|VOL. XIX.--NO. 63.||RICHMOND, VA., SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 1861.||PRICE ONCE CENT.|
COL. WM. C. SCOTT AND THE RICH MOUNTAIN AFFAIR.--To THE EDITOR OF THE WHIG: As much has been said in reguard to the action of the 44th regiment of Virginia Volunteers, and great injustice, in some instances, done our Colonel, (Scott,) the undersigned officers of that regiment, beg leave to submit to the public the follwoing statement of facts:
We started from Staunton on Thursday for Laurel Hill, and, after an arduous march of seven days, pitched our camp at Beverly on the night of Wednesday, the 10th ult. During the march Col. Scott had been met by several messengers from Gen. Garnett requesting him to hasten his march as Laurel Hill as much as possible, and with these requests he complied.
On the morning of Thursday, the 11th inst., before starting from Beverly, he received another dispatch from Gen. Garnett, reiterating his order to him to march to Laurel Hill. Accordingly, as soon as we could get breakfast, we started on our march, but after proceeding about four or five miles, we were overtaken by a messanger from Lieut. Col. Pegram, stating that it was almost certain that the enemy would turn his right flank that day and enter the turnpike leading from his camp to Beverly, about one and a half miles from Beverly, by a road leading round the right of his camp and intersecting with the Beverly turnpike at that point, remaining in it the danger of allowing the enemy to get in his rear and cut off his supplies, of which there were large quantities at Beverly.
With this request Col. Scott complied, without a moment's hesitation, notwithstanding Gen. Garnett's orders to hasten to Laurel Hill. And having distributed an additional number of cartridges to his men, turned back and hastened as rapidly as his men could to Beverly, and thence at right angles up the turnpike leading to Camp Garnett for one mile and a half, to the point intersected by the road by which the enemy were expected to enter, and which Col. Scott was requested by Col. Pegram to guard. Here Col. Scott haulted, and took position, awaiting the arrival of the enemy, and so prevented him from getting in the rear of CAmp Garnett, either to cut off out stores at Beverly, or attack Camp Garnett in the rear.
Shortly after taking this position, as directed by Col. Pegram, a desultory fire was heard, either at or about Camp Garnett, some five or six miles distant. Of this we did not know the meaning. We did not know whether the fort was attacked in front or rear. We did not know but the enemy were attacking the front, with a view of allowing another detachment to get in the rear by the road which Col. Pegram had requested Colonel Scott to guard.
Col. Scott expressed great anxiety to communicate with Col. Pegram, but was afraid to leave the position taken by him, for fear the enemy would get into our rear and the rear of Camp Garnett, this being the only way by which it was suposed they could get into Col. Pegram's rear.
For the purpose of communicating with Col. Pegram and of assertaining how matters stood, he sent Mr. Hughes, who had been with our regiment for several days, to Col. Pegram for orders, and to assertain the situation of affairs. Having waited for an answer, at length's message came from Col. Pegram requesting Col. Scott to hasten up the mountain as rapidly as he could without fatiguing his men. The same messanger, being joined by one or two others from the battle, informed Col. Scott that our forces were on the right and the enemy on the left of the road leading up the mountain, and that our men had one piece of artillery on the right of the road.
Fifteen or twenty minutes before arriving at the top of the mountain the firing eased and loud cheer was given on the right of the road.
Colonel Scott expressed his anxiety to know how matters stood, and Mr. Richard Linford, from Fluvanna offered his services to inquire this information. Having mounted the horse of Lieut. Corsoran, of Augusta, and borrowed one of Colonel Scott's pistols, he dashed off up the mountain; but he had not proceeded more than half a mile before three shots were fired in rapid sucession, apparently at him, and he never returned.
Colonel Scott then inquired of the guides, who had been in the battle, the strength of the enemy engaged, and was informed that they numbered between three and five thousand.
It being the unanimous opinion of all the officers who expressed their opinions, and also of the guides, that our regiment, numbering only about [illegible, 520?], but little drilled and worn down by a long march, we could stand but a poor chance in a contest with one piece of artillery, and knowledge of the ground by which they could choose position, Col. S concluded to retire. Having spent an hour in Beverly collecting his wagons, stores, prisoners, &c., he conducted his retreat in good order that night, and next morning took breakfast at Huttonsville, where he was overtaken by a dispatch from General Garnett, directing him to retire and take a position beyond Huttonsville, and to draw his supplies from Richmond. Here our regiment was joined by a portion of the 29th Regiment under Major Tyler, and a number of other fugitives from Camp Garnett. He (Colonel S.) conducted his retreat in good order, until he reached Greenbrier river, at the foot of Cheat Mountain, where he met Governor Letcher and Col. Johnston of the Confederate Army.
