Chapter XVIII - Miscellaneous War Notes

History of Hampshire County West Virginia From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present
By Hu Maxwell and H. L. Swisher
Morgantown, West Virginia; A. Brown Boughner Printer; 1897

PART 1 State History
CHAPTER XVIII - MISCELLANEOUS WAR NOTES
Pages 200-228

The campaign undertaken by McClellan to drive Garnett and the other confederates out of West Virginia; the movement of Lee to reoccupy the lost territory; and the campaign in the valley of the Kanawha against Wise and Floyd, were military movements undertaken with design, and persecuted with systematic strategy and tactics, and with definite objects in view. They have been written of somewhat in detail elsewhere in this book. There were many other military movements on the soil of West Virginia, not perhaps to be classed as regularly organized campaigns, but rather as incidents and episodes in other campaigns having their chief centers outside of this state. Some were raids, occasionally small, again of so large proportions as to cover many counties. Again, there were raids starting on West Virginia soil, but having their principal developments elsewhere. In a local history, such as this book is, and professing to deal chiefly with the events of a single county, it is impossible to enter into a detailed account of the military occurrences in this state. But, in order to understand the history of even one county, it is necessary to speak, although in the briefest manner, of circumstances of the war taking place in neighboring counties. Otherwise, the meaning and sequence of occurrences, in one locality could not be appreciated. So dependent and inter-related are the facts of history that it is often necessary to step, temporarily, outside the immediate territorial limits under consideration, in order to see the beginning or the ending of movements or occurrences which seem, at first glance, to be local. This chapter will be devoted to an account of various and sundry military movements within West Virginia, or partly within it. Many of these have no direct connection with one another; but when taken, as a group, they give a tolerable idea of the war in W est Virginia. It is necessary to be brief. Nor will any attempt be made to include all the occurrences within the state that deserve to be recorded as features of the civil war.

Harper's Ferry. — At the mouth of the Shenandoah river, where the Potomac has cut its way through the Blue Ridge, Harper's Ferry is situated. On account of its location it was contended for by both the north and the south. It is the gateway to the valley of Virginia. The Baltimore and Ohio railroad, the chief military road of the war, passed that place. The confederates wanted the town, because when they held it, they could cut the road at will. The surroundings are picturesque, amounting almost to the sublime. The river at that place is the lowest point in the state, being two hundred and sixty feet above sea level. The summits of the mountains, almost overhanging the village, are about eight hundred feet higher. At the beginning of the war the Baltimore and Ohio railroad had a branch line up the Shenandoah to Winchester, about thirty miles. Harper's Ferry was one of the first places seized by the confederates after Virginia passed the ordinance of secession and joined the confederacy. Lieutenant R. Jones, of the United States army, was in command when the Virginia troops approached. Believing that he would not be able to hold it, he set the armory on fire and retreated into Pennsylvania. The arsenal contained fifteen thousand stands of arms. The guns were badly damaged, but some of them were subsequently repaired and were used by the confederates in future battles. Harper's Ferry was held by the southern forces for some time. Stonewall Jackson was placed in command there. He at once began to regulate traffic on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and finally carried off a large number of cars and engines. This was regarded as a great feat by the confederates. In General J. D. Imboden's history of the war he speaks of it as follows: "From the very beginning of the war the confederacy was greatly in need of rolling stock for the railroads. We were particularly short of locomotives, and were without the shops to build them. Jackson, appreciating this, hit upon a plan to obtain a good supply from the Baltimore and Ohio road. Its line was double tracked, at least from Point of Rocks to Martinsburg, a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles. We had not interfered with the running of trains, except on the occasion of the arrest of General Harvey. The coal traffic from Cumberland was immense. The Washington government was accumulating supplies of coal on the seaboard. These coal trains passed Harper's Ferry at all hours of the day and night, and thus furnished Jackson with a pretext for arranging a brilliant scoop. When he sent me to Point of Rocks, he sent C3lonel Harper to Martinsburg. He then complained to President Garrett, of the Baltimore and Ohio, that the night trains, east bound, disturbed the repose of his camp, and requested a change of schedule that would pass all east bound trains by Harper's Ferry between eleven and one o'clock. in the daytime. Mr. Garrett complied. But, since the 'empties' were sent up the road at night, Jackson again complained that the nuisance was as great as ever; and, as the road had two tracks, said that he must insist that the west bound trains should pass during the same two hours as those going east. Mr. Garrett promptly complied. One night, as soon as the schedule was working at its best, Jackson sent me an order to take a force of men across to the Maryland side of the river the next day at eleven o'clock, and, letting all west bound trains pass till twelve o'clock, to allow none to go east, and at twelve o'clock to obstruct the road so that it would require several day to repair it. He ordered the reverse to he done at Martinsburg. Thus he caught all the trains that were going east or west between these points. He ran them up to Winchester, thirty-two miles, on the branch road, where they were safe, and whence they were removed by horse power to the railroad at Strasburg. I do not remember the number of trains captured, but the loss crippled the Baltimore and Ohio road seriously for some time, and the gain to our scantily-stocked Virginia roads of the same gauge was invaluable."

