November 20, 1861
Camp Keys, Romney, Va.,
Nov. 15th, 1861.
Thinking perhaps you might like to have a few lines from the 1st Virginia Regiment I thought I would write you a few particulars, from the time we left Camp Carlile to the present time.
The boys were all in the best of spirit at leaving Wheeling, although many of us left there all that was most dear to us on earth, but we were going out to defend our glorious flag and the noble institutions of our county. We proceeded without anything worth mentioning occurring until just before we reached Fairmont, where we found a locomotive off the track, when some of the boys turned to work, helping to get it on again; others went out in the neighborhood to an old-fashioned corn husking. Myself and friend called at a farm house, where the lady set us a splendid supper, to which we did ample justice.
After a detention of a few hours, our conductor sang out, “All right,” and away we went. We arrived at new [sic] Creek the next morning, about six o’clock, stayed there until ten, and then started on our march for Romney. It commenced raining that morning, and the roads were very muddy, and we had to wade creeks. I heard no grumbling or complaints among the boys. They were all very cheerful.
We arrived at a small place called Burlington, about dark, where we all selected the best quarters we could find—some in barns, houses, &c. Company F was quartered in the M. E. Church, where we built a fire, and were very comfortable.
The next morning (Sunday) we took up the line of march again—I forgot to mention that Co. F had the right of the column. We arrived at this place about [?] o’clock P. M. As we marched through the town, preceded by our fine brass band, we made a fine appearance. Gen. Kelley stood at the door of his headquarters, bowing to us as we passed, and I am told that he was so much affected that he shed tears.
We are encamped on a beautiful knoll near town—the best place for a camp that I ever saw. The camp regulations are very strict, and we drill from six to eight hours a day, and are making rapid improvement. We live well and are well clothed and are as well contented a set of man as any one ever saw.
I was over to our hospital yesterday. There are only some eight or ten there and none of them seriously ill. I might tell you hove many there are here, only I believe it is against the rules; but there are more than most any one has any idea of.
There are some guerillas around here. On the 13th inst. a part of the General body guard of cavalry were out scouting. They were fired on from ambush and two of them killed. That same evening Co. A 1st Va. Regiment, one company of cavalry and a battery of light artillery were sent to scout. They were unable to find anything of the enemy, but brought in the bodies of the poor fellows that were killed.
Romney is the county seat of Hampshire county, twenty-six miles from New Creek, twenty-five from Cumberland, Md., and forty-three from Winchester. It is a very pretty place and a nice location, but the devastating hand of war is everywhere visible. Nearly all the inhabitants have left and their houses are occupied by our soldiers. The stores are all closed. There are many fine residences which are occupied as hospitals, &c. It is the same way in the country. Nearly every house is vacant.
I must now close, for I have already written more than I intended, but if you wish you shall soon hear again from your humble servant, Harry.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: November 1861