Burning of Sutton

Extracted From the
West Virginia Legislative Hand Book

Burning Of Sutton

The company that captured and burned Sutton on Wednesday, December 29, 1861, was commanded by Capt. John S. Sprigg. The town had as its defenders, Lieut. Dawson with about sixty of Roan's cavalry, who retreated, and the town was promptly occupied by the Confederates. It is said that in the absence of Capt. Sprigg, some time within the day, that the Tunings set fire to the town and partly destroyed it. Sprigg returned and was appealed to by John S. Camden and others to stop the burning. Hanley Humphreys relates that he saw a soldier going with a torch to set fire to a house, and some soldiers told him that the order was not to burn any more. He said "whose order?" and the reply was, "Captain Tuning's."

Pembrook B. Berry was instrumental in putting out fires and saving much property. The town was again attacked by Chas. Rodgers who had but a small squad of soldiers. They burned the Camden hotel and some other buildings. A house stood where the Racket Store now stands, opposite the hotel which had been used as a Federal hospital. It caught fire from the hotel and was burned. When Spriggs' command captured the town, there were about thirty-five soldiers in the house whom he paroled. Dr. Lafayette Woodruff was in charge. He had accepted an invitation to eat turkey with Joseph Osburn on the following day, but he made his escape by riding double out of town behind a cavalryman.

General Rosecrans left Sutton on September 7, 1861, and three days later fought the battle of Carnifax Ferry. This command consisted of ten thousand troops, the greatest army and number of men ever bivouaced in Sutton or marched through central West Virginia.

It is said when Clinebell's Confederates retreated from Sutton, that as they marched down the main street, Daniel J. Stout, a musician, played on his fife one of the most inspiring airs that ran like this, "If you have any good thing save it, save it - if you have any good things, give them to me." Now the discomfiture of the Confederates and the excitement of the citizens rendered the music very amusing, and as Uncle Daniel's shrill notes sounded amid the surrounding hills of Sutton, they gave an air of cheer and hilarity to an excited throng.

Civil War

West Virginia Archives and History