On Siber's appearance at the ferry, Lightburn seems to have despaired of having time to get him over, and directed him to march down the left bank of the river, burning the sheds full of stores which were on that side of the stream.
He halted on the ridge of Cotton Hill, covering the road to Gauley Bridge, and was there joined by five companies of the Forty-seventh Ohio, also sent to his assistance by Lightburn. Loring followed and made a partial attack, which was met by the rear-guard under Captain Vance and repulsed, whilst Siber's principal column marched on to Montgomery's ferry on the Kanawha.
Siber's brigade continued its retreat rapidly to Charleston, passed through the town and crossed the Elk River. Gilbert's brigade also retired, but in better order, and it kept up a skirmish with the advance-guard of Echols's column which was following them.
Suspecting this from evidence collected at Pocataligo, I determined to put Siber's brigade and a battery, all in light marching order, on the south side of the river, accompanied by a light-draught steamboat, which the rise in the river after the storm enabled us to use as far as Charleston.
It was a panicky retreat after the hot little fight by Siber's brigade at Fayette C. H., and it is not worth while to apply to it any military criticism, further than to say that either of the brigades intrenched at Gauley Bridge could have laughed at Loring.
The suspension bridge had been ruined in Lightburn's retreat, and the enemy had depended upon a bridge of boats for communication with their troops in the lower valley. The column crossed the Elk late in the afternoon of the 30th, and I pushed Toland's and Carter's brigades to Malden and Camp Piatt that evening, Siber's brigade advancing to Brownstown on the other side of the Kanawha River.
Three companies of the Fourth Virginia under Captain Vance, and a squad of horse were sent by Lightburn from Gauley Bridge to Siber's assistance, but the latter, being without definite orders and thinking he could not hold the position another day, retreated in the night, setting fire to a large accumulation of stores and abandoning part of his wagons.
The trains and the stragglers started in direst confusion on the road to Ravenswood on the Ohio, which offered a line of retreat not subject to the enemy's fire. Siber's brigade followed, Gilbert's continued to bring up the rear. The road down the Kanawha was abandoned because it was in range of artillery from the opposite side of the river throughout its whole course down the valley.