Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
September 13, 1861

Richmond Daily Dispatch
September 20, 1861

From the Border.

stirring times : cannonading : confusion among the females : peace by diplomacy.

Shepherdstown,Va., Sept. 16, 1861.

Since the recent skirmish at this place, our citizens have had a stirring time of it. Never before has "the oldest inhabitant" of the town witnessed such disorder, dismay and distress, since it has been a "local habitation."

After the fight of the 10th instant, which afforded our people a foretaste of the "pride and circumstance of glorious war," we were enjoying a degree of comparative quiet. Desultory shots were exchanged between the hostile parties the two succeeding days, and on last Fridaynight, about 9 o'clock, the reverberating echoes of the loud-mouthed cannon produced a degree of surprise and alarm not easily described. This unexpected salute took every one by surprise and created no little alarm. At first, we felt inclined to flatter ourselves that it was only done to frighten us. A few minutes elapsed and it was let loose, sending a messenger, in the shape of a four-pound ball, to apprise us that it was no laughing matter. Five shots in all were fired, and I'm too glad to say : no injury done.

Of course the scene that followed baffles all description. A panic was created among the female portion of the population, who ran in every direction frightened nearly to death. Numbers of them left town at once, and sought safety with their friends in the country. A company of cavalry stationed here immediately proceeded to the River bluffs, but being in the night time, could do but little service.

After the fourth shot was discharged, the enemy fired a volley of musketry at our men on the cliffs, and then scampered off, exclaiming; "Ah! G : d d : n you, how do you like that ?"

Quiet was at length restored, only to be renewed next day--Saturday--when our boys kept a constant fire at them at this point, and down at the fording they returned the "four-pound" compliment. This latter surprised the Hessians equally as we were astonished the previous night. What damage was done by our cannon is not exactly know.--It is reported that we killed three on the other side at this point. Random shots were kept up nearly all day. In the meantime the excitement and confusion in the place was very great. The citizens were removing their families, goods and chattels as fast as possible. A report prevailed that the town was to be bombarded, and two hours and a half given to the women and children to leave. In less time than that nearly every woman and child was out of danger.

Our citizens began to think it was time for hostilities to cease, so they set about to "conquer a peace," which was done by diplomacy. Three commissioners were appointed for that duty, who repaired to the river under a "flag of truce" to make a treaty. They found the enemy as anxious : if not more so : for a cessation of hostilities as our citizens. They immediately elevated a "peace flage." but it was with some difficulty that an officer could be induced to venture over. However, across he came, with an armed guard, and a peace agreement was made to this effect:"If you don't fire over at us, why we won't fire over at you.""Nuff ced"--that's a bargain. Well, this agreement--"child's bargain," as it is called : was sufficient; it was enough to save the town, if strictly compiled with, but there was a feeling of distrust with regard to it. So this morning (Monday) an alarm was created by a report that some of them were crossing. Our men instantly ran to the river, whilst the citizens trembled, fearing a report of a gun, and then farewell to peace.

At the present hour, 12 M, the town is comparatively quiet, and it is your correspondent's earnest hope that it will so remain. The firing into the town with a cannon under the cover of night may be strictly regarded as one of the most cowardly and brutal acts on record. Potomac.

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

West Virginia Archives and History