Traditional Stories


THE GEORGE WILSON FAMILY

When the Civil War started, my great-grandfather, George Wilson (June 25, 1811-December 13, 1861) and his sons decided to be neutral.

General McClellan moved into western Virginia at Philippi. Still no change of opinion. When he moved onto the Virginia campaigns a General Roberts took command. He sent a company of soldiers to every crossroad to guard the B&O Railroad --Clarksburg, Buckhannon, Glenville, Spencer, Smithville, Parkersburg, and other locations. They were supposed to guard the B&O Railroad, however, they did more. Companies of soldiers were always on the march. They plundered homes, drove off livestock, punished women who would not give out information.

When a few started bushwhacking those who would not join or stayed neutral, my great-grandfather began to change his mind. Finally a neighbor, Mr. Hopkins, was shot in his own doorway at Yellow Creek near where the Ayers Post Office used to be located. The evening after the funeral they were around the fireside and George Wilson remarked that it was safer in the army than playing neutral. More talk brought on the idea to join up. George Wilson and five of his six sons and a son-in-law, Joshua Martin, made their way to the home of Peregrine Hays and joined up. They joined the Duskey and Downs brigade. Alf, the youngest, was only twelve years old, so he stayed with his mother.

Calvin, the oldest, soon transferred to the Cavalry unit and served as a colonel. His reason was to be in the same unit as Major Hiram Ferrell, a cousin. They served in Virginia and the Great Kanawha Valley. When they got a furlough the whole company traveled together for protection. They had many skirmishes and at Droop Mountain it turned out to be a pretty lively engagement.

On one of their furloughs there was a dance, probably at the Duskey home. After the dance, in the morning hours, they were awakened by the Federal troops and forced to flee. The young men all made their escape.

George Wilson was a man of fifty years. He was overtaken and captured by a man named Harsock. Harsock knew he must turn him in at Spencer. They stopped to get a breath and while waiting George Wilson lay down to get a drink from a spring, which I am told still exists by the roadside near Cremo. As he raised up from his drink, Harsock shot him with his own gun and joined his own buddies up the road, leaving George Wilson's body by the path or narrow road.

When the Federals started back to their headquarters, probably Smithville, they were ambushed by the Confederates who were ready for them. They made the mistake of all shooting at the leader, a Colonel Feathers. They riddled Feathers's body. Both sides then made their getaway. It was left up to the women of the neighborhood to bury the dead. The next morning a Mrs. McCune and two other women put the bodies on an ox-sled and brought them to a knoll below what is now Cremo. Yes, foe lay side-by-side. Years later Alf Wilson, the youngest son, with the help of Clark Wilson, collected enough money from the descendants to erect a small marker for George Wilson. Someone has since made a small marker for Colonel Feathers.

My grandfather, Robert Wilson, was wounded at Spencer, at a point where the old depot once stood. He was lying behind a rail fence when a bullet hit the fence and glanced down and entered the right side of his neck. He lay unconscious for hours. His companions fled, thinking him dead. He finally rallied but could not see nor walk. Finally sight came and he crawled to the home of Al Hopkins of Spring Creek. He lay there for six weeks. When he was well enough he returned to his outfit. Later in 1886 the bullet worked from under his shoulder and lay under the skin. He had a Dr. Thomas remove it and the bullet became one of his keepsakes. The wound had injured his spine and caused him to stoop. He suffered in old age from rheumatism brought on from the wound.

Some of grandfather's buddies who, as I remember he talked about, were his bed-buddy and close friend, George Gibson--they slept under the same blanket and saved each other's lives on several occasions, Adam Starcher, John Houchin, George Washington Shaffer, father of Carr Shaffer, a Mr. Bailey, Emory Ball, Captain Knotts, a Mr. McCune, and others.

James Wilson, as a young soldier, vowed to never be taken prisoner. On one occasion he accidentally walked into ranks of two companies of soldiers. The Yankees were on fatigue and lay asleep on top of Nicut Hill. James saw one awaken and he immediately gave alarm. He started to run and when he heard the officer say "ready-aim-fire," he dropped into a gully. He started to run again. The command higher up got ready for "ready-aim-fire" and he fell behind a large stone. Then out he came and told them where to go. He then made his way round about and was on his way.

Source: Leman Wilson, Big Bend, West Virginia, great-grandson of George Wilson.


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