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A howitzer battery and two field-pieces, meantime, were got into the best position possible under the circumstances, and soon silenced two of the rebel guns. The fire slackened at intervals, but grew more furious as night approached, when a German brigade was led gallantly into the action by Colonel McCook; but after a furious fight of three hours the troops were recalled, and the men lay on their arms within a short distance of the enemy all night.
General Floyd retreated during the night. In doing so he sank the boats in the river, and destroyed the temporary bridge which he had made when he first occupied the position. The turbulence and depth of the river, and the exhaustion of the troops, made it impossible to follow him. He left his camp equipage, wagons, horses, large quantities of ammunition, and fifty head of cattle. The National troops lost fifteen killed, and about seventy wounded, generally flesh wounds. Floyd's personal baggage, with that of his officers, was also taken by General Benham's brigade, which suffered most. The Confederate general, who had been wounded in the arm, retired with his men fifteen miles on the main Charleston road, whence the retreat was continued towards Greenbrier River. On September 14th General Floyd and his forces encamped on the summit of the Big Sewall Mountain, and General Wise took a position east of him, on the western slope of the Big Sewall, which he called Camp Defiance. Thinking his position not tenable against a large force, Floyd fell back on the 17th to Meadow Bluff, under the impression that Rosecrans was before him with fifteen thousand men. He ordered General Wise to follow, covering his rear; but the latter concluded that his position was strong enough to make a good defence against large numbers, and decided to hold the place at all hazards, as the best means of covering Floyd's army. On the 20th, General Lee arrived at Floyd's camp, and, subsequently inspecting Wise's position, ordered him to hold it until further orders. General Wise had one thousand seven hundred men, but on the 24th General Lee moved forward with a force which raised the number to five thousand five hundred men, with eleven guns, at a point where the Staunton turnpike ascends the Alleghany Mountains. General Floyd remained at Meadow Bluff with one thousand five hundred men. On the arrival of General Lee, General Wise was ordered to report in person to the Secretary of War, at Richmond.
This being the position of the enemy, General Reynolds, on the night of October 2d, started from the summit of Cheat Mountain, twelve miles from Greenbrier, with about five thousand men, to conduct a reconnoissance in force. The Confederate camp was located on a high, steep elevation, known as Buffalo Hill, at a sharp turn of the road, and so situated that an attacking force had to come directly under the guns and intrenchments of the right of the camp to obtain even a view of the left. The formation of the ground is particularly favorable for the construction of terraces, and the enemy had made good use of its advantages. Their defences rose one above the other, far up the hill, extending even into the forest above the camp. The sole attack contemplated was directly in front, with artillery, the in
.fantry to be used merely to protect the batteries. A vigorous attack of the Indiana regiments in front soon drove the enemy from their lower intrenchments, but the fresh troops sent forward restored the fight, and it was maintained with great vigor during four hours. The artillery, having finally exhausted their ammunition, General Reynolds ordered an end to the engagement.
The army retired in order to their camp, having lost eight killed and thirty-two wounded, and having brought away thirteen prisoners. The enemy's loss was somewhat greater. Meantime a party of Confederates held Chapmansville, on the Guyandotte, where, on September 21st, they were surrounded, and, after a short engagement, completely routed, with a loss of sixty killed and seventy prisoners. The rebels, in escaping, were intercepted by Colonel Piatt, who killed forty and took a large number of prisoners. The country between Charleston and Guyandotte River was thus freed from secession forces.
The enemy remained in considerable force in the neighborhood of Gauley Bridge, to the close of October. At the point where the Gauley and New Rivers come together, forming the Great Kanawha, is Gauley Bridge, or rather the remains of the bridge burned by Wise in his retreat in July. It spans the Gauley River about two hundred yards abve its confluence with the New. The country is very mountainous, the hills on all sides looming up fully five hundred feet, and the watercourses almost entirely covering the valleys, so that there is not room in many places for even a wagon-road. The Union forces were encamped at the bridge, and at several points on the east bank of New River, extending up that stream twelve or fifteen miles.
