Confederates Capture Fairmont

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 5, 1863

The Way the Raiders Treat their Friends

We are told that the rebels around Fairmont curse their friends - the raiders - with all their might, and say that if they had known they were such a scaly set of robbers they never would have hoped to see them. As it is they never want to see them again. The raiders made no discrimination between them and white people, but took their horses and plunder also. They took eight horses from Ed. Straight, which although the number rhymes very well with his name was dreadfully harrassing to his feelings. He begged and implored them not to be so hard on their friends, but they simply damned him for a stingy Southern man and moved off with his horses. They also took two horses from his brother John Straight, a worse rebel even than Ed., and although he joined them and went off with them they wouldn't give him one of his own horses to ride, but mounted him on an old raw boned skeleton that bid fair to cut poor Straight through to the collar bone.

We rather like this way of doing on the part of the raiders. We hope they will do it more everywhere they go. Their friends in West Virginia are a shabby set of citizens, and we don't wonder they, in common with other people, have little respect for them. Naturally enough, people who invite their friends to come and see them, ought to be willing to entertain them, but the shabby sympathizers wanted the enemies of their friends, the Union men - to bear the expenses of the entertainment. The raiders couldn't appreciate such hospitalities, and therefore, just to give their friends a little touch of Southern rule, turned in and stole their horses, along with those of their Union neighbors.

This sort of "rights" is not what the patriots among us, who are praying for the success of the rebellion, covet. Their idea of success involves no personal sacrifices on their part at all. Secession, with them, is a grand Utopia free of expense, sacrifices, trouble or suffering. In the meantime, and until it is all ready, prepared, carpeted and furnished to their hand, they want to go on making as many greenbacks as possible, and get clear of taxes to the "Lincoln despotism" during the process.

The raiders have rather disenchanted this pleasant mode of indulging secessionism. They have given their friends out this way an idea of the rough side of the picture, but not a circumstance to what they would give them were they to get any considerable or permanent occupancy of this section. Hence we are inclined to the belief that the sympathizers are praying just at this time to be delivered from their friends. Let them continue to pray in that direction. Their prayers will be likely to have some effect on the raiders even if they do not reach any farther.

The Fight at Fairmont - Incidents of the Raid.

All the accounts from Fairmont go to show that the rebel cavalry met with very sharp resistance at that point. Our force, all told, did not exceed 225 or 250 men. Nearly all these were militia and "home guards." One of Mulligan's New York companies participated. Of course this force could make no stand up fight against such a force as the rebels had. They made a sort of Concord and Lexington fight, all except the conclusion of it. It was a running fight that lasted from about seven in the morning till one p. m. The rebels advanced from the direction of Barracksville, across the hills and through the fields, taking very little account of either fences or roads. Fences they tore down wherever they came in the way, and roads they traveled wherever it suited them. They approached Fairmont from every side, except the east. The fighting began by skirmishing along the hills back of the town, the rebels pressing our men back past the town and up the river in the direction of the bridge. It is said that immediately upon entering town Gen. Jones and staff rode across the suspension bridge and took a position on Palatine hill, from which he could have a full view of all the operations on the Fairmont side. Our men fought behind fences, stumps, banks, haystacks, trees, and everything else that could offer shelter, pretty much every one for himself, but gradually falling back in a body. Their resistance was most stubborn and determined. They held the enemy at bay for hours, and repeatedly drove them back. Meanwhile Mulligan had run down a field piece from Grafton and was firing it from a gondola on the other side of the river. When the rebels were on the hill above town he threw a half dozen shell among a dense body of them and made them skedaddle in fine style. But he could not change the position of his gun to exactly suit the change in the location of the fight. And besides a small body of rebels who crossed over to the Palatine side had gone around in his rear and were on the point of tearing up the road above him so as to cut off his retreat. Mulligan had to run his train up the road to protect it, and the rebels having driven our men to the bank of the river ordered a sabre charge, when seeing further resistance hopeless they surrendered. It is said the rebels were chagrined beyond measure when they found how small a force had so stoutly resisted them. They refused to believe that all had delivered themselves up. Gen. Jones himself complimented them by saying he had never seen "such a set of devils to fight, anywhere." They acknowledged a loss of fifty-four men killed, besides a number of wounded. They threw the dead bodies into the river, and three of them passed over the dam at Fairmont Sunday. Our loss is represented as being two killed and six wounded. The names are not known to us. The prisoners were all paroled.

