Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/208

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202 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Believing you would not misrepresent the facts intentionally, and would not knowingly minimize the just deserts of one officer to aggran- dize the fame and add to the laurels of another, and feeling sure that after the lapse of so many years you have either misconstrued the con- versation you had with Colonel Stanhope Flournoy, or that your remembrance of his account is at this date imperfect, I write to inform you of the facts, and, in justice to myself, place in your hands a correct statement of this engagement.

HOW THE FIGHT BEGAN.

I had been in charge of the post at Staunton River bridge for about forty days prior to the engagement, preparing: its defences and organizing and drilling the reserve forces. On the 22d of June, receiving a telegram from General Beauregard, at that time near Petersburg, that a large raiding party of the enemy was out making its way towards the Danville railroad, I at once sent out couriers in every direction calling upon the citizens and all local organizations and soldiers at home " on leave" to come forward and assist in com- pleting the defences of this, the largest and most important bridge on the railroad, well knowing that if it was given up and destroyed, from there to Danville (as the Federal forces succeeded in doing at every depot from Burkeville to Staunton bridge) our wagon train would find it impossible to fill up the long gap until the railroad could be repaired or the rolling stock replaced, and that it would consequently be next to if not quite impossible for General Lee to hold his pesition in front of Richmond but a short time after such complete destruction of this road, then almost our only artery for supplies from the South.

As evidence of my correct view of the situation at the time I refer you to an order issued by General Lee almost immediately after this fight for the impressment and use of an extra large number of wagons, detailing all that could be spared from other portions of the army, under specially detached vigilant and expert quartermasters and com- missaries, to cover this gap in the road from Staunton bridge to Burkeville until it could be repaired.

The defences on both sides of the river, already well under way, were rendered as complete as the limited time after receiving General Beauregard's order, up to the hour of the commencement of the fight, would permit, every position of which I directed and superintended myself, including the rifle-pits on the north and east sides of the Staunton river.