Harper's Ferry remained in possession of the confederates until May 14, 1861. General Patterson, in command of a large union force, crossed the Potomac near Martinsburg, defeated Stonewall Jackson at Falling Waters, and was moving upon Harper's Ferry when the confederates evacuated the place. General Banks succeeded General Patterson in command of the forces in that part of Virginia. The defeat of the union army soon after rendered the abandonment of the south bank of the Potomac necessary, and Harper's Ferry again fell into the hands of the confederates. They held it till March, 1852, when the retreat of their armies up the Shenandoah made it impossible for them longer to hold the town which, for the second time, was evacuated by the confederates, and was at once occupied by the union forces. The rebels had destroyed the Baltimore and Ohio bridge at that place. On August IS, 1862, Colonel Miles, who was holding Harper's Ferry, received orders from General Wool to fortify Maryland Heights. It was at that time believed that a large confederate army was preparing to move in that direction. Colonel Miles neglected to fortify, as instructed, although in the latter part of August it was positively known that the confederates were coming.

On September 4 the confederate army began to cross the Potomac and invade Maryland. The next day Colonel T. H. Ford, who was in charge of the union forces on the heights overlooking Harper's Ferry, sent an urgent request for reinforcements and tools for erecting fortifications. He received the reinforcements, but not the tools. He borrowed a few axes and built breastworks by cutting down trees. He was engaged in this work when the confederates appeared, commanded by Stonewall Jackson, who had been detached from Lee's invading army. As soon as the rebels appeared fire was opened upon them from the heights. The federals were reinforced by troops from Martinsburg under General Julius White. This raised the force in and about Harper's Ferry to thirteen thousand. The confederates were stronger. The only defensive position fortified by Colonel Miles was Bolivar Heights, behind the town, and this was commanded by Maryland Heights, and by Loudon Heights on the Virginia side of the Potomac. The confederates attacked and captured Maryland Heights September 13, and on the same day the rebels occupied Loudon Heights and advanced directly toward the town along the Charlestown pike. Colonel Miles saw that he would be cut off and he sent a massage to McClellan for reinforcements. The confederates opened fire September 14. About two thousand five hundred union cavalry, under Colonel Davis, cat their way out and escaped into Pennsylvania. The next morning Colonel Miles surrendered. Eleven thousand prisoners fell info the hands of the victors. Colonel Miles was mortally wounded by a confederate shell fired half an hour after the white flag had been raised. A special commission was appointed to investigate the circumstances attending the surrender of Harper's Ferry. The result was that Colonel Ford and other officers were dismissed from the service; the conduct of Colonel Miles was stated in the report to have exhibited "an incapacity amounting almost to imbecility," and General Wool was censured for placing Colonel Miles in so important a place. It was also stated that "General McClellan could and should have relieved and protected Harper's Ferry." Jackson occupied the place one day and then proceeded into Maryland to join Lee's invading army on the march to Antietam.

Figures have been compiled, showing that the Baltimore and Ohio road, east and west from Harper's Ferry, lost in the year's 1862 and 1863, forty-two engines, three hundred and eighty-six cars; twenty-three bridges, thirty-six miles of track; all the waterstations and telegraph offices for one hundred miles; and the machine shops and engine houses at Martinsburg.

General Schenck's Defeat: After the campaign, during which the battles of Elkwater, Cheat mountain, Greenbrier and Camp Alleghany were fought, the union army went into winter quarters among the mountains, and early in the spring of 1862 began to move toward Staunton. The confederates had been driven out of West Virginia, and it was the plan to push them, into the valley of Virginia. This plan was thwarted by the result of the battle at McDowell, May 8, 1862. This fight did not take place within the present limits of West Virginia, but in the adjoining county of Highland, in Virginia. But it is not improper to speak of the occurrence, for the movement was made from West Virginia, largely by West Virginia troops, and after the repulse, the union force retreated into West Virginia. General John C. Fremont was at that time in command of the mountain department, which included the forces designed for the descent on Staunton. General Milroy had immediate command of the troops, until the arrival of General Schenck, who then took command.

The confederates were not slow to learn of the advance of Melroy, and they prepared to repulse him. While he was at Monteray, the county seat of Highland county, on April 12, he was attacked by a force of one thousand. The attacking party was repulsed. About two$ weeks later, Milroy marched to McDowell, twelve miles distant, on the road to Staunton. Some days later, about May 7, a forward movement was made; but the confederates began to mass their forces for battle. Stonewall Jackson had come up with reinforcements for the confederates. He had seven thousand men; but he was badly in need of artillery. Milroy's troops numbered thirty-seven hundred, and were strong in artillery. The next day a hard battle was fought, beginning at 3:30 p. m. and ending after dark. In some places the fighting was exceedingly severe. A company of confederates and a company of union troops, all from Clarksburg, and all acquainted, were pitted against each other. They were so near they could speak from one line to the other. They fought face to face with unflinching bravery. Portions of the two armies were sometimes not one hundred yards apart, and maintained their positions in these close quarters a considerable time. At length, about nine o'clock in the evening, it became apparent that the ground could not be held, and General Schenck ordered a retreat in the direction of Franklin, in Pendleton county. He succeeded in saving nearly all his stores, and reached Franklin, closely pursued by the confederates, who kept at a safe distance. They made demonstrations, as if to attack General Schenck's forces at Franklin; but no attack was made, and Jackson soon withdrew in the direction of Staunton.

Confederate Raids. — At intervals, after the confederates were pushed over the Alleghanies by McClellan, and driven from the Kanawha by Rosecrans, they made raids into West Virginia until near the close of the war. These incursions were sometimes military movements of considerable magnitude, on one occasion extending entirely across the state east and west, to the Ohio river, and across that stream into Ohio; and at another time penetrating within cannon shot of the borders of Pennsylvania near the Monongahela. Other incursions were of less extent; some being no more than the dash of large scouting parties to pick up plunder and to destroy property. No complete record of all these raids has ever been made; and from the nature of the case, perhaps it would be impossible to make a full list. After the confederates saw that West Virginia would not willingly join the confederacy, and that they could not force it to join, they regarded it as the enemy's country, and as legitimate plunder. The citizens of West Virginia lost thousands of horses, carried off by raiders to replenish the decimated ranks of confederate cavalry. A brief account of a few of these raids is here given.

