Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/210

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204 Southern Historical Society Papers.

crossing to attack us in the rear. While both of these gentlemen and their commands did most efficient service, neither of them were immediately present while the battle was being fought.

Your report of it, after giving Colonel Coleman the credit of pre- paring the defences on the north and east side of the river and com- manding those forces, says the rest of the command was held in re- serve under Colonel Flournoy on the right bank of the river. This work was armed with four six-pounders, which were worked upon the enemy under the command of Captain Marshall.


Colonel Flournoy was a gentleman sans peur et sans reproche, and as he, by special invitation, on two occasions ^once at his own house and once at the house of his neighbor, Mr. Clarke), soon after this engagement met me and assisted in entertaining me as a com- pliment for " the most gallant defence," as he pleased to term it, " made of Staunton river bridge, his home and household goods," I cannot think for a moment Colonel Flournoy would have related to you that he was in command of the forces on either side of the river in this engagement, or that Colonel Coleman would have claimed for himself what your report of this fight does viz. : that he assumed command, constructed the defences and arranged the plan of battle on the left bank of the river. Colonel Henry Eaton Cole- man, I consider, was a man of high sense of honor and a chivalrous, gallant officer. He was my friend. After leaving your office in Washington he came to see me in Baltimore.

Knowing, as he did, my report to General Lee, and General Lee's complimentary reply to me and my command for the disposition of forces and the determination with which we made this fight, Colonel Coleman could not have been my friend and written the friendly letter he did, had he believed me to have claimed any honors due to him.

Colonel R. E. Withers, commandant at Danville at the time, knew all about the fight. He most efficiently aided me with all the men at his command when I telegraphed him the situation, and the Dan- ville contingent constituted a great moral as well as material support, many of them being old soldiers.

I enclose a letter from Colonel Withers, written not long after the battle, but after he had time to know all the facts from the officers of his command, who were engaged under my immediate supervision. I also inclose General R. E. Lee's letter to my command, showing a due appreciation of the gravity of the situation and the invaluable