December 7, 1861
Camp Keys, Romney, Va.
Dec. 2, 1861.
Editors of the Intelligencer:
Having time and opportunity, I embrace both to pen you a few sketches incident to camp life.
Day before yesterday the different camps were thrown into great excitement by messengers who came gallopping [sic] into town with the sad news that eight of our teams had been captured by the rebels out on the Moorefield road, and that two of our men had been brutally murdered by the same. The Ringold Cavalry were soon mounted and in arms; four companies of infantry were soon mustered out into the road, and three pieces of cannon came rumbling down the street. They went off on the double-quick, and were soon lost to view, and the sound of the rumbling cannon soon died away, and again all became quiet; but still anxiety prevailed throughout the camps and the town. Many citizens and soldiers were anxiously waiting to hear from the brave boys who had gone to the rescue.
About eight o’clock the same night the excitement was again renewed by a glare of light which towered far above the mountain tops, and seemed to almost touch the clouds. Many were the surmises and conjectures. Some said that our men had burned Moorefield; others thought the rebels had done it, and many were the strange suppositions, but none could form a correct idea of what caused the great light. Nor were they any the wiser until about twelve o’clock the next day, when our men returned, bringing with them six prisoners, a double-barrelled shot gun and several other articles of plunder which they had picked up which had belonged to the rebels. As soon as they arrived every one was anxious to know the result, which they were not long is ascertaining. The great light which we had all seen proved to be hay which our teamsters had set fire to, to prevent the rebels from capturing. Our men report that the rebels at Moorefield were about 250 strong, consisting of two companies of infantry, fifty cavalry and one piece of cannon. They captured six rebels, and chased two more over two mountains, and then lost sight of them.—They completely routed the rebels from Moorefield.
How brave, and yet how foolish, were those two lieutenants, who went out on picket yesterday—Lieut. Freeman, of Capt. Stephens’ company, and Lieut. Hall, of Capt. Melvin’s company. Being out as officers of the guard, they ventured too far beyond our lines, and were charged upon by some dozen or more secesh cavalry, and both taken prisoners. There were some 6 or 8 of our pickets were in hearing distance, and hearing the report of [?] arms, rushed up to the rescue. They fired twelve rounds, but were compelled to retreat, leaving their officers prisoners in the hands of the rebels. Two of the picket guards came to camp with all possible haste, bearing the sad intelligence that I have just recorded. This is about all the news that is of any importance. I am now called on to go out scouting, and must close. I will write you again. Yours, O. P. M.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: November 1861