December 11, 1861
CLARKSBURG, VA., Dec. 9, 1861.
According to promise, I let you know of our whereabouts. Since I last wrote you, nothing of particular interest has transpired. It has been raining and snowing for about two weeks, until within the last two or three days, which have been as beautiful as Indian Summer; at my writing the winds are as kind as summer ones, causing a thrill of happiness to pervade us.
Last week, through the rain and mud, came three Ohio Regiments, the 3rd, 6th and 24th. These regiments have for some time been in the neighborhood of Cheat Mountain and Gauley, and from their appearance, we were forced to the conclusion that they had seen hard times; they were, though, as a general thing, healthy. The hardships which they had to endure, appears to have agreed with them in a physical point of view. Our energetic Colonel (Anisansel) used every means in his power to render their stay one of comfort, which was a pretty hard thing to do, owing to the number. There is a great deal of credit due a part of the citizens here for their co-operation with our Colonel. A number of them opened up their houses, and each accommodated from five to thirty. The trustees opened the door of the different churches, and invited them in, as many as could get in, which was very nice, owing to the inclemency of the weather. The boys met the Paymaster here, and were paid off. Said action pleased all parties concerned. They staid a few days, and then left for Kentucky.
Capt. Howe’s Artillery passed through here, en route for Romney. For a few hours the gay plumes of the boys nodded here, there, and everywhere through town. They all seemed happy at the idea of numbering Winchester among the places that has been.
Lieut. Cunningham, of Capt. Shuman’s company, (now at Weston,) came in a few days since with four secesh prisoners, who were taken by a scouting party of that company.
Capt. Farrabee’s and Capt. Carmon’s companies left here last Friday night for Romney, Major Krepps commanding.
On Col. Anisansel’s assuming the command of this post, among other orders, he issued one requiring the keepers of saloons not to sell to soldiers any intoxicating liquors whatever. Quite a number refused to obey the order, and the consequence was that the liquor was thrown into the street. A few days since I accepted an invitation from Adjt. Krepps to accompany him and a squad of men who were going to visit a few who had disobeyed the above mandate. We repaired to the vicinity of the depot, where there are a dozen or more shanties, put up as if in mockery to stables, and not so much to suit the convenience of the occupants as to the avarice of the proprietors, whose object was apparently to cram the greatest possible number of tenants into the smallest imaginable space. For convenience sake the floors and beds were used as substitutes for chairs, together with sundry old-fashioned wooden bow-roofed trunks, covered with calf skin, (hair outside,) for the safe keeping of fine line. No art was meant or practised there. You had them just as they appear from the arms of Murphy – Oh! Morpheus, I mean. The younger portion of the family are in rags, and I think I will in the course of time look fully as interesting as their parents. The work began, and hard indeed must be the heart that does not yield the attack that ensues; but we went with a commitimus grabibus, as the genuine seekers of the extract of gympsum and canine-fennel. These shrines of Bacchus are generally presided over by the “lady of the house,” whose entreaties are hard to withstand. They told us that we were robbing poor orphan children, who had only one father and one mother; but out went kegs of liquor, wine, brandy. We found it under the bed, in the bed, in trunks, among clothing, in the flour barrel covered up with flour. One full barrel we found behind the cellar wall, the stones of the wall had been removed, as a place just the size of a barrel had been dug out, the barrel placed in; the stones put back in good order, but we “rolled the stones away” and with an axe brought forth the fluid, mid the tears of the old lady, the curses’ of the old gent, and bawling of about seventeen children. In about three hours we broke up nine of these establishments. I was sorry I went for I saw such waste of the raw material.
Last evening about 5 o’clock Mr. Ferdinand Byland, Chief Clerk of the Quartermaster Department, under Capt. Leib, was shot, the ball passed through the upper part of the thigh, breaking the bone. He was in company with others riding, they neared a bridge at the west end of town where guards were placed, saluted them and turned back, when about a hundred yards off, one of the guards fired an enfield rifle the ball taking effect on Byland. The guard (Dan Riblet of Company G, 3rd Virginia Infantry) was arrested immediately. Byland fills a post of honor here, and is loved by all who know him. He is from Covington Ky. He is feeling more comfortable this morning.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: December 1861