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(A copyrighted publication of West Virginia Archives and History)

Nathan Goff, Jr., In the Civil War*

By G. Wayne Smith

Volume 14, Number 2 (January 1953), pp. 108-135

Nathan Goff, Jr., was born at Clarksburg (West) Virginia, on February 9, 1843, and died there on April 23, 1920.1 During his adult life he was constantly in the public eye, serving the people of his State as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1867 and 1868, United States District Attorney from 1868 to 1883, Secretary of the Navy under President Hayes from January to March 1881, Congressman from the First District from 1883 to 1889, United States Circuit Court Judge from 1892 to 1913, and United States Senator from 1913 to 1919.2

Until about 1892, Goff was the recognized leader of the Republican Party and was the only Republican in Congress from West Virginia from 1875 to 1889. In the period of Democratic ascendancy after 1870, he led several vigorous but unsuccessful campaigns to unseat his political rivals. He ran for Congress in 1870 and 1874, for governor in 1876 and 1888, and was mentioned many times in the period after 1888 as a vice-presidential possibility. Had it not been for the appearance on the scene of a new leader, Stephen B. Elkins, it is very likely that he would have gone to the United States Senate in 1895 and continued from that time until his death to be the leader of West Virginia Republicanism.3 However, his acceptance of the federal judgeship in 1892 removed him from active political life, and his later years were not nearly as active as those before. After Elkins died, Goff once more was chosen to lead the party, if only temporarily and in order to resolve a contest between other men, by being elected to the United States Senate in 1913.4

In spite of his prominence, or perhaps because of it, no serious research has ever been done on his life. It does not matter that he failed to become governor of West Virginia; it does not matter that he ceased to lead after 1892; it does not matter that as a Senator he was not too active. What does matter is that this man was chosen by Republicans in the post Civil War period as a leader who seemingly had a better chance to bring them victory than anyone else in the Mountain State. Why was he chosen? What manner of man was he? What characteristics made him more desirable than others? Why was he fated to be the leader of a lost cause in the Eighties and early Nineties, and later see the best fruits of victory enjoyed by others?

The answers to these and other questions are necessary for an understanding of the political, social, and economic history of a state torn forcibly from old Virginia in the Civil War and destined to experience years of adolescent growing pains before real adult stature finally came in the twentieth century.

To the public, Goff was a glamorous figure. He appealed to the electorate, especially the Union veterans because, he, too, was a veteran. His experiences during the Civil War were the beginning of his career. The purpose of this paper is to detail the truth of his military career and explain the fabrications that were added later to make it more appealing.

As war clouds darkened the horizon in the winter and early spring of 1861, Nathan Goff, Jr., aged eighteen, was one of several students enrolled in the class of Third Humanities at Georgetown College, in Washington, D. C. Since this was his first year at college, he was too young to be a member of the dramatic or debating societies, but he belonged to the "Reading Room Association," a group which encouraged constant perusal of magazines and journals.5

In the journals and newspapers at his disposal, he no doubt followed with much interest the course of the Virginia Secession Convention, then meeting in Richmond. He was aware that the delegates from western Virginia formed a strong Union nucleus that would never approve of Virginia's separation from the Union. As Goff continued his studies in March and April, Virginia's decision was finally made. She passed her ordinance of secession on April 17, four days after the firing on Fort Sumter and two days after Lincoln's famous call for volunteers. Like the delegates in the convention from western Virginia who quietly left Richmond on April 21, after their defeat, Goff put aside his studies and returned across the mountains to his home and family. This was proper, not only because his parents were worried about his safety, but also because he could be another protector in case of trouble.6

Nobody could foretell what might happen in Clarksburg. The Goffs were pro-Union in sympathy and Union sentiment was rather strong in the town, but the outlying districts contained many supporters of the new Confederacy. With Virginia's secession and western Virginia's opposition to that secession, law and order were in danger of breaking down completely.7 In this period of confusion, choices had to be made and made quickly. Young Nathan's decision to fight for the Union was prompted by the Union stand taken early by his father and uncle.

It is not known exactly when Goff's father, Waldo P. Goff, made up hi mind to support the Union cause, but he evidenced strong Union tendencies from the beginning. He was a successful merchant and dealer in wild lands, and had been a Whig for many years.8 To increase his wealth and that of his community, he had worked with others to bring the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad into western Virginia; and he could not appreciate Virginia's hostility to the project.9 In addition, he shared with other Whigs a resentment against the Democratic control of state politics which resulted in just enough concessions to the West to keep hostilities below the boiling point. His financial ties were largely with Baltimore, thus weakening another tie with the Old Dominion.10 The possession of slaves did not make him sympathetic to the slavocracy. The slaves were merely an evidence of his position as a "gentleman" and lightened the domestic chores of his wife and children.11

His opinions were reinforced by those of a younger brother, Nathan Goff, Sr., for whom the subject of this sketch was named. "Uncle Nathan" was reputedly the wealthiest man in town and the president of Clarksburg's only bank, the Merchants and Mechanics Bank, formed only the year before. This bank was a branch of the Wheeling bank of the same name, and thus Nathan, Sr.'s financial ties were with those who would keep western Virginia loyal and finally create the new State of West Virginia.12

Since both Waldo and Nathan, Sr. were men of property, they desired stability above all else, and it was soon evident that allegiance to the Union cause would benefit them most and ensure them continued security and an opportunity to become leaders in the new era. The facts are that Waldo and Nathan, Sr. supported the Clarksburg Address of April 22, condemning Virginia's secession; and Waldo served as a delegate in the First Wheeling Convention which urged the people in western Virginia to vote against secession in the referendum to be held on May 23.13

While the people were preparing to express their opinions on the secession question, Virginia authorities were already preparing for war, and an effort was made to recruit troops in western Virginia for the defense of the State against Union invasion. In Clarksburg the climax came on May 23, the date of the referendum. On that day the Confederate guards, part of a militia company known as the "Harrison Rifles" that had been organized in 1858, assembled in Clarksburg preparatory to marching to Grafton where the Confederate Colonel George A. Porterfield was concentrating his forces. The "Union Guards" in Clarksburg wanted to capture them, and outright warfare was narrowly averted by cooler heads who proposed that Waldo P. Goff be given custody of their weapons until the next morning. This was done, and their subsequent departure eased matters considerably.14 Meanwhile, Harrison County had cast an overwhelming vote against secession.15

Military occupation of the town by General George B. McClellan's forces on May 30, 1861, effected many changes. Union supporters breathed more easily but the local citizens were angered by the actions of the military. Captain Charles Leib, the quartermaster, made himself very unpopular by the seemingly capricious manner by which he impressed teams and wagons for military purposes, and the aspersions which he cast on this "obscure town," composed of a "motley collection of rickety frame houses, dirty-looking brick dwellings and old stone buildings, some of which are propped up by large pieces of scantling," and inhabited by "lazy indolent men."16

Clarksburg became a military supply depot of some consequence. Wagon convoys were loaded there to supply the Union advance to the East. Large camps were established on the eastern and western edges of the town, the church buildings were commandeered, a military hospital was established, and the Northwestern Virginia Academy building, where Goff had received his elementary education, became the local guardhouse in which both civilian and military prisoners were imprisoned.17

After military occupation became a reality, the way was opened for the vigorous recruiting of Union companies and regiments. Young Nathan volunteered as a private in a regiment being organized by Colonel David T. Hewes of Clarksburg, who had long been prominent in the state militia.18 This regiment, the Third Virginia Volunteer Infantry, was organized in June and July 1861, at Wheeling, Clarksburg, and Newberg, for the protection of western Virginia. It consisted of ten companies of which "B" and "G" were recruited entirely in Harrison County.19 Although it was a three-year regiment, there was little difficulty in securing enough men. Over one hundred men from the county had already tried to enlist at Wheeling in May, but could not because the regiment there had its complement before they arrived.20

