In obedience to Orders, I have the honor to submit the following report of
the operations of the 44th Georgia, Company C under the command of Captain Clark
J. Van Buskirk in the field from May 28 to May 31, inclusive:
Upon hearing of a Union influence in the hills of Virginia west of Winchester, and recognizing the importance of the passage through the Alleghenies to Belington, the 44th Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Company C was summoned to garrison the town of Philippi and defend the covered bridge spanning the Tygart River, thus thwarting any Federal efforts to gain entry to the coveted Shenandoah Valley.
Traversing the hills via a variety of routes we began arriving at the town of Philippi as early as Thursday May 28th, placing our canvas in the form of a short camp within a few hundred feet of the bridge, below the heights cresting to our west. Additional troops filtered in through the day and evening of Friday May 29th using their free hours to explore the community and partake of the local hospitality, which appeared to be mostly comprised of folks with southern sympathies .
In the early evening the entire town, and members of surrounding areas, gathered along the Main Street and invited us to parade through their town in a Grand Review of the Soldiers, accompanied by marching bands and Fire Fighting vehicles and equipment.
The following afternoon (Saturday) we formed up in response to reports of a small federal scouting party being in the vicinity, and skirmished briefly taking defensive position alongside the bridge, A short altercation with the opposing forces erupted and we rid the riverbank of the aggressors, taking few casualties although Corporal Ringel showed signs of fatigue and suffered greatly throughout the weekend.
We returned to camp to recuperate and shared in the hospitality of a local saloon keeper, dining on a dinner of beans, chicken and ham and afterwards a few of us were entertained by musicians and joined in a dance held in our honor.
A brief rainstorm dampened the canvas but not the spirits, although a decision not to post pickets would prove foolhardy later in the evening.
Around 11 PM we were hurriedly called to arms and marched to the eastern side of the bridge where the Main Street bends and were immediately confronted by a force of Yankees double-quicking over the bridge and forming a line of battle. Having rushed to the field we were unprepared and unloaded and were met by a volley by the blue coated devils. Confusion reigned as Companies were assembled, with the Yankees holding the upper hand, exploiting their advantage of surprise and co-ordination. After trading volleys and engaging in advances and retreats for a quarter of an hour we heard a Yank officer bark a command of Fix bayonets. Knowing that a charge was imminent the line began to break and we were overcome, the Yanks taking prisoners, whereupon they, and we, withdrew from the field.
Sunday brought more of the same. Union forces, in greater numbers, once again crossed Chenoweth’s bridge upon the signal of an artillery report., and we formed three lines of battle, in echelon, along the Main Street, firing and retreating in an orderly and organized matter.
I observed few casualties and no apparent mortal injuries during the race south, and our Company emerged unscathed, although I must regret that at least one greyclad boy was left behind in the escape, the victim of a severe leg injury. I have been informed that a field amputation was performed by a Union surgeon and that the soldier is expected to recover.
We have since vacated the area, heading eastward through the gaps, pausing in wonderment at the beauty of the region and friendliness of our hosts.
Corporal James Marshall