It has been said that Colonel Scott should have stopped and fortified the top of Cheat Mountain. Now it is only about ten miles from the top of that mountain to Greenbrier river, or its Eastern base; and from the time that Colonel Johnston of the Confederate Army, left Staunton with a Georgia regiment, we had every reason to believe he would be at Greenbrier river, one of the regular stands for our troops on Friday night.--Colonel Scott, therefore, concluded to unite with that regiment that night, and, then if it should be advisable, to fortify Cheat Mountain, to do so with two regiments instead of one.
He did meet with Colonel Johnston and his regiment at that river, but Colonel Johnston, the commanding officer of the two regiments, deemed it advisable to retire still further and was shortly afterwards met by General Jackson, who concluded to retire to Monterey, steps which fully justified Colonel Scott in retiring as far as Greenbrier river at the base of Cheat Mountain, where the command passed out of his hands.
It has been stated in the papers that on arriving near the field of battle, after it had been decided, Col. Scott's men begged him to allow them to engage the enemy, but that he would not permit. If such had been the case, it would have only shown Col. Scott's good judgement, but it was not so. For everyone who expressed an opinion at all, considered it would be folly to engage the enemy with such disparity of numbers, especially when they had one piece of artillery.
Again it has been stated that Col. Pegram sent a messanger to Col. Scott, requesting him to come to his assistance, after Col. Scott had taken his position on the road as requested, and that Col. Scott refused to do so. This is equally false.
Col. Scott frequently expressed great anxiety to hear from Col. Pegram, and obeyed with promptness the first message to go up the mountain., and in going up the mountain Col. S. frequently hurried his men, amd commanded them to go up as rapidly as the nature of the ground would premit.
Col. Pegram was entirely mistaken in supposing that the enemy would turn his right flank by the road in which he placed Col. Scott.
They turned his left flank by a road they had cut the night before. Had col. Scott received Col. Pegram's orders to come up half an hour earlier, and been furnished with a guide to show him the different positions of friends and foes, he might have rendered material assistance, as it was, he was utterly unable to do so.
In the first place, he would have abandoned the position in which he had been placed by Col. Pegram; and, in the next, has he gone without a guide, he would have gone up the mountain road and subjected his men to the fire of both friends and enemies.
Several of our friends engaged in the battle assure us that if he had gone up without notice, we would have been fired into by them.
Col. Pegram could have communicated with Col. Scott, but Col. S. could not with Col. P., and in attempting had his messanger killed, as it afterwards appeared.
It had been said that Mr. Hughes was drunk when killed; if so, he must have gotten drunk after he left our regiment, for none of us discovered that he was in the least under the influence of ardent spirits. We presume the reason he stated he belonged to the Northern army was because Col. Pegram's letter stated that the enemy were making their way around his right flank, and the men he saw being on his right flank, he mistook them for the enemy. It has been said that Col. Scott was posted only four hundred yards from the battle, whereas is was not less than four or five miles.
Upon a review of all that has occured, we are perfectly satisfied that Col. Scott acted properly throughout the whole matter, and that had he acted in any other way than he did, under the circumstances in which he was placed, his whole command would either have been destroyed of taken prisoners, and all his wagons lost. As it was, he has saved his whole command, all his wagons, all the arms, munitions of war and military stores at Beverly, and all the prisoners confined there in jail.
F.R. FARRAR, acting Major 44th Regiment.
J.L. HUBARD, Lieutenant Colonel 44th Regiment Virginia Volunteers.
C.Y. STEPTOE, Adjutant 44th Regiment Virginia Volunteers.
J.R. ROBERTSON, Captain Company "A."
WILLIAM T. LACY,[Captain Company] "B."
T.R. BUCKNER,[Captain Company] "C."
JOS. L. SMALTON,[Captain Company] "D."
EDWARD M. ALFRIEND, Lieutenant Commanding Company "M."
CHARLES A. JAMES, Lieutenant Commanding Company "F."
FORVAL CORE [?], Captain Company "G."
THOMAS N. [?] COLEMAN, Captain Company "H."
WM. H. MARSHALL, Captain Company "I."
D.W. ANDERSON, Captain Company "K."
Richmond Daily Dispatch, 5 August 1861.
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