in the advance, opened its fire most gallantry upon them, which was immediately returned by their strong force of infantry and by their cannon, upon which Barnett's artillery was ordered up and opened upon them with excellent effect.
As I soon perceived a position by which their left could be turned, six companies of Colonel Dumont's regiment were ordered to cross the river about three hundred yards above them, to pass up the hill obliquely from our right their left, and take them in rear. By some mistake, possibly in the transmission of the order, this command crossed at about double this distance and turned at first to their right, which delayed the effect of this movement. After some fifteen minutes, however, this error was rectified, and, the hill being reported as impracticable, this command, now increased to the whole regiment, were ordered down to the ford, under close cover of this hill on their side, and there to take them directly in front at the road.
The firing of Steedman's regiment and Milroy's, now well up and in action, with repeated and rapid discharge of the artillery during this movement, decided the action at once. As Dumont reached the road, having passed along and under their whole front, the firing ceased, and the enemy fled in great confusion, Dumont's regiment pursuing them for about one mile farther, having a brisk skirmishing with their rear for the first half of that distance, during which General Garnett was killed. The enemy would still have been followed up most closely, and probably to the capture of a large portion of their scattered army, but this was absolutely impossible with our fatigued and exhausted troops, who had already marched some eighteen miles or move, in an almost incessant, violent rain, and the greater part of them without food since the evening, and a portion of them even from the noon of the yesterday, so warm had been the pursuit on their hasty retreat from Laurel Mountain, twenty-six miles distant. The troops were, therefore, halted from food and rest at about 2 p. m.
The result of the action proves to be the capture of about forty loaded wagons and teams, being nearly all their baggage train, as we learn, and including a large portion of new clothing, camp equipage, and other stores; their headquarter papers and military chest; also two stands of colors and one fine rifled piece of artillery; while the commanding general, Robert S. Garnett, is killed, his body being now cared for by us, and fifteen or twenty more of the enemy are killed and nearly fifty prisoners are taken. Our own loss ice two killed and six or seven wounded; one dangerously.
In concluding this report, I feel it my duty to state that just as the action was closing, the head regiment of the body of the troops under yourself, though starting as I learn three hours later, the Sixth Indiana, under Colonel Crittenden, came up to the field in excellent order, but, unfortunately, too late to aid us in the battle.
The conduct of those gallant officers, Colonels Barnett, Steedman, Dumont, and Milroy, with the steady perseverance of their officers and men in their long and arduous march, sufficient from hunger, rain, and cold, with their gallantry in action, was most heroic, and beyond all praise of mine. Their country only can fully appreciate and reward their services.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. BENHAM, Captain of Engineers,
Chief Eng. Dep't of the Ohio, and Commanding advance Column.
General T. A. MORRIS, Commanding U. S. Forces.