, and this covered its retreat
to camp, so that all his wagons came in safely. He reported all his
command cut to pieces and captured except the few that were with
him, and wrote an official report of the engagement, giving that

On the 28th, however, we heard that Major Casement had carried 400
of the regiment safely into Charleston. He had rallied them on the
hills immediately after the rout, and finding the direct road to
Gauley Bridge intercepted, had led them by mountain paths over the
ridges to the valley of Elk River, and had then followed that stream
down to Charleston without being pursued. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 462.] This put a new face on the
business, and Tyler in much confusion asked the return of his report
that he might re-write it. I looked upon his situation as the not
unnatural result of inexperience, and contented myself with
informing General Rosecrans of the truth as to the affair. Tyler was
allowed to substitute a new report, and his unfortunate affair was
treated as a lesson from which it was expected he would profit.
[Footnote: Rosecrans's dispatch, _Id_., p. 460.] It made trouble in
the regiment, however, where the line officers did not conceal their
opinion that he had failed in his duty as a commander, and he was
never afterward quite comfortable among them.

The lieutenant-colonel, Creighton, was for a time in the abyss of
self-reproach. The very day they reached Gauley Bridge in their
unceremonious retreat, he came to me, crying with shame, and said,
"General, I have behaved like a miserable coward, I ought to be
cashiered," and repeated many such expressions of remorse. I
comforted him by saying that the intensity of his own feeling was
the best proof that he had only yielded to a surprise and that it
was clear he was no coward. He died afterward at the head of his
regiment in the desperate charge up the hills at Ringgold, Georgia,
in the campaign following that of Chickamauga in the autumn of 1863,
having had the command for two years after Tyler became a brigadier.
During those two years the Seventh had been in numberless
engagements, and its list of casualties in battle, made good by
recruiting, was said to have reached a thousand. Better soldiers
there were none, and Creighton proved himself a lion in every fight.

Casement, who rallied and led the most of the regiment from Cross
Lanes over the mountains to Charleston, became afterward colonel of
the One Hundred and Third Ohio. He came again under my command in
East Tennessee in the winter of 1863, and continued one of my
brigade commanders to the close of the war. He was a railway builder
by profession, had a natural aptitude for controlling bodies of men,
was rough of speech but generous of heart, running over with fun
which no dolefulness of circumstance could repress, as jolly a
comrade and as loyal a subordinate as the army could show.

After the Cross Lanes affair I fully expected that the Confederate
forces would follow the route which Casement had taken to
Charleston. Floyd's inactivity puzzled me, for he did no more than
make an intrenched camp at Carnifex Ferry, with outposts at Peters
Mountain and toward Summersville. The publication of the Confederate
Archives has partly solved the mystery. Floyd called on Wise to
reinforce him; but the latter demurred, insistent that the duty
assigned him of attacking my position in front needed all the men he
had. Both appealed to Lee, and Lee decided that Floyd was the senior
and entitled to command the joint forces. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. v. pp. 155-165, 800, 802-813.] The letters of Wise
show a capacity for keeping a command in hot water which was unique.
If he had been half as troublesome to me as he was to Floyd, I
should indeed have had a hot time of it. But he did me royal service
by preventing anything approaching to co-operation between the two
Confederate columns. I kept my advance-guards constantly feeling of
both, and got through the period till Rosecrans joined me with
nothing more serious than some sharp affairs of detachments.

I was not without anxiety, however, and was constantly kept on the
alert. Rosecrans withdrew the Twelfth Ohio from my command,
excepting two companies under Major Hines, on the 19th of August,
[Footnote: My dispatch to Rosecrans of August 19; also Official
Records, vol. li. pt. i. p. 454.] and the imperative need of
detachments to protect the river below me was such that from this
time till the middle of September my garrison at Gauley Bridge,
including advance-guards and outposts, was never more than two and a
half regiments or 1800 men. My artillerists were also ordered back
to Ohio to reorganize, leaving the guns in the hands of such
infantry details as I could improvise. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 462.] I
was lucky enough, however, to get a very good troop of horse under
command of Captain Pfau in place of the irregular squad I had
before. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 464.]