G Company was officially organized on June 12, 1861, by which time Goff had been elected second lieutenant. It was in this capacity that he was formally mustered into the service on June 25, at Camp Hewes near Clarksburg.21 The muster roll, much of which was prepared by Goff, was headed by Captain Alexander C. Moore, and included First Lieutenant William L. Hursey, Goff, five sergeants, eight corporals, one drummer, one fifer, one wagoner, and sixty-six privates.22

The regiment's first duties were uninspiring. To protect western Virginia, headquarters were maintained in Clarksburg, but individual companies were soon scattered from Grafton to Sutton to guard the area against Confederate sympathizers and bushwhackers. Goff's company, after a few days training in the "facings," was issued converted Springfield flintlock muskets and assigned to duty at Grafton, where it remained through July and August.23

In the fall, the Third Virginia was concentrated "on paper" at Beverly. Winter quarters were later established at Elkwater, and the regiment ceased to be unattached in the Army of Occupation, West Virginia, and became part of Brigadier General J. J. Reynold's Cheat Mountain District, and later part of Brigadier General R. H. Milroy's Independent Brigade in the Mountain Department.24

Goff's company, however, was stationed in Clarksburg on November 1, 1861, where he and the other officers had acquired servants.25 The regimental field and staff remained at Buckhannon26 where Adjutant Theodore F. Lang was forced to explain the slipshod character of the company reports to his superiors. The regiment, he said, was still "scattered from Cumberland, Maryland, to Ritchie Co.," some companies so distant from mail facilities that promptness was impossible. In addition, some of the officers did not know how to report because "they have been in the woods . . . and have never had instructions."27

During the winter, with the regiment at less than half strength, action was confined to scouting expeditions. Three companies on December 29 and 30, pursued 135 Rebel guerrillas, who had burned Sutton, into the "Glades" in Webster County where twenty-two were killed and twenty-six houses burned, "thus breaking up their nest."28 Company G was not part of this expedition and the company took no part in any encounter that winter, being stationed either at Clarksburg or Philippi.29 On February 10, 1862, in temporary command of his company, Goff at Philippi reported only three deaths in the company since August, from sicknesses such as typhoid fever, consumption, and "putrid sore throat."30

Goff's first encounter with the enemy occurred in the battle of McDowell, Virginia, on May 8, 1862.31 Here Milroy's Brigade, of which the Third Virginia was a part, was attacked by Confederate forces led by General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. This was the first in a series of battles which made Jackson famous as a tactician and saved Richmond from McClellan's advances up the Peninsula. During the engagement, the Third Virginia, with four Ohio regiments, was given the task of driving the Confederates from Bull Pasture Mountain where they were placing a battery of artillery which would command the Union camp. After advancing up the mountain in the face of the enemy, Goff and his comrades fought from late afternoon until about eight o'clock that evening without success. After nightfall, their ammunition practically exhausted, they "retired in good order." It was discouraging to be defeated in his first engagement and by Confederates, some of whom were from his own county, but Goff could take comfort in the fact that his regiment had fought well and bravely against what was thought to be a superior force, entrenched on a mountain top.32

To save his forces from capture, Milroy decided to move immediately northward to Franklin, leaving the valley where McDowell was situated by a narrow gorge. The night march after the battle was extremely fatiguing, but by the next day, the Union forces were thirteen miles from McDowell and on May 11 reached Franklin. For two days afterward, Jackson's forces made threatening moves but on the night of the 13th, retired to the South.33 While Jackson could report laconically that "God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell . . . ,"34 one Union commentator sadly remarked that the battle and retreat had ended the army's operation of "on to Staunton."35

Following its stay at Franklin, Goff's regiment took part in Major General John C. Fremont's race up the valley in pursuit of Jackson. Enroute from Franklin, the regiment went to Petersburg, Moorefield, Strasburg, and finally to Cross Keys, Virginia,36 where on June 8, a sharp engagement was fought in which the Third supported the right flank. The Union casualties in this engagement were estimated at seven hundred. The Third Virginia lost four killed and twenty-three wounded.37

These marches and battles were a severe test of the morale and stamina of Goff's regiment. The inevitable "shaking down" process affected officers as well as men. Colonel Hewes had been at home, sick, since June 4, and Captain Alexander C. Moore, commanding Company G, had been absent without leave since June 1.38

While camped near Mount Jackson, Virginia, Goff became involved in a clash of personalities which caused him to submit on June 12, a resignation of his commission worded as follows:

In all commands -- wether [sic] great or small, -- good feeling and friendship among the officers, -- is necessary for the efficiency of that command, and for the good of the public service, -- and I find with regret, -- that to establish such feeling with the officers of the company with which I serve, -- is an utter impossibility. --

There are meritorious non-commissioned officers in the company who can fill the position, -- with more honor to themselves, and credit to the Regiment, -- than I under the existing circumstances possibly can.

I would prefer serving my country -- as a private in the ranks -- than occupy my position -- under the circumstances so peculiarly unpleasant. . . ."39

Although Lt. Col. F. W. Thompson, commanding the regiment, approved Goff's request, it was disapproved by the assistant adjutant general of the Mountain Department40 and by June 30, Second Lieutenant Goff was temporarily commanding Company G, a company that showed the ill effects of the last two months.

Goff was the only officer present for duty. Of the thirteen noncommissioned officers, only seven were present; the rest being hospitalized at Winchester or left behind. Only thirty-four of the seventy privates were present for duty.41 Nevertheless, bigger events were ahead for the regiment which had been merged on June 26, as part of Milroy's Independent Brigade, into the Army of Virginia, commanded by Major General John Pope.42

Following the battle of Cross Keys on June 8, the regiment was at Strasburg from June 20 to July 5. It advanced to Luray from July 5 to July 11; moved to Sperryville on July 11; and then to Woodville on July 22, where it remained until August 9.43

At Woodville, Virginia, Goff received his first promotion. On August 1, 1862, he was commissioned first lieutenant and adjutant of the regiment, replacing Theodore F. Lang, who advanced to the rank of major.44 Thus Goff left Company G which was soon commanded by three of the recently promoted "meritorious non-commissioned officers" he had mentioned in his resignation. These men, including Captain Rufus E. Fleming, were destined to command the company for the remainder of its service -- Fleming later becoming Colonel of the Sixth West Virginia Veteran Cavalry.45

Goff's promotion to adjutant put him in much closer contact with regimental affairs. On August 1, the Third Virginia consisted of ten companies with an aggregate of 853 enlisted men and 34 commissioned officers. Indicative of past months' activities was the fact that only 599 enlisted men and 26 commissioned officers were present for duty. Four officers were on detached service, three were absent without leave, and one was sick. One hundred fifty-five enlisted men were sick, 18 were absent without leave, 11 were on leave, 69 were on detached service, and one was under arrest. One of the absent officers, detached as post quartermaster at Buckhannon during the last winter, had even disobeyed an order to return to his regiment. Colonel Hewes was still reported sick at his home in Clarksburg.46

As adjutant, Goff became part of the Field and Staff headed by Lt. Col. Thompson, and served with the regimental command in the battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9, and then in a series of battles and engagements which were part of Pope's campaign in northern Virginia from August 16 to September 2. These included the battles of Rappahannock Station on August 23, Waterloo Bridge on August 25; Groveton, Virginia, on August 29, and Bull Run on August 30.37