In May, 1862, General Henry Heth, in command of a confederate force of twenty-five hundred men, advanced from New River Narrows upon the union forces at Lewisburg, in Greenbrier county, under Colonel George Crook. On the morning of May 23 the confederates arrived in front of the town, on a hill to the east, and planting guns, were ready for battle. Colonel Crook had prepared for the attack, and made an impetuous charge with both infantry and cavalry. The fight was over in thirty minutes, The confederates were swept from the hill, and driven across the Greenbrier river, losing eighty killed, one hundred wounded, one hundred and fifty-seven prisoners, four guns, twenty-five horses, three hundred stands of small arms. The union forces lost thirteen killed, fifty wounded and six prisoners.

In September of this year, 1852, a raid of far greater dimensions was made into the valley of the Kanawha by General Loring, with a force estimated at nine thousand men. A raid to Guyandotte, on the Ohio river, was made by another confederate force about the same time, Colonel J. A. J. Lightburn was the chief officer in charge of union forces in the Kanawha valley. He fell back as Loring advanced. The confederates made a tolerably clean sweep of the whole valley from the mountains to the Ohio river. At one o'clock in the morning of September 14 Lightburn retreated from Charleston and burned vast quantities of government stores to prevent their falling into the hands of the confederates. He then formed a line of battle, and Loring promptly replied, and an artillery engagement continued for some time. The battle was not decisive, but the union forces continued their retreat and the confederates were slow to follow. Colonel Lightburn had twenty-five killed and ninety-five wounded. The confederates lost nearly the same number. They remained in Charleston to procure salt for their armies. In the meantime the rebel force which had appeared near Guyandotte had been attacked and defeated by Colonel Paxton. Union forces gathered at Point Pleasant in large numbers and proceeded to reoccupy the Kanawha valley. The confederates did not attempt to hold it, but withdrew to the east. Before the close of the year all the country to the base of the Alleghanies was again in possession pf the union forces.

In November, 1862, a remarkable feat was accomplished in the mountains of Greenbrier county by General W. H. Powell. General George Crook, in command of the Kanawha division, learned that about five hundred confederates were spending the winter in an obscure camp in Sinking creek valley. He sent an ample force for their capture; but the march was a hard one; there was a heavy snowstorm; the infantry gave out and could not proceed, and the cavalry was divided. General Powell was in charge of the advance party of twenty men. When near the camp four confederates were encountered; two were captured and two escaped. Knowing that they would alarm the camp, if allowed to reach it, Powell made a charge. The rebels, not doubting that an army was upon them, surrendered. Thus, a force of twenty-two men, without firing a gun or losing a man, captured a camp of five hundred confederates. Congress presented General Powell with a medal on account of this achievement.

In September, 1852, General A. G. Jenkins, at the head of a confederate cavalry force, crossed the Alleghanies from the head of the Shenandoah river, and made a descent upon Beverly in Randolph county. Not meeting with much opposition, he continued to Buchanan, Weston, westward through Roane county, thence to the Ohio river which he crossed. The confederate flag was then seen for the first time in a northern state. He recrossed the Ohio and made his way back to Virginia by way of the Kanawha valley.

In the latter part of March, 1863, General Jenkins, with eight hundred confederates, made another raid into West Virginia, this time coming from Dublin, a small town on the Virginia and Tennessee railroad. He soon appeared in Putnam county, and an encounter took place between his force and a body of union troops at Hurricane Bridge. The battle continued five hours, v/hen the confederates withdrew. They continued their raid, and the next day attacked a steamer on the Kanawha, but failed to capture it. The next day, March 30, they reached Point Pleasant, on the Ohio. A small union force stationed there took refuge in the court house, and fought the besiegers four hours. News of the fight had reached Gallipolis, on the opposite side of the Ohio, a short distance above, and a force was sent down the river, and planting a battery on the opposite bank of the Ohio, were about to open fire, when the confederates retreated.

The most disastrous raid experienced by West Virginia during the war, occurred in April and May, 1863. Three dashing confederate leaders took part in it, Imboden, Jones and H. L. Jackson. Their combined forces amounted to four thousand men. They drove the union forces before them wherever encountered, except at Clarksburg and West Union. They did not attack either place. Their first attack was made upon Colonel George R. Latham's force of nearly nine hundred men at Beverly. Latham retreated to Buckhannon, and later to Clarksburg. The union forces at Sutton, in Braxton county, hurried to Clarksburg, as did those at Bulltown, Birch, Weston, and other points in that part of the state. General B. S. Roberts was in command of the union forces in that part of the state. He was urged to hold Clarksburg at all hazzards, and the forces, hurriedly concentrated there, were sufficient to deter the confederates from making an attack. The raiders reached the Baltimore and Ohio railroad at Cranberry Summit, in Preston county, and at Rowlesburg, Independence and other points. Major Showalter with two hundred and twenty men had fortified the mountain above Rowlesburg. He was attacked by General W. E. Jones with one thousand cavalry on Sunday, April 23. After a short resistance, Major Showalter retreated into Pennsylvania. General Lee had instructed General Jones to destroy the trestles on the Baltimore and Ohio road between Rowlesburg and Tunnelton, but he failed to do so. The confederates occupied King wood, and marched to Morgantown where they looted stores, killed two citizens, and wounded a third, claiming that these citizens had attacked them. They burnt bridges as they went, and captured horses and cattle in large numbers. It was believed that they were striking at Wheeling, and troops for its defense were hastily concentrated there; but no attack was made. They marched to Fairmont, and overrun that country. They advanced almost within sight of Parkersburg; and at Burning Springs, on the Little Kanawha, they burned one hundred thousand barrels of crude petroleum at the oil wells. This was on May 9. Soon after this the invaders began to withdraw and by May 14 the most of them recrossed the Alleghanies. They carried away fifteen hundred horses, more than three thousand cattle, and destroyed or carried away property to the value of millions of dollars. As soon as the confederates had left the country General Roberts returned with his forces. But his failure to stop the raid led to his removal from the command, and General W. W. Averell was sent to take charge of the troops. Confederate raids into his territory were unsuccessful, for he was as quick in movement as they, as able in planning and as fearless in execution.

