Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/211

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The iStaunton River Fight


service rendered at the time by holding the position the key to all our supplies against such odds,

Your report says two hundred and fifty old men and boys made this fight against twenty-five hundred of the enemy. This is a mis- take; we still have enough credit left, and it may be correctly termed a remarkable victory, when, as I find by reference to my report, we had nine hundred anh thirty-eight men of these only one hundred and fifty veterans, the remainder being the gallant reserves and citi- zens from adjacent counties, who deserve all the encomiums you have bestowed upon them. In the management of these I was ably assisted by Captain T. T. Boswell, of Mecklenburg. The enemy had six thousand well-trained and splendidly-equipped troops, over three thousand of whom advanced to the charge repeatedly on our small force, being as often disastrously repelled.


Your description is in error in stating that " General Wilson made his headquarters on McPhail's lawn, from whence he could view the field of battle and all of its approaches." Really, neither Staunton bridge nor but few of its approaches can be seen from McPhail's residence or lawn, which is (or was in 1864) obstructed from any extensive view by intervening woods.

I had the pleasure of knowing all of the family except Major Mc- Phail, who was absent with his command at the front.

And I designedly had the empty trains frequently run back and forth between our defences and Clover depot, while the enemy were approaching and deploying, our men being instructed to huzza on the arrival of every train, thus giving plausibility to the report of Mrs. McPhail to the Federal commander, and giving him apparently good reason to believe we were rapidly being reinforced.

I do not think, General, that any of us deserve very great credit for doing our duty in what we believe to be right by both instruction and inheritance, but none of us are willing when having done our duty to have our work ascribed to others, and our children deprived of such honor and credit as our contemporaries and posterity think but just to award us.

I am, most respectfully,


N. B. I also append extracts from a letter from Captain W. T. Atkins, of Boydton, Va., who most efficiently aided as my adjutant in carrying out the details of the engagement, being himself frequently exposed to the severest fire of the enemy in doing so.