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WILLIAM S. ROSECRANS, THE VICTOR

OF STONE RIVER

WILLIAM STARK ROSECRANS, the son of a soldier of the War of 1812, was born at Kingston, Ohio, on the 6th of December, 1819, and when of proper age was entered by his father at West Point to learn the military art. Here he graduated in 1842, entered the engineer corps, and for some years was assistant professor of engineering in the Military Academy. In 1847 he was put in charge of the repairs at Fort Adams, near Newport, R. I., and in 1854 resigned, becoming a civil engineer at Cincinnati and engaging in coal mining and in the manufacture of kerosene. An explosion of this material injured him so severely that for eighteen months he was confined to his bed. Thus passed forty-one years of his life.

When Lincoln's call for volunteers to put down secession was issued in April, 1861, Rosecrans was among the first to offer his services to the Government, as a volunteer aide to General McClellan. In June he was appointed chief engineer of the State of Ohio and immediately afterwards took command of the twentythird Ohio volunteers. His field services began in July under McClellan in Western Virginia, where, on July 11, he fought and won the battle of Rich Mountain.

Colonel John Pegram, of the Confederate army, with about fifteen hundred men, was strongly intrenched in Rich Mountain Gap, of the Laurel Hill Range, about four miles from Beverly. His forces commanded the road over the mountains to Staunton, the chief highway of southern Virginia, and he boasted that his position could not be turned, his flanks being protected by precipitous hills. He boasted too loudly, as it proved, he being quickly driven out by a force of three Indiana and one Ohio regiments, with a troop of cavalry, sent against him under Colonel Rosecrans.

In light marching order, and guided by a young man named Hart, son of the owner of the mountain farm where Pegram lay encamped, the expedition started at three o'clock in the morning, making its way through a heavy rain-storm along a rough, slippery and pathless route for a distance of about eight miles. A wide detour was made, and at noon they reached a point a mile in Pegram's rear and on the summit of a ridge high above the camp.

Here, to their surprise and dismay, they were suddenly met with a heavy volley of cannon and musket shots and found themselves in face of a well-manned breastwork of earth and logs. Pegram had captured one of McClellan's couriers and learned of the expedition, for which he had quickly prepared. Rosecrans had no cannon, but his men were eager to fight, and the Indianians were ordered to lie down on the grass while the Ohio men advanced as skirmishers. After a considerable waste of ammunition fired over the heads of the lying men, Pegram's men leaped from their works and charged with yells across the road. In an instant the Indianians were on their feet and met them with the bayonet, charging so furiously that the Confederates quickly broke and fled down the mountain slopes to Pegram's camp.

This minor affair, in which Rosecrans commanded, was one of the earliest engagements of the war. He had about eighteen hundred men, double the force of the ambushed enemy, and met with a loss of about fifty, while Pegram lost in killed, wounded and prisoners more than four hundred.

Yet the position of Rosecrans was perilous, separated from the main body as he was. Fortunately McClellan, who had heard the cannonading, advanced to Pegram's front and planted his cannon for an assault on the camp. That night Pegram fled. He was pursued and cut off from assistance and in the end, finding no way of escape and being for two days without food, he surrendered with what remained of his force.

This engagement, while of no great moment in itself, is presented here as the opening event in the career of Rosecrans as a leader of men. It was considered of sufficient importance to bring him the commission of brigadier-general in the United States volunteer service. He continued with McClellan until the latter was called to the general command of the army after the battle of Bull Run, when Rosecrans was left in command in Western Virginia.

He was soon faced by a notable opponent, General Lee being put in command of the scattered forces in that quarter. General Floyd, recently secretary of war under President Buchanan, who had now taken up arms for the Confederacy, was also in the field, in a strong position on the Gauley River. Lee and Floyd proposed to drive the Federal troops from the mountain region and perhaps follow up their victory by the capture of Wheeling and the invasion of western Pennsylvania. This plan, as the event showed, did not work.

Rosecrans had now gathered a force of nearly ten thousand men, and early in September marched against

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Floyd, leaving General Reynolds in the Cheat Mountain region to watch and oppose Lee. Rarely has an army followed a wilder road than that which Rosecrans and his army were obliged to traverse. His route lay along some of the wildest of the mountain tracks, over the western spurs of the Alleghanies. Now the men passed through deep ravines and narrow defiles, now climbed steep hill-sides, now followed slippery and winding paths among beetling crags. The Gauley Mountain Range was especially rugged. Its summit was reached at noon of September 9, and the weary troops looked down upon a magnificent panorama of wooded heights and valleys, through one of which curved the waters of Gauley River. On a bald eminence just north of this stream lay Floyd's camp, the river curving so that his flanks rested on the stream.

It was a strong position, but Rosecrans did not hesitate to attack and during the greater part of the day the roar of combat echoed among the hills.. Night fell before the battle ended, and when the next morning dawned Floyd's army had disappeared. It had crossed the Gauley in the dark over a bridge of logs, which broke down behind the troops, while a large amount of arms and camp equipage was left in the works. Thus ended the battle of the Carnifex Ferry, with little loss in men on either side, but with victory for the Union

arms.

Meanwhile Reynolds had held his own against Lee. Later on, the latter was recalled to Richmond to engage in engineering works in South Carolina, Rosecrans now having only Floyd to deal with. On November 12 he gave that doughty civilian general his final defeat, putting him to flight and chasing him so hotly that he did not stop until fifty miles from the field. Floyd soon after resigned from the army to enter upon duties for which he was better fitted. Shortly afterwards the campaign in Western Virginia ended and Rosecrans was withdrawn for service in a larger field.

In April, 1862, he joined General Buell's army in Tennessee and took part with it in the siege of Corinth, where he commanded a division. After General Pope was called to Virginia to command the army before Washington, where he bore the burden of defeat on the old Bull Run field, Rosecrans replaced him at the head of his former army. It was known as the Army of the Mississippi, its head-quarters being at Corinth. General Grant was now the superior officer in that region.

During September Sterling Price, a Confederate general, captured Iuka, a Mississippi village where a large amount of Federal stores had been gathered. Grant at once sent two columns against him,

one under General Rosecrans, to attack his flank and rear, the other under General Ord, to strike him in front. As it happened, Ord did not appear in time to take part in the battle, which was fought by Rosecrans with the nine thousand troops under his command. Without waiting for his associate, Rosecrans made a sharp attack in the afternoon of September 19, a severe battle succeeding in which the Confederates were pushed back upon the town. Nightfall closed the contest and when Ord appeared the next morning he found Rosecrans in possession of the place. Price had fled during the night, and though sharply pursued he had gained start enough to enable him to escape.

In early October Rosecrans was back at Corinth, which he was busily fortifying, with twenty thousand

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