"Peculiarly distinguished among the advance guard, where all were distinguished, must be recorded . . . Private J. W. Brown, of Company F, First Georgia Regiment, who, upon hearing the order to fall back, exclaimed, 'I will give them one more shot before I leave,' and while ramming down his twenty-ninth cartridge fell dead at his post." - General Henry R. Jackson in his report of the Battle of Greenbrier River.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 9, 1861

While in the midst of planning an attack on Union fortifications at Elkwater in Western Virginia, General Robert E. Lee was approached by Colonel Albert Rust of the Third Arkansas. Rust claimed to have scouted a trail which led to the rear of Federal Fort Milroy on Cheat Mountain, and proposed a multi-pronged attack which would take both positions. Lee was unsure about the plan, but was swayed by Rust's enthusiasm. The general put together an ambitious plan for a simultaneous assualt by five brigades to commence on September 12, 1861.
Colonel Albert Rust
of the Third Arkansas Infantry

Rust requested the honor of leading the troops which would approach Cheat Summit Fort from the rear. Though senior in rank, Colonel William B. Taliaferro of the Twenty-Third Virginia and Colonel Samuel Fulkerson of the Thirty-Seventh Virginia agreed to serve under Rust's command. Having the farthest distance to travel to it's jump-off position, Rust's brigade, including his own Third Arkansas, Taliaferro's and Fulkerson's regiments, the Thirty-First Virginia under Lt. Colonel William L. Jackson and Major George Hansborough's Ninth Virginia Battalion, marched out of Camp Bartow on September 9.

If his brigades could reach their positions undetected, Lee would have the Union fortifications surrounded, and victory would be certain. The signal for all of his troops to attack would be the sound of Colonel Rust's guns as the Arkansan struck Cheat Summit Fort. Lee's decision to give such a vital role to an untested officer would have unforseen results.

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