From a Barbour County Scrapbook
submitted by Linda Graham.
Clippings from the Barbour Democrat
Aged Man to Spend Rest of His Days at Arden, His Childhood Home.
Again "settled down", as he says, near the spot of his birth more than
ninety-one years ago, John I. HOFFMAN, widely known resident of Barbour
county and Union veteran of the Civil war, will spend the rest of his days
at Arden, the scene of the main activities of his long life. Although he has
lived more than four score years and ten, his years seem not yet numbered
and the century mark of life may be in store for him.
Asked how he accounted for his long life, he replied: " I have just acted
natural and lived."
Continuing to "act natural" he is promised many more years, as he is hearty
Of German descent, the HOFFMAN family, as represented by the Union veteran
at Arden, came from Loudoun county, Virginia, across the Allegheny mountains
in 1813 and settled near Meadowville, then in Randolph county but now in
Barbour. Its descendants now live in Randolph, Barbour, Taylor, Jackson, and
other counties of West Virginia and in various other states.
The pioneers of the family, who settled in Randolph County, were John and
Margaret HOFF HOFFMAN, grandparents of the subject of this sketch. The
former died in 1823 and the latter in 1852. Their eleven sons and daughters
were born in Loudoun county, as follows:
Catherine, March 17, 1788
William, October 31, 1789
Daniel, November 28, 1791
Elizabeth, November 18, 1793
Alexander, January 10, 1796
Peter, March 19, 1798
John, February 24 , 1800
James, Jun 24, 1802
Anthony, August 5, 1804
Nancy, January 13, 1807
Israel Putnam, Jun 2, 1810
Eldest child dies
William HOFFMAN, eldest child [sic] of John and Margaret HOFFMAN, died when
a small boy.
Daniel, next in the family of the pioneer settlers, went to the War of 1812
and was not heard from afterwards. Whether he was killed in the war was
Elizabeth, the first daughter [sic] married a man named JOHNSON and lived to
be old in Jackson county, this state, where she was buried.
Catherine, next daughter and child [sic], married Levi HOFF. They resided on
Spall Lick run on the Clarksburg highway five miles west of Philippi. She
died about 1866. They had a daughter Samantha, who married Madison REED and
lived and died near Spall Lick run.
Alexander, next in line, lived and died in Jackson county. He first was
married to a woman whose Christian name was Hannah with her surname not
recalled by the old warrior. Alexander represented Jackson county at the
Wheeling convention at the formation of the state. He lived to be old. They
had sons and daughters.
Peter, the sixth child [sic] of the pioneer Hoffmans, was a resident of
Athen county, O. at the time of his death at a ripe old age. Gen. John
MORGAN in his Rebel raid in the Civil war destroyed all of Peter's property,
and broke him up. He was married and reared a family.
John, following Peter in the birth line, was married to Ocie KELLEY, of near
Moatsville. They reared a large family, now all deceased. He died about 1880
James, next after John, was twice married. He lived and died in Cass county,
Mo. His surviving daughter Mrs. Emily BROCKHOUSE, of Peculiar, Mo., is Mr.
Hoffman's only living cousin.
Anthony, the next son, was married and lived several years near Meadowville,
Barbour county. He favored the Confederate cause, a historical fact not at
all pleasing to his aged brother John. Three of Anthony's sons, Jacob,
Josiah, and another, served in the Confederate army.
Nancy, the next Hoffman child, married Jacob NESTOR of Nestorsville. They
reared a family of sons and daughters. She died about 1880.
Israel Putnam HOFFMAN, youngest member of the pioneer family and father of
John I. HOFFMAN, the Arden veteran, died October 23, 1856, near Arden. His
widow Mrs. Anna HOFFMAN, died May 31 1897, near Arden. She was a daughter of
John and Mary Ellen "Polly" BLACK and was born in 1812.
They were the parents of eleven sons and daughters, all born in what is now
Barbour county, among whom is John I. HOFFMAN. The dates of their births are
Clarissa, December 20, 1831
Clarissa married James M. CARBIN, of Harrison county. He died at the home of
a son in Columbus, O., several years after the death of his wife in the ‘70s
at Grafton. They were buried in the Woodward cemetery near Knottsville. They
were the parents of several children, all of whom are dead except the oldest
daughter. Mrs. Aritha HOUSTON, of Columbus, O.
William, April 25, 1833
Julia, March 2, 1835
Harriet, December 17, 1836
Margaret, December 29, 1838
John I., July 27, 1841
Mary Ellen, October 23, 1843
Emaline, April 20, 1845
Daniel, December 21, 1848
Henry L., May 7, 1852
Levi R., April 10, 1854
Lived in Jackson
William was married to Arrena MITCHELL, a daughter of Hezekiah MITCHELL, and
lived in Jackson county, where they reared a large family. He died there at
80 years of age. His wife is also dead.
Julia HOFFMAN married James W. FRYE. They live and died at Nestorville. She
lived to be almost 90. They had a family, of whom two daughters are living.