A confederate raid had been made into Pennsylvania, and Chambersburg had been burnt because the inhabitants had refused to pay a ransom of half a million dollars. The rebels fled into West Virginia, crossed the Baltimore and Ohio railroad at New Creek, and reached Moorefield on the South branch of the Potomac, and there rested in fancied security within a day's march of the valley of Virginia. But, Averell pursued them, and just before day came up with them. An impetuous charge swept the confederates from one bank of the river; and Averell crossed immediately, drove them from a wheat field where they had formed for battle; broke their lines in the timber where they had prepared an ambuscade, and put the army to flight in a few minutes.

On January 1, 1864, a fight took place a short distance from Moorefield between a strong confederate force, and a detachment of union soldiers under Colonel Joseph Snider, guarding a supply train on the road from New Creek to Petersburg, in Grant county. The union force was outnumbered and defeated with the loss of the train, and five killed and thirty-four wounded. In this skirmish General Nathan Goff, of Clarksburg, was taken pioneer. His horse was shot, and falling upon him, held him until the confederates came up.

On November 28, 1864, a confederate raid, under General Rosser, penetrated to New Creek, captured the place, and tore up the railroad. A number of prisoners were taken, and the force hastily retired to the valley of Virginia. A small raid was made about the same time on Beverly, in Randolph county, but not much damage was done.

An Unpopular Policy. — On March 28, 1863, the "Fourth Separate Brigade" was created, and the command was given to General Benjamin S. Roberts, who fixed his headquarters at Weston. His jurisdiction embraced the greater part of West Virginia, north of the Kanawha. Perhaps five out of six of the inhabitants of this district were supporters of the union cause; but many favored the confederacy, and General Roberts soon began a war upon them. He was determined to drive them out of the country. The majority of the men who sympathized with the south were at that time in the confederate armies; but their wives and children remained at home. One of General Roberts' orders was, that ail those whose natural protectors were engaged in war against the United States should be sent beyond the union lines. In obedience to this order, numbers of women and children from Lewis, Upshur, Harrison paid adjoining counties were sent south into the confederate lines. This policy made General Roberts very unpopular, not only with the inhabitants, both southern and northern, in their sentiments, but also with his subordinate officers and the soldiers. The latter spoke their sentiments freely, and said they had joined the army for the purpose of fighting armed men, not to make war upon women and children.

When the confederate raid, under Jones, Jackson and Imboden was made into General Roberts' territory, and he, abandoned the country to pillage, the authorities over him decided it was time to make a change, and he was sent to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and General W. W. Averell was given command of the Fourth brigade. His orders were dated May 18, 1863, and he was told to proceed to Weston, "or wherever else you may find Brigadier General B. S. Roberts, and relieve him of his command." General Averell was ordered to protect from raids the territory between the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and the Kanawha, and to guard well the passes through the Cheat mountains. He was given liberty to pursue the confederates, even into the valley of Virginia, should occasion require. He was ordered to transform his infantry into cavalry; By a system of persistent drilling he soon had a force of three thousand cavalry, equal, perhaps, to the best the world has ever seen. It was said of him that his cavalry moved like a whirlwind and struck like a thunderbolt. He soon became the terror of the confederate outposts from Winchester to the Tennessee line. The rapidity of his movements overcame resistance and baffled pursuit.

At the time General Aver ell took command in West Virginia be was about thirty years of age. A native of the state of New York, he graduated at West Point at the age of twenty-two, the head of a class in cavalry. He was a man of fine literary taste and culture. He was instructor in the government cavalry school, first at Jefferson, Missouri, and subsequently at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. At this school Fitzhugh Lee, W. H. Jackson, D. H. Maury and C. H. Tyler were his pupils; and their subsequent history shows that he instructed them well. General Averell was sent to New Mexico, and there fought Indians until wounded. He was a cripple two years, and was on crutches when the civil war begun, He was sent upon a perilous mission to carry dispatches to the few United States posts in Texas and Arkansas, which were still holding out against the attacks of the confederates. His journey, after crossing the Mississippi, was one of dangers, hardships and desperate escapes. The country was in the hands of the confederates. He was pursued and captured; he escaped and swam rivers; he crossed the plains; he made his way through barren deserts and over pathless mountains, and at last reached the farthest Unite! States post in Texas, and found it surrounded and hard pressed by the confederates. He conducted the garrison northward to Kansas, and then hurried to Washington and was at once sent to the field in charge of cavalry. His success attracted notice at once, and when the need of an efficient cavalry officer in West Virginia was seen, he was sent here. It was desirable that such raids as Jones, Jackson and Imboden had made should not be repeated; and they were not repeated within Averell's territory.