Goff's regiment was part of the reserve forces at Bull Run on August 29 and August 30. In its reserve capacity, it was engaged in the task of trying to stop the retreating Union forces on both days. Neither attempt was successful, and although the men fought well, they were forced to retreat with the rest of the army across Bull Run to Centreville. In these engagements, the regiment suffered seventy-one casualties.48

Thus ended a spring and summer campaign that made veterans of previously untried troops. After a month's stay at Fort Ethan Allen near Washington, D. C., the Third Virginia entrained for Clarksburg on September 30, and more duty guarding the north central part of the state against Rebel bushwhackers and guerrillas.49

The regiment was again divided into small detachments and assigned to outpost duty at Buckhannon, Sutton and Bulltown. It was tedious, boring duty, and morale and discipline suffered. Many of the men became "sick" and stayed home, while others quietly took "french leave." By the end of October, Goff as adjutant, reported sixty-five of the latter.50 By the end of December, the regiment was down to half strength due to sickness and other causes.51 Goff remained with regimental headquarters at Bulltown until the end of December. During January, February and March 1863, he served as an aide-de-camp on Brigadier General Augustus Moor's staff at Buckhannon,52 but by April 10, 1863, he was back with his regiment at Sutton where he supervised a special muster, preparatory to the spring and summer campaigns.53

The ordinary routine of training and drill was abruptly ended on April 24, when word came that a large Confederate force led by General John D. Imboden had captured Beverly and burned one-third of the town after driving out the Union forces. What Goff and his companions did not know was that Imboden's capture of Beverly was only the beginning of a famous raid into western Virginia, led by two Confederate generals, William E. Jones and Imboden, which had as its objective the destruction of bridges and tunnels along a large part of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from Oakland, Maryland, to Grafton and beyond. While Imboden was busy at Beverly, Jones was sweeping to the north and west through Preston, Monongalia, Marion and Taylor counties, striking at the railroad and other places wherever he could do the most damage.54

Brigadier General B. S. Roberts, commanding the Fourth Separate Brigade, of which the Third Virginia was a part, not realizing the true character of the Confederate movements, ordered his forces to concentrate at Buckhannon in order to retake Beverly.55

Goff and the Third Virginia, led by Lt. Col. F. W. Thompson, arrived at Buckhannon from Sutton on April 27, after sending all movable supplies to Clarksburg for safe keeping.56 On that same day at Buckhannon, Roberts received the disconcerting news (not true as he discovered later) that the Confederates had captured Philippi, endangering the railroad at Grafton. To protect that railroad, Roberts immediately set out for Clarksburg via Jane Lew. On the way, other discouraging news came that Grafton had been captured and that the forces at Clarksburg were preparing to vacate the town in two hours. Roberts, after ordering the forces there to hold on, marched on to Clarksburg, reaching there on Tuesday, April 28. With about three thousand effectives, he then proceeded to defend the town against the expected Confederate attack.57

Meanwhile, Imboden, with over three thousand effectives, seven hundred of whom were mounted, moved into Buckhannon on the 28th. After staying there a few days, during which time horses and livestock were collected, he moved to Weston on May 3. The next day he was joined by Jones who had detoured around Clarksburg on learning of Roberts' presence there. On May 5, Jones and Imboden started for Clarksburg, but after a skirmish with part of the Third Virginia and the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, decided to avoid Clarksburg entirely.58

On May 6, Imboden started south for Summersville while Jones went west along the railroad, destroying tunnels and bridges. The flaming conclusion was reached at Burning Springs in Wirt County, where he burned 150,000 barrels of oil.59 Imboden, on his way south, reached Big Birch in Braxton County on May 12. While in the vicinity, his troops destroyed Union blockhouses and quarters at Bulltown and Sutton which had been recently inhabited by Goff's regiment. Moving on over roads that the Union commanders considered impassable, he reached Summersville on May 13, with over 3,000 cattle and $100,000 worth of horses, mules and wagons, and about 500 recruits for the Confederate Army.60 Imboden had failed, in his opinion, in only one respect -- that of recruiting. This was disappointing and disillusioning, but he explained it picturesquely in his report when he said: "The people now remaining in the northwest are, to all intents and purposes, a conquered people. Their spirit is broken by tyranny where they are true to our cause, and those who are against us are the blackest-hearted, most despicable villains upon the continent."61

By the end of May, Goff and his regiment were back at Sutton, rebuilding their blockhouses and guarding the town and surrounding points against all too numerous bushwhackers.62 In June and July, however, the regiment was mounted and became part of General W. W. Averell's command, a body of troops that was to carry the war to the Confederates in earnest.63 Averell, succeeding Roberts after the Jones-Imboden raid, proved to be a popular and efficient commander. Under him the newly mounted Third Virginia, with headquarters at Beverly, took part in a series of raids into territory that had previously been securely Confederate.64

In this, his third summer of the war, Goff saw action near Hedgesville and Martinsburg, West Virginia, on July 18-19.65 He was with his regiment on Averell's first cavalry raid from August 5 to 31, through Hardy, Pendleton, Highland, Bath, Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties, which resulted in engagements with the Confederates at Jackson River on August 25, and at Rocky Gap near White Sulphur Springs on August 26-27. Goff's reports as adjutant indicate that this was now a veteran fighting regiment, strictly disciplined, one of which he could be very proud.66

It was at this juncture that Goff left the Third Virginia to accept a major's commission in the newly-formed Fourth West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry, a six-month's regiment. Upon receipt of his commission from Governor A. I. Boreman on September 1, 1863, he left Beverly for Wheeling, where, on September 11, he was duly discharged as adjutant of the Third Virginia (Mounted) Infantry and mustered in as major in the Fourth West Virginia Cavalry.67

From that time until November 27, the regiment was commanded by Lt. Col. Samuel W. Snider. On that date, the regiment finally received its colonel in the person of Joseph Snider, who commanded until the outfit was mustered out by companies at Wheeling on various dates from March 11 to June 23, 1864.68 Thus constituted, the regiment became part of Colonel Nathan Wilkinson's (separate) Brigade in the Department of West Virginia (Brigadier General B. F. Kelley, commanding June 24, 1863-March 10, 1864) which had as its primary function the defense of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad against Confederate and guerilla attacks.69

By October 1, 1863, the regimental headquarters were at Clarksburg where nine of the eleven companies were located, but several captains were still off on recruiting duty trying to find enough men to actuate a twelfth company.70

The regiment remained at Clarksburg through October, November and December, gradually filling its ranks and preparing for duties that lay ahead. During this period, activity was confined to a detachment sortie to Belington to capture some rebel horse thieves. The horse thieves escaped, but one luckless Rebel who had come home from the wars and had failed to give himself up was captured.71 By the end of December, the regiment was up to full strength, but the men were considerably incensed because no horses had been forthcoming. Colonel Joseph Snider in reply to inquiries as to reenlistment reported on conditions as follows: "I doubt verry [sic] much if all the power that be, can reenlist this Regt. I am makeing [sic] every possible effort. The men has been promised everything and nothing fulfilled, and hence feel sour, and disappointed."72

Late in January, Snider complained from his new headquarters at New Creek that the regiment still had not been properly mounted and equipped as cavalry. He asked, "In all candor, is it any wonder the men feel sore over these things and refuse to re-enlist . . . who ever hear of cavalry, serving on foot, only in cases of emergency, and with Belgium Rifles, too [?]"73

This was the situation on January 28, 1864, when the regiment was ordered to guard a supply train of eighty wagons which had been dispatched the previous day to reprovision the garrison at Petersburg, an exposed Union outpost in the South Branch Valley, some fifty miles south of New Creek.74

The wagon train had halted at Burlington because of rumors of Confederate activity in the vicinity of Moorefield and Petersburg, but guarded by infantry and cavalry under the command of Colonel Joseph Snider, the journey was resumed. On January 30, Snider received definite word from the Union commander at Petersburg that Brigadier General Thomas L. Rosser's Confederate Brigade was in the valley in force.

