Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 11, 1861 (Thursday): Battle at Rich Mountain

Battle of Rich Mountain, (Official Records Atlas)

Report of Brig. Gen. W. S. Rosecrans, U. S. A., of engagement at Rich Mountain.

                                                HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, U. S. V. m.,
                                                                        Beverly, Va., July 19, 1861.
  
MAJOR: 
….With strong detachment from the Nineteenth Ohio, the Eighth, Tenth, and thirteenth Indiana, and Burdsal’s cavalry, amounting to 1,912 rank and file, I set out at 5 a. m. of the 11th, and by a circuitous route, through a trackless mountain forest, reached the Beverly road at the top of Rich Mountain, where I found the enemy advised of my approach and in force, with two 6-pounder field pieces, and infantry, from various circumstances, judged to have been from 800 to 1,200 strong, though probably not all of them in action.    We formed at aobut 3 o’clock under cover of our skirmishers, guarding well against a flank attack from the direction of the rebels’ position, and after a brisk fire, which threw the rebels into confusion, carried their position by a charge, driving them from behind some log breastworks, and pursued them into the thickets on the mountain.  We captured twenty-one prisoners, two brass 6-pounders, fifty stand of arms, and some corn and provisions.  Our loss was 12 killed and 49 wounded.
   The rebels had some 20 wounded on the field.  The number of the killed we could not ascertain, but subsequently the number of burials reported to this date is 135—many found scattered over the mountain.  Our troops, informed that there were one or two regiments of rebels towards Beverly, and finding the hour late, bivouacked on their arms amid a cold, drenching rain, to await daylight, when they moved forward on the enemy’s intrenched position, which was found abandoned by all except 63 men, who were taken prisoners.  We took possession of two brass 6-pounders, four caissons, and one hundred rounds ammunition, two kegs and one barrel powder, 19,000 buck and ball cartridge, two stands of colors, and a large lot of equipments and clothing consisting of 204 tents, 427 pairs pants, 124 axes, 98 picks, 134 spades and shovels, all their train, consisting of 29 wagons, 75 horses, 4 mules, and 60 pairs harness.
   The enemy, finding their position turned, abandoned intrenchements, which, taken by the front, would have cost us a thousand lives, and dispersed through the mountainsm some attempting to  escape by the  way of Laurel Hill and others aiming for Huttonsville.  Among the former were the command of Colonel Pegram, which, unable to join the rebels at Laurel Hill, surrendered to the major general, on the 13th.
….Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                            W. S. ROSECRANS,
                                                Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Maj. S. Williams,
            Asst. Adjut. Gen., U. S. Army, Hdqrs. Army West Virginia.

Official  Record, Series I., Vol 2., page 217.

Rosecrans’ flanking movement, executed in bad weather and poor terrain with inexperienced troops, is an impressive accomplishment for this stage of the war.  It boosted McClellan’s reputation and cleared the northwest of effective Confederate resistence.

2 comments:

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

    ReplyDelete