Expedition to Rocky Gap. — General Averell withdrew his forces from West Virginia to assist in the campaign against Lee in Pennsylvania. He did not arrive in time to take part in the battle of Gettysburg, but he fought portions of Lee's army while it v/as retreating. He hastened to Moorefield, which he reached August 6. It became desirable to clear the country of confederates, if possible, along the borders of West Virginia and Virginia, from Pendleton county to Greenbrier. Imboden and Jones were in that country, and if was surmised and was subsequently ascertained that they were contemplating a descent into the valley of the South branch. There were saltpeter works in Pendleton and Alleghany counties, which the confederates were operating in manufacturing gunpowder, and Averell wished to destroy them. His command was short of ammunition, having only thirty-five cartridges to the man. It was short of horse shoes and nails, also. He ordered these supplies and waited for them some days, but they did not arrive. He could delay no longer, and set forward on the march to Pendleton county, part of his force ascending the South branch and part the North fork. The saltpeter works five miles from Franklin were destroyed. He pushed on to Monterey in Highland county, Virginia. He came near surprising the confederate Generals Jones and Imboden. They had been there the day before, consulting whether they should march into the South branch valley. It was probably there learned that Averell was on the march, and Jones, Jackson and Imboden prepared for battle; but they misunderstood Averell's purpose. They supposed he was aiming at Staunton, and laid their plans accordingly. He proceeded to Huntersville, routing three hundred confederates on August 21, and on the next day another detachment was driven from a ravine near Huntersville, utterly routed, losing nearly everything in the way of arms and stores. Two days later Jackson was met, defeated, and driven out of Pocahontas county. Averell proceeded to Jackson river, where other saltpeter works were destroyed: also those near Covington.

The battle of Rocky Gap, near White Sulphur Spring's, in Greenbrier county, was at hand. General Jones, with two thousand five hundred confederates, accidentally found himself in front of Averell, whose force at that time was thirteen hundred, but other union troops came up later. The battle was a surprise to both sides, but they went at it like veterans. It took place in a defile, and for a time the artillery played the chief part, and the cannonade was terrific. Averell's ammunition began to run short before sunset, but he held his ground all night. The confederates ran short of ammunition also, but during the night they received a fresh supply, and they likewise received reinforcements from the direction of Lewisburg. Averell expected reinforcements from General Scammon, in the Kanawha valley, and looked in vain for them all night. Although he had more than held his own since ten o'clock in the morning, having pushed the confederates back, he knew that he could not maintain his position without cartridges. During the night he brought up all the ammunition in the wagons and distributed it among his troops, and sent every available man to the front. In speaking of his situation, Averell afterwards said: "Two chances remained, first, the enemy might retreat; and second, Scammon might arrive. The morning showed us that both chances had failed." Every arrangement had been made for retreat; but as soon as it was light, the battle was renewed and Averell held his ground till after ten o'clock, and then withdrew, and after some skirmishing, reached Beverly on August 31. His loss in killed and wounded was about one hundred and fifty. The loss of the confederates was a little larger. Among Averell's officers who fell was Captain Paul Von Koenig. It is said he was killed by his own men in revenge for his having struck several of them during the march from Moorefield. It is also said that those who killed him did not know Averell by sight, and supposed that Koenig was Averell.

Droop Mountain. — In November, 1863, occurred the Droop Mountain campaign, so named from the place where an important battle was fought, November 6, between General Averell and a force of four thousand confederates under Major Echols. Averell's campaign into Greenbrier county, terminating at Rocky Gap, had not resulted in clearing that region of confederates. He prepared for another advance and set forward from Beverly November 1. He was promised support from the Kanawha valley, under General Duffie. He no doubt remembered that he had been promised support from the same source on the former campaign into that region, and had been disappointed. On the present occasion he provided himself with plenty of ammunition, so that, in case assistance again failed him, he could fight to a finish.

There was skirmishing all the way to Huntersville, and small parties of rebels were killed, captured or dispersed. The first considerable force of confederates was encountered near Huntersville, under command of Colonel Thompson, but it fell back on the main body without a fight. A few miles further a larger confederate force was met, but it also retreated without a fight. The union forces were now within thirty-four miles of Lewisburg. The confederates took position on Droop mountain and offered battle. They were advantageously placed, and a direct attack was believed by Averell to be difficult. He prepared a flank movement, and also purposely delayed the attack till the next day in hope that General Duffle's expected reinforcements would arrive. They did not arrive, and the next morning General Averell began the battle. He sent a force to gain the flank and rear of the confederate position and he moved up in front. In the meantime reinforcements arrived for the enemy, and their coming was announced by loud yells and by a band of music. Colonel Moor, with more than one thousand men, bad been entrusted with the flanking movement. The guides who went with him proved worthless, and he was obliged to proceed the best he could; and the result was he did not reach his destination till nearly two o'clock in the afternoon, having marched nine miles through woods and over hills.

General Averell's practiced eye detected the confusion in the ranks of the confederates on the mountain when they discovered Colonel Moor's advance upon their flank. An attack from the front was at once ordered, and the union troops moved up the mountain. In the meantime the artillery poured a fire upon the confederates. They held their ground an hour and a quarter and then gave way everywhere and fled. The pursuit was vigorous, and the confederate were scattered. A portion of them passed through Lewisburg the next morning in a deplorable condition. They lost in killed and wounded two hundred and fifty; one gun was abandoned on the held and two more in the retreat. This left Echols only four guns.

Averell proceeded to Lewisburg and found the promised reinforcements there under General Duffie. It was ascertained that the confederates had retreated in the direction of Dublin, on the Virginia and Tennessee railroad. It was also learned that General Lee had promised to send ample reinforcements to Major Echols at or near that point. This information induced Averell to march for that place in hope of capturing or scattering the forces there. He set forward on November 8 with his entire command, including Duffie's reinforcements. The confederates had blockaded the road and much labor was required to cut it out. General Duffie reported his troops unfit for service, as they had no rations and were tired. The march to Dublin was therefore given up and Averell returned to Beverly, defeating Imboden on the road. While in Greenbrier county Averell went to White Sulphur Spring's and recaptured his wounded prisoners who had fallen into the hands of the rebels at the battle of Rocky Gap in the preceding August. Averell's loss at Droop mountain is not stated, except that he had fifty-five wounded, On November 17 his command arrived at New Creek.

The Salem Raid. — The memorable raid to Salem, in Roanoke county, Virginia, sixty miles west of Lynchburg, followed. This was Averell's crowning feat. No general ever performed a greater, taking into account the numbers engaged, the difficulties of the way, and the dangers through which he passed. It can be fittingly compared to Xenophon's "Retreat of the Ten Thousand" through Persia, although, of course, on a much smaller scale, both as to numbers engaged and distance traveled. The government at Washington fully realized the dangers when it sent Averell upon the raid, nor was any effort made to conceal from him the fact that he was probably about to march into the jaws of death. He was ordered to cut the Virginia and Tennessee railroad at Salem at all hazzards, even at the cost of the destruction of his whole army. A momentous issue was at stake. General Burnsides was besieged at Knoxville, Tennessee, by General Longstreet, and it was feared that no help could reach him in time to save him. The only hope lay in cutting Longstreet's line of supplies and compelling him to raise the siege. This line was the railroad from Richmond to Knoxville, passing through Salem. Four confederate armies, any one of them larger than Averell's, lay between him and the railroad marked for destruction. But when the order was given, his veteran cavalry, stationed at New Creek, now Keyser, West Virginia, went forward, moving in a course almost as straight as an arrow; rode five days and nights; struck a blow at Salem which was felt throughout the Southern Confederacy; and out-rode, out-ran, outgeneraled and out-fought twelve thousand rebels that tried to hem them in, and they returned in triumph. The story is worth a statement more in detail. His force was largely West Virginians, and many of the old veterans still live, and not a few of them attribute their broken constitutions to the terrible hardships endured during the twenty days occupied in that raid; now drenched with rain; now climbing mountains and dragging cannon by band in cold so intense that cattle froze to death in the fields.

General Averell's force reached New Creek November 18, from the Droop mountain campaign. On December 6, 1863, he was notified that hard service was ahead of him, and to prepare for it. That night he went to Cumberland to consult with the department commander concerning the proposed raid. Averell asked that movements be made from several quarters against the confederates near his line of march, to confuse them as to the real object of the raid, and also to assist him in making his escape after leaving Salem. He knew that confederate troops would be rushing from all sides to intercept him. His line of march was from New Creek, through Petersburg, Franklin, Monterey, Back Creek, Gatewood's Callaghan's, Sweet Sulphur Springs, New Castle to Salem; much of the way following the general line of the summit of the Alleghanies. In order to distract attention from him he asked that General Scammon advance from the Kanawha to Greenbrier and Monroe counties; Colonel Moor to march into Pocahontas county; Colonel Sullivan to threaten Staunton from the direction of Woodstock in the Shenandoah valley; Colonel Thoburn was to threaten Staunton from the direction of Monterey.

The march began December 8. Sufficient time was not given to shoe all the horses before starting, and the soldiers had to finish it on the road whenever an opportunity was presented; and these opportunities did not come often. The command of about thirty-three hundred men reached Monterey December 11. Colonel Thoburn with seven hundred men was sent to threaten Staunton, and Averell moved on in a terrible rain which swelled the mountain streams to torrents. In the eastern part of Pocahontas county he had a fight with confederates under Jackson, dispersed them, destroyed their wagons, and hurried on, following an obscure road through incessant rains. On December 14 he was opposite Greenbrier county, but east of the Alleghanies, and here learned that forces of confederates under Echols were in Monroe county, almost ahead of him, having been driven there by General Scammon who had advanced from the Kanawha valley. In order to deceive these confederate's, Averell made a false movement in the direction of Covington; then, at two o'clock on the morning of December 15, pushed forward up Dunlap creek, in a night as dark as dungeon.

