Transcribed from Civil War era newspaper articles from the New Castle Courant. Spellings (or misspellings of names) left as originally printed in the article.
CAMP WARREN CHARLESTON VA. NOV 21ST.
MR. EDITOR: - Thinking a letter from one who formerly resided in Lawrence Co., and a reader of your excellent paper, would not be uninteresting to some of your readers, I have therefore taken the liberty of addressing you. And as our Regt. the (Ohio 7th) has just returned from an expedition against the "secesh," I cannot better interest you perhaps than giving an account of it.
Gauley Bridge is forty miles above here, and the place where five companies of our Regt. quartered for two months after the battle of Cross Lanes. It is considered a very strong place, almost impregnable, especially since it was fortified by Gen. Cox, but the secesh Gen. Floyd, commonly known as the Gun stealer, took it into his head that it was not such a strong place as people imagined and with a force of five or six thousand men he thought he might effect something, so he moved his forces consisting of seven Regts. Of infantry and ten pieces of artillery to within one mile of our fortifications, taking a very strong position on cotton mountain on the opposite bank of the Kanawha River; this mountain is about two thousand feet high and naturally a very strong position from this place Floyd bombarded our fortification, after playing away for four or five days doing no other damage than spoil the growth of a few appletrees, General Rosencrans thought he would fix a trap to bag the old stealer and stop his little amusement of throwing shot and shell at us. The General's plan was something like this. Gens. Schenk and McCook were to cross over the River with their Brigades and make an attack on the Enemy's right flank. Gen. Benham's Brigade to advance along the Fayette Pike and attack them on the left flank. Gens. Rosecrans and Cox's Brigades to attack them in front, and another force of twelve or fifteen hundred to go around to the rear, and cut off the retreat of the Rebels and to act in concert with our forces on the other side. Five hundred of our Regt. constituted part of this force, that went to the rear of the enemy. We were laying here at Charleston when we received orders, we immediately prepared five days rations and got on board of a Steamboat and steamed up the Kanawha to within five miles of Gauley Bridge, we here landed on the secesh side of the river near the mouth of Soup Creek: after halting here a couple of days we proceeded up this creek five miles over one of the most wretched roads I ever saw. The creek crossed the road about twenty times in going this distance and every time we had to wade it. After going the above distance we made another halt, of four days, we were not here long before we found out that we were only two and one half miles off the Rebel camp, and only one mile from where our pickets were posted, we learned this from our scouts who went near enough to count their tents.
We laid here suffering for the want of tents and provisions for we could not bring them up the road we came from the fact the road was impassable for wagons, and expecting to hear the battle begin on the right flank where Schenk and McCook were, but they after wasting much precious time in constructing boats, found they could not cross on account of the rapidity of the river; in the meantime the rebels took fright and fell back from their strong position about three miles. On hearing this Gen. Benham immediately advanced along the pike and occupied their old position. We also received orders to make another move so as to gain the enemy a rear again, which we succeeded in doing by making a roundabout march of eight or nine miles over the mountains along a narrow bridle path; we marched this way to within two or three miles of the Fayette pike, the road the rebels would retreat on. The Gen. deeming it imprudent to advance any nearer with our small force, so he ordered us to ambush here till the other divisions advanced, but that night the rebels got scared worse than ever destroyed most of their baggage and cleared out. We learned this from a scouting party came back we packed up our traps and started to join Gen. Benham, whom we overtook two miles this side of Fayette, he was in pursuit of the rebels who had twelve hours the start of him; we halted here for a couple of hours to get some rest for we had already marched ten miles and that after night, it then being over we joined in the pursuit again, and making a forced march over very muddy roads succeeded in overtaking their rear guard about 11 o'clock next day as they were crossing a branch of Crab river, only about four hundred showed themselves, although the main body were only over the hill about a mile off; our advanced guard had quite a brisk skirmish in which part of our Regt. were engaged. The rebels however all retreated in double quick order when Captain Snyder brought his rifled cannons to bear on them, eight or ten shots were sufficient. The rebels lost ten or twelve killed and a valuable officer a Colonel of a Regt. of cavalry, who was mortally wounded and died next day. After the rebels broke, we pursued them five miles farther as the reels no doubt had escaped to Raleigh where they would be reinforced, while as it was the rebel force outnumbered ours by about one thousand men, and our men were nearly exhausted having been on foot for two days without any sleep, the roads being muddy and the weather inclement and the men with hunger and shivering with cold, taking all these things into consideration it was deemed prudent to forego chasing the rebel any farther, so after taking a few hours rest in the rain, we turned our faces homeward, at Fayette we met Schenks Brigade which had crossed lower down the river and did not reach soon enough to be of any service. If they had succeeded in crossing the river at the place contemplated we would have caught Floyd for sure, as it was we punished them severely, causing them to destroy all their tents, cooking utensils destroyed and threw away several wagon loads of ammunition and some say to destroy their cannon and gun carriages, we drove them entirely out of the country in the neighborhood of Gauley. I do not think they will come back into that neighborhood this winter again as about everything eatable is eat up, we were glad to get back to our old quarters again and having been gone about fourteen days, although we suffered a great deal of hardships, yet we came off all right not having lost a man from our Regt. and only one in all the forces engaged, who was killed in a skirmish on cotton mountain, and before closing I will state a fact concerning the treatment the rebels gave the body of this poor fellow, they let him lay where he fell without burying at the same time stealing his gun and cartridge box and his money, and leaving an order on the Confederate States for the payment of the articles taken.
