Abbildungen der Seite



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]






[ocr errors]

VIR. R. R.










[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

once; and it was this misapprehension which defeated him. First, a small detachment of infantry, supported by cavalry, attacked on the west, whereupon almost the entire rebel force was sent out to meet them. Shortly, a similar advance was made on the east, and the enemy retraced their steps for a defense in that direction. While they were thus held, the remaining Union force drove in the pickets of the central path, who, finding the village empty, rushed on three miles further, to a partially fortified place where Marshall him

Parkersburg self was waiting. Thinking that Paintville was lost, he hastily ordered all his forces to retreat, which they did, as far as this fortified camp. Garfield entered Paintville at the

-V I RG INI A same time, having with him the Forty-second Ohio, Fourteenth Ken- en tucky, and four hundred Virginia cavalry.

A portion of the cavalry were chasing the rebel horse, whom they followed five miles, killing three and wounding several. The Union force lost two killed and one wounded. The next day, the eighth of January, a few hours rest was taken, while preparations were being made for another fight. But towards evening it was determined to advance. Painter Creek was too high to ford. But there was a saw-mill near by, and in an hour a raft was made upon which to cross. Marshall, being posted concerning this movement, was deliberating what to do, when a spy came in with the information that Colonel Cranor was approaching, with 3,300 men. Alarmed at such an overpowering enemy, he burnt his stores and fled precipitately toward Petersburg. At nine o'clock that night, the Eighteenth Brigade was snugly settled in the late Con



Here it appeared that every thing had been left suddenly, and in confusion; meat was left cooking before the fire, and all preparations for the evening meal abandoned. This place

federate camp.

was at the top of a hill, three hundred feet high, covering about two acres, and would soon have been a strong fortification.

On the ninth, Colonel Cranor did at last arrive, with his regiment, eight hundred strong, completely worn out with the long march. But Colonel Garfield felt that the present advantage must be pursued, or no permanent gain could result. So he raised 1,100 men, who stepped from the ranks as volunteers, and immediately started on the trail of the enemy.

The action which followed is known as the battle of Middle Creek. Eighteen miles further up the West Fork, along which they marched, two parallel creeks flow in between the hills; the northernmost one is Abbott's Creek, the next Middle Creek. It was evident that Marshall would place himself behind this double barrier and make a stand there, if he should endeavor to turn the tide of defeat at all. Toward this point the weary troops, therefore, turned their steps. The way was so rough and the rains so heavy that they did not near the place until late in the day. But about nine o'clock in the evening they climbed to the top of a hill, whose further slope led down into the valley of Abbott's Creek. On this height the enemy's pickets were encountered and driven in. Further investigation led to the conclusion that the enemy was near, in full force. That night the men slept on their arms in this exposed position; the rain had turned to sleet, and any degree of comfort was a thing they ceased to look for. Perceiving the necessity for reinforcements, Colonel Garfield sent word to Colonel Cranor to send forward all available men. Meanwhile, efforts were made to learn Marshall's position, and arrange for battle. Our old friend John Jordan visited the hostile camp in the mealy clothes of a rebel miller, who had been captured, and returned with some very valuable information. Morning dawned, and the little Federal army proceeded cautiously down into the valley, then over the hills again, until, a mile beyond, they were ready to descend into the valley of Middle Creek, and charge against the enemy on the opposite heights. Garfield's plan was to avoid a general engagement, until about the time for his reinforcements to appear, because otherwise it was plainly suicidal to attack such a

large force. On this plan skirmishing continued from eight till one o'clock, the only result being a better knowledge of the situation. Now it was high time to begin in earnest. In the center of the strip of meadow-land, which stretched between Middle Creek and the opposite hills, was a high point of ground, crowned by a little log church and a small graveyard. The first movement would be to occupy that place, in order to have a base of operations on that side. The rebel cavalry and artillery were each in position to control the church. But the guns were badly trained, and missed their mark; the cavalry made some show, but, for some reason, retired without much fighting.

Keeping a reserve here, a portion of the brave eleven hundred were now to strike a decisive blow; but the enemy's infantry was hidden, and they did not know just how to proceed. On the south side of Middle Creek, to the right of the place where the artillery was stationed, rose a high hill. Around it wound the creek, and following the creek ran a narrow, rocky road. The entire force of Marshall, except his reserve, was in fact hidden in the fastnesses of that irregular, forest-covered hill, and so placed as to command this road, by which it was expected that the Federal troops would approach. But “the best laid plans” sometimes go wrong. The Yankee was not to be entrapped. Suspecting some such situation, Garfield sent his escort of twelve men down the road; around the hill they clattered at a gallop, in full view of the enemy. The ruse worked well, and the sudden fire of several thousand muskets revealed the coveted secret. The riders returned safely, and then the battle began. Four hundred men of the Fortieth and Forty-second Ohio, under Major Pardee, quickly advanced up the hill in front, while two hundred of the Fourteenth Kentucky, under Lieutenant-Colonel Monroe, went down the road some distance and endeavored, by a flank movement, to so engage a portion of the rebels that not all of them could be turned against Pardee. The latter now charged up the hill under a heavy fire. They were inferior in numbers, but determined to reach the summit some way. So they broke ranks at the cry of “Every man to a tree,” and faught after the Indian fashion. After all, the Union boys were

not altogether at a disadvantage. Their opponents were troops, and after the manner of inexperienced men they aimed too high, while the Federals did much better execution. But Marshall meant business at this important hour, and sent his reserve to swell the number. A charge was made down the hill. Now the boys in blue retreat; but not far.' Garfield goes in with his reserves. Captain Williams calls, “To the trees again, my boys;" they rally; the fight grows hotter and whistling death is in the air. The critical moment is here, and those poor fellows down below are about to be crushed. The exultant Confederates rush down in swelling volume, the wolf is about to seize his prey.

But now a faint, though cheerful shout rings across the narrow valley; then louder it grows while the echoes clatter back from hillside to hillside like the tumult of ten thousand voices. The Confederates above peer out through the branches and view the opposite road. Every face, just flushed with hopes of victory, now turns pale at the sight. The force from Paintville has come at last. The hard-pressed men of Pardee can see nothing, but they catch new inspiration from the sound. They answer back; while to the thousand voices and the ten thousand echoes on the Union side, one word of reply is given from the rebel commander's mouth. And the word he utters is-RETREAT.

This ended the struggle. Lieutenant-Colonel Sheldon, with his seven hundred men, after a hard day's march of twenty miles, came down on the scene of action at a run, and found that their approach had saved the day. Garfield and his men were already occupying the hill-top, and a detachment was following the fleeing troops of the enemy. The policy adopted, however, was to not follow the enemy very far, as it was not known in how bad a condition they were. The Union loss in this battle was two killed and twenty-five wounded. The rebels left twenty-seven dead on the field, and had carried off about thirty-five more.

The captures were, twenty-five men, ten horses, and a quantity of army supplies. Toward midnight a bright light appeared in the sky in the direction Marshall had taken. It was the light of his blazing wagons and camp equipments, burned by his men to

[graphic][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »