Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/58

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

52 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Colonel saw the courier and learned that a heavy column of Federal cavalry under command of General Wilson was moving along the .Richmond and Danville railroad, breaking it up; that they would 'soon reach the Staunton bridge, then guarded by a company of Confederate infantry under command of Captain Farinholt, who was sending out couriers to invoke the aid of all men capable of bearing arms. Colonel Flournoy went at once to the county town and sent out couriers with orders signed by General Lee, for all men and boys and Confederate soldiers on furlough to repair at once to the defence of this important point. Prompt response was made by all whom the summons reached, and by June 24th near five hundred men, armed with shot-guns and " pea " rifles were on the spot.


Some were aged men, too old for field service, some were boys, too young, and a few were Confederate veterans on furlough because of wounds or sickness.

Of this last class were Colonel Flournoy and Colonel Eaton Coleman.

Colonel Flournoy got together a small party of horsemen and pushed forward to reconnoitre the enemy and report his progress. Colonel Coleman assumed the command of the forces at the bridge and prepared its defences. He was a clever engineer and a veteran of several years' active service.

He moved two hundred and fifty men across to the end of the bridge nearest the enemy. The river bank was steep and high. This he cut down to about four feet, throwing all the earth as re- moved down the bank, and showing no fresh earth in front. His command were ordered to crouch down carefully concealed until the enemy should arrive at point blank. Then at the word they would rise, take good aim and fire.

The rest of the command was held in reserve, under Colonel Flournoy, on the right bank of the river, where field-works had long ago been constructed upon the bluff some twenty feet above the bridge. This work was armed with four six-pounders, which were worked upon the advancing enemy under command of Captain Marshall.


During the morning of the 24th Wilson arrived upon the ridge, about one mile from the bridge. He fixed his headquarters in the