It is thought we will stay here all winter we may however be ordered to Kentucky as the campaign is ended in Western Va, for this year at least.
T. J. W.
CAMP NEAR STRASBURG, VA., MARCH 28TH, 1862
SIR: - I am thankful to be in the land of the living and able to pencil a line to you this morning. I suppose before this reaches you, you will have heard of the battle of Winchester on Saturday Evening, the 22d. We, our Brigade was ordered out; went to Winchester our camp being 3 1/2 miles east of Winchester, where we laid all night in an open field. On Sunday morn, marched back to camp. About 12 o'clock, M., we had orders to fall in in quick time, marched back four miles beyond Winchester; about four o'clock P. M. met Jackson and his force, then and there the ball opened; our brigade was formed in column of division, we were going for their battery, but meeting the enemy sooner than was expected, they opening out on us were ordered to fire; and fire it was for an hour and forty minutes, such as I never want to see again, though the bold old 7th stood the noise and the whistling of the bullets bravely. Had we two more hours of daylight we could have made a clean sweep of it, but night closed on us just as they broke and ran. We were marched over their fighting grounds into an open field a short distance away, stacked arms and laid down to rest for the night, expecting another fight in the morning, but they would not face the music, for we followed them sixteen miles, our artillery opening on them every two or three miles, that day we followed them as far as Cedar Creek, stopped for the night, next morning took up chase again, drove them beyond Strasburg and gave up the chase, believing them to be fleeter footed than we. Our number killed so far as could be ascertained is from 80 to 100 & 125 wounded, the enemy's number killed as near as we could learn 300 & 500 wounded and 300 prisoners; could get a correct report of their loss, I think it would be considerable more, their dead and wounded were being carried from the field by the citizens while the fight was going on. Co. I, lost in killed and wounded 6 men, 1 killed and 5 wounded; I along with a great many others escaped untouched, at the same time I was in the hottest of the Battle all the time it lasted; I made up my mind before meeting them to stay with them or die.
W. W. HOUK.
Death of Corp. Bennett.
Information has just been received of the death of Corporal William Bennett, son of Silas Bennett, of this place. He belonged to the 7th Ohio, which as probably seen as much hard service as any other regiment in the field. Among the battles through which Corp. Bennett passed unharmed, may be mentioned, Winchester, Port Republic, Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Charcellorsville, Gettysburg, Ringold, and many others which we do not remember. He was wounded in the knee, on Nov. 27th, in the battle near Ringold, Georgia, and bled to death before the Surgeon could be procured. His regiment, which has so distinguished itself for valor, is reduced to a bare hundred men.
From the Southern Army.
The following letter is from Mr. Thomas J. Wallace, son of Mr. James Wallace, of North Beaver, to his brother. It has been kindly tendered to us for publication; and gives a better idea of the late battles achieved by the Southern army we have, as yet, seen published. Mr. Wallace is personally acquainted with many of our readers which will make it even more attractive to them. May he be spared to write often and when the war is over be permitted to enjoy the blessings for which he, with others, have periled their lives.
CAMP 7TH OHIO,
Lookout Valley, Tenn. Dec. 3, 1863.
