I have already stated I spent the night of Wednesday, the 10th of July, at Beverly. Next morning early a messenger from General Garnett waited on me, informing me that it was General Garnett's orders I should hasten to Laurel Hill, and that he was then on his way to meet Colonel Edward Johnson, who had left Staunton with his regiment on the previous Monday. Accordingly, immediately after breakfast I started on the Laurel Hill turnpike for Laurel Hill, but I had not proceeded with my regiment more than three or four miles on that turnpike from I was overtaken by a messenger, who delivered to me the following letter from Colonel Pegram:
HEADQUARTERS CAMP GARNETT, July 11, 1861.
Colonel WM. C. SCOTT, Forty-fourth Virginia Volunteers:
SIR: I think it almost certain that the enemy are working their way around my right flank, to come into this turnpike one and one-half miles this side of Beverly. I would suggest you place your regiment in position on that road, and take with you the two pieces of artillery at Leadsville Church. I have cavalry scouting between this and that road, and will re-enforce you as soon as I get information of the approach of the enemy. I shall at once write a letter to General Garnett, informing him of my opinion as to the movements of the enemy and of the request I have made of you. I need not tell you how fatal it would be to have the enemy in our rear, as it would entirely cut off our supplies.
After delivering this letter the messenger dashed on to Laurel Hill. This letter was read to most of my officers and to Mr. John N. Hughes, who resided in Beverly, with whom I had become acquainted in the late Virginia Convention,m and who had express a determination to join my regiment. He said he was perfectly acquainted with the road on which Colonel Pegram desired me to take position. What was I to do? The exigency was pressing. If the enemy should get to Colonel Pegrams' rear and get possession of Beverly, where all our quartermaster and commissary stores, &c., were deposited, both Colonel Pegram and General Garnett would be compelled to retreat, for an army cannot live without supplies. I could not wait to send to Laurel Hill, twelve or thirteen miles distant, for orders, for, were I to do so, from the character of Colonel Pegrams' letter I believed the enemy would get into the Buckhannon turnpike before me, for that letter says: "It is almost certain that the enemy are working their way around my right flank to get into this turnpike one and a half miles this side of Beverly." "Are working their way" being in the present tense, I supposed the enemy were already on their march by that route, hence I did not hesitate as to the course I should pursue. Having no writing materials, I sent Captain Shelton and Sergeant Spindle to Leadsville Church, about three or four miles in advance of me, for the two pieces of artillery spoken of in Colonel Pegram's letter, and for the Greenbrier Troop of Cavalry, which I understood was stationed at that place. After distributing cartridges to the men I returned to Beverly, and then took the Buckhannon turnpike, which I followed until I reached the point at which the county road referred to by Colonel Pegram enters it on the right, one and a half miles from Beverly. At that point I took position with my regiment. While there Captain Shelton and Sergeant Spindle, who had been sent to Leadsville Church, brought me information that the two pieces of artillery had been removed from that place to Laurel Hill, and that the commander of the Greenbrier Cavalry refused to come, on the ground that my order was not in writing. The messenger, who had gone on to Laurel Hill with a