No. 12. Report of Colonel G. C. Wharton, Fifty-fifth Virginia Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.
HDQRS. THIRD Brigadier, ARMY OF THE SOUTHWESTERN VA., Champ near Charleston, W. Va.., September 17, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the participation of the Third Brigade in the action at Fayetteville, on the 10th instant, and the skirmishes between that village and Charleston:
On the morning of the 10th, within 4 1/2 miles of Fayetteville, I was ordered by Major-General Loring to proceed with the Twenty-second Regiment, Colonel Patton; the Fifty-firth Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel [August] Forsberg, and Clarke's battalion of sharpshooters, Lieutenant-Colonel Clarke, by a road to the left, in order to attack the enemy in rear, while the main body should proceed directly along the turnpike and attack him in front. At 11.15 o'clock we left the turnpike under the direction of a guide, who was said to be thoroughly acquainted with the country. The anxiety of our guide to take us to the rear of the enemy, to make the surprise complete, caused him to take the column by a more circuitous route (one much longer and much more difficult to march over than had been represented), which delayed our making the enemy's rear until about 2.15 o'clock. When we reached the rear, the enemy's batteries were not in the position which had been described. We found in front two batteries well constructed, and so arranged as to command, by a cross-fire, the cleared space (about 1,000 yards) between these batteries and the wood on the ridge where we took position. Through this cleared space run the turnpike from Fayetteville to Gauley Bridge. Between the ridge on which we were posted and the batteries, the ground was very rough, being broken by steep hill slopes, ravines, thick underbrush, and fallen timber, making a very good abatis. A hasty reconnaissance demonstrated the batteries could not be successfully attacked from our position unless the fire of the battery could be diverted to the column attacking in front, and, in addition, the excessive heat of the day, and the long, fatiguing march by the circuitous route along which we had been led by our guide (we having crossed over five mountains or high hills, 2 miles of which was so rough, and the brush and undergrowth so dense that we could only march in single file), that our force was scattered and very much exhausted. Under these circumstances, upon consultation with some of the officers, we determined to take and hold such position as commanded the turnpike leading from Fayetteville to Montgomery's Ferry, to prevent the passing of his trains, and, if possible, cut off his retreat. To effect this, Major [S. M.] Dickey, with three companies of the Fifty-first Regiment, was directed to take position on a spur extending out and commanding the turnpike on our extreme left, and about half a mile in rear of the batteries. Immediately on his right, Lieutenant-Colonel Clarke, with a proportion of his sharpshooters, was placed to prevent Major Dickey's being flanked. Colonel Patton, with a portion of the Twenty-second Regiment, was thrown farther to the right to occupy another spur, commanding, with large [long]-range guns, another part of the turnpike, and Major Bailey, of the Twenty-second, was sent, with a detachment, on our extreme right and nearer the batteries; the remainder of the force, as they came up, was held in reserve to support any part of our line that might be attacked, and also to be ready to charge the batteries, if an opportunity should