Snider was unaware of the size of this rumored Confederate force. Commanded by General Jubal A. Early, the expedition included Rosser's Brigade, Brigadier General Edward L. Thomas' Brigade, all the effectives of Major Harry W. Gilmor's and Captain John H. McNeill's Partisan Rangers, and four pieces of artillery. It had left the Shenandoah Valley on January 28, and was at Moorefield in the South Branch Valley on the next day, ready for action.75 Before moving against Petersburg, Rosser was ordered to cross the mountain and attack the wagon train then slowly making its way southward along Patterson's Creek.76 The train, guarded by Goff and his regiment, moved forward unmolested until it reached Medley, about two and one-half miles from the Moorefield junction. There, it was met by a small Union force retreating before Rosser's cavalry, who had forced the mountain pass into Patterson's Creek Valley.

Snider barely had time to arrange his forces for the defense of the train when he was attacked on the front, rear and flank by Rosser's men, three hundred of whom were dismounted, supported by two pieces of artillery.77 The first Confederate charges were repulsed, but Snider, observing that he was in danger of being outflanked and surrounded, was soon forced to order a retreat to a better position. He ordered the wagon train to turn back but to his "great mortification" he discovered that the two train masters and most of the teamsters had fled, using draft animals to make their escape. Thus immobilized, the train was abandoned to the Confederates who appropriated the wagons loaded with bacon, rice, coffee and sugar, and assembled the forty Union prisoners who had been captured in the engagement. Goff was among these unfortunates. His horse had been shot during one of the Rebel charges, and the dead animal fell across his legs, making it impossible for him to get free in time to join his regiment in its retreat.78

Goff accompanied his captors across the mountain from Patterson's Creek to Moorefield that night, no doubt pleased by the fact that many of the fifty wagons brought along were lost and others plundered by the soldiers. He was probably present when General Early, commanding the expedition, attacked Petersburg on the morning of January 31, only to find it abandoned by its defenders who had hastily decamped during the night for points north and west.79 Following the destruction of the fortifications at Petersburg, Early sent Rosser down Patterson's Creek to collect cattle and cut the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Rosser did as ordered. On February 2, with his advance guard dressed in Federal uniforms and representing themselves as part of the Ringgold Cavalry, he reached the mouth of Patterson's Creek, destroyed the bridge across the creek, damaged the bridge over the Potomac, and destroyed a lock of the canal and a bridge over the canal at that point.80

The Union forces, under Brigadier General B. F. Kelley, rallied quickly to prevent the escape of the Confederates, but the suddenness of the raid, Rosser's quick withdrawal southward after cutting the railroad, the caution of the Union commanders, and the pro-Confederate sympathy of the people in the valley combined to frustrate any effective interception.81

By February 3, Rosser was back at Moorefield; on February 4, Early's forces left the South Branch Valley, closely followed by Union cavalry; by February 5, the Rebels were back at their starting point with the captured wagons, 1,200 cattle, 500 sheep, 78 prisoners, and some commissary stores.82

On their return to the valley, the Confederates sent Goff to Staunton and thence to Richmond where he was placed in Libby Prison on February 10.83 By the time he reached Richmond, everything of value had been taken from him. Libby, itself, was in an uproar. One day previous to his arrival, one hundred and nine prisoners had escaped through a tunnel, laboriously dug by hand, to a shed near the prison. Only eighteen days after his arrival, deliverance became a possibility. Two Federal columns tried to push into the city to free the prisoners. They were repulsed but Richmond was thoroughly frightened, and the prison was mined by the guards and the prisoners were warned that any attempted break would result in the blowing up of the prison. Soon afterward the authorities began to move the enlisted prisoners to a new prison at Andersonville, Georgia, which became even more notorious than Libby.84

Goff remained with the officers, whose quarters were described by the Confederate inspector as "particularly clean and airy."85 Another reporter, less sanguine, complained that it was so cold in the prison that sleep was impossible.86 Two meals were served each day, consisting of bacon, cornbread, and meat, with some variations.87 Goff shared these conditions as an ordinary prisoner until just before most of the officers were sent to Macon, Georgia.88 Early in May he was singled out for special treatment.

On May 3,89 he was placed in solitary confinement in a small damp basement cell as a hostage for a certain Confederate officer, Major Thomas D. Armsey.90 Armsey, a native of Harrison County, had been arrested near Clarksburg by the Union authorities on April 18, 1863, on the charge of recruiting men for the Confederacy within the Union lines. Taken to Fort McHenry, Maryland, he had been sentenced by a military commission in October to fifteen years at hard labor at Fort Warren, near Boston.91 Since Goff was from a well-known family and undoubtedly the best known prisoner from Harrison County, the Confederate authorities hoped that their treatment of him would facilitate an exchange or mitigation of Armsey's plight.

Furnished with pen and paper, on May 16, Goff wrote Governor A. I. Boreman and Senator Waitman T. Willey almost identical letters stating his case and asking their assistance.92 After giving the details of his capture and imprisonment at Libby to Willey, he said: "I could willingly suffer, endure this torturing confinement, if thereby my Government derived the slightest benefit; but to be thus confined, to suffer for the misdeeds of others, without beneficial results to the cause for which I contend, is certainly very galling.

"Confined in the small cell that I now am, with the diet I receive, it is impossible for my constitution to stand imprisonment long. Hence I am induced to request that you use your influence in my behalf, and if at all possible accomplish my speedy release.

"Major Armsey, [sic] for whom I am held, has now been confined over a year, and I understand his case is not without extenuating circumstances.

"Cannot my Government consistently exchange him for me and place one of her soldiers, now imprisoned, in the field were he is not only willing but anxious to fight her battles? I am willing to give my life to my country on the field of battle, but the slow, lingering death of hopeless confinement and starvation is uncalled for and void of glory. . . ."93

Boreman and Willey did the best they could. Both wrote immediately to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, enclosing Goff's letters and asking him to effect the exchange if possible.94 Stanton, however, refused to exchange Goff. Instead, late in June, on his orders a Confederate major imprisoned at Fort Delaware was placed in close confinement in retaliation for Goff's treatment and the Confederate authorities were so notified.95

Goff's request for exchange came at an inopportune moment. Retaliation instead of exchange seemed to be the proper course of action for the War Department to follow at that time. Early in the war, prisoners were liberally exchanged. In fact, the famous Dix-Hill Prisoner Cartel of July 22, 1862, had envisioned the release of all prisoners. However, by December of 1862 the cartel had broken down because of various reasons, not the least of which was General B. J. "Beast" Butler's execution of a Louisiana citizen in the summer of 1862 for tearing down the Union flag in New Orleans. By the time of Goff's capture, bad blood on both sides had ended any system of general exchange.96