One of these, Nancy, first married Simpson CROSS, who was killed later in a
mine accident at Monongah, before the great mine horror there in 1907. Of
their three sons, one is dead. Another is Berton CROSS, of Elkins, a state
trooper. Mrs. CROSS next married Charles BYRER, of Philippi, who died twenty
years ago. She lives at Philippi.
Harriet Hoffman became the wife of Allen CARPENTER. They lived and died near
Arden. One of their sons, William, was married to Ella BARBE and lives at
Philippi. Another, David, died single thirty years ago. Lloyd was marred to
Margaret LOAR, of Grafton. Monroe was married to Esther SIMONS. Waitman W.
HOFFMAN was married to Bessie GALLAGHER, and while he has a farm near
Belington he lives in Elkins.
Was Middle Child
Mr. and Mrs. CARPENTER were the parents of three daughters, now living. One,
Elizabeth, married John J. GALL, and they live at Belington. Rosalfa [sic]
became the wife of John RIDENOUR, of near Arden. He is dead. She lives near
Arden. Martha Mozella, another daughter, married Andrew MYERS. They are
residents of Grafton.
Margaret HOFFMAN, the next child of Mr. and Mrs. Israel Putnam HOFFMAN, died
in 1850 at the age of 12 years.
John I. HOFFMAN, Arden veteran, was the "middle" child, five being born
before him and five afterwards in the Israel Putnam HOFFMAN family.
Mary Ellen married James STEMPLE. They lived near Arden. She died twenty
years ago and he five years later. They had two sons, now both deceased.
John died in 1898 and Isaiah soon thereafter. John's wife was Bluedell
POLING before their marriage. She is now the wife of George HALLER, of
Nestorville. There were also two daughters in the STEMPLE family. Clarissa
married Samuel STALNAKER. They live at Nestorville and have a son and a
daughter, Anna Belle. The other STEMPLE daughter married William SHANABARGER
They live in Morgantown and have several children.
Emaline, another daughter of Israel HOFFMAN, married Salathiel SAFFEL and
they lived near Philippi. He died fifteen years ago. She passed away four
years ago. They were the parents of five sons and two daughters, all married
Floyd lives at Philippi: Clark, at Belington; Alexander at Weston; Hartman,
at Athens, O.; Truman at Spall Lick run; Massaloni, who married John THOMPSON
at Grafton, and Lunetta, wife of Jerome MOATS, at Moatsville.
Daniel HOFFMAN, a son of Israel, first was married to Levita GALL. They had
no children. His second wife is the former Cordia CUSTER, to whom he was
married at Galloway. They live at Coolville, O. They have no children.
Henry L. HOFFMAN was married to Catherine BOYLWS. They lived near Moatsville
where she died twenty years ago and he soon afterwards. Howard, on the
their sons, was marriage to Rose HOTSINTELLER, of Grafton. They live in
Ashland, Ky. Bernard, another son, was married to Bessie MCINTOSH. They live
in Grafton. Darl, being deaf, attended the state school at Romney for mutes,
and there was married to one of the pupils, who neither hears nor talks.
They live in Akron, O. Bertha, another daughter married Daniel James BENNETT
They live near Tracy, Barbour county. Columbia married Enoch MOATS. They
live at Arden.
Levi R., the youngest member of the Israel HOFFMAN family, was married to
Ingaby MCDANIEL. They lived near Grafton. Their children include two sons
and two daughters. Opha is married and lives in Brooke county. Ona is also
married. Icie married a man named PHILLIPS, who lives in Randolph county.
She is deceased. Alice is single and lives in Grafton.
Born Near Philippi
Andrew TRIMBLE, father of Mrs. John I HOFFMAN, was born June 6, 1822 and
died June 7, 1882, near Philippi. His wife, Barbara MARPLE TRIMBLE, born
January 7, 1822, died February 16, 1898, at the home of John BENNETT at
Grafton. They were married June 22, 1842, and were the parents of ten sons
Sarah A., eldest, was born December 22, 1843. She married Barnett BOYLES
November 4, 1869. They lived and died three miles from Philippi.
A. Draper TRIMBLE , the first son, was born August 29, 1845, and was married
May 3, 1868, to Amanda WALLER. They lived and died near Philippi.
Nancy H., the third child, was born June 22, 1847. She married Harvey STURM
March 16, 1865. Mr. and Mrs. Sturm lived and died at Parsons.
Elizabeth Ann, wife of John I. HOFFMAN, was born April 7, 1849, and married
October 1 1868, at Philippi, the ceremony being performed by the Rev.
Richard NORTHCRAFT, a United Brethren minister. Mrs. Hoffman died June 1,
1932, at the home of her son-in-law, William Roy KESLING, on Long Run near
Wendel, where she had resided ten years. Her daughter, Mrs. Columbus O.
MOATS looked after her the last two and one-half years of her life. Four
months before Mrs. Hoffman died, she suffered a fall, dislocating her right
shoulder. She was buried in the Bluemont cemetery at Grafton.
