Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/55
/,' A Mountain in 1861. 47
r.ipturrd " horse, foot, and dragoon " ordered Scott back to pro- t.-i t IV-r.im's rear, and believing that the " forks-of-the-road " point was the best place for Scott to take and make his fight and "hold to the last man," ordered him so to do. When Scott got there he plainly saw that he was too late that the Federals were actually in position beyond the forks of the road, higher up the mountain, and ready to begin, and did in a few minutes, begin the bloody attack upon Pegram's rear.
Colonel Scott had taken his position, and he held it, an " idle wit- ness " of the slaughter of his brave comrades on the mountain summit, and there he stayed, because Garnett had ordered him to do so! His brave men wanted to rescue, or at least help, Pegram, but Colonel Scott said "No! I was ordered to take and hold this position at the forks of the road," and I am doing it. Colonel Scott ought to have seen that the very wording of his order "to hold " the forks-of-the-road point "to the last man" contemplated his getting to that point before the Federals got there, or at least before they struck Pegram's rear on the mountain summit. When he did get there, the Federals had passed up the mountain and were ready to begin, and did in a few minutes begin the battle. He ought to have seen that "circumstances had changed" from what they were anticipated to be when Garnett wrote that order, and the order was no longer obligatory upon him. Then, left to his own view of the actual situation, the view of a brave soldier, with a splendid advan- tage over the enemy staring him in the face, what was Colonel Scott's duty ? Any one can answer to strike the enemy in the rear with all possible dash; put every rifle and musket and every piece of artil- lery to its best work; raise the rebel yell, and make the enemy feel, or at least imagine, that " hell had broke loose," not " in Georgia," but in his rear. If Colonel Scott had done so, the day would have been saved, I think, and many a brave boy would have lived to fight again. But he didn't, and the day was lost, and the whole of what is now West Virginia was thrown away, a new State carved out of the " Old Dominion " without warrant of constitutional law "the bastard offspring of a political rape! "
When I recall the dreadful sufferings of Pegram's men on their retreat from Rich mountain; how we trudged through the very blackness of darkness the night following the battle through a track- less wilderness; how we tramped through mud and rain down to Monterey; how men fell by the way from hunger; how wounded