Special exchanges of man for man were frowned upon because of their discriminatory character and bad effect on morale both North and South. Also, Confederate authorities felt that special exchanges would allow the North to get the prisoners they wanted and would be less likely to favor a general exchange desired by the Confederates.97 The South refused to exchange Negro soldiers; the North accused Southern prisoners of violating their paroles; and in April 1864, General Grant's "grim, fight-it-out attitude" resulted in an order prohibiting future exchanges until the Confederates fulfilled certain conditions. In addition, the War Department had always refused to admit the right of Confederate recruiting within Union lines and felt that Goff's exchange might mean an acceptance of that practice. One officer concerned with prisoner exchange, referring to Goff's confinement, said: "This is a barbarous mode of warfare adopted by the rebels; but if they insist upon the right to recruit within our lines we must act upon the agents they pretend to protect by their authority. . . ."98

Regardless of the seeming hopelessness of their task, Goff's mother and father exerted every effort to have him exchanged. In june, his mother, writing to President Lincoln, pleaded almost tearfully for the release of her "brave and noble Boy" confined in a loathsome damp cell." She voiced the sentiments of many Northern mothers, who could see no good reason for keeping Confederate prisoners while Union soldiers languished in terrible prison camps, when she said: "Send south those Criminals and release our soldiers held as Hostages. Their lives are too precious to be sacrifised [sic] in this way. Better the guilty should go unpunished, than our innocent perish."99

In "deep distress and affliction" Waldo P. Goff, his father, wrote on July 1, to a close friend, J. C. Campbell, in the Judge Advocate's office in Cumberland, asking him to use his influence.100 He said that Nathan's treatment by the Confederates was almost too much to bear, especially since an older son, Henry Clay Goff, had died in the service the previous fall. It was unbearable to lose one son as a result of "this wicked rebellion" and have the other mistreated because "infamous scoundrels" in the Confederacy from West Virginia had singled him out in retaliation for the conviction of a "miserable wretch who fled from this County and came back with a Major's commission in the rebel army" to enlist men for the Confederacy. He asked: "Can it be good policy for our government to let my son die in that loathsome sell [sic] rather than give up that contemptible creature `Tom Armsey'?"

Campbell forwarded the letter to Stanton with a politically practical endorsement stating that "Waldo P. Goff is one of the first men in West Va. -- he formerly represented the Harrison district in the Va. Senate at Richmond -- from the beginning of the rebellion has been a prominent active unconditional union [sic] man. . . ."101

The War Department remained adamant to these pleas through June and July, restating time and again the reasons why Goff could not be exchanged.102 Finally, however, Goff's friends prevailed. Early in August, after an interview with Waldo P. Goff and his wife, President Lincoln requested that a special exchange be made if possible.103 On August 19, 1864, General B. F. Butler was ordered to effect a special exchange of Goff for Armsey, the order stating that this was "a case in which the President feels a particular interest, the order in the case having also the express sanction of the Secretary of War."104

While negotiating the exchange, Robert Ould, the Confederate agent for exchange, suggested that all officers and men then closely confined or in irons be either placed in the same condition as other prisoners or exchanged. The Union officials would not countenance exchange, but all closely confined prisoners were temporarily released from close confinement on September 3, 1864, while the negotiations, like others before, broke down, and the Union officials returned to close confinement all those except the ones concerned with Goff's particular situation.105

In the meantime, Goff had been removed from Libby Prison on July 16, and sent to the Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina, where political and military prisoners were kept.106 Conditions at Salisbury were better than at Libby, at least while Goff was there. The prison wards were crowded but the rations always included some meat, flour, beans, and salt.107 As the summer wore on, the prison was expanded and before Goff left there were only 777 prisoners in facilities planned for 2,500.108 Later that fall and winter as Salisbury filled up, conditions became almost as bad as at Andersonville.109

After his exchange was negotiated, Goff was returned north by the Confederates and paroled on September 1, 1864, at Varina, Virginia, an exchange station on the James River about seventeen miles below Richmond.110 There he boarded a Federal steamer flying a flag of truce, and was taken down the James and up Chesapeake Bay to Camp Parole near Annapolis, Maryland. Upon his arrival on September 3, he was given forty-eight hours leave and ordered to report to Colonel William Hoffman, Commissary General of Prisoners at Washington, D. C.111

While in Washington, Goff, according to later testimony, had an interview with President Lincoln and Stanton, concerning his treatment as a prisoner of war.112 The effect of this particular interview is not known, but soon thereafter the government adopted a policy of releasing and exchanging sick and wounded prisoners who would be unfit for active service for sixty days on a man-for-man basis. The new policy was acceptable to General Ulysses S. Grant because Confederate prisoners sent south could not materially affect the war effort. Lincoln's supporters thought that chances of success in the forthcoming presidential election would be enhanced by a concession to public clamor for a general exchange.113

On September 6, 1864, by a special order of the War Department, Goff was mustered out and discharged from the service of the United States as a major. The order, issued by The Adjutant General's Office of the War Department at Washington, D. C., read:

Major N. Goff, 4th West Virginia Cavalry, a paroled and returned Prisoner of War, is hereby mustered out, and honorably discharged the service of the United States . . . the term of service of his regiment having expired. . . .114

A private citizen, Goff returned to his home in Clarksburg in order to recuperate from his months of imprisonment. It is understandable, considering his physical condition, that he made no further effort to re-enter the Army in the fall, and by early spring the end of the war was in sight.

Goff studied law during the winter,115 and on March 13, 1865, applied for permission to practice law in the Circuit Court of Harrison County.116 On March 15, the Clerk of the Court noted that:

Robert S. Northcott and Nathan Goff, Jr., Gentlemen attorneys at law, Desiring to practice in this Court this day appeared in an open Court and took the oaths prescribed by law.117

Nine days later, on March 24, 1865, Clarksburg's Republican weekly newspaper included the announcement that:

N. Goff, Jr.

Attorney and Counsellor at Law

Will practice in the Courts of Harrison and adjoining Counties.

Collections attended to with promptness.

Office one door East of Bartlett's Hotel, upstairs.118

When news of Lee's surrender reached Clarksburg on Monday, April 10, Goff was able to join a joyous celebration that included a two hundred gun salute by the local Union battery at noon, and speeches on the steps of Bartlett's Hotel that evening.119

In later years, his military career was exaggerated in several respects for political purposes. In a day when parties were organized like armies and led by "generals," high rank in the late war was particularly advantageous. Goff allowed his supporters to refer to him as "General Goff," and newspaper sketches appearing in loyal Republican papers during the campaigns usually mentioned that he had been "made a brevet brigadier general of volunteers, for gallant and meritorious service on the field."120

To illustrate his courage, justice and magnanimity toward a defeated foe, the story of his imprisonment and release was changed in several details. Major Armsey became a spy who had been "condemned to death by Union authorities" for his recruiting activities and for whom Goff would be put to death if the sentence were carried out. Goff's letter to Senator Willey from his cell in Libby prison was changed to read: "If Major Armsey is guilty he should be executed, regardless of its consequences to me. The life of a single soldier, no matter who he may be, should not stand in the way of adherence to a great principle."121

To climax this particular incident, later accounts kept Goff in the Army at Grafton several months after his discharge so that he could arrive dramatically on the scene at Clarksburg in April 1865, in time to save the life of Major Armsey, who had been recaptured by the Union forces. Goff stayed the anger of the crowd by saying: "Let no friend of mine lay a hand upon this man; he is entitled to our protection as a prisoner of war."122

These exaggerations, unfortunate from the present point of view, were understandable in light of political tactics of the period. The public was more gullible in some respects than now, and standards of political morality not as highly developed. Neither party would forget the Civil War. Democrats constantly recalled the improper methods by which West Virginia had been formed, and Republicans vigorously waved the "Bloody Shirt."