On the 25th my advance-guard under Lieutenant-Colonel Frizell very
cleverly succeeded in drawing into an ambuscade a body of Floyd's
cavalry under Colonel A. G. Jenkins. The principal body of our men
lined a defile near the Hawk's Nest, and the skirmishers, retreating
before the enemy, led them into the trap. Our men began firing
before the enemy was quite surrounded, and putting their horses upon
the run, they dashed back, running the gantlet of the fire. Wise
reported that he met men with their subordinate officers flying at
four miles' distance from the place of the action, and so
panic-stricken that they could not be rallied or led back.
[Footnote: _Id_., vol. v. p. 816; _Id_., vol. li. pt. i. p. 457.]
Jenkins was hurt by the fall of his horse, but he succeeded in
getting away; for, as we had no horsemen to pursue with, even the
wounded, except one, could not be overtaken. Hats, clothing, arms,
and saddles were left scattered along the road in as complete a
breakneck race for life as was ever seen. The result, if not great
in the list of casualties, which were only reported at 10 or 15 by
the enemy, was so demoralizing in its influence upon the hostile
cavalry that they never again showed any enterprise in harassing our
outposts, whilst our men gained proportionally in confidence.

About the 30th of August we heard of an encampment of Confederate
militia at Boone C. H. which was so situated, southwest of the
Kanawha River, as to menace our communications with the Ohio. I sent
Lieutenant-Colonel Enyart with half of the First Kentucky Regiment
to beat up this encampment, and he did so on the 2d of September,
completely routing the enemy, who left 25 dead upon the field.
Enyart's march and attack had been rapid and vigorous, and the
terror of the blow kept that part of the district quiet for some
time afterward. [Footnote: C. R., vol. li. pt. i. pp. 465, 468,

We had heard for some days the news of the assembling of a
considerable force of Confederate militia at Fayette C. H. under
General Chapman and Colonel Beckley. They were reported at 2500,
which was a fair estimate of the numbers which answered to the call.
On the 3d of September a pretty well combined attack was made by
Wise and this force; Wise pushing in sharply upon the turnpike,
whilst Chapman, assisted by part of Wise's cavalry, drove back our
small outpost on the Fayette road. Wise was met at Pig Creek as in
his former attack, the eight companies of the Eleventh Ohio being
strengthened by half of the Twenty-sixth Ohio, which was brought
from below for this purpose. The effort was somewhat more persistent
than before, and Wise indulged in considerable noisy cannonading;
but the pickets retreated to the creek without loss, and the whole
advance-guard, keeping under good cover there, repelled the attack
with less than half a dozen casualties on our side, none being
fatal. Wise retreated again beyond Hawk's Nest. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. li. pt. i. pp. 468, 470. Wise's Report, _Id_., vol. v.
p. 124.] The irregular troops on the Fayette road were more boldly
led, and as there was no defensible position near the river for our
outposts, these fell slowly back after a very warm skirmish,
inflicting a loss, as reported by prisoners, of 6 killed among the
enemy. I expected Floyd to move at the same time, and was obliged to
continue upon the defensive by reason of his threatening position up
the Gauley River; I, however, sent Major Hines with his two
companies in that direction, and Floyd appeared to be impressed with
the idea that my whole force was moving to attack him and attempted
nothing aggressive. As at this time Wise, in his letters to General
Lee, puts Floyd's force at 5600, and his own at 2200, [Footnote:
_Id_., vol. v. p. 840.] I had good reason, therefore, to feel
satisfied with being able to keep them all at bay.

