December 10th, 2011

Battle of Camp Alleghany - A Confederate Perspective


[Special correspondence of the Lynchburg Republican.]

CAMP ALLEGHANY, Dec. 14, 1861.

DEAR REPUBLICAN:--Yesterday, our scouting party, while lying in ambush near Slavan's Crossing, several miles in advance of our old camp, "Bartow," and about fourteen miles from this place, discovered the advance guard of the enemy advancing down the road towards them. Our brave fellows waited until they approached quite near, when they opened fire upon them, killing and wounding eighteen out of the twenty-three men. In a very few minutes the main column of the enemy came in sight, when our scouts were compelled to retreat. They came into camp about dusk, and made their report, when preparations were immediately commenced for the work we knew we had to perform the morrow.

This morning at 4 o'clock, the "long roll" alarmed every man from his slumbers, and the firing of the pickets heralded the advance of the enemy. At 9 o'clock they made their appearance, and commenced an attack in heavy force both on the right and left flanks of our camp[.] They were gallantly met in an open field by the 12th Georgia, 52nd and 31st Virginia regiments, and Hansborough's battalion; and although our brave fellows were outnumbered five to one, they charged upon the foe, and put them to complete route. They soon rallied, however, and advanced in stronger force, and succeeded in taking possession of our Commissary Depot, but in a very short time they were driven from the place with great slaughter. This was on our right. On our left the enemy got among the trees which had been felled for the purpose of clearing the ground, and were protected to some extent from the fire of our musketry, but our artillery was brought to bear upon them, and they were soon compelled to leave their coverts and take to their heels.

Captain Miller of the Rockbridge artillery, with his battery, and the Howitzer of the "Lee Battery" of Lynchburg, were conspicuous in performing this service, and made tremendous havoc among the enemy. The enemy finding all their efforts futile, and that they were met at every point with iron hail, which carried death among their ranks, withdrew from the field, leaving us in possession of it, though our victory was dearly won.

In the early part of the engagement, the brave and chivalrous Captain P.B. Anderson, of the "Lee Battery," fell mortally wounded, and died in a few minutes.

Captain James Deshler, of the regular artillery, was shot through both thighs, and it is feared will not recover.

Capt. Mayneham, of Hansborough's Battalion, was shot through the heart and instantly killed; and a number of other gallant and valuable officers were severely, some of them dangerously wounded.

Our gallant Commander, Col. Edward Johnson, of the 12th Georgia, who commanded during the battle made several narrow escapes, as his clothes bear testimony that several balls passed through different portions of them, without, I am happy to say, inflicting any injury. He was in all parts of the field, and, musket in hand, encouraged the men by his presence and example to repel the enemy.

The fight commenced at eight o'clock, and about half-past one, the enemy gave up in despair and retired from the field, after suffering a heavy loss, both in killed and wounded. The exact number we could not ascertain, as those who fell in the early part of the fight were carried off in ambulances. Their loss cannot be less than 300 or 400, as there were some eighty or ninety left dead on the battle ground, in addition to the number of their wounded. Our loss is about twenty five killed, and sixty wounded, some of them very badly.

The wounded Yankees and prisoners who fell into our hands, state the force they had to be 5,000. They came from Cheat Mountain and Huttonsville, and evidently expected to surprise us. They were mistaken in their calculations, as the bloody sequel shows.

Our effective force was only about 1,300 men, but every man was a host within himself, and felt fought as though the fortunes of the day depended upon him alone.

At 6 o'clock in the evening, Col. Scott's 44th Virginia Regiment arrived in camp, but they were not then needed.

We expect another fight to-morrow, and should it come off, you may set it down as certain to result in a worse thrashing for the Hessians than we gave them today.

After the death of Captain Anderson, your correspondent was placed by Colonel Johnson in command of the "Lee Battery," Lieutenants Raine and Massey both being absent.

The duties which have thus devolved upon me, together with a want of paper, prevent me from entering more fully into the details of the fight. In another letter you shall have full particulars.

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Daily Richmond Whig, 18 December 1861.

Major General Edward Johnson, C.S.A. OnLine