By his military career, Goff had established a bond with Union veterans that could not be broken. He had fought for over two years until captured by the enemy. The story of that capture and subsequent confinement could be told over and over again to evoke an emotional response among other veterans hardly obtainable in any other way.

In other respects, Goff's military experiences were even more important. He was given a taste of leadership. Thrown into contact with older men, he studied them and evaluated his own comparative merit. The military campaigns in western Virginia increased his knowledge of the state and its people. Finally, war had its maturing effect. In 1861, Goff had been a boy of eighteen; in 1865 he was a veteran soldier and practicing attorney ready to enter a man's estate.

* A paper presented at the annual meeting in Charleston, October 25, 1952.

1. Waldo P. Goff family Bible (Boston: Langdon Coffin, 1834) and Register of Deaths, Harrison County, W. Va., VI, 73. The family Bible is in possession of the subject's granddaughter, Mrs. B. Carroll Reece, wife of Congressman Reece of Tennessee, and was inspected through the courtesy of her daughter, Mrs. George W. Marthens, Washington, D. C. The date of death is non-controversial but the year of birth has been given as 1842 and 1843. Goff, himself, is partially responsible for this confusion. He gave 1842 as the year of his birth in a letter to a Wheeling newspaper editor in September 1882. Nathan Goff, Jr., MSS, West Virginia University Library, LB2, 195-205. This letter, which unfortunately contained other misstatements, concerning his career, was used by newspapers as the basis for several articles on Goff, and later the material in it was incorporated in George W. Atkinson and Alvaro F. Gibbens, Prominent Men of West Virginia (Wheeling, 1890), 219-227. Others less careful copied their data from this work. 1843 is not only supported by better evidence but is the more logical date. Nathan Goff, Jr., was the third child and second son of Waldo P. and Harriet L. Goff. A sister, Gay, was born on December 25, 1839, and a brother, Henry Clay, on May 22, 1841. It is highly improbably that Nathan, Jr., could have been born less than nine months after his older brother. The Bible entries are in his father's handwriting and are no doubt dependable. The 1850 census returns gave his age as 7; the 1860 returns as 17. Seventh Census, Free Inhabitants, Clarksburg, Harrison County, Virginia, XI, 170; and Eighth Census, Free Inhabitants, Clarksburg, Harrison County, Virginia, XI, 745.

2. No printed sketch of Goff's life is entirely accurate. Most accurate is the one in Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949, (Washington, D. C., 1950), 1217. Best genealogical sketch is in Bernard L. Butcher, ed., and James M. Callahan, Genealogical and Personal History of Upper Monongahela Valley, West Virginia, 3 vols., (New York, 1912), III, 961-966. Most recent sketch is contained in Leonard M. Davis and James H. Henning, "Nathan Goff -- West Virginia Orator and Statesman," West Virginia History, XII (July 1951), 299-337. Others, more or less dependable, appear in George W. Atkinson and Alvaro F. Gibbens, Prominent Men of West Virginia (cited above); George W. Atkinson, Bench and Bar of West virginia (Charleston 1919); James M. Callahan, History of West Virginia Old and New, 3 vols., (Chicago 1923) II, 10-11; National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, (New York, 1893-1950), XXIX, 179; Frank A. Burr, General Nathan Goff, Jr. A Biographical Sketch (Philadelphia, 1882). Since these accounts varied in many particulars, it was necessary to establish the facts of Goff's early life and military career from contemporary original sources. This has been done as far as possible.

3. The author is currently working on a definitive biography of Goff of which this paper is only one chapter. For the details of the Goff-Elkins rivalry, see the Stephen B. Elkins MSS, West Virginia University Library, especially newspaper scrapbook clippings of December 1891 and November 1894. Dr. O. D. Lambert's project biography of Elkins will further elucidate this situation. Goff's "boomlets" for the Vice-presidency were started in 1888, 1891, and 1895, and by various newspapers but never achieved much success.

4. Goff was not elected until the last day of the regular session of the 1913 legislature and only after a "stormy caucus lasting until daybreak." Washington, D. C. Evening Star, February 21, 1913.

5. He entered Georgetown College on September 16, 1860. Third Humanities "would approximate the first year of High School in the present day schedules." W. C. Repetti, S. J., Archivist, Georgetown University, to author, December 31, 1951. Goff received an honorary LL.D. from Georgetown at a special centennial celebration in 1889. Joseph G. Connor, Registrar, Georgetown University to author, November 29, 1951. Goff's Wheeling letter of 1882 (cited above) said he entered Georgetown in 1859. It is possible that later he wished to believe that he had more formal education than he did. In 1882, he had already served as Secretary of the Navy, and other high posts were possible of attainment.

6. It is not known exactly when he returned home; however, all sketches agree on April and there were good logical reasons for his return then.

7. Best source for Harrison County and Clarksburg is Henry Haymond, History of Harrison County (Morgantown, 1910). An earlier account is History of Clarksburg and Harrison County, from its earliest settlement to the present time, Clarksburg Telegram, December 11, 1875, to April 29, 1876. Edward Conrad Smith, The Borderland in the Civil War (New York, 1927) was helpful. For the situation in western Virginia and other relevant sources, see C. H. Ambler, West Virginia, The Mountain State (New York, 1940), 305-340.

8. Waldo P. Goff (1797-1881) came to Harrison County from New York with his father in 1804. Butcher, op. cit., 962, and Mrs. R. T. Lowndes Obituary, Clarksburg Exponent, August 4, 1930. In 1815 he was appointed deputy sheriff of Harrison County. Harrison County Court Minute Book, 1814-1816, 293. In 1832 he was commissioned justice of the peace for Harrison County. County Court Order Book, 1832-37, 56. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates for one term in 1832-33 and in the Virginia Senate from 1833-1837. Haymond, op. cit., 248-249. He was sheriff of Harrison County, 1851, Haymond, op. cit., 230. In 1844, he represented Harrison County at a Whig convention held in Richmond, Harrison Republican, January 5, 1844. His Clarksburg residence, built in 1840, is now the local public library building.

9. Harrison Republican, August 2, 1844, and August 9, 1844.

10. See the extensive correspondence with Robert Garrett & Co. of Baltimore in Robert Garrett Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.

11. Eighth Census (1860), Slaves, Virginia, II, 1ff, National Archives, Washington, D. C. Waldo P. Goff owned seven slaves. One hundred fifty-eight slaveholders owned 582 slaves in Harrison County in 1860. The two largest slaveholders owned sixteen, only eight owned over ten slaves. Twenty-seven owned from six to ten slaves; sixty-eight owned two to five slaves; while fifty-five owned only one slave. Waldo P. Goff gave his occupation as "gentlemen" and valued his real and personal property at $70,000. Eighth Census (1860), Free Inhabitants, Clarksburg, Harrison County, Virginia, XI, 745.

12. Nathan Goff, Sr. (1798-1885) valued his real and personal property in 1860 at $125,000. Only one other man in town, Augustine J. Smith, Jr., reported a higher figure to census takers. Nathan, Sr., was president of the board of trustees (mayor) of Clarksburg in 1849, 1850, 1858-1860. Clarksburg Telegram, March 25, 1876. He served in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1863-1866 and 1870. He was president of the Merchants National Bank until his death, when his nephew and namesake succeeded him. Nathan, Jr., was the executor of his will, and by its terms was entitled to keep all that remained after several specific bequests were made. Some estimated that young Nathan thus inherited about $500,000. Wheeling Intelligencer, December 7, 1885.