In the midst of the alarms from every side, my camp itself was
greatly excited by an incident which would have been occasion for
regret at any time, but which at such a juncture threatened for a
moment quite serious consequences. The work of intrenching the
position was going on under the direction of Lieutenant Wagner as
rapidly as the small working parties available could perform it. All
were overworked, but it was the rule that men should not be detailed
for fatigue duty who had been on picket the preceding night. On
August 28th, a detail had been called for from the Second Kentucky,
which lay above the hedge behind my headquarters, and they had
reported without arms under a sergeant named Joyce. A supply of
intrenching tools was stacked by the gate leading into the yard
where my staff tents were pitched, and my aide, Lieutenant Conine,
directed the sergeant to have his men take the tools and report to
Mr. Wagner, the engineer, on the line. The men began to demur in a
half-mutinous way, saying they had been on picket the night before.
Conine, who was a soldierly man, informed them that that should be
immediately looked into, and if so, they would be soon relieved, but
that they could not argue the matter there, as their company
commander was responsible for the detail. He therefore repeated his
order. The sergeant then became excited and said his men should not
obey. Lieutenant Gibbs, the district commissary, was standing by,
and drawing his pistol, said to Joyce, "That's mutiny; order your
men to take the tools or I'll shoot you." The man retorted with a
curse, "Shoot!" Gibbs fired, and Joyce fell dead. When the sergeant
first refused to obey, Conine coolly called out, "Corporal of the
guard, turn out the guard!" intending very properly to put the man
in arrest, but the shot followed too quick for the guard to arrive.
I was sitting within the house at my camp desk, busy, when the first
thing which attracted my attention was the call for the guard and
the shot. I ran out, not stopping for arms, and saw some of the men
running off shouting, "Go for your guns, kill him, kill him!" I
stopped part of the men, ordered them to take the sergeant quickly
to the hospital, thinking he might not be dead. I then ordered Gibbs
in arrest till an investigation should be made, and ran at speed to
a gap in the hedge which opened into the regimental camp. It was not
a moment too soon. The men with their muskets were already
clustering in the path, threatening vengeance on Mr. Gibbs. I
ordered them to halt and return to their quarters. Carried away by
excitement, they levelled their muskets at me and bade me get out of
their way or they would shoot me. I managed to keep cool, said the
affair would be investigated, that Gibbs was already under arrest,
but they must go back to their quarters. The parley lasted long
enough to bring some of their officers near. I ordered them to come
to my side, and then to take command of the men and march them away.
The real danger was over as soon as the first impulse was checked.
[Footnote: Dispatch to Rosecrans, August 29.] The men then began to
feel some of their natural respect for their commander, and yielded
probably the more readily because they noticed that I was unarmed. I
thought it wise to be content with quelling the disturbance, and did
not seek out for punishment the men who had met me at the gap. Their
excitement had been natural under the circumstances, which were
reported with exaggeration as a wilful murder. If I had been in
command of a larger force, it would have been easy to turn out
another regiment to enforce order and arrest any mutineers; but the
Second Kentucky was itself the only regiment on the spot. The First
Kentucky was a mile below, and the Eleventh Ohio was the
advance-guard up New River. Surrounded as we were by so superior a
force of the enemy with which we were constantly skirmishing, I
could not do otherwise than meet the difficulty instantly without
regard to personal risk.

The sequel of the affair was not reached till some weeks later when
General Rosecrans assembled a court-martial at my request.
Lieutenant Gibbs was tried and acquitted on the plain evidence that
the man killed was in the act of mutiny at the time. The court was a
notable one, as its judge advocate was Major R. B. Hayes of the
Twenty-third Ohio, afterwards President of the United States, and
one of its members was Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley Matthews of the
same regiment, afterwards one of the Justices of the Supreme Court.
[Footnote: Some twenty years later a bill passed the House of
Representatives pensioning the mother of the man killed, under the
law giving pensions to dependent relatives of those who died in the
line of duty! It could only have been smuggled through by
concealment and falsification of facts, and was stopped in the

The constant skirmishing with the enemy on all sides continued till
the 10th of September, when General Rosecrans with his column
reached Cross Lanes and had the action at Carnifex Ferry which I
shall describe in the next chapter. I had sent forward half a
regiment from my little command to open communication with him as
soon as possible. On September 9th a party from this detachment had
reached Cross Lanes and learned that Floyd was keeping close within
his lines on the cliffs of Gauley above Carnifex Ferry. They,
however, heard nothing of Rosecrans, and the principal body of their
troops heard no sound of the engagement on the 10th, though within a
very few miles. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. li. pt. i. p.
478.] On the 12th communication was opened, and I learned of Floyd's
retreat across the Gauley. I immediately moved forward the Eleventh
and Twenty-sixth Ohio to attack Wise, who retreated from Hawk's Nest
to the mouth of the Sunday Road, and upon my closer approach retired
to Sewell Mountain. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 479, 481.] At the Sunday
Road I was stopped by orders from Rosecrans, who thought it unwise
to advance further till he had made a ferry at the Gauley and
succeeded in getting his command over; for Floyd had again sunk the
flatboats within reach, and these had to be a second time raised and
repaired. At his request I visited the General at Carnifex Ferry,
and then got permission to move my column forward a few miles to
Alderson's, or Camp Lookout as we dubbed it, where a commanding
position controlled the country to the base of Sewell Mountain.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 482.] I was now able to concentrate the Seventh
Ohio at Gauley Bridge, and ordered forward the Second Kentucky to
join me in the new camp.