Resides at Weston
Almarinda, next in line, was born December 16, 1851. She married John WOLFE,
June 2, 1870. They both died at Belington, where they had lived many years.
Susan M., born December 25, 1853, married William HERSMAN October 1, 1871.
Their home was at Tracey Crossroads, where he died last winter. She still
John F. TRIMBLE was born November 25, 1855. He was married to Dora YOKUM
October 10, 1878. He died at Grafton several years ago. She now lives at
Jarutia [sic] I., born May 24, 1858, married John BENNETT, of Grafton, May
11, 1876, where he died. She lives there.
Edward P.TRIMBLE, born September 21, 1860, is married and resides near
Rosa B., the youngest of the TRIMBLE family, was born March 18, 1864. She
married Isaac STEMPLE, of Laurel creek, where he died four years ago. She
now lives at the home of a son at Philippi. They were married October 28,
Parents of Nine
Mr. and Mrs. John I. HOFFMAN were the parents of nine sons and daughters,
born as follows:
Lunetta, September 18, 1869
Arthur D. died two years ago of a brain tumor. Almeda died April 20, 1921.
Erskine is also dead. The other seven [sic] are living.
Barbara Ann, October 20, 1871
Arthur D. November 15, 1873
Almeda Bell, December 27, 1875
Ida May, May 2, 1878
Delbert M. , July 10, 1880
Okey W., October 16, 1882
Erskine J., November 2, 1885
Bliss T., February 27, 1890
Lunetta married Andrew S. YOKUM, who died three years ago last October. She
lives in Elkins. Their children are Flora and Gladys. Flora married William
ZUELSDORF, a public accountant, four or five years ago. They live in
Wheeling. She is a stenographer and was formerly a departmental employee at
Washington, D.C. They have no children. Gladys has been a member of the
faculty of the Ohio state school for the deaf at Columbus the last four
years. She teaches the lip and sign language but is not afflicted herself.
Passed Away at Camp
Barbara A. married Columbus O. MOATS, a carpenter, in 1894. They live at
Elkins. Their three children are: Agnes, born June 3, 1906; Lawrence, born
August 4, 1908; and Mary Elizabeth, born February 18, 1914. Agnes married
Harley E. MOORE, a son of Clyde MOORE, Jr., four or five years ago. He is a
miner and they live at Junior, Barbour county. They have a son Edgar Joe, 4.
Lawrence was married four years ago to Mabel JONES, a daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. Batie JONES, of near Elkins. He and his family live at Elkins. He is a
bus driver. Their children are Barbara Lee, born November 21m 1928; and
Lawrence, Jr., born last April. Mary Elizabeth, youngest member of the MOATS
family, is attending business college in Fairmont.
Arthur D. HOFFMAN, now deceased, was married to Cora KINES, a daughter of
Zeckariah KINES. She died eighteen years ago. They were the parents of seven
children, three of whom are dead. Isabelle, Beatrice, Carl, Loren, Charles,
Elizabeth and Edith. Beatrice and Carl are dead. Charles is a Cecil farmer.
Elizabeth lives in Detroit, Mich., but teachers in winter at Grafton. Edith
also lives in Detroit. Isabelle married John MOONEY, of Detroit. He died in
a training camp in the World war. Her home is in Detroit. She has a son dead
Loren was married to Miss Lucy NUMAN, of Portsmouth, O. Their three
children are: Charles, Laura May, and Betty Lee.
Charles, the Cecil farmer, was married to Miss Anna SOVENFELT. They have two
children, Joe Ann, 3, and Betty Lee, 2. Edith married Ray LKIEN, president
of the KLIEN Ice Cream Manufacturing Corporation Detroit, Mich. They have a
daughter, Dorothy Lynn, one year old.
Arthur D. HOFFMAN's second wife is the former Mrs. Appa L. WILMOTER, a
sister of Lee SANDRIDGE, of Philippi. She lives in Grafton. There were no
children. Arthur HOFFMAN died March 30, 1930.
Looks After Farm
Almeda, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John I. HOFFMAN, married William Roy
KESLING April 22, 1914. He lived near Buckhannon at the time and was a son
of Enos KESLING, now deceased. They now live on Long Run, near Wendel, where
he owns and operates a fine farm. Their only child, Katherine, born April 21
1915, is a last year's graduate of the Elkins junior high school. In
addition to looking after his farm, KESLING operates a large electric
sub-station for the Maryland Coal Company. His wife died April 20, 1921.
Ida May, another daughter of John I. HOFFMAN, married Floyd MOSS, a son of
Robert MOSS of Pleasant Creek. They live near Berryburg, where he is a
farmer. They have two children: Henry R. and Mildred. The latter lives at
home. Henry was married to Columbia HADDOX, of Berryburg, a schoolteacher.
They have a son, Howard Robert, one year old.
Delbert M. HOFFMAN, a son of the war veteran, was married to Mrs. Iva
HOTSINTELLAR HOLMES, widow of Capt. Charles HOLMES, who was lost at sea. One
of her sons, Charles Holmes, was killed in an airplane accident. The other
son Harold Holmes, lives near Moatsville. Delbert HOFFMAN is a railroad
engineer. He and his wife live at Malden, Wash.