13. Virgil A. Lewis, How West Virginia Was Made . . . (Charleston, 1909), 55, and Haymond, op. cit., 335.

14. Haymond, op. cit., 315-17, and Granville D. Hall, The Rending of Virginia, A History (Chicago, 1902), 292. Hall places the incident on May 20, and colors it to favor the Union side. The Confederate guards were led by Uriel M. Turner, Norval Lewis, Hugh H. Lee and William P. Cooper. The two Union companies were led by Captain A. C. Moore and Captain John C. Vance. Nathan Goff, Jr., was probably in Moore's company at this time. An interesting fictional account is contained in Holmes Alexander, American Nabob (New York, 1939).

15. James M. Callahan, History of West Virginia, Old and New, I, 351. Figures cited are taken from Wheeling Intelligencer, June 1, 1861. The vote in Harrison County was 694 for secession, 1691 against secession.

16. Charles Leib, Nine Months in the Quartermaster's Department; or, The Chances for Making a Million, (Cincinnati, 1862), 17 ff. and 40.

17. Ibid., Haymond, op. cit., 321-330, and Clarksburg Telegram, March 11, 1876.

18. Theodore F. Lang, Loyal West Virginia from 1861 to 1865 (Baltimore), 214-222. Lang was adjutant of the Third Virginia, a resident of Clarksburg, and friend of Goff. Although Lang's work is necessarily colored by his Union sympathies, it is fairly accurate. The sketch of the Third Virginia includes all the officers and their various promotions.

19. Ibid. The regiment was called the Sixth West Virginia Cavalry after January 26, 1864. See Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion . . . (Des Moines, 1908), 1661-1662, 235, for an account of the organization, command and service of the regiment.

20. Haymond, op. cit., p. 320.

21. Nathan Goff, Jr. Military Service, 3rd Regiment Virginia Infantry (later 6th Regiment West Virginia Cavalry). Carded Records, The Office of the Adjutant General, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D. C., hereinafter cited as Carded Records, 3rd Va. Inf. The military service of every Union soldier was summarized on cards for the convenience of the AGO in ascertaining pension eligibility and for other purposes. These records are separate from the Regimental Papers. (See below).

22. Muster Roll, June 25, 1861, Company G, 3rd Regiment Virginia Volunteer Infantry (6th Regiment West Virginia Cavalry), Regimental Papers, 6th Regiment West Virginia Cavalry, Army of the United States (formerly 3rd Virginia Infantry) Office of The Adjutant General, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War, West Virginia, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D. C., hereinafter referred to as Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf. These include returns, musters, and a few pieces of correspondence.

23. Lang, op. cit., 217-218, and Company G Muster Roll, August 31, 1861, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

24. Lang, op. cit., 218, and Dyer, op. cit, 234, 334, 1661.

25. Company G Muster Roll, November 1, 1861, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

26. Field and Staff Muster Roll, December 31, 1861, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

27. T. F. Lang to W. G. George, January 4, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

28. War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 vols., (Washington, 1880-1901), Series I, Vol. V, 496. Hereinafter referred to as Official Records. Regimental Return, February 3, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

29. Regimental Return, February 3, 1862, and March 13, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

30. Nathan Goff, Jr., to Henry Thrall, February 10, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

31. Official Records, I, XII, part 1, 462-467.

32. Lang, op. cit., 218-221.

33. Ibid.

34. Official Records, I, XII, p. 47.

35. Lang, op. cit., 221.

36. Ibid., and Company G Muster Roll, June 30, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf. This roll, in Goff's handwriting, described the movement of Company G since the last muster on April 30, at McDowell, Virginia.

37. Official Records, I, XII, 658, 665.

38. Company G Muster Roll, June 30, 1862, and Regimental Return, August 1, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

39. Nathan Goff, Jr., to Col. Albert Tracy, June 12, 1862, Carded Records, 3rd Va. Inf.

40. Ibid.

41. Company G Muster Roll, June 30, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

42. Dyer, op. cit., 1661.

43. Ibid.

44. Field and Staff Muster Roll, August 31, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

45. Company G Muster Rolls, August 31, 1862, to August 31, 1864, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf., and Lang, op. cit., 222.

46. Regimental Return, August 1, 1862. Colonel Hewes was subsequently court martialed and dismissed from the service on February 15, 1864. Regimental Return, October 6, 1863, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

47. Dyer, op. cit., 1661-1662.

48. Official Records, I, XII, part 2, 251, 320.

49. Lang, op. cit., 222; Dyer, op. cit., 1661-1662.

50. Report of officers and enlisted men absent without leave, October 29, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

51. Regimental Return, December 28, 1862, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

52. Regimental Returns for December 28, 1862, February 2, 1863, and March 1, 1863, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf. Colonel Augustus Moor, 28th Ohio Infantry, served actively in western Virginia in 1862 and 1863. He had been appointed a brigadier general and was serving as such when Goff was his aide. The Senate later refused to confirm the appointment. Official Records, I, LI, 997.

53. Regimental Return, April 10, 1863, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

54. Official Records, I, XXV, part 1, 90-115. Ambler, op. cit., 363-366.

55. Official Records, I, XXV, part 1, 90-91.

56. Ibid.

57. Ibid.

58. Ibid., 98-105.

59. Ibid., 113-115.

60. Ibid., 98-105.

61. Ibid., 104.

62. Regimental Return, May 26, 1863, Regimental Papers, 3rd Va. Inf.

63. By August 9, 1863, at Beverly, W. Va., the regiment was called the Third Virginia Mounted Infantry and had 448 serviceable horses and 130 unserviceable horses for 624 officers and enlisted men present for duty. Regimental Return, August 9, 1863, Regimental Returns, 3rd Va. Inf.

64. Ambler, op. cit., 366-68.

65. Dyer, op. cit., 1661.

66. Ibid., and Regimental Returns, August 9, 1863, and October 6, 1863, Regimental Papers.

67. Dyer, Compendium, 1657-1658; Nathan Goff, Jr., Military Record, Major Fourth West Virginia Cavalry, Carded Records, Office of the Adjutant General, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D. C. Hereinafter cited as Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav.

68. Field and Staff Muster Roll, December 30, 1863, 4th Regiment West Virginia Cavalry, Army of the United States, Regimental Papers, Office of the Adjutant General, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War, West Virginia, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D. C. Hereinafter cited as Regimental Papers, 4th W. Va. Cav.

69. Dyer, op. cit., 1662.

70. Regimental Return, October 1, 1863, Regimental Papers, 4th W. Va. Cav.

71. Regimental Returns, December 9, 1863, and January 8, 1864, Ibid.

72. Joseph Snider to ________, December 28, 1863, Ibid.

73. Joseph Snider to Joseph Darr, Jan. 26, 1864. Ibid. Darr was superintendent of volunteer re-enlistment service for West Virginia, with headquarters at Wheeling.

74. Snider's report of the engagement is in Official Records, I, XXXIII, 40-41.

75. Major General Jubal A. Early's report, Official Records, I, XXXIII, 43-45.

76. Brigadier General Thomas L. Rosser's report, Official Records, I, XXXIII, 45-46.

77. Ibid. Rosser gave full credit to the artillery support and he praised the fighting quality of his men, saying that he believed it was "the first instance during the war where cavalry attacked successfully a superior force of infantry."

78. Official Records, I, XXXIII, 41.

79. Ibid., 44.

80. Ibid., 36-38.

81. Ibid., 29-33.

82. Ibid., 46.

83. Nathan Goff, Jr., Military Record, Prisoner of War, Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav. Hereinafter cited as POW Record.