The period of my separate responsibility and of struggle against
great odds was not to close without a private grief which was the
more poignant because the condition of the campaign forbade my
leaving the post of duty. On the day I visited General Rosecrans at
Carnifex Ferry I got news of the critical illness of my youngest
child, a babe of eight months old, whom I had seen but a single day
after his birth, for I had been ordered into camp from the
legislature without time to make another visit to my family. The
warning dispatch was quickly followed by another announcing the end,
and I had to swallow my sorrows as well as I could and face the
public enemy before us, leaving my wife uncomforted in her
bereavement and all the more burdened with care because she knew we
were resuming active operations in the field.



Rosecrans's march to join me--Reaches Cross Lanes--Advance against
Floyd--Engagement at Carnifex Ferry--My advance to Sunday
Road--Conference with Rosecrans--McCook's brigade joins me--Advance
to Camp Lookout--Brigade commanders--Rosecrans's personal
characteristics--Hartsuff--Floyd and Wise again--"Battle of
Bontecou"--Sewell Mountain--The equinoctial--General Schenck
arrives--Rough lodgings--Withdrawal from the mountain--Rear-guard
duties--Major Slemmer of Fort Pickens fame--New positions covering
Gauley Bridge--Floyd at Cotton Mountain--Rosecrans's methods with
private soldiers--Progress in discipline.

General Rosecrans had succeeded McClellan as ranking officer in West
Virginia, but it was not until the latter part of September that the
region was made a department and he was regularly assigned to
command. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. v. pp. 604, 616, 647.]
Meanwhile the three months' enlistments were expiring, many
regiments were sent home, new ones were received, and a complete
reorganization of his forces took place. Besides holding the
railroad, he fortified the Cheat Mountain pass looking toward
Staunton, and the pass at Elkwater on the mountain summit between
Huttonsville and Huntersville. My own fortifications at Gauley
Bridge were part of the system of defensive works he had ordered. By
the middle of August he had established a chain of posts, with a
regiment or two at each, on a line upon which he afterwards marched,
from Weston by way of Bulltown, Sutton, and Summersville to Gauley

[Illustration Map--Affair At Carnifex Ferry]

