The Battle of Alleghany Mountain?  Get me my slippers...


The following are the series of reports filed by Colonel Edward Johnson following the battle at Camp Allegheny in the mountains of western Virginia where he led elements of the Army of the Northwest. The response of the Secretary of War announced a promotion for Edward Johnson to the rank of Brigadier General to take date from the day of the battle.

I have tried to preserve the continuity and the look and feel of the Official Records within the limitations of my knowledge of html.

Reports of Col. Edward Johnson, Twelfth Georgia Infantry, and response
of the Secretary of War.

CAMP ALLEGHANY, December 13,1861.

COLONEL: Yesterday I sent out a scout, who fell in with a column of the enemy, killing some 8 or 10. This morning our pickets were driven in about 4 a.m. I made preparations to meet the enemy. They appeared in force--not less than 5,000 men; attacked my right and left. On the right there are no defensive works. On the hill to the left we have hastily thrown up a trench. I have only about 1,200 effective men. Four hundred of my men met the enemy on the right flank, and after a severe contest defeated them. On the left the enemy attacked our intrenchments, but failed to carry them. They were met on both points with the most determined heroism, and, after a contest lasting from 7 a.m. until near 2 p.m., repulsed with great loss. Our victory has been complete, but dearly bought. We have lost several gallant officers killed and many wounded. Among the killed are Capt. P.B. Anderson, Lee Battery; Captain Mollohan, Hansborough's battalion. Wounded, Captain Deshler, my acting assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant-Colonel Hansborough, Lieut. George T. Thompson, Thirty-first Virginia Regiment, and others--Lieutenant Thompson fatally, I fear.

The enemy were led into my camp by a Virginia traitor. Since the battle the Forty-forth have come up, and the Fifty-eighth, I am informed, is en route to this place. The enemy left a large number killed and wounded on the field. They carried off a large number, some ten or twelve ambulance loads of wounded.

I trust immediate action will be taken to relieve this position. Under recent orders, I have sent to the rear a large quantity of ordnance and ordnance stores. I have all along contended that this place would be occupied if we abandoned it. I feel confident that they have planned this attack upon information furnished by deserters from this camp, and that they will occupy it if we leave it. The position is one which could with sufficient force be made quite strong, but the extent of ground to be occupied is too large for a small one. My first letter to you will show that I thought the force left here was too small.

Prisoners taken to-day state that the enemy had 5,000 men drawn from Huttonsville, Cheat Mountain, and other places in the rear of Cheat Mountain. I will forward you a more detailed report at my earliest convenience. I am making preparations for the enemy in the event, which I do not think probable, of his renewing the attack to-morrow or at any time before we evacuate this position.

In the event of remaining here, stores must be immediately sent back. If we leave, we should do so as soon as the public property is sent back.

I am, sir, very respectfully,

Colonel, Commanding.

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army Northwest.

CAMP ALLEGHANY, December 15, 1861.

COLONEL: I have nothing to report concerning the enemy since the battle except what I hear from prisoners. From a sergeant captured I learn that Generals Reynolds and Milroy commanded, and that the expedition was based upon information furnished them by five deserters from Hansborough's battalion, who left here about a week since. Troops were drawn from Beverly, Huttonsville, and Cheat Mountain. All that they could collect were brought up. The right was guided to our position by a traitor from Northwestern Virginia named Shipman, who is quite familiar with this country. The left was guided by a noted guide and traitor, who lived within 3 miles of this place, named Slater. We had timely warning of their approach, but could not ascertain their numbers before they made the attack. Our works had been suspended in consequence of recent orders. None had been erected before we got here.

The enemy were totally routed. I hear from citizens on the line of their retreat that they carried numbers of dead and wounded by the house, and acknowledged that they had been badly whipped. They were heard to accuse their officers of deceiving them, insisting that our numbers were largely superior to our own. They were much demoralized, and I hope they received a good lesson. Four additional dead bodies of the enemy were found this morning. We have 12 or 14 of their wounded, most of whom will die. Our loss has been severe, but with our small numbers against such odds it was not singular. The Forty-fourth Virginia came up soon after the fight. It is still here.

Immediately after the fight I ordered the transportation of stores from this place to stop, and no more trains to be sent to this place until further orders. I am strengthening my works, and I trust that something decisive will be determined upon, so that I may know what to do. The ordnance ammunition had nearly all been sent back when we were attacked, but most of the fighting was with infantry.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding.

Col. C.L. STEVENSON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Camp Alleghany, December 19, 1861.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engagement with the enemy which occurred at this place on the 13th instant:

On the morning of the 13th, about 4 a.m., I was aroused by the officer of the day, who reported firing at the advance pickets on the pike in the direction of the enemy. I immediately turned out the whole of my command, and prepared to meet them. I ordered Hansborough's battalion, the Thirty-first Virginia, commanded by Major Boykin, and Reger's battalion to occupy the crest of the mountain on the right, to guard against approach from that quarter. On this hill there were no defenses. There were some fields and felled timber beyond, which reached the crest of the mountain. The enemy advanced to our front, and, conducted by a guide, a Union man from Western Virginia, who was familiar with the roads and trails in the vicinity, turned off from the turnpike about a mile from our position, near the base of the mountain, and reached our right by a trail which led into a road coming into the field slightly in our rear. As they approached this position pickets thrown out from Hansborough's battalion discovered them, and reported them as advancing in strong force.