Okey W. Hoffman, another son is a railroad engineer and lives in Grafton.
His wife is the former Miss Mary COLE, whose father lives in Washington, D.C
They have three children: Margaret, 19; Mary Elizabeth, 17, and Robert, 3,
Erskine J. HOFFMAN, next to the last member of the John I. HOFFMAN family,
was never married. While engaged as a trainman, he was killed November 12,
1914, in a railroad accident at Marintonin [sic], La. The body was brought
to Grafton for burial.
Bliss T. HOFFMAN, youngest of the war veteran's family, formerly lived at
Tampa, Fla., where he was a railroad conductor, but last summer he returned
from that state and is now living at Grafton. His wife, the former Miss
Sarah MITCHELL, a daughter of Middleton MITCHELL of Clemtown, Barbour county
died in 1922. They were the parents of two sons, Edgar E., 11, who lives at
the home of his aunt, Mrs. Lunetta YOKUM, of Elkins, and David Joe, who died
June 23, 1923, aged eleven months.
Besides eighteen grandchildren, as already mentioned as members of the
families of Mrs. Barbara MOATS, Mrs. Ida May MOSS, Arthur HOFFMAN, and Okey
and Bliss HOFFMAN, the veteran has ten great-grandchildren: Charles, Laura
May, and Betty Lee, children of Mr. and Mrs. Loren HOFFMAN, 444 Walnut
avenue, Grafton; Howard Robert MOSS, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. MOSS, of
near Berryburg; Edgar Joe MOORE, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harley E. MOORE, of
Junior; Barbara Lee and Lawrence MOATS, Jr. children of Mr. and Mrs.
Lawrence MOATS of Elkins; Joe Ann and William HOFFMAN, children of Mr. and
Mrs. Charles HOFFMAN, of Cecil; and Dorothy Lynn KLIEN, daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. Roy KLIEN of Detroit, Mich.
John I HOFFMAN enlisted January 13 1863, in Company F, Third West Virginia
infantry regiment, under Daniel SHEETS as captain. Col. David HEWES, of
Clarksburg, who had recruited the regiment, was too old for active service,
Hoffman recalls, and Lieut. Col. F.W. THOMPSON had charge of it. Company F
was made up mostly in Taylor county, Hoffman says. All its members are now
dead except Hoffman and possibly Edgar FLEMING, whom Hoffman last saw six
years ago. Fleming was then a resident of Wood county.
The regiment was not long getting into action. From Clarksburg it went to
Weston and Buckhannon, where there were minor actions and then was sent to
Sutton, where a detail was sent to Big Birch river in Nicholas county to
erect a block house.
Hastens to Clarksburg
Then Gen. John D. Imboden with 1,300 men captured Beverly April 24 in the
Rebel raid across the mountains that year, and Gen. W. E. JONES was reported
as threatening Grafton, the regiment hastened back to Clarksburg, under
direction of Gen. B. S. ROBERTS, of the Twenty-eighth Ohio infantry, who was
in command at Clarksburg, burning the Buckhannon bridge on the way, Hoffman
recalls, and encamped two weeks at the site of the present Odd Fellows
Roberts was superseded by Gen. W. W. AVERELL, who mounted his 3,500
infantrymen. Hoffman recalls his regiment was mounted at Bridgeport. It then
proceeded to Fetterman where it drilled some time. The regiment lost Lieut.
Col. James JONES by death while there.
Averall moved to Beverly, where he was attacked by Col. W.L. JACKSON with 1
000 Confederates. Jackson was repulsed July 2, pursued to Huttonsville, and
routed there July 4.
Opposed Gen. Lee
Headed toward Gettysburg, Averall as he was opposing the west wing of Gen. R. E. LEE's
troops retreating from the scene of that battle, fought and routed Gen. Bradley T. JOHNSON
near Martinsburg July 19.
Hoffman regrets he did not have opportunity to participate in the battle at
Gettysburg, Pa., where Gen Robert E. Lee, Confederate commander, met his
waterloo, so to speak. The third West Virginia regiment, a unit of the Army
of the Potomac under Gen. B. F. KELLEY, was near Clear Spring, west of
Cumberland, having concentrated all his available forces on the enemy's
flank, ready to cooperate in the attack by Gen. George G. MEADE, Union
commander, but too late to enter the fight, as Lee was then in retreat.
The regiment arrived at Williamsport just after Lee's army had crossed the
Potomac river and re-entered the Valley of Virginia, Hoffman remembers some of the
Union troops were transported across the river by ferry, while others swam the
stream with their horses, and pursuit was then begun. The Confederates were headed
south but at times stopped and put up a fight against those who were chasing them.
Averell engaged in several skirmishes with them and took a number of prisoners. At
times he met with slight reverses and had to fall back; but July 24, he again
advanced and continued a forward movement until he reached Winchester July 30,
where he camped and reconnoitered at various points.
