War of the Rebellion: Serial 002 Page 0284 Chapter IX. OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W. VA.

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mountain Cheat is, it will be seen that it would have taken a long time to throw up the most ordinary field works.

2. I thought that if I had all the implements I could desire the enemy would be upon me before I could make even respectable fortifications. My men were worn-out by marching inn days and one night continuously. I expected the enemy to pursue, as I thought he ought to pursue. Why should he not? He had from ten thousand to twenty thousand men in the valley which lay at the foot of the mountain, with no enemy there to engage his attention. General Morris pursued General Garnett; why should not General McClellan pursue me, as I was encumbered by a long train of wagons conveying our commissary and quartermaster's stores, &c.? Indeed, information was brought me by my scouts, when near the top of Cheat Mountain, that the enemy's cavalry had been seen between Beverly and Huttonsville, coming in our directions. I therefore expected if I stopped upon the mountain the enemy would be upon my before I could make much progress in making fortifications, and I have since ascertained I was right in my opinion, as the following letter of Adjutant Willis, of the Twelfth Georgia Regiment (who was sent by General Henry R. Jackson to General McClellan's camp on Cheat Mountain to receive our men who had been taken prisoners on prole, and who there met Lieutenant Merrill), will show:

CAMP BARTOW, VA., November 21, 1861.


SIR: You having expressed a desire that I should recount to you the conversation which passed between myself and Lieutenant William E. Merril, formerly an officer of the U. S. Army, Corps of Engineers, and at this time a prisoner of war in Richmond, Va., I comply by making this statement of facts, namely: That Lieutenant Merrill said that had Colonel Scott's regiment attempted to make a stand on Cheat Mountain on the 12th day of July, the time his regiment passed that point on its retreat from Rich Mountain, McClellan would have bent every energy and employed every man, so that he (Colonel Scott) could not have held it an hour, and not only that he could not, but both his regiment and Colonel Johnson's Georgia regiment would have been driven therefore had they attempted to have stopped, the enemy being in such close pursuit that there would have been no time for them to have erected even light field fortifications of the Army Register for the year 1859 will show that he carried away without division all the honors of his class; consequently his professional opinion as given above can but have weight.

Hoping that should any of that class of brave fellow-citizens know as critics dispute the policy of either your not passing or Colonel Johnson not advancing on Cheat Mountain, this unvarnished recital of facts may be its refutation.

I am, sir, yours, truly,


Second Lieutenant, First Infantry, C. S. Army.

P. S.-Lieutenant Merrill said that McClellan and staff reached Cheat Mountain the next day about 3 o'clock.

I passed the top of Cheat Mountain just before sunset Friday, the 12the of July. General McClellan and staff were there on the next day (Saturday) at 3 o'clock, and he occupied the place in force on Monday, as I am credibly informed. It is plain, therefore, that had I halted there I should have been overtaken by an overwhelming force of all arms before I could have made the most ordinary defenses.

3. I ascertained that if I were to stop on Cheat Mountain, and could even make successful fortifications, my position could easily be turned, and the enemy could get into my rear and cut off my supplies. All that they would have to do for that purpose would be to leave the Staunton turnpike at Huttonsville, and go by a good road to Huntersville, some thirty or forty miles distant, and then by another road thirty