Burdsal's dragoons, to cut his way through the almost impenetrable thickets of brush to the lofty summit of Rich Mountain, at Hart's farm, about five miles distant, and to move thence at once down the turnpike road and attack the entrenchments in rear, and during the progress of his march to communicate with me every hour. The remainder of the force under my command to be held in readiness to assault in front as soon as Rosecrans's musketry should indicate that he was immediately in their rear.
The order to general Resecrans to advance to attack the rear of the enemy's lower entrenchments was not carried out, but his brigade remained at Hart's farm during the remainder of the day and the night, and I received no communication from him after about 11 o'clock a. m., when he was still distant about a mile and a half from hart's farm.
About the time I expected the general to reach the rear of their entrenchments I moved up all my available force to the front, and remained in person just in rear of the advance pickets, ready to assault when the indicated moment should arrive.
In the mean time i sent Lieutenant Poe to find such a position for our Artillery as would enable us to command the works. Late in the afternoon I received his report that he had found such a place. I immediately detailed a party to cut a road to it for our guns, but it was too late to get them into position before dark, and as I had received no intelligence whatever of General Rosecrans' movements, I finally determined to return to camp, leaving merely sufficient force to cover the working party. Orders were then given to move up the guns with the entire available infantry at daybreak the following morning. As the troops were much fatigued, some delay occurred in moving from camp, and just as the guns were starting intelligence was received that the enemy had evacuated their works and fled over the mountains, leaving all their guns, means of transportation, ammunition, tents, and baggage behind.
Then, for the first time since 11 o'clock the previous day, i received a communication from General Rosecrans, giving me the first intimation that he had taken the enemy's position at Hart's farm, from which it appeared that he, with great difficulty and almost superhuman efforts on the part of his men, had forced his way up the precipitous side of the mountain, and at about 1 p. m. reached the summit, where he encountered a portion of the enemy's force, with two guns in position behind earth and log works - affording protection to their men.
The attack was commenced by the enemy with heroic spirit and determination. they opened upon the advance of our column with volleys of musketry and rapid discharges of canister, killing several of our men, and at first throwing them into some confusion. They, however, soon rallied, and returned a brisk and accurate fire, which told with terrible effect in the enemy's ranks - killing and wounding nearly every man at their guns. The troops then advanced, continuing their well-directed fire, until they drove the enemy from their position, and caused them to take flight down the turnpike towards their entrenchments at the base of the mountain.
The troops then encamped on the battle-field at about 2 o' clock p. m., and remained there until the following morning, when I made a rapid march and occupied Beverly. I here learned that General Garnett, as soon as he discovered we were approaching his rear and cut off his retreat in this direction, abandoned his entrenchments at Laurel Hill, leaving his tents and other property, and had made a hasty retreat in the night over a rough country road leading towards Saint