Goes to Cold Spring
Averell moved from Winchester August 5, through Hardy County on his
expedition to Greenbrier county, sending a detachment to Cold Spring where
there was a skirmish with Imboden; another squad to Harper's Mills, where
several prisoners were taken but subsequently lost in an ambuscade and in
which the Federals lost thirteen men captured and four wounded. August 22,
Averell defeated Confederates at Huntersville and crossed from that town to
the Jackson river and destroyed the salt-peter works.
The battle of Rocky Gap I Greenbrier County followed August 26. Averall had
1,300 men and Gen. Samuel Jones, Confederate general, more than 2,000. The
battle raged two days, when Averell's ammunition ran short and he retreated
in the direction of Beverly. His loss was 218 and the Rebels lost 162 men.
Averell moved November 1 from Beverly into Pocahontas county with 2,500 men
to form a junction in Greenbrier County with Gen. Duffie from Charleston.
Averell defeated the Confederates November 3 in a skirmish at Cackleytown,
Pocahontas county, and two days later in skirmishes at Hillsboro and Mill
And then came the Droop Mountain battle November 6, when Averell attacked
Gen. Echols who had 1,700 men strongly posted on the mountain summit. While
it was a stiff fight, the Union forces won by a flank movement, Echols
retreating with the loss of 275 men and three cannon. Averell's loss was 119.
The Confederates escaped into Monroe County. Hoffman recalls that Lemuel
BARTLETT, a member of his company, was killed in the battle, Abraham
MCDANIEL suffered a flesh wound in the thigh, and John WEBB, of Harrison
County, a similar wound close up.
Averell proceeded to White Sulphur Springs, where he picked up his wounded
from the Rocky Gap battle, moved on to Hightown and reached Petersburg
November 13, where the command was supplied with rations. He arrived at New
Creek four days later, with 150 captured horses and twenty-seven prisoners,
not including men from Lewisburg. Several hundred cattle were captured on
the march of seventeen days.
Directed to cut the Virginia and Tennessee railroad and interrupt
communications between Richmond and Knoxville, Tenn. Where General A.C.
BURNSIDE was besieged by Confederate troops under command of Gen. James
Longstreet, "even if his whole army was captured or destroyed," Averell with
the Second and Third West Virginia mounted infantry under Lieut. Col.
THOMPSON; the Eighth West Virginia under Col. John H. OHLEY; Pennsylvania
and other cavalry left New Creek the morning of December 18, 1863, to make
the celebrated Salem raid.
Makes Big Capture
The troops went by way of Sweet Springs and Newcastle, approaching Salem
December 16, unheralded, although it was reported Gen. Fitzhugh Lee had left
Charlottesville to intercept Averell's command and a train loaded with
Confederate soldiers was momentarily expected.
An immense supply of provisions was found at Salem, including 2,000 barrels
of flour, 10,000 bushels of wheat, 100,000 bushels of shelled corn, 50,000
bushels of oats, 2,000 barrels of meat, several cords of leather, 1.000
sacks of salt, and army equipment of all kinds. What Averell could not use
he destroyed, cut the telegraph lines and tore up the railroad. The supply
depot and two other large warehouses were burned.
After the railroad had been destroyed for a number of miles, Averill started
on the return march and was caught in a terrific storm, which put his
ammunition out of commission. Heavy caissons were swept down stream and were
saved with difficulty. Although Rebel troops were only a few miles distant
Averell was in no condition to fight them.
Leaving their campfires burning to deceive the enemy, Averell's men went
forward in the coldest and darkest night they had ever experienced. Thirty
miles through forest and frost, brought them to the Fincastle pike at noon
December 19, with fifteen miles yet to go to reach the bridge. Jackson River
was reported unfordable because of the depth of water and ice obstructions.
Eight miles from the river, a force of 300 Confederates was encountered, but
as soon as they were broken up. Averell's advance closely pursued them at a
gallop to the first bridge five miles below. Covington and thence to the
bridge, both of which were saved from destruction, although faggots had been
piled upon them ready to burn.
Four Are Drowned
Averell's column four miles long had barely passed over the bridge with
ambulances, a few wagons and the Eighth West Virginia regiment yet to cross,
when an attack was made by Gen. W. J. Jackson's forces. Averell destroyed the
bridge when he found it impossible to dislodge the Confederates. He thought
the Eighth had been captured but later it came down from the mountain side
and swam the icy river. Four men were drowned. The Confederates were so
close that Gen. J. A. Early's demand for surrender was received by rear guard
officers who made their escape, too. During the night attack, Averell lost
five officers and 119 men by capture.
Averell then made his way across the Allegheny mountains by a very obscure
road and reached the Greenbrier river, which he crossed December 21,
opposite Hillsboro and encamped for the night at the base of Droop mountain
and was safe. Unaided with a weary command of 2.500 men, he had marched
through a difficult country in which, it is claimed, not less than 12.000
Confederate soldiers maneuvered to effect his capture.
