August 24, 1861
From the border.
Northern outrages — skirmish at Harper's Ferry, &c.
[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Shepherdstown. Va., Aug. 19, 1861
Probably a letter from this portion of the Confederate States--the Northern border — may not prove uninteresting or distasteful to your numerous readers. To keep the "powers that be" at Richmond informed of the transpiring on the border, may be considered as much a duty as useful to our security and protection.
For some time past there has been stationed on the opposite bank of the Potomac an encampment of Massachusetts soldiers — for what purpose "deponent saith not," unless it be for our annoyance, which they have been guilty of to almost an unbearable degree. About a week ago a company of them visited this town, under the cover of darkness — about that time of night when grave-yards yawn and thieves and burglars most do prowl around — and proceeded to the residence of the Hon. Alex R. Boteler, surrounded the house, and, of course, captured him Mr. B., you will recollect, was a member of the Federal Congress, and did much to settle our national trouble; but finding all his laudable efforts unavailing, like a genuine Virginian, he took a position with his native State, and voted for the Ordinance. He is at present a member elect of the General Assembly. When "captured" he was taken to headquarters, and finding nothing against him was released. His escape from "durance vile" was hailed by our citizens with feelings of reefable pleasure.
But the end is not yet; it was but a beginning of a series of outrages, a continuation of which we experienced last night. The midnight torch has been called into requisition and applied. The lurid glare of the devastating element, as it reflected on "the Heavens above and the earth beneath," but too plainly told that the midnight marauders were at their diabolical work. Last night these fellows again crossed over the river and set fire to the large flouring mill known as the "Big Mill," the property of the Hon. A. R. Boteler. This was a fine property and very valuable, although at present was idle. Connected with it was a cement mill, which was also destroyed. The fire was discovered about two o'clock, but the mill could not be saved. The mills were about a mile from town, just at the river fording and directly opposite the enemy's camp. The fording is guarded by Northern soldiers.
We are at a loss to know why they should thus invade Virginia and destroy property. No other reason can be assigned for it but a desire to "kill, burn and destroy," or perhaps it was for nothing but petty spite And our people are apprehensive that these heathenish outrages will continue. From our town the white tents of the encampment.
"Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,"
are plainly visible — and the prospect is by no means pleasing. A gentleman from the "seat of war" has just brought us the cheerful intelligence from Harper's Ferry that Capt. Ashby, with about 200 cavalry, had a little skirmish yesterday (Sunday) at that romantic and noted spot--Gen. Banks has been, for some time, occupying the Ferry, and holding the citizens in terrorem.Capt. Ashby lighted unexpectedly on them yesterday, and made them "take water;" drove them out of the State, killing two and wounding several, the gallant Captain only losing one horse, which was shot from under him. Thanks to our brave soldiers, Jefferson county is at last rid of the "varmints." Not the sole of an invader's foot now presses her sacred soil, and if a small force is kept along the river, we will never be again troubled with them.
Since these Massachusetts menials have been stationed opposite our town, quite a number of our citizens have been in constant dread and alarm. Many of them are afraid to stay at home with their families at night. Our venerable and efficient Captain Splash, who acted as Commissary for our "brave boys" when stationed here, has been menaced, and he is compelled every night, from motives of personal safety, to seek refuge in the country with his various friends. This is, indeed, hard, and should be remedied as soon as possible.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is open, and seems to be doing a "land office business," transporting provisions to the Federal capital.
Yesterday two deserters from Banks' column made their appearance in town, looking horribly bad, almost destitute of clothing, and said they "wanted to go home."--Some of the citizens rigged them up and sent them to Martinsburg, where a body of Confederate troops are stationed.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: August 1861