On the 1st of November a detachment of scouts returned to General Rosecrans's head-quarters, and reported the rebels in considerable force on the west side of New River. Shortly afterwards two batteries were opened upon our troops in the vicinity of Gauley Bridge, from the hills on the opposite side of the river-one directly opposite the bridge, and the other two miles lower down, at the falls of the Kanawha, opposite a large brick house in which our commissary supplies were stored. The upper battery, after wasting a good deal of ammunition, succeeded in driving the Eleventh Ohio from their camp on the hillside opposite, and in sinking a flat-boat, which served the army as a ferry. The flat-boat was raised again the same evening, and made to do good service. It was not till the day was far advanced that the Union artillery could be brought to bear upon the enemy's batteries, but when they were once placed in position the rebel batteries were soon silenced.
On the 10th of November, General Benham, with his brigade, crossed the Kanawha River near the mouth of Loup Creek, and marched forward on the road to Fayetteville Court-House, to get in the rear of the rebel army under Floyd, on Cotton Hill, at the junction of the New, Gauley, and Kanawha Rivers. Part of General Cox's brigade, at the same time, crossed the New River near Gauley, and attacked Floyd's force in front. After a slight skirmish, the rebels fell back four miles, and at night retreated towards Raleigh. On the same night a body of nearly one hundred and fifty Union troops, occupying Guy
andotte, on the Ohio River, were attacked by a superior force of Confederates. The Union soldiers were invited to the houses of the citizens by previous arrangement, and when the Confederates made the attack, signals were displayed from the houses where the Federal troops were quartered, in consequence of which ten or twelve were killed and twenty or thirty wounded; although, in the attempt to execute this inhuman massacre, the rebels lost nearly or quite as many as they killed of the Union soldiers. In retaliation, on the arrival of Colonel Zeigler with a Union force, a part of the town was burned.
Meantime Brigadier-General Kelley, with twenty-five hundred men, of Virginia and Ohio volunteers, left New Creek, Virginia, on the night of the 26th of October, on an expedition against Romney. At Mill Creek, five miles from Romney, he came upon the outposts of the enemy, which were driven in, and advanced to the Indian Mound Cemetery, to the west of the town, where the enemy made a stand and opened fire with a twelve-pound rifled gun, placed in a commanding position, and a mountain howitzer. One twelve-pounder and two six-pounders responded to the artillery on Kelley's part, until the general was enabled to fully comprehend the enemy's position, when he soon gave the command to charge upon their batteries and intrenchments. The cavalry dashed across the river (which was fordable at this point), while the infantry rushed over the bridge to encounter the foe at the very muzzles of his guns. No sooner did the enemy perceive this movement, than they immediately abandoned their positions, and commenced a precipitate retreat, rushing pell-mell through the town, and directing their flight towards Winchester. General Kelley captured sixty prisoners, among whom was Colonel E. M. Armstrong, late a member of the Richmond Convention, two hundred horses, three wagon-loads of new rifles, two cannon, a large quantity of corn, tents, and many other stores. The loss on either side was slight.
On the 12th of December about fourteen hundred Union troops, under command of General R. H. Milroy, marched towards the enemy's camp, on the top of the Alleghany Mountains, eight and a half miles beyond Camp Bartow, on the Greenbrier River. The column reached Camp Bartow about eight o'clock P. M., where it halted and rested. At this point the force was marshalled into two divisions, each about seven hundred strong, one of which marched on what is known as the old "Greenbank road," to attack the enemy on the left, while the other, accompanied by Brigadier-General R. H. Milroy and his staff, took the Staunton turnpike. The latter reached the vicinity of the Confederate camp about daylight; but owing to the badness of the roads, and obstructions from felled trees, the first division could not reach the field in season to co-operate, and the little force contended single-handed for about three hours with an enemy of three or four times their number, driving the rebels back to their camp repeatedly; but as they were largely re-enforced, Colonel Jones, who was in command, fell back in good order to the head-quarters of General Milroy. Just after it retired, the other division came up and engaged the enemy for six hours, when it, too, fell back in order, bringing off all its wounded and most of its dead. The Union loss in both actions was twenty killed, one
hundred and seven wounded, and ten missing. The Confederate loss was reported as twenty-five killed, ninety-seven wounded, and thirty prisoners, among them a major and several other officers.
At Huntersville, about forty miles from Staunton, the Confederates had a dépôt of munitions and stores, which General Milroy, on the 31st of December, sent a force of seven hundred and fifty men to break up. On the 3d of January the advancing force encountered the Confederate pickets at Greenbrier River, six miles from Huntersville. The rebels fell back upon the main body four miles in the rear, when the whole retreated, leaving the Union troops in possession of the stores, which were destroyed to the amount of $25,000 or $30,000.