On the way from Edray to Beverly the road was a glacier and was traversed
with difficulty and peril. For two days, the artillery was drawn almost
entirely by dismounted men. Subsistence and forage was sent out from Beverly
as the troops approached that town through Pocahontas county, reaching the
troops December 24, and the march of 300 miles was concluded at Beverly the
next day. Averall recommended to the quartermaster's department that the men
on the Salem raid be given free suits of clothing.
Had Two Cannons
Recalling incidents of the Salem raid, Hoffman says the destruction of
stores, warehouses and other property was done within a few hours and the
troops started on the return trip the same day. They had two six-pound brass
cannon with them. The late Theodore F. LANG, of Clarksburg, was the major of
the regiment. The first night on the way back the soldiers marched through a
former wheat field where the mud was knee deep to their horses. Reaching a
stream of water the next morning they came to a ferry where they lay a day
or two being cut off at times on the march by Rebel detachments He adds:
"Salem's streets were teeming with liquor. Our soldiers carried it out of
the warehouse in nail kegs."
As the federals scaled the mountain from Covington, where they crossed the
bridge before burning it to prevent pursuit, the horses were detached from
the artillery the caissons broken up and ropes used by troops to pull the
cannon up the mountain side. He adds:
" We lost a few men in skirmishes and some were drowned in the river.
Failure to capture Averell and his forces so bitterly disappointed the
Richmond government that the Examiner of December 28, among other things
"Our condition was deplorable as we marched three or four days with nothing
to eat and were on the move a great deal in the night time. We got little
relief until a day's march from Beverly, when forage was sent out from that
town as we were struggling along the icy road in Pocahontas County.
"At one point as we crossed the mountain, we spied a farmer's meathouse, and
stormed it in full view of Gen. Averell, who realized our famished condition
and did not interfere. I grabbed a fine ham and a comrade and myself ate
much of it at a private mess."
" It is hardly necessary to add, the humblest private in the ranks, if he
possessed sense enough to eat and drink, not only could, but would have
managed better, Old Stonewall would have marched on, caught and killed the
No sooner had Averell arrived at Beverly from his Salem raid than the troops
moved to Webster, where they entrained for Martinsburg December 28, without
tents or shelter. The weather was so cold that bread froze in the boxcars of
Describing the terrible trip from Webster to Martinsburg, Hoffman calls
attention to New Year's as the coldest day within his recollection. He says:
" We entrained at Webster December 31, with the horses in box cars and the
men riding on top of the cars, where they slept during the night quite
comfortably as we had plenty of warm blankets. We arrived in Cumberland, Md.
New Year's morning and proceeded to Martinsburg that day.
At Keyser in the fall of 1864, Company F and D were consolidated into
Company D and became a part of the Sixth West Virginia cavalry, and Andrew J
SQUIRES, of Harper's run, became its captain. The company went to Sandy Hook
near Weaverton where it was remounted. It guarded a "dead camp" there,
called "bull pen", where bounty jumpers and recruits were kept in custody.
"Arriving there, we had no tents, in fact, we were tentless from the time we
burned them at Sutton on the Roberts retreat to Clarksburg. We threw up
quarters on the bluff overlooking Martinsburg, where we had arrived late in
the evening but they did not protect us from the severe cold and we suffered
"Nathan GOFF was captured near Burlington soon after that, and some of us
were detailed to rescue him, including myself and William LUDWICK, going to
Moorefield, but the Rebels went up around the mountains to Morganville and
our trip was fruitless.
" The next summer we did guard duty at and around Halltown above Harper's
Ferry, where there was fine pasture for our horses. The camp was dismantled
there and we returned to Beverly, where we resumed guard duty and scouting,
but while in the valley we busily engaged in hunting down John S. MOSBY,
leader of a guerrilla band, without result. We also gave out attention to
John H. MCNEILL, another guerilla leader."
Immediately after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, following Lee's
surrender at Appomattox, the Sixth regiment was ordered to Washington city,
to do provost duty. Soldier sentinels mounted stood on the street corners in
the daytime and detachments patrolled the streets at night. The guards did
double-time duty, four hours each period instead of the regulation of two
hours and then four off. Hoffman says:
"We were camped in barracks on Seventh Street. I was a private but at times
was made corporal in charge of a squad sent out for duty. We had the easiest
time of our army life there. It was our duty to quell riots, disperse crowds
and maintain order. We were ordered to arrest all drunken men.
The regiment remained in Washington until the last of June when as
re-enlisted veterans it was ordered to the West to subjugate Indians. The
troops went by train to St. Louis, Mo., Hoffman recalls, and then up the
Missouri river by steamboat to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., arriving there July
15. The regiment was divided there, one section being ordered to Fort
Kearney on the Nebraska plains, where Indians were on the warpath.
"And then came the Grand Review. It took the troops two days, May 24 and
25, to pass the review stand occupied by President Andrew Johnson, Gen. U.S.
Grant, and other notables. I was assigned to see that no one used one of the
avenues at the Capitol building, and I stood right by the capitol.
"I saw Boston CORBITT, a young sergeant of a Massachusetts regiment, who
shot Wilkes Booth in the barn before the latter was burned."
