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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
July 17, 1861


Richmond Daily Dispatch
August 5, 1861

A Lady's account of the invasion of Charlestown by the great Patterson.

[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]

Charlestown, July 29, 1861.

We dare ask a place in your much read columns, as Charlestown now suspects herself of some importance, Yankeedem having visited us for the second time the first visit in a Drown raid of twenty-two men, the second in a Lincoln raid of thirty thousand. Of the first you know. A little of the second we will try to tell you. Our town, which since the noble Southern army marched through, has been the perfection of quietness, was on Wednesday (17th) thrown into confusion by the cry of "They come!--They come!" Now this "they" was well known by every rational animal, from man to monkey, to mean exactly what did come the barbers, swearers and thieves of Yankee land. We had been expecting them from Harper's Ferry, having been threatened by Col. Stone's command unaldread had passed into indifference, and indifference into a dogged desire for them to o ga Imagine, the, our surprise to see, in an opposite direction from the Ferry, on the top of our never disturbed "Potato Hill," a male in the attire of a soldier applying an inquisitive spyglass. To such in selections all ladies object. Quietly retiring from the street by our houses, festering the doors and blinds, we repaired to the second story to peep at live Yankees. How long the Major-General, or what not, spied, we were unable to say; but the street bring unobstructed by man, woman of child, down came.

"Yankee Doodle into town,
Flapping on their ponies."

"Drums, bugles; drums, fifes; drums, clarions; drums, connects; drums, all vied in drumming Yankee Doodle;" then came cavalry, both horses and riders at full trot; next infantry in rapid strides, their bayonets glistening in our Southern sun, and their lines spotted with the glittering tinsel of their officers, from 12 o'clock to 5--men better and more gaudily dressed never made entrance over "Potato Hill." Interspersed were innumerable wagons and ambulances, all bearing Yankee stamp, such as were left after "our glorious battle," and their "inglorious flight" at Manassas. These occupied the time till dark; what passed then could only be heard; but from a morning view, we conclude it must have been the rag end of the procession. We can think of nothing so like them as monkeys rubbed of their caudal appendages, dressed in their clothes, and chattering all sorts of gibberish none of which lucked as an element, profanity. On their entrance, orders had been given that no house should be entered. They were hurried to their camps, guided, we suppose by sketch of our town and vicinity; for what better artist would they want than "Porte Crayon," and traitor though he be, none among them rode a higher horse, or, to his credit as a Virginian be it said, kept a firmer seat. Sentinels were placed at every corner, and had we not been in momentary expectation of some new phase of villainy, or had the is ceased for five minutes to exchange on the about our secession town, we might have slept.

To describe the sayings and doings of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, would run my pen quick with wickedness and blasphemy, as a sentence could be heard but was enclosed in parenthesis of oaths. Many asked for bread, but were told that it could only be given on Scripture terms: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." They refused, but declared themselves no enemies; only come to protect us from the rebels. They were answered, we are rebels if you so choose to terms us. Remember, we are Southern rebels, and ask no protection from our fathers and brothers. Many conversations were had with the officers, who came, they said, to persuade us in our senses. We boasted of our honorable insanity, and would die of it rather than be cured. They were rampant for a Secession flag, but seemed rather disheartened when directed to Winchester, Manassas, Richmond, or Bethel. Every house was cursed and threatened with destruction, and Charlestown this day stands a monument of Federal ordinance. The movements of the three days were marching and counter-marching of troops, professing to be reinforcements, but recognized by the citizens to be the same regiments. The fun of it was, they said they were on their way to Winchester, having marched 12 miles in an opposite direction Charlestown being twenty two miles from Winchester and Bunker Hill thirteen. We knew it to be a retreat, and were no less amused than amazed to hear them say, "the rebels would not stand fight." It is the opinion here that the Yankees, led by Patterson, (now by Banks, as we hear Patterson has been displaced, being guilty of divers gentlemanly acts for example, restoring negroes, paying for forage, &c.,) are not intended to but devastate the country.

Passing over much, I now pause at the grand "negira of Saturday night." Being constantly on the qui vive, and not surprised at anything, we noticed an unusual amount of riding at ten o'clock. The Southern moon hosted sympathizing above us, showering bright silver rays, till the whole town was steeped in moonlight. While we could see them distinctly, the Yankees used lighted lamps.--the purpose remains a mystery. Our first observation revealed to us the use of the high projections in the centre of the front of their saddles: throwing the reins over these, the ride's held with both hands, while with their heels they kicked their horses to their utmost speed Notwithstanding the distress of having Yankee troops in our town, the indecorous had full away. Tis well for monkey shows that there were not more spectators. Had it not been for the anxious countenances it would have passed for a burlesque on such performances. What to make of it, we only waited to know. It grew worse and worse, faster and faster, till finally Col. S.--e came; on being halted by the sentinel he exclaimed, "my G d, sentinel, don't stop a man in these times; if another of you dd scoundrels do it, I'll blow your brains out." The queries of the sentinels succeeded, "vanish tide matter?" "bill dey never come to relieve us?" At last a messenger came flying, shouting the Secessionists have the roads" Conceive then of our feelings. We could do nothing but roll on the floor shouting, easy, "Jeff Davis," "Johnston," "Jackson," the 21 Regiment are coming; then we talked of preparations to be made for Southern troops, that we believed approaching. All night the same confusion. Doubleday's battery (on which every foreigner "shwearsde victory") acted the double-flying artillery. Amid all not a drum was heard, notwithstanding the profusion of said instruments. Daylight came and still they fled; by ten o'clock on Sunday nothing of them remained save a pair of Uncle Sam's pants, precipitated from a Yankee wagon. Yet not one of our soldiers; what more than a report frightened the Yankees we have been unable to learn. Streets were swept, congratulations passed from neighbor to neighbor; could it be they had gone and we still alive? Had we been deceived? Were they really men, after all? But, no; the air grew hot; fumes of burning grain saluted our senses; lo! our town was encompassed by burning fields. One gentleman's loss is $5,000; another over $ ,000, both of whom were tauntingly told, Jeff Davis would pay. Every near farmer, with one exception, suffered more or less; every poultry- yard robbed; many servants persuaded or forced to follow them. I must not omit to mention several stores broken open, wine casks emptied; no redress save one Yankee wounded by a glass broken in his face by a brave clerk. The officers rode through one store; entered a bar-room in the same style.

The Federalists are now at Harper's Ferry. [They have since retreated from that point.] If they ever come back, we intend to have a fight. We have confidence in our Generals, love and faith in our men; but have not the patience to stand another Yankee invasion. It no Southern troops are sent to meet them, we'll be tempted to try the effect of pins, needles, and scissors.A Rebel.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: July 1861

West Virginia Archives and History