Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/53
Rich Mountain in 1861. 45
The battle of Rich mountain, on July n, 1861, is not down in history as one of the big battles of the war. In comparison with a hundred others, perhaps, it was a small affair, and will not be noticed by the future historian. But it is a fact, nevertheless, that it was a bloody battle, and those engaged in it on the Confederate side "stood to their guns" with a gallantry and heroism worthy of all praise. The fact that they lost over 25 per cent, of their number attests the stubbornness of the battle.*
Allow me to correct Dr. Price in a few particulars, of which I know more than he could possibly know, for he was with Colonel Scott and I was with Pegram, though I was not actually in the fight on the mountain summit. Dr. Price says General Pegram was "en- trenched on the summit" of Rich mountain, with 300 men, known as the " College Boys," and 900 men elsewhere.
Here my friend is in error. Lieutenant-Colonel John Pegram (af- terwards major-general, and killed at Five Forks, near Petersburg, on or about April i, 1865), arrived at Rich mountain with his regi- ment, the 2oth Virginia volunteers, on Tuesday or Wednesday eve- ning, July Qth or loth I have forgotten which and assumed command. We came from Laurel Hill, where General Garnett was in command. When we got to Rich mountain there were a few troops there how many I do not now remember. Among them was a field battery commanded by a gray-bearded and brave old gentleman named Anderson. But all told, Pegram's force on July nth didn't number more than 1,000 men, if so many. "The College Boys" students from Hampden-Sidney College, commanded by Professor John M. P. Atkinson, brave and splendid soldiers, every one of them! constituted one company only in the 2Oth Virginia, but they were only a small part of the Confederate force who held the moun- tain summit so bravely that day. As well as I remember, there were no entrenchments if any, very poor indeed on the mountain top. We had not been there long enough to throw up entrench- ments worthy the name, and the few troops there before we got to Rich mountain were engaged in felling trees and making an abattis on the southwestern slope of the mountain. I think it can be safely stated that there was no "entrenched position" on the mountain summit, but there was a so-called " intrenched position " (logs piled up with cracks chinked with rocks and sticks, &c. !) on the south- western slope.
Now, my friend, Dr. Price, says Colonel Scott, on the morning of July nth, in obedience to an order from General Garnett, started