Paid Off, Discharged
Mutiny arose among the troops, and some of them were finally paid off and
discharged, among whom was the veteran Hoffman. They turned their horses and
equipment over and had "barely enough to pay their fare home." Hoffman was
mustered out July 15, 1865.
Mr. Hoffman explains that they were then receiving $16 a month, but in
earlier service, only $13.
Col. R. E. FLEMING, of Fairmont, was in command of the troops sent to
Relating some rather exciting personal experiences in the war, the veteran
" I was in two skirmishes July 4, 1864. Imboden was at the South Branch
bridge near Green Valley and a dozen of us went up there to look after him.
We were pretty close, when the Rebels concealed in the brush yelled, Come
here! Come here!' and started to pepper us with bullets. We whirled and made
our get-away. Imboden left, and we returned to camp, where the news had come
that the Rebels were burning the Patterson's creek bridge.
Continuing his reminiscences along this line, the old warrior says:
"Our troops moved in that direction and the enemy retreated to Franklin six
miles away, with Lieut. Henry LINK, of Clarksburg, in command to drive them
from one point. Vesparian CARTER, Luther MARSHALL and myself formed the
advance while others guarded our horses and when we were within half a mile
of the enemy we were to raise a loud yell, as a signal for troops to follow.
Fired At Rebels
"I almost believe I fired my Colt's revolver while asleep, so weary was I
from fatigue. When we spied the Rebels, I emptied my pistol of its six loads
and then dropped my cartridges to the ground. Dismounting, I sat on the
ground to reload the gun with my back toward the Rebels. Bullets flew thick
and fast about me and I got back on my horse. The Rebels deployed and we did
not pursue them."
"When the Rebels took Keyser in the fall of 1864, when Col. George R. LANHAM
of Buckhannon ,was in command of our regiment, twenty of us were ten miles
back of Moorefield scouting. Learning the Rebels had captured the town, we
came in behind on towpaths and climbed the wood hills. We could see the
lights of the Rebels as we peeped through the woods. The Rebels retreated
and we proceeded to Piedmont where some of our boys who had been captured
were rescued and Squires and his company made their way through the woods.
The Rebels retreated and we proceeded to Piedmont where some of our boys who
had been capture were rescued and Squires and his company made their way
through Greenland gap.
"The Rebels destroyed the fort at Keyser and other buildings, only the house
of a southern sympathizer standing.
"The Confederate advance misled the Union Pickets at Keyser by being dressed
in federal uniforms and captured them, entering the town before their
identity became known. Only a few men were at the fort and it was easily
taken. Those able to do so fled across the North Branch River and elsewhere
and got away. Most of those who had been left to look after the fort were
Mr. Hoffman's early schooling was meager. He attended four terms of school
of three months each near Arden in his youth and remembers John BLACK, an
uncle, as his first teacher. The aged man's schoolmates are all dead, the
last, Mrs. Susan HOFFMAN, dying last winter.
"The schools then had no books and no system," Hoffman says. "I learned to
read and write and a little in arithmetic. I used to write letters for the
soldiers in the army to send back home. What I know educationally I picked
up mostly through life and not at school."
Despite the nonagenarian's lack of learning in youth, he made fine success
in later years as a merchant and postmaster at Arden. Devoting the first
period of his married life to farming and clearing land near Arden, where he
and his wife located on a fifty-acre tract of woodland. In time, he not only
cleared the fifty acres and reared his family but added eighty acres to his
farm. Much of the timber, especially poplar, was floated down the Tygart's
Valley river to market.
He often suffered cold and exposure as he stood in icy cold water dislodging
the sticks of timber from obstructions. He raised the usual crops of corn,
wheat, oats, buckwheat and vegetables on the farm and grazed horses and
sheep with a few cattle part of the time. He raised more than the family hog
meat supply. He continued his farm activities until 1915 and then moved into
Arden. He helped to build the railroad through his farm, which lay in the
valley along the river.
Farming, however, did not take up all his time and energies, as he
established a mercantile business at Arden in 1884 and continued the same
until 1890. Five years later he started another store and ran it until three
years ago, when he closed it out for the reason he "did not want to kill
someone". He explains that his store had been robbed two or three times. He
served as postmaster at Arden for six years and retired from the office in
Ten years ago, breaking up housekeeping, Mrs. Hoffman went to the home of
the daughter near Wendel, where she died last summer, and her aged husband
lived there and at the home of other children until recently when he
"settled down" at Arden for the rest of his days. He now makes his home at
the residence of Mrs. Flora GALL, a niece by marriage.
While he has done little manual labor since he grew so old in point of years, the aged man did
husk some corn last fall, he says. Now, he has fully made
up his mind to work no more. He formerly did lots of walking, but two or
three miles now satisfy him, and even then he finds himself partial to a
Relatives boast that the venerable man know the Bible better than most
preachers. Soon after the Civil war, he united with the United Brethren
church at Arden and has served as class leader, trustee of the parsonage and
church and takes an active interest in church affairs. He has also served as
a school trustee. His religious scruples do not preclude his appreciating a
good drink once in a while. "When I was in camp at Keyser in the war, I got
drunk once," he says. His wife was a member of the United Brethren church.