Dear Brother - Knowing you would be anxious to hear from me, at this time, having heard that we have had considerable fighting lately. The old Seventh has been in the thickest, losing very heavily. How I have escaped uninjured through the terrible ordeal is more than I can tell. On the 24th ult. we stormed and took Lookout Mountain undoubtedly one of the grandest achievements of the war. The mountain is 2500 feet high and in some places so steep as to be impossible to climb it. The enemy had built rifle pits, and placed artillery in such positions, as they thought, perfectedly commanded every approach to it; but, coming on to them unexpectedly from several directions in overwhelming numbers, they could not resist the pressure, but broke and fled in all directions after making a short resistance. Two thousand prisoners were captured besides a number of pieces of artillery, small arms and commissary stores. The loss in the 7th Ohio was slight this day - 8 or 10 wounded. Next day 25th we performed a part in the taking of Mission Ridge, making large captures of prisoners and cannon without losing a man in our regiment. On the 26th, Thanksgiving day, we were hard after the retreating rebels, compelling them to abandon wagons, caissons and arms in their flight. About 9 o'clock, P. M. we surprised a rebel camp, capturing 4 cannon, a number of wagons and prisoners. The next day, the 27th we ran across the enemy's rear guard, near the town of Ringgold, Ga., twenty miles from Chattanooga. They were strongly posted on the summit of a high range of hills called Taylor's Ridge, and in a Gap or depression in the Ridge called Thompson's Gap. They showed a bold front and were offering a stout resistance to Osterhaus's division, 16th A. C. as we arrived on the ground. Osterhaus' men having been driven back in their charge up the mountain. Our division was ordered to relieve them and accomplish what they failed to do. It looked like a stupendious undertaking; but what can't brave men do when they go at it with a will. Bragg was heard to exclaim the mourning before the capture of Lookout Mountain, "All Hell could not take that place:" yet, Gen. Bragg found before that days sunset that something less than the powers of hell could take Lookout, so we thought if Lookout Mountain could be taken, Taylor's Ridge could also be taken. Our Brigade commanded by Col. Creighton had the extreme left; forming in line of battle we advanced rapidly under a heavy fire from the heights above. Where we had to ascend there was a gorge in the mountain and the enemy were enabled to pour a destructive flanking fire into us, which told with fearful effect on our boys - many poor fellows fell before we got half way up; yet, undaunted we pushed on determined to take the ridge or die in the attempt. I never saw the old Seventh Ohio go into a fight with more enthusiasm, both officers and men vied with each other to do their best. When near the top it was discovered the enemy were trying to flank us on the left, and the supports not coming up our regiment of less than two hundred men were having the whole rebel fire concentrated on us. Our brave boys were falling thick and fast. Lieut. Col. Crane and many of our line officers were killed or wounded. Seeing that our regiment would soon be annihilated at this rate Col. Creighton reluctantly gave the orders to fall back to the foot of the ridge. A few minutes later brave Creighton fell mortally wounded - picked off by some sharp-shooters. What was left of the brave old regiment made the best of its way down the side of the mountain, carrying off our wounded comrades. The balance of the division was not engaged so hotly and did not lose like our regiment. Fresh troops took our places and held the enemy in check until a flanking column under Gen. Sherman could get to their rear and compel them either to run or be captured which was soon afterwards done, leaving in their flight two cannon and a number of wagons. They were pursued several miles and quite a number of prisoners captured. Deeming it inexpedient to follow the enemy up any further, I suppose on account of the near approach of winter and scarcity of supplies. We recalled our pursuing columns, remaining long enough in Ringgold to destroy the rail road for miles, and to burn the town of Ringgold to the ground. We fell back to our old camps around Chattanooga - a large force in the mean time has been sent to look after Longstreet.
The fruits of our splendid victories here has been great. No less than 12000 prisoners and 70 pieces of artillery captured besides a large quantity of commissary stores. We have been living since the fight on "secesh" crackers and flour.
In the whole army the loss has not been very great, but like all battles some particular regiments have had to suffer heavy. Such was the case this time in our Regiment, out of 12 officers who went into the fight, 11 were either killed or wounded. Colonel, Lieut. Colonel, Adjutant and two line officers killed - six line offers wounded - fifteen enlisted men killed and 60 wounded. The loss in our company was unusually large, out of all proportion - six killed including our company commander and eight wounded - some severely, 14 out of 20 men I consider a big loss. - The regiment had only 206 men engaged, our regiment is now greatly reduced - our company numbers only 17 men sick and well.
I am thankful I have escaped in so many perils. I hope you and my friends at home will write often.
Thomas J. Wallace.
Submitted by Tami McConahy