War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0807 Chapter XXIV. ACTION AT LEWISBURG, W. VA.

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advance was seen on the crest of a hill beyond Lewisburg. Two companies of infantry from each regiment were ordered forward to ascertain the force of the enemy and to hold them in check until we could form and advance to their relief. The advance companies were met by a very severe fire, and, deploying as skirmishers,l fell slowly back, contesting the ground inch by inch. The Forty-fourth Regiment, under Colonel Gilbert, was ordered forward on the right flank; the Thirty-sixth Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Clarke, on the left flank, with instructions to push on rapidly before the enemy had time to form.

General Heth had pushed forward six pieces of artillery, and was throwing round shot and shell into our camp and into the ranks of our troops as they passed through the streets of the town, many of the shells striking the dwellings.

While Lieutenant-Colonel Clarke pushed steadily up the slope of the hill in the face of a severe fire Colonel Gilbert was also advancing on the right flank and by a vigorous movement succeeded in capturing four pieces of artillery, one of which was loaded with canister at the time of the capture. The locality of the battery after the battle shoes by the number of the dead and wounded the fierceness of the fight at that point.

Giving the more open ground on the slope below the enemy a steady, rapid advance was made by our entire line, loading and firing as they advanced, and upon gaining the crest of the hill the enemy fell back in confusion.

Colonel Bolles, of the Second Virginia Cavalry, who had been held in reserve, was ordered forward in pursuit, but their retreat was so rapid and the ground so unfavorable for pursuit, the road passing through narrow and rocky defiles, that they crossed Greenbrier Bridge, burning it behind them, before they could be overtaken, and from the best information in my possession has continued his retreat down the Union road; and as a number of his troops are men who have been pressed into the service under the State conscription, and this is their first engagement, there is every reason to believe that the defeat will be to them very demoralizing. The force actually engaged with us was about 2,500 men, including about 125 cavalry and six pieces of artillery.

We have in our possession as prisoners Lieutenant-Colonel Finney, Major Edgar, and a number of minor officers and 93 privates; also 66 wounded prisoners and 38 dead; four pieces of artillery (two 12-pounder field howitzers and two 6-pounder rifled cannon), and about 300 stand of arms.

We have a loss of 11 killed and 54 wounded, the greater number of whom are not dangerously so. Many of our wounded were fired upon by citizens of the town as they returned on the way to the hospital, and one wounded man shot dead in the street. The housed which can be fully identified as having been fired from will be burned, and if I can capture any of the parties engaged they will be hung in the street as an example to all such assassins.

Our forces engaged were about 1,200 infantry. Had my force been larger, so that I might have left my rear guarded, there being reasonable ground to expect another force in our rear, and had I possessed transportation (which I need very much) the enemy would have been pursued until they were captured or dispersed.

It is unnecessary to eulogize the men whom I have the honor to command. Their steady, firm advance in the face of the fire which met them and the result will speak for itself. I need only say that not an