A ride of eight hours brought the squadron to Sweet Sulphur valley where a halt was made of two hours to feed the horses and make coffee, preparing for the dash into Salem which they hoped to reach by daylight the next morning. At one o'clock in the afternoon of December 15, the advance was made. From the top of Sweet Springs mountain a splendid view was opened before them. Averell, in his official report speaks of it thus: "Seventy miles to the eastward the Peaks of Otter reared their summits above the Blue Ridge, and all the space between was filled with a billowing ocean of hills and mountains; while behind us the great Alleghanies, coming from the north with the grandeur of innumerable tints, swept past, and faded in the southern horizon." Newcastle was passed during the night. Averell's advance guard were mounted on fleet horses, and carried repeating rifles. They allowed no one to go ahead of them. They captured a squad of confederates now and then, and learned from these that Averell's advance was as yet unknown in that quarter. It was, however, known at that time at Salem, but it was not known at what point he was striking. Valuable military stores were at Salem, and at that very time a trainload of soldiers was hurrying up from Lynchburg to guard the place. When within four miles of Salem a troop of confederates were captured. They. had come out to see if they could learn anything of Averell, and from them it was ascertained that the soldiers from Lynchburg were hourly expected at Salem. Averell saw that no time was to be lost. From this point it became a race between Averell's cavalry and the Lynchburg train loaded with confederates, each trying to reach Salem first. The whistling of the engine in the distance was heard, and Averell saw that he would be too late if he advanced with his whole force. So, he set forward with three hundred and fifty horsemen, and two rifled cannon, and went into Salem on a dead run; people on the road and streets parting right and left to let the squadron pass. The train loaded with confederates was approaching the depot. Averell wheeled a cannon into position and fired three times in rapid succession, the first ball missing, but the next passing through the train almost from end to end, and the third following close after. The locomotive was uninjured, and it reversed, and backed up the road in a hurry, disappearing in the direction whence it had come. Averell cut the telegraph wires. The work of destroying the railroad was begun. When the remainder of the force came up, detachments were sent four miles east and twelve miles west to destroy the railroad and bridges.

Among the stores destroyed were one hundred thousand bushels of shelled corn; ten thousand bushels of wheat; two thousand barrels of flour; fifty thousand bushels of oats; one thousand sacks of salt; one hundred wagons, and large quantities of clothing, leather, cotton, harness, shoes, saddles, tools, and many other things. The depot, water station, turntables, a large pile of bridge timber, and other stores were burned. Five bridges were destroyed and the track torn up as much as possible for sixteen miles, and the rails twisted to render them useless. Private property was untouched. Six hours were spent in the work of destruction.

It was now 4 p.m., December 16, and Averell set out upon his return. Word had been given out that he would take the road to Buchanan; but this was a ruse, and it subsequently proved that the confederates had been deceived by it and had marched toward that point, expecting to head Averell off. But he was many miles away. He had started back over the way by which he came. Seven miles from Salem a halt was made for the night. The troops were exhausted, and a rest was absolutely necessary. That night it rained heavily, and for the following twenty-four hours. It looked as if Averell's force was doomed. He had performed the work which he was sent to do, and all that remained for him was to save himself if he could. The confederates were closing in on all sides. Fitzhugh Lee, Jackson, Early, Echols, each had an army, and smaller forces were on all sides. Averell was hemmed in, and practically surrounded by more than twelve thousand rebels; and that, too, while rain fell in torrents; creeks overflowed their banks; rivers deluged the country; bridges were broken down or destroyed; nearly every avenue of escape was held by the enemy in overwhelming numbers. Averell's troops dared everything, endured everything, rain, cold, hunger, fatigue, assaults of enemies seen and unseen. In crossing the raging torrents, heavy caissons were swept away and men and horses were drowned. But there was no rest. The only escape from destruction was to push on; and on Averell went. He captured confederate scouts and learned something of the positions of their forces. There was little comfort in this. Fitzhugh Lee was ahead of him and Jones was ready to fall on his flank, while Echols, Jackson and Early were uncomfortably near. Averell was trying to cross into West Virginia in Monroe, Greenbrier or Pocahontas county. Echols was in Monroe, shutting' off escape in that quarter.

Drenched with rain, muddy and hungry, the force reached Newcastle about sunset December 18. The ammunition was wet, and Averell did not know whether it could be used in battle. At nine o'clock that night the column again took the road to Sweet Springs. About two o'clock in the morning of December 19, confederate pickets were encountered. These fled. As soon as the confederate pickets were driven away, Averell halted and built fires to deceive the enemy whom he knew to be near. He left the fires burning and set forward toward the Covington and Fincastle pike. The night was exceedingly dark and cold. He marched thirty miles through the forest, and about noon reached the Fincastle pike, fifteen miles from the bridge below Covington, across the James. The river was reported unfordable, on account of high water and floating ice. Averell carefully calculated his chances of reaching this bridge in advance of the confederates. He had his doubts; but there was no other avenue of escape, and he set forward toward the bridge. After proceeding seven miles a confederate force appeared in the road ahead between him and the bridge. An attack on the confederates was immediately made. They broke and fled, and Averell's cavalry after them. For eight miles it was a desperate race. Averell knew that the rebels were trying to reach the bridge to set it on fire before he could cross; and he was determined they should have no time to strike a match. Down the pike went the rebels in a head-long run for the bridge, and Averell at their heels. At nine o'clock at night the bridge was reached. The confederates had kindling wood piled ready for firing, but they were not given time to apply the match, Averell captured the bridge. Five miles beyond was another, across the same river, and the rebels proceeded to that, and the union cavalry followed. Fagots had been piled on it also for firing, but the union cavalry was in time to save it.

Before Averell could get his forces across the bridges the confederates under Jackson were upon him. They took position upon the bluff above the river and cut his army in two. Part was on one side of the river and part on the other. The confederates made desperate efforts to capture the bridge, but failed. The battle continued all night, and Averell lost one hundred and twenty-four men, besides some drowned while trying to cross the river. Finding that Jackson could not be dislodged while the bridges remained, Averell, who had tried unsuccessfully all night to bring the remainder of his forces across, ordered the bridges to be set on fire. He sent word to his men still on the other side to swim the river. This they did, but some of the ambulances and wagons were lost.

