and rest was absolutely necessary.  That night it rained heavily making rest or sleep difficult.  Shortly after midnight Averell ordered his army to slop away leaving their camp fires burning to fool the rebels if they were watching.  Averell wanted to get his men across the mountains into either Monroe, Greenbrier, or Pocahontas Counties.  The force reached New Castle about sunset December 18 where they rested until about nine o’clock; then took the road to Sweet Springs.

 

With the Confederates hunting him, Averell marched thirty miles through the forest and reached the Fincastle Pike, fifteen miles below Covington across the Jackson River.  The river was reported unfordable because of high water and floating ice.  At nine o’clock that night they captured one of the remaining two bridges before it could be destroyed.  Five miles beyond was another bridge across the same Jackson River, they reached it ahead of the approaching Confederate force numbering many thousands.  Averell realizing he could not get all his troops across and was in danger of losing his entire army gave the order to burn the last bridge.  Averelll ordered Col. Polsey and a few hundred men that didn’t swim the river were captured and sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia where many died of starvation and disease.  It is not known how many chose to swim but four were drowned in the icy water.

 

The weather was intensely cold and the roads were sheets of ice.  Because the horses could not pull the heavy cannon up the hills, men performed this service.  Trees were cut and tied to wagons and artillery to act as brakes holding them back going down the hills.  They succeeded in crossing over the Alleghenies into Pocahontas County, West Virginia and on to Beverly by Christmas Eve 1863.  The regiment was fed, reclothed, and rested before continuing on to the railroad in Taylor County.  There they were moved by rail to Martinsburg, arriving just in time to confront and drive back the rebels who were advancing with the hope of occupying Martinsburg.  The 8th remained there until January 26, 1864 when the unit designation was changed.

 

 

Seventh West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry

 

Organized from the Eighth West Virginia Mounted Infantry January 26, 1864 the regiment was now to be known as the Seventh West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry.  They veteranized and were sent on furlough March 15, 1864 to Charleston, West Virginia.  There they were attached to the Third Brigade, Fourth Division, and were kept on duty at Martinsburg, WV until April 1864.

 

On May 1, 1864 the regiment, part of which was mounted and part infantry, moved with General Crook’s expedition to the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.  The 7th West Virginia participated in the Battle of Cloyd Mountain and New River Bridge.  They are shown in regiment records at Rocky Gap May 6, Cloyd’s Mountain May 9, New River Bridge and Cove Gap May 10, Blacksburg May 11, Union and Pond Gap Mountain May 12, and Meadow Bluff May 24, 1864.

 

On June 1, 1864 the regiment joined General Hunter at Staunton and participated in his movement against Lynchburg.  Records also show the regiment at Buffalo Gap June 6, Lexington June 11, Buchanan and New London June 16.  They camped at numerous places before arriving back at Charleston, West Virginia on July 1, 1864.

 

The hard part of the war was over for the 7th because the reminder of their enlistments was spent at Coalsmouth and surrounding areas.  On August 1, 1865 the 7th West Virginia Cavalry comprised of almost 1200 men was mustered out of service,  During four years of duty, this regiment lost a total of 236 men: 5 officers and 28 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded: 2 officers and 201 enlisted men died of disease.

 

Abbott, Braden Allen - Company A - PC # 826119 - enlisted 1 Feb 1864 - in Battle of Bull Run and the Salem Raid - born 16 May 1835 Charleston, VA son of John and Elizabeth  Scott Abbott - died 12 Jan 1916 Bernie WV - married #1  Katherine Wilkinson  14 Oct 1859 Kanawha Co., she died in 1865 - married #2  Ruhama Estep the  daughter  of  Quillon  and Toney  Estep  5 Sep

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