Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Assault on Allegheny

July 24-26, 2009
Assault on Allegheny
Bartow, West Virginia

Dear Friends,

We wound our way, over, up, down, and through the mountains of this part o western Virginia on a fine Friday. The experience for our flatland volunteers from Indiana left quite an impression of how sublime this region is, and indeed the ideas and concepts that the mountaineers must face just to survive here. How familiar the boys of Indiana are with the vast width and breadth of our land, but this land now introduces an equal partner in the dimension of depth.

At a small little village at the base of one of these myriad mountains was called Bartow, and there we found Travellers Rest. It is a small inn along the road from Nowhere to Staunton, Virginia. There our troops were massed, and moved to occupy an abandoned confederate fort, named Fort Bartow. It was high on the hill directly in front of the inn, and surrounded by trenches, rifle pits, and two gun positions bearing on the road, and the bridge, directly below. The hill was about 500 feet high at least, and a healthy hike was made by each man to attain the summit.

The fort encumpassed about two acres, at least, and was a very pleasant camp, with open ground, thick grass, and open vistas of the valley. Our headquarters was established in the redoubt, and the four companies massed on the knob in the center of the fort. Each company got up a fire, and commenced preparing rations for our anticipated operations. Officers call at 9.00 indicated that stragglers were still arriving, and they continued to pass the guard throughout the night.

Morning reports found us at full strength, and ready to move, with Col. Buffington, Maj. Herzog, and Capts. Dangel, Mason, Tuohy, and Hanson. A fine set of officers, and a finer set of men, ready to demonstrate their patriotism!

We formed our line of march in front of the inn at 9.00 A.M. and reported to the Colonel 78 men of the 9th Indiana Volunteers in line and ready for the march. So, off we went, starting the ascent of the mountains, as it seems that every move in thes mountains is an ascent. We proceeded with an easy pace along the Staunton Turnpike, up, up, back, and forth. We were moving along, and taking a minutes rest each half mile, and a ten minute rest out of each hour. The men tolerated the march first rate, and the stragglers would rest a time, and catch back up to the column in good order.

After about the first mile or more, the column was halted, and first company was deployed forward as our advance guard. They were in column of platoons, about 50-100 yards apart and the same distance to the front. For some time, nothing was spotted in the way of threat or interest. At intervals matching our rests, each company in turn was deployed forward, rotating the advance guard among all equally. Tensions mounted as the column approached the crest, and the advance became more vigilent and deliberate in anticipation to the rather common practice of the rebels in this area to bushwack, ambush, and simply harrass our boys, then run away to report our location and strength.

After several miles, we were halted for a longer break, and to get some dinner from our haversacks. As is expected in a situation such as this, once the party was relaxing and eating, sure, a rifle shot to the front was heard. All at once, everyone was a scattering and scrambling to get back into line, the officers were shouting, and the advance guard was taking cover, and peering into the woods. There were a few rebel wood ticks in the woods uphill from us, but that told us there were a few more scurrying back to the nest to tell of our arrival on the hill. We advanced all at the ready, until we came around a little bend, and found the rebel line of battle across our front in the woods to the left of the road. They opened, and we came into line. One of our companies deployed along our left flank as skirmishers, and swept a grand right wheel through the woods, pushing all the ticks against the main dog. We then went into line perpendicular to the road, and extending to the left and hammered at the rebels. It seemed that we could puch them, when they evaporated.

We once again got onto the road, marched by the right flank with advance and now rear guard. Things were getting rather flatter up at this elevation, and we seemed to be on top of the world. Except we were sharing it with the enemy. We proceeded deliberately for some time. After about another hour, we were descending a deep cut, with a high cliff bluff to our right, when we were under pot shots aagain. They had let our point go past, and harrassed the main part of the column. We once again went into line, and deployed skirmishers to rake the woods once more flushing them to the left. We pushed and quickly advanced up a side road to the crest of the will where we made a firm stand toe to toe.

The Confederates retreated down a meadow, across a saddle, and towards the next ridge. In the distance, we could see that they had built breastworks there, so the push was to engage them before they reached that position. Our line was advenced to a snake fence, then we were aadvanced in eschelon from the left, thirty yards spacing, and of we went across the saddle in succession, companies from left to right. We were engaging them and overlapping their flanks as they converged on the rough works. They did make it there, but with casualties. About 150 yards from the works, we came back into line and gave them a licking, by battalion, by rank, and by file. We could see their fire diminishing, and went to the attack. We advanced once more, and that is when they broke, and streamed down the back side of the hill, hitting the Staunton road once more, and they were gone.

We reassembled the men, and determined that this creast, and long spur to the right was an ideal defensive location. Orders came to move to the spur, set camp, and there is where we were to spend the night. All were sitting to rest, and start thinking about fires and rations, when a gentle summer shower began. Most were pleaed at the cool relief. It lasted about twenty minutes. Then another shower came of harder rain, about twenty minutes. During this time, up went the flies and shebangs best we could. Then came the rain for sure, and then the thunder around us. And then the lightning on the ridges. We had a swirling lightning storm on our hands, sure.

The orders came from command, to strike our camp on the spur, get off the high ground, head towards the bottom of this hill, towards the road that the rebels escaped upon, and wait further orders. All this evacuation took about an hours time, and when the 9th Indiana was finally on the road, all present and accounted for, the excursion was ordered off. Wagons were commandeered to move our command back whence it came. Thus ended the Assualt on the Alleghenies.

The hunting was good in this region, even in 1861.

Your humble servant,
Kim Perlotto, Adj, 9th Ind. Vols.

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