While hemmed in on all sides, and when apparently every avenue of escape was closed, Averell intercepted a dispatch from General Jones to General Early, dated December 19. From this dispatch he learned the positions of the various forces of the confederates around him. The outlook was gloomy, but by knowing what routes were impassable he could gain some advantage. He relied on help from the forces which he supposed had been sent to Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties, according to orders, to render him assistance on his return. But by some blunder these forces had been withdrawn, although he did know it at that time. The demonstrations against Staunton had also failed to be of any service to him. Thus, cut off from all hope of help, he was left in the mountains to struggle against four or five times his own number. But the brave never despair. From the intercepted dispatch he learned that the rebel post at Callighan's, near the summit of the Alleghanies, was held by only a small force, if at all, and he pushed for that place, and was in possession of it while the bridges across the James river were still burning. A formal demand for his surrender was received from General Early, but he made no reply to it. He took an obscure road across the Alleghanies to Hillsboro, in Pocahontas county, and reached the base of Droop mountain, his recent battlefield. The confederates made almost superhuman efforts to capture him, but they usually took wrong roads. The citizens of the country, who knew the roads best, considered Averell's escape impossible. After reaching Pocahontas county and crossing the Greenbrier river, several attacks on the rear were made by the confederates, but they were generally repulsed with small loss.

The weather had now grown intensely cold. The roads were sheets of ice. The horses could not pull the artillery up the hills, and men performed this service. Nor could the heavy gums be held back, going down hill. Trees were tied behind the cannon to act as brakes while descending the mountains. For two days men dragged the cannon. News had reached Beverly that Averell was returning, hungry, freezing and almost exhausted. Reinforcements, with supplies were sent to meet him. Beverly was reached after a march of four hundred miles in sixteen days. Many of the men were frozen. Averell's feet were swollen and were wrapped in sacks. Fearing that the confederates would retaliate by sending a force on a raid into the South branch valley, Averell did not stop at Beverly, but proceeded to the railroad in Taylor county, and moved his command by rail to Martinsburg, arriving there just in time to confront and drive back the rebels who were advancing upon that place. The United States government, in consideration of the services rendered by Averell's force, presented each man with a new suit of clothes and a new pair of shoes to replace those worn out on the march.

The Dublin Raid. — In May, 1864, an important movement was made against the Virginia and Tennessee railroad, in the vicinity of the village of Dublin, in Pulaski county. The cavalry was under the command of General Averell, while General George Crook was in command of all the forces. On May 9 occurred a desperate battle on Cloyd mountain, near the boundary between Giles and Pulaski counties, Virginia. General Crook commanded the union forces, and the confederates were under General Albert G. Jenkins. For a long time the issue of the battle was doubtful; but at length General Jenkins fell, and his army gave way. He was mortally wounded, and died soon after. His arm had been amputated at the shoulder by a federal surgeon. In the meantime General Averell, with a force of cavalry, two thousand strong, advanced by wretched roads and miserable paths through Wyoming county, West Virginia, into Virginia, hoping to strike at Saltville, or Wytheville before the confederates could concentrate for defense. When the troops entered Tazewell county they had numerous skirmishes with small parties of confederates. When Tazewell court house was reached it was learned that between four and five thousand confederates, commanded by Generals W. E. Jones and John H. Morgan, had concentrated at Saltville, having learned of Averell's advance. The defences north of that town were so strongly fortified that the union troops could not attack with hope of success. Averell turned, and made a rapid march toward Wytheville, in order to prevent the confederates from marching to attack General Crook. Arriving near Wytheville on May 10, he met Jones and Morgan, with five thousand men, marching to attack General Crook. Averell made an attack on them, or they on him, as both sides appeared to begin the battle about the same time. Although out-numbered and out-flanked, the union forces held their ground four hours, at which time the vigor of the confederate fighting began to slack. After dark the confederates withdrew. The union loss was one hundred and fourteen in killed and wounded. Averell made a dash for Dublin, and the confederates followed as fast as possible. The bridge across New river, and other bridges, were destroyed, and the railroad was torn up, Soon after crossing New river on the morning of May 12, the confederates arrived on the opposite bank, but they could not cross the stream. They had been unable to prevent the destruction of the railroad property, although their forces out-numbered Averell's. The union cavalry rejoined General Crook, and the army returned to the Kanawha valley by way of Monroe county.

Notes. — West Virginia furnished 36,530 soldiers for the union armies, and about 7,000 for the confederate armies.

The first union regiment recruited in the state was Colonel Kelley's, at Wheeling. It took the field May 25, 1861.

The first armed confederate killed in the state, and also said to be the first killed in the war, was Captain Christian Roberts. His death occurred on the morning of May 27, 1861, at Glover's Gap, on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, between Wheeling and Grafton. He fell in a light with a squad of union soldiers under Lieutenant Oliver R. West. Company A, Second Virginia Infantry, afterwards the Fifth West Virginia Cavalry.

The first enlisted union soldier killed in the state, and also said to be the first killed in the war, was Bailey Brown, of Company B, Second Virginia Infantry, afterwards Fifth West Virginia Cavalry. He was killed at Fetterman, near Grafton, on the night of May 22, 1861. The shot was fired from a flintlock musket in the hands of Daniel W. S. Knight, of Captain Robinson's company, Twenty-fifth Virginia confederate regiment.

The first regiment to enlist for the three years service in the state was the Second West Virginia infantry.

The last gun ever put into position by General Lee was silenced by General Thomas S. Harris, of West Virginia, on the day of the surrender at Appomattox; and the last bugle command given the union troops prior to Lee's surrender, was given by Nathaniel Sisson, also a West Virginian.

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