War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0100 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

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noitering their position, I found them strongly posted on a plateau 50 or 60 feet above the river bottom, and commanding it and the road for more than a mile so completely that to attack them in front would probably involve the loss of hundreds of my men before we could reach them. I at once resolved to run their position by making a detour of over 2 miles across a range of steep and densely wounded hills, and attempt to get around to the north of the town. To occupy their attention, I placed a rifle piece on the first hill, and engaged their battery. The cavalry, under a dangerous fire, dashed forward and gained the Buckhannon road west of the river, and cut off retreat by that route. The enemy immediately began to fall back below the town, leaving a strong force of skirmishers in the woods, which my infantry had to pass. A running fight was kept up for more than 2 miles through these woods, and a little before sunset I had succeeded in gaining the north side of the town but too late to cut off retreat toward Philippi. The enemy was in full retreat and about one-third of the town in flames when I gained their original flank. We pursued until dark, but could not overtake them. My cavalry attempted to intercept them from the west side of the river at or near Laurel Hill but the difficulty and the depth of the ford and the lateness of the hour prevented it.

I have been thus minute in these details to explain why we did not capture the whole force at Beverly. Slayton was unable to cross Cheat River, owing to the high water, and they were really ignorant of our approach until the wounded sheriff gave the alarm. We found him almost in a dying condition, though he will probably recover. The attack was so sudden that the enemy could not remove his stores nor destroy his camp. The stores were large and valuable, having been recently laid in. His loss was not less than $100,000, and about one-third of the town was destroyed in burning his stores. I lost only 3 men, so badly wounded that I had to leave them in Beverly in private houses, where they have fallen into the hands of the enemy. The enemy's loss was trifling, too, not over 13 killed and wounded, and about the same number captured by us.

On the morning of the 25th, my cavalry reported the road toward Philippi impracticable for artillery or wagons, on account of the dept of the mud, in places coming up to the saddle-skirts of their horses. I also ascertained that General Roberts, with a considerable force, was at Buckhannon, and doubted the prudence of going directly to Philippi until this force was dislodged from my flank. I sent off two companies of cavalry, under Major [D. B.] Lang, to try and open communication with General Jones, from whom I had not heard anything and resolved to cross Rich Mountain, and either move directly on Buckhannon, or, by a country road leaving the turnpike 4 miles beyond Roaring Run, get between Philippi and Buckhannon, and attack one or the other, as circumstances might determine.

On the evening of the 26th, I crossed Middle Fork, and encamped about midway between Philippi and Buckhannon, some 12 miles from each, sending all my cavalry forward to seize and hold the bridge across Buckhannon River near its mouth. Considerable cannonading was heard at this time in the direction of Philippi which I supposed to proceed from the enemy we had driven from Beverly in an attempt to prevent, Major Land from going on toward the railroad, where I expected him to find General Jones: but at 11 p.m. Colonel Imboden informed me that the Beverly force had passed up toward Buckhannon at sunrise that morning and that there was a fresh brigade at Philippi, reported by citizens to have arrived the night before by rail from New Creek,