in which I left my regiment I found it had gone towards Huttonsville, the opposite direction to that of Laurel Hill, some one having informed my lieutenant-colonel it was my wish he should go that way. I mounted my horse, dashed off at a rapid rate, and overtook it between one and two miles from Beverly, and turned it back in the direction of Laurel Hill; but on reaching Beverly I saw two men, who informed me that they were just from Laurel Hill, that General Garnett himself was on the retreat, and that he had ordered his tents to be struck for that purpose before they left his camp. This changed my programme. I saw no use in going to General Garnett, as I would only serve to encumber his retreat. I therefore determined to retreat myself, and accordingly left Beverly, I suppose, between 10 and 11 o'clock that night.
The night was dark, rainy, and dismal; the roads were muddy. My wagons, with those loaded with our quartermaster and commissary stores, munitions of war, &c., constituted a train one, two, or three miles in length. My regiment marched in the rear to protect them from attack. When one stopped all behind it stopped, and my regiment also; consequently my progress was slow. After getting about two or three miles from Beverly I was overtaken by a messenger from General Garnett with the following order, which I read by the lantern which the guard carried with the prisoners:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT N. W. A.,
Camp at Laurel Hill, July 11, 1861.
Commanding Regiment en route to Laurel Hill:
COLONEL: I am directed by General Garnett to furnish you with the inclosed sketch, and to say that he wishes you to march all night, if necessary to attain the point B on the sketch, and to block up the path so far towards A as you can, and the road towards C. If the enemy should have reached the point A, then block up as much as you can.
By order of General Garnett:
JAMES L. CORLEY,
Captain, C. S. A., Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
The inclosed sketch to which he refers was the diagram, a copy of which is inserted above [p. 274.]. Your honor cannot fully understand this order unless you read it in connection with the diagram. If you will turn to it yo will see I was not directed to blockade the Buckhannon turnpike, leading from Colonel Pegram's camp to Beverly, but that portion of the county road I had been ordered to guard which extends from B to C, and the path which struck off from that county road from B to the point A where it crossed the mountain. I saw at once the mistake under which General Garnett was laboring. He had heard of the fight at Rich Mountain, and from Colonel Pegram's letter to him in the morning he believed that the enemy had gotten to Colonel Pegram's rear by turning his right flank, and coming along that path and county road would still continue to come that way. Now I knew they had not come that way, but had come around Colonel Pegram's left flank. I deemed it, therefore, an act of supreme folly to turn my regiment back at 12 o'clock at night, and march all night, and next day commence blockading a path and road in which I knew no enemy had put his foot an do enemy would put his foot. Besides, as neither artillery or cavalry could get over the mountain by that path, of what use was it to blockade it on this side of the mountain against infantry, which could easily get around the blockade?
Again, I reflected if I should obey General Garnett's ordered it would almost certainly insure the loss of my whole command. It would probably take me all night to reach the point B, and later in the day to climb the mountain and reach the point A. This point A was but a