Numbers 23. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Henry M. Beckley, Forty-fifth Battalion Virginia Infantry, of engagement at Cloyd's Mountain, and skirmish at New River Bridge.
HDQRS. 45TH VIRGINIA BATTALION INFTY.,
Camp Near Christiansburg, Va., May 19, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my command in the recent battle at Cloyd's farm, and of their operations subsequent to that time:
Early on the morning of May 9 I was ordered to move with my command to the extreme right of our lines and occupy the crest of a ridge running parallel with our line of battle and a little in rear of the position occupied by the rest of the troops. I found two companies of the Forty-fifth Virginia Regiment immediately in my front, protected by some straw stacks and hastily-constructed breast-works of rails, &c. The skirmishers from these two companies were at this time hotly engaged with those of the enemy in the woods immediately in my front, and I soon ascertained from the firing were being rapidly pressed back. I had scarcely taken position at this point and taken some observations on my front of the ground, when General A. G. Jenkins rode up and ordered me to move by the left flank across the crest of the hill and down the slope to the edge of the timber, and then extend my line to the left until I joined the Forty-fifth Virginia Regiment. This as done at a double-quick. The enemy by this time had driven our skirmishers out of the woods, and by the time I reached the timber his advancing line of battle was in plain view, not more than seventy-five yards in our front. We immediately opened upon him a well-directed fire, which in fifteen minutes caused him to fall back in some confusion. The firing musketry told me that our whole force was hotly engaged. The rapid firing of the two companies of the Forty-fifth Virginia Regiment, now on my right, also warned me of what I feared, that the enemy were endeavoring to turn our right flank.
About this time it was evident that the enemy were staggered and thrown into confusion by the rapidity and precision of our fire. General Jenkins rode up in person and ordered me to charge with my battalion, and, although less than one-half of them were provided with bayonets, they rushed forward with a yell. The enemy fell back rapidly over a little ridge they occupied, and when we reached the top of this ridge we found the enemy in good line just over the crest. They met us with a deadly volley. We held the top of the ridge a short time, fighting at a distance not greater than fifteen or twenty paces. At this point some prisoners were taken.
I now found out that it was only those in our immediate front who were thrown into temporary confusion and forced back, and that the right and left of the brigade opposing us were steadily advancing, and that we would very shortly be placed in a position from which it would be difficult, if not impossible, to extricate my command. Under these circumstances I ordered my command to fall back to their original position. The enemy now came forward rapidly, and by the time we regained the edge of the timber they were pressing us closely. On arriving at our original position I found our lines were giving way. Stragglers in considerable numbers were going to the rear. The panic spread among the troops,