84. William B. Hesseltine, Civil War Prisons, A Study in War Psychology (Columbus, 1930), 131-132.

85. Report of Lt. Col. Archer Anderson, June 6, 1864, Official Records, II, VII, 205-206.

86. Official Records, II, VII, 117-119.

87. Ibid., Anderson report. The amount and quality of food varied from day to day. It seemed sufficient to the prison authorities but very insufficient to the prisoners. Hesseltine discusses the situation at length and warns against believing the worst reports about Northern or Southern prison conditions.

88. Hesseltine, op. cit., 159.

89. N. Goff, Jr., to Waitman T. Willey, May 16, 1864. Official Records, II, VII, 148-149.

90. Armsey's name was spelled "Armesy," Armsley," and "Ormsby," but Armsey is used as correct. On May 2, 1844, a Thomas D. Armsey and Ronna Davis were married in Harrison County by I. S. Patterson. Harrison County Marriage Records, Book 3, 190. Armsey was captured on April 18, 1863, near Johnstown, Harrison County, by a detachment of the Sixth West Virginia Infantry stationed at Clarksburg. Official Records, I, XXV, part 1, 90.

91. Official Records, II, VI, 708-709.

92. N. Goff, Jr., to Waitman T. Willey, May 16, 1864, Official Records, II, VII, 148-149. N. Goff, Jr., to Arthur I. Boreman, May 16, 1864, Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav.

93. N. Goff, Jr., to Waitman T. Willey, May 16, 1864, Official Records, II, VII, 148-149.

94. A. I. Boreman to Edwin M. Stanton, June 7, 1864, Carded Records. W. T. Willey to War Department, May 1864. Register of Letters Received, Secretary of War, 1864, W1133/130, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War, Record Group 107, National Archives, Washington, D. C.

95. Official Records, II, VII, 149, 223. E. A. Hitchcock to William Hoffman, June 11, 1864, Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav.

96. Hesseltine, op. cit. 69ff, 210ff, especially 220-221. J. G. Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction, (Boston, 1937), 436-443.

97. Official Records, II, VII, 1139-1140.

98. E. A. Hitchcock endorsement of June 10, 1864, on letter concerning Goff's capture. Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav. Armsey became so desperate that he requested expatriation to any neutral country for himself, his wife and youngest child. The request was refused. Official Records, II, VII, 390.

99. Harriet L. Goff to A. Lincoln, June 6, 1864, Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav. Goff's mother wrote other letters on the same subject, see Register of Letters Received, Secretary of War, 1864, G693/132.

100. W. P. Goff to John C. Campbell, July 1, 1864, Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav.

101. Ibid.

102. See endorsements on above letter by Major General E. H. Hitchcock, Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners, and Assistant Adjutant General Louis H. Pelonze.

103. Official Records, II, VII, 522-523. President Lincoln's words were: "If General Hitchcock can effect a special exchange of Thomas D. Armesy [sic], now under conviction as a spy, or something of the sort, and in prison at ________, for Maj. Nathan Goff, made prisoner of war, and now in prison at Richmond, let it be done." W. P. Goff carried to the interview a letter of introduction from Senator Peter G. Van Winkle dated August 2, 1864, which stated that "Major Goff, although very young is distinguished for his gallantry and other soldiery qualities, is a true patriot, and most highly esteemed by all who know him."

104. Official Records, II, VII, 615. It was later claimed that Mrs. Harriet L. Goff saved her son from being shot and obtained his release by an emotional appeal to Lincoln in a personal interview. The dramatic story is retold in Maude A. Rucker, West Virginia, Her Land, Her People, Her Traditions, Her Resources (New York, 1930), 235-238.

105. Official Records, II, VII, 667-668, 672, 683, 833-834.

106. POW Records, Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav.

107. Official Records, II, VII, 401.

108. Ibid., 586-587.

109. Hesseltine, op. cit., 169-170.

110. POW Records, Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav.

111. Ibid.

112. A detailed account of the interview is contained in Leonard M. Davis and James H. Henning, "Nathan Goff -- West Virginia Orator and Statesman," West Virginia History, XII, 302-303. All the sketches cited in footnote 2 contain references to this interview. Burr, op. cit, 5, states the case as follows: "When Goff reached Washington, after his imprisonment, he was sent for by President Lincoln, and there occurred between the President and the young officer a most remarkable scene. Goff, who was intent upon effecting the release of his comrades whom he had left in prison, made this interview the occasion of depicting to the Executive the sufferings of our prisoners. His eloquent recital of their hardships brought tears to the eyes of the great-hearted President, and even moved the stoical Stanton, who was present. The result of this appeal was that arrangements were soon after made for an exchange of prisoners, which was promptly afterwards carried into effect." The author has been unable to prove or disprove the actuality of the interview. It probably occurred but its effect on prisoner exchange has been exaggerated. Prisoner exchange policy was not dependent upon any one particular event. See Hesseltine, op. cit., and Randall, op. cit.

113. Hesseltine, op. cit., 226ff.

114. Nathan Goff, Jr., Discharge, Carded Records, 4th W. Va. Cav. The field and staff officers of the 4th West Virginia Cavalry were mustered out at Wheeling on March 11, 1864, and the regiment honorably discharged from the service. Muster Out, Field and Staff, Regimental Papers, 4th W. Va. Cav.

115. Various sources say that Goff studied law at the "University of the City of New York" or "University of New York City" or "University of New York" or "New York University Law School." The author was unable to confirm any of these. Helen Smith, Law Recorder, New York University School of Law, to author, June 17, 1952. Robert Taylor, Registrar, The City College of New York, to author, June 3, 1952. Elwood C. Kastner, Registrar, New York University, to author, May 27, 1952. It is likely that Goff read law with some practicing attorney in Clarksburg during the winter and was sufficiently well read to qualify for admission to the bar by March 1865.

116. Law Orders, Circuit Court, Harrison County, West Virginia, Book 12, 375.

117. Ibid., 391.

118. (Clarksburg) Weekly National Telegraph, March 24, 1865.

119. Ibid., April 14, 1865.

120. As early as the 1870 campaign, Republican newspapers referred to "Gen. Goff." National Telegraph (Clarksburg), June 24, 1870. By 1876 the references were commonplace and by 1882 they had received the stamp of authenticity from Goff himself. N. Goff, Jr, to ________), September 1882, LB2, 199-205, Nathan Goff, Jr. MSS. Nathan Goff, Jr., of West Virginia was never breveted a brigadier general of volunteers. Major General William E. Bergin, The Adjutant General to author, November 13, 1951, and June 6, 1952; and Mrs. Roy Bird Cook, Director West Virginia Department of Archives and History to author, August 8, 1952. All accounts cited in note 2 above, except the one in Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1949, refer to Goff as a brigadier general. The editors of this compilation deleted the reference after checking with The Adjutant General's Office.

121. This quotation appears in Davis and Henning, op. cit., 302, and is taken from Lang, 206. Lang in turn probably got it from Atkinson and Gibbons, who took it from Burr's sketch or from the Wheeling Sunday Register, October 15, 1882. The actual letter of May 16, 1864, to Senator Willey is quoted in full on pages 18 and 19. The true letter is not only a more realistic presentation of the attitude of a prisoner of war but more creditable to Goff.

122. The author has been unable to verify this sequel to the Armsey story. Official records do not mention Armsey's second capture in 1865. Goff was not in the Army at the time, and his regiment had been discharged a year before the incident. There is probably some factual basis for the story, but Armsey's later testimony as to its truthfulness in a letter to John W. Mason of Grafton, published in the Wheeling Intelligencer a Republican paper, and the letter was published during a campaign month when exaggeration could be expected. The Davis and Henning sketch, 301-304, has preserved all of it for posterity, in its most romantic form; it need not be repeated here.


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