Active and stout when young, Hoffman had little trouble "handling " a
six-foot plainsman, he says, though his own height is only five feet nine
and his normal weight 160 pounds. It was no trick at all for him to mount a
horse seventeen hands high while standing by the animal's side. He can still
hit the back of his hands together on his back, although his left wrist is
crippled on account of an attack of fever years ago.
Recalling his boyhood days, the aged man says that when he was 15 years old,
he attended his father's overshot gristmill on Laurel creek, where not more
than twenty bushels of grain could be ground in a day, and often far less,
if the water was low. The flour was bolted, he says. He does not remember
grinding any buckwheat, as it was not grown in that region at the time.
"Corn sold then for fifty cents a bushel," Hoffman says, "and wheat at $1.25
There was no sale for eggs."
"We could get a pig whenever we desired for meat as hogs ran wild and it did
not cost us anything. The farmers let their hogs run in the woodlands, and no
one thought about whose hogs they were."
Father Was Carpenter
Hoffman recalls that his father as a carpenter worked on the construction of
the old double covered bridge at Philippi. He remembers that on one occasion
the torrential waters of the Tygart Valley river reached the floor of the
Arden bridge which is fifteen feel above the river's normal stage.
The veteran first joined the Philippi post of the Grand Army of the Republic
whose members died off until no members were left to keep the post alive,
and then he became a member of Reno Post, No. 7, at Grafton, which now has
a very small membership.
Efforts for a pension were unsuccessful a number of years before he was
granted one of $6 a month. Later this was increased to $10, next to $72, and
two years ago to $100 a month.
Voted in 1863
Hoffman says he voted in 1863 by telegraph at Sutton for the amended
constitution for the admission of West Virginia, as did other soldiers who
were encamped there at the time of the election. That was his first vote. In
1864, at Keyser, he voted for Lincoln's reelection to the presidency. The
soldiers did not have ballots but merely stepped up to the polls and voted
viva voce. He says a few voted the Democratic ticket there on that occasion.
Enjoying good health, Hoffman eats three times a day and relishes his meals,
as he is a hearty eater. He sleeps well. He uses reading glasses and others
for ordinary sight. His hearing is fine. His only physical weakness is
caused by sciatic rheumatism his legs. He had measles when in the war, and
at the age of 36 years pneumonia fever left him blind and paralyzed for a
time. Otherwise his health has been all he could desire, he says.
"I have chewed tobacco about seventy-five years and smoke a pipe", the old
man says. "Five Brothers is my favorite chewing tobacco. I once smoked a
cigarette and concluded that was too much bother."
Hoffman joined Philippi lodge, No. 59, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in
1876, and Dr. J. W. BOSWORTH, of Philippi, who had joined a short time
before, is the only member of that date now living besides himself. Hoffman
is proud of the Philippi lodge, and declared it is the second best in the
state. When the Grangers flourished in 1877-81, he was master of his grange
four years. The organization is still known as the Patrons of Husbandry but
is extinct in this section.
The old war-horse likes to travel. In 1899, he took a transcontinental
railroad trip over the Northern Pacific to Gray's harbor, Washington,
returning through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Illinois over the Rock
Island road to Chicago. In 1905, he took a trip to Franklin, Tenn. He has
taken a number of trips to Washington and Baltimore and "knows his own state." And he has been
through all but nine West Virginia counties. He boasts he has traveled in twenty-two states of the
More or less mechanical genius, the old man eighteen years ago patented in
the United States and Canada his invention, a steel railroad tie, to hold
the nut on the bolt on anything. The Baltimore and Ohio became interested
but did not buy the patent. He said only a wrench was needed to keep the
bolt in place. He may revive the patent.
Mrs. Flora GALL, niece, at those home Mr. Hoffman resides, is the widow of
Elijah J. GALL, who operated a foundry at Philippi. The children are: Mrs.
Gertrude CROSS, wife of Arlos CROSS, of Arden; Mrs. Blanche LEACH, wife of
Orie LEACH, of New York state; Mrs. Offal PROUDFOOT, wife of Hugh PROUDFOOT,
of Elk City; Miss Abbie GALL, Arden, postmaster, and Miss Rubie GALL, both
at home. Mrs. GALL is a daughter of Alvin Draper TRIMBLE a brother of Mr.
Hoffman's late wife.
In the Gall home are some heirlooms of interest. Hoffman has an old army
fife and a glass salt box he picked up in the Salem raid. He amuses himself
with an accordion, and once taught music. The GALLS have a large spinning
wheel more than 100 years old and also an old quill wheel in addition to
trinkets of cast iron from the foundry of Elijah J. GALL made by himself.
The aged man seems apparently content and abides the day when the final summons
will come; but is taking just as much interest in life as ever he did. A host of
friends and relatives wishes him many more years, and the present prospect is he will not
disappoint them in this respect.
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