On the 4th of January, 1862, the Confederate General Jackson made a reconnoissance in force towards Hancock, Md., where General Lander was in command. After tearing up a portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the neighborhood of this place, and partly destroying the Little Cacapon bridge, he sent a flag of truce over to Hancock, demanding its surrender within an hour, under threat of bombardment. General Lander replied by planting his cannon on a hill, and bombarding Jackson's camp, which led to his speedy withdrawal.
On the 7th of January a detachment of General Kelley's forces, commanded by Colonel Dunning, Fifth Ohio, left Romney, and attacked the Confederates, two thousand strong, at Blue Gap, Va., east of Romney. The enemy were completely routed, with a loss of fifteen killed, two pieces of cannon, their wagons, tents, &c., with twenty prisoners, including one commissioned officer.
The operations of the Cenfederates became less energetic in that section of the State until February 13th, when their force having concentrated at Blooming Gap, it was surprised and dispersed by General Lander, with a loss of thirteen killed and seventy-five prisoners. General Lander then reported the department entirely clear of Confederates, and asked to be relieved of his command on the ground of illhealth, he having never recovered from the wound received at Edwards's Ferry. He died on the 2d of March, 1862, of congestion of the brain, induced by over-exertion while still suffering from his wound.
Strength of the Navy.-Blockade.-Captures by the Navy.-Large Increase of Ships of War-Right of Blockade.-Propositions of the American Government.-Action of England and France.-Privateers.-The Sumter.-The Nashville.-Trial of Privateers.-Laws of Piracy.—Retaliation of the Confederates.—Exchange of Prisoners. THE navy of the United States, like the army, had never previous to the rebellion been kept up on a scale in any degree proportioned to the commercial interests, or the rank of the nation, as compared with other Governments. The commercial marine was of itself, however, regarded as the main portion of our naval power, since in it were nur
tured and trained those hardy seamen who, in time of war, man the national ships, or, as privateers, form the "militia of the seas." Any nation which has a large and thriving commerce is necessarily a naval power: on the other hand, those Governments which have not a welldeveloped commerce cannot become great naval powers, no matter what may be their resources in other respects; at least, this has heretofore been the experience of the world. The immense changes wrought by steam in naval science, however, render a comparatively smaller number of trained seamen necessary to work powerful steam batteries, and may therefore alter the relative naval strength of nations. The United States had made but little progress in this direction, and on the outbreak of the war, vessels, whether steam or sail, were by no means in sufficient numbers for the exigencies of the Government. On the 16th of January, 1861, the whole naval strength of the United States, available for the defence of the entire Atlantic coast, according to a report of the Congressional Committee, was the steamer Brooklyn, of twenty-five gun's, and the store-ship Relief, of two guns. The committee called attention to the extraordinary defenceless state in which the coast was thus left, stating that the number of ships lying in port dismantled and unfit for service was twenty-eight, mounting eight hundred and seventy-four guns, and that from six weeks' to six months' time would be required to make them serviceable. The gradual arrival of vessels from abroad soon imparted more strength to the coast defence. In March, the Cumberland, flag-ship of Commodore Pendergrast, arrived at Norfolk, and was detained there. Commodore McCauley, in command of the Norfolk navy-yard, was cautioned in the beginning of April to put the public property there in a condition to be moved, but to act so cautiously as not excite alarm at the South. The results we have seen in a previous chapter, where the loss of the Gosport navy-yard was recounted. The Government, on learning the aggressions of the Confederates, exerted itself to hasten at once the completion of all pubic armed vessels, and issued orders in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York to purchase, charter, arm, and equip all such steamers as could be found suitable for the public service. The whole naval force was required to carry into effect the proclamations declaring an embargo or blockade of the Southern ports. On account of the great extent of coast, three thousand miles, the force was divided into two squadrons, one for the Gulf of Mexico and one for the Atlantic. At Hampton Roads notice was given of this blockade by Flag-officer Pendergrast, and on the 13th of May, Flag-officer Stringham, having arrived in Hampton Roads with the Minnesota, proceeded to carry it into effect. Meantime the President had issued the following proclamation :
"BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
"Whereas, for the reasons assigned in my proclamation of the 19th instant, a blockade of the ports of the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, was ordered to be established; and whereas, since that date public property of the United States has been seized, the collection of the revenue obstructed, and duly commissioned officers of the United States, while engaged in executing the orders of their superiors, have been arrested and held in cus