They destroyed the bridge by putting powder into the "towers," the cilyndrical iron pillars that supported the whole frame work. These were then blown to pieces with reports like artillery, and the whole structure fell into the water, where it now lies nearly submerged. The piers and abutments are uninjured.

They moved from Fairmont up the river on the Fairmont and Beverly pike, from which they diverged some six miles above and passed over the Bridgeport. The citizens assert that the head of the column reached a point which is four miles above Fairmont before the rear was out of town. The general belief there is that they numbered at least 4,000. The rebels claimed 5,000. The citizens assert further that when the rebels were crowding through the streets, after the fight, the stench was perfectly intolerable, so filthy were they in their persons - a dirty greasy, unkempt, unshorn, ragged and Lazarus-like crew. Gen. Jones is represented as being a very fine looking officer.

Here as elsewhere they did not discriminate between friends and foes in the impressment of horses. They had little respect for those whose only aid was sympathy. One rich old secesh, who rode into the town on a very fine horse, was telling Gen. Jones how much he was doing to help their cause, when the General suddenly interrupted him by a requisition for his horse. And they took it in spite of all the old fellow's protestations that he was one of them. The General told him he ought very cheerfully give his horse to aid them in fighting for the cause he loved so well. The old gent went away without his horse, but he couldn't "see it." A prominent secessionist at Barracksville lost four horses, all he had. He put in the same plea and got the same answer. The last heard of him, he was following them begging for his horses back. Another old secesh at that place, who lost one, said he supposed it was a "military necessity," that made them take horses. Rather a poor consolation. As far as we can hear the rebel sympathizers have lost more than Union men, because the Union men were active in hiding theirs while the secesh, counting on the fellowship between them, took no such precautions. The secession citizens are immensely disgusted with the raid, it is said. They frequently traded, leaving their old broken down nags and taking fat and sleek ones instead. Very little jockeying was done.

A dispatch from Gen. Lightburn, which was published yesterday, detailed the most of the robberies committed at Fairmont, but there was one which brands these F. F. V.'s as no better than burglars. At the east end of the Iron bridge lived a German generally called "Dutch Charlie," who had been watchman on the bridge ever since it was built. He had accumulated in the years he had been serving the company about $700 in gold, and had also about $200 in greenbacks. Some scoundrel who knew this, and knew he kept it in the house, apprized the rebels of it, and they went to the house and robbed him of every cent! A similar instance happened at Barracksville. An old man, who had accumulated a few hundred dollars in the service of the railroad company, had put it into a little stock of groceries, confectionary, &c. The rebels broke into it, and swept it of every farthing's worth, and left the old man almost a beggar. Such is chivalry.

Wheeling Intelligencer
May 4, 1863

The Visit of the Rebels to Fairmont - What was Done - Gov. Pierpont's Library destroyed. -

Gen. Lightburn had his headquarters at Fairmont on Saturday last. From that place, in answer to a telegram from the Governor as to what damage had been done, he sent the following reply:

"Your public and private library were destroyed."

(The Governor had an excellent and select law library as well as a general library)

"Eleven horses were taken from Mr. Watson. John S. Barnes was wounded in the heard slightly. Young Coffman was killed. No property burned except Cromwell's mills. N.S. Barnes lost 500 dollars. - Fleming four hundred. A. Fleming three hundred in boots and shoes. Ridgley (rebel) three hundred, Mrs. Sterling, one hundred. Jackson's loss in flour considerable. Maj. Parrish lost all his goods - Every one who had horses lost them. "National" (newspaper) officer knocked into pie. United States lost five hundred worth of public property. Monongahela R.R. bridges entirely destroyed. Piers yes standing but superstructure all in the river:Coal Run, Buffalo, and Barracksville bridges all destroyed. It was Lieut. Zane from Wheeling who destroyed your libraries . They were burned in front of your office.

[Signed.] J.A. Lightburn,
Brig. General.

Civil War

West Virginia Archives and History