At about 7.15 o'clock a.m. the enemy advanced, and a terrific fire commenced. The enemy on this flank numbered fully 2,000. They were gallantly met by our troops, who did not 300 at his time. As soon as I heard the firing I ordered two companies of the Twelfth Georgia (Hawkins' and Blandford's), who had at the first alarm been posted on the pike about a quarter of a mile in front down the mountain, to move up immediately to the support of our forces on the right. Three other companies of the Twelfth (Davis', Hardeman's, and Patterson's), Lieut. U.E. Moore commanding, were also ordered to the support on the right, who were making a gallant defense and holding the position against immense odds. Gallantly did the Georgians move up, and, taking position on the left, received a terrible fire from the enemy.

By this time the extreme right had been forced back, but seeing the Georgians, who came on with a shout, they joined them, and moved upon the enemy, who, taking advantage of some fallen trees, brush, and timber, poured upon them a terrific fire. Our men were checked, but not driven back. They did not yield an inch, but steadily advanced, cheered and led by their officers. Many of the officers fought by the side of their men and led them on to the conflict. I never witnessed harder fighting. The enemy, behind trees, with their long-range arms, at first had decidedly the advantage, but our men soon came up to them and drove them from their cover. I cannot speak in terms too exaggerated of the unflinching courage and dashing gallantry of those 500 men who contended from 7.15 a.m. until 1.45 p.m. against an immensely superior force of the enemy, and finally drove them from their positions and pursued them a mile or more down the mountain. ...

My command consisted of the Twelfth Georgia Regiment, under the immediate command of Lieut. Col. Z.T. Conner; Fifty-second Virginia, Major Ross', Hansborough's and Reger's battalions; Thirty-first Virginia, Major Boykin; Lee Battery of artillery, four pieces, Capt. P.B. Anderson; Captain Miller's battery, four pieces, and a detachment of Pittsylvania cavalry, Lieutenant Dabney. The artillery was posted on the hill to the left of my position, which had been intrenched. Immediately after the troops were turned out the Twelfth Georgia and Fifty-second Virginia were ordered into the trenches. The Pittsylvania cavalry, dismounted, under Lieutenant Dabney, also went into the trenches, armed with carbines. A large column of the enemy, led by one Slater, a traitor, well acquainted with the country, approached the left of this position by a road running along a leading ridge.

About half an hour after the attack was made on the right this column came up on the left to our trenches. They were evidently surprised to find us intrenched. Here the brave Anderson, by a fatal mistake, lost his life. As the enemy advanced he rode to the trenches and invited them in, thinking they were our returning pickets, at the same time telling our men not to fire. He was instantly shot down by the advanced body of the enemy's force. Our men then opened a galling fire upon them, and they fell back into the fallen timber and brush, from which they kept up a constant fire at our men in the trenches and upon our artillery.

My acting assistant adjutant-general, Capt. James Deshler, of the artillery, whilst behaving most gallantly, was shot down in the trenches by a wound through both thighs. He refused to leave the field, and remained in the trenches until the day was over. Captain Miller opened upon the enemy with his guns and behaved with great gallantry, exposing himself at his guns to the fire of the enemy's sharpshooters. After the enemy's force on the right had been repulsed and driven from the field, I ordered all of our men who had been engaged in that quarter to join the troops in the trenches to the left. They took post with other troops, and opened fire on the enemy as occasion offered. The enemy, under the fire of artillery and infantry, soon retreated from the left, leaving their dead and wounded.

The enemy's force on the left was larger, if anything, than the force on the right. They numbered in all about 5,000 men, who had been drawn from Belington, Beverly, Huttonsville, Elk Water, and Cheat Mountain. My force did not exceed 1,200 effective men of all arms. General Reynolds, U.S. Army, commanded the whole of the enemy's forces, and General Milroy the attacking force on our right. General Milroy is reported by prisoners captured to have been wounded. The enemy left upon the field 35 dead and 13 wounded. They carried from the field large numbers of dead and wounded. This I get from citizens who reside upon the roads along which they retreated. Ten or twelve ambulances were seen conveying their wounded. We captured 3 prisoners and about 100 stand of arms, which the enemy had thrown away in his flight.

Although we have reason to be thankful to God for the victory achieved over our enemies on this occasion, we can lament the loss of many valuable lives. Our casualties amount to 20 killed, 96 wounded, and 28 missing. Many of the missing have returned since the day of the battle. I am much indebted to Surgs. H.R. Green, of the Twelfth Georgia Regiment, and W.T. Blane, of the Thirty-first Virginia Volunteers, for their attention to our own wounded as well as those of the enemy. They have been untiring in their efforts to alleviate their sufferings. Dr. Green was slightly wounded in the hand by a spent ball while attending to the wounded.

Herewith I submit a list of casualties; also the reports of commanders of regiments and corps.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel Twelfth Georgia Regiment, Comdg. Monterey Line.

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army Northwest, Staunton.

U.S. War Department, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), v.5, 460-464.