As soon as he received the news of Floyd's attack upon Tyler at
Cross Lanes, he hastened his preparations and began his march
southward from Clarksburg with three brigades, having left the Upper
Potomac line in command of General Kelley, and the Cheat Mountain
region in command of General J. J. Reynolds. His route (already
indicated) was a rough one, and the portion of it between Sutton and
Summersville, over Birch Mountain, was very wild and difficult. He
crossed the mountain on the 9th, and left his bivouac on the morning
of the 10th of September, before daybreak. Marching through
Summersville, he reached Cross Lanes about two o'clock in the
afternoon. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. v. p. 129.] Floyd's
position was now about two miles distant, and, waiting only for his
column to close up, he again pressed forward. General Benham's
brigade was in front, and soon met the enemy's pickets. Getting the
impression that Floyd was in retreat, Benham pressed forward rather
rashly, deploying to the left and coming under a sharp fire from the
right of the enemy's works. Floyd had intrenched a line across a
bend of the Gauley River, where the road from Cross Lanes to
Lewisburg finds its way down the cliffs to Carnifex Ferry. His
flanks rested upon precipices rising abruptly from the water's edge,
and he also intrenched some rising ground in front of his principal
line. Benham's line advanced through dense and tangled woods,
ignorant of the enemy's position till it was checked by the fire
from his breastworks. It was too late for a proper reconnoissance,
and Rosecrans could only hasten the advance and deployment of the
other brigades under Colonels McCook and Scammon. [Footnote: For
organization of Rosecrans's forces, see Id., vol. li. pt. i. p.
471.] Benham had sent a howitzer battery and two rifled cannon with
his head of column at the left, and these soon got a position from
which, in fact, they enfiladed part of Floyd's line, though it was
impossible to see much of the situation. Charges were made by
portions of Benham's and McCook's brigades as they came up, but they
lacked unity, and Rosecrans was dissatisfied that his head of column
should be engaged before he had time to plan an attack. Colonel Lowe
of the Twelfth Ohio had been killed at the head of his regiment, and
Colonel Lytle of the Tenth had been wounded; darkness was rapidly
coming on, and Rosecrans ordered the troops withdrawn from fire till
positions could be rectified, and the attack renewed in the morning.
Seventeen had been killed, and 141 had been wounded in the sharp but
irregular combat. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. v. p. 146.]
Floyd, however, had learned that his position could be subjected to
destructive cannonade; he was himself slightly wounded, and his
officers and men were discouraged. He therefore retreated across the
Gauley in the night, having great difficulty in carrying his
artillery down the cliffs by a wretched road in the darkness. He had
built a slight foot-bridge for infantry in the bit of smooth water
known as the Ferry, though both above and below the stream is an
impassable mountain torrent. The artillery crossed in the flatboats.
Once over, the bridge was broken up and the ferry-boats were sunk.
He reported but twenty casualties, and threw much of the
responsibility upon Wise, who had not obeyed orders to reinforce
him. His hospital, containing the wounded prisoners taken from
Tyler, fell into Rosecrans's hands. [Footnote: A very graphic
description of this engagement and of Floyd's retreat fell into my
hands soon afterward. It was a journal of the campaign written by
Major Isaac Smith of the Twenty-second Virginia Regiment, which he
tried to send through our lines to his family in Charleston, W. Va.,
but which was intercepted. A copy is on file in the War Archives.
See also Floyd's report, _Id._, vol. v. pp. 146-148.]

General Rosecrans found the country so difficult a one that he was
in no little doubt as to the plan of campaign it was now best to
follow. It was out of the question to supply his column by wagon
trains over the mountainous roads from Clarksburg, and the Kanawha
River must therefore be made the line of communication with his
base, which had to be transferred to Gallipolis. In anticipation of
this, I had accumulated supplies and ordnance stores at Gauley
Bridge as much as possible with my small wagon trains, and had
arranged for a larger depot at the head of steamboat navigation. I
was ready therefore to turn over the control of my supply lines to
Rosecrans's officers of the quartermaster and commissary departments
as soon as his wagon trains could be transferred. It was to consult
in regard to these matters, as was as in regard to the future
conduct of the campaign, that the general directed me to visit his
headquarters at Carnifex Ferry. I rode over from my camp at the
Sunday Road junction on the morning of the 15th, found that one of
the little flatboats had been again raised and repaired at Carnifex,
and passing through the field of the recent combat, reached the
general's headquarters near Cross Lanes. I was able from personal
observation to assure him that it was easy for his command to follow
the line of the march on which Floyd had retreated, if better means
of crossing the Gauley were provided; but when they should join me
on the Lewisburg turnpike, that highway would be the proper line of
supply, making Gauley Bridge his depot. He hesitated to commit
himself to either line for decisive operations until the Gauley
should be bridged, but on my description of the commodious ferry I
had made at Gauley Bridge by means of a very large flatboat running
along a hawser stretched from bank to bank, he determined to
advance, and to have a bridge of boats made in place of my ferry.
McCook's brigade was ordered to report to me as soon as it could be
put over the river, and I was authorized to advance some six miles
toward the enemy, to Alberson's or Spy Rock, already mentioned
beyond which Big Sewell Mountain is fourteen miles further to the
southwest. [Footnote: Official Records vol. v. p. 602.]

At Cross Lanes I met the commanders of the other brigades who were
called in by General Rosecrans of an informal consultation based
upon my knowledge of the country and the enemy. I naturally scanned
them with some interest, and tried to make the most of the
opportunity to become acquainted with them. General Benham I knew
already, from his visit to me at Gauley Bridge in his capacity of
engineer officer. I had met Colonel Robert McCook at Camp Dennison,
and now that it was intimated that he would be for some days under


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