Cloyds Mountain Part 4
The Confederates fled to Central Depot to protect the bridge over the New River. The Federal pursuit was not as effective as it could have been as Crook had available only 400 cavalry under Olney. McCausland, with around 100 men, was covering the Confederate rear and ambushed the Union cavalry, checking their progress. Then the 400 men of the Confederate 5th Kentucky Cavalry arrived from Dublin to help protect the retreat. Somewhere near here, they took up position in some woods and clashed with the pursuing Federals. In a counterattack, Christopher S Cleburne, brother of the general, was mortally wounded. He is buried on the field. In time, more Union troops showed up and flanked the position, forcing the Confederates to withdraw, but the action had gained valuable time for the main Confederate force to escape.
Christopher Cleburne's Grave
May 10th, New River at Central Depot (or Radford) - From Confederate Side (at "You Are Here" on the map)
McCausland decided against defending the fortifications on the west bank of the river, fearing that his whole force would be captured. Instead, he decided to defend the bridge from the lower ground on the opposite, or east, bank. Crook placed guns on the two pieces of high ground visible in the picture on either side of the modern railroad on the opposite bank. (The modern railroad takes a slightly different route than the wartime one.) The artillery duel resulted in few casualties, but one of the killed, a soldier who had refused to go to ground until Col. Rutherford B. Hayes got off his horse, was killed soon thereafter and was found to be a woman.
A Confederate gun ran out of ammunition, and the whole rebel artillery then withdrew. Union infantry reached the covered railroad bridge and set it afire, but all efforts to bring down the supports failed. With nothing left to defend, the rest of the Confederate force withdrew east. The Confederates had lost 2 killed and six wounded, and Yankees probably twice as many. Most of Crook's little army crossed the river further north at Pepper's Ferry.
On May 11th, Averell's men began entering camp. He had failed to take Saltville, was turned back at Wytheville, and had succeeded only in destroying some of the railroad. Since Crook had heard nothing of Sigel's advance in the Valley, he abandoned plans to move on Lynchburg, and instead retreated back into West Virginia, taking a difficult road up to Mountain Lake to avoid the easily defensible Narrows of the New River, manned by 800 rebels under Col. William L. "Mudwall" Jackson.
So the raid's potential to decisively effect the war was not realized. And since the supports of the bridge were undamaged, the bridge was repaired soon thereafter. The raid had been at best a partial success. Despite a few further skirmishes, the raiders reached safety on May 19th in Meadow Bluff, West Virginia.
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