From New Creek.
NEW CREEK, Jan. 1, 1862.
January 4, 1862
From New Creek. NEW CREEK, Jan. 1, 1862.
You will oblige me by finding room in your invaluable paper for the following account of the skirmish that took place in Greenland (Hardy county) on Sunday last. Our scouts started from New Creek and arrived at Capt. Shell’s quarters at a late hour on Saturday night, where we concluded to stop over night. Shortly after midnight a messenger arrived and informed us that he had seen one hundred and ninety-five rebels pass his house on their way to surprise Shell’s company, which they had heard were all sick. We were not long in getting ready for them.
We threw out an extra picket force and awaited the attack. At 5 o’clock a. m. forty-five rebel cavalry and one hundred and twenty-six infantry attempted to drive in our pickets which fired on them and was answered by about eighty shots. At this time great confusion prevailed in the quarters, as there were fifty-six of Shell’s company sick with the measles and mumps, and when they heard the report of the musketry it appeared to heal diseases, for they all run and got their guns and were soon ready to fight or die.
The pickets kept the rebels at bay for at least twenty minutes when they were overpowered and broke to Camp. We were now counting the sick that had their guns and were in file forty-seven strong, and only awaited the advance of the rebels, who had mostly all concealed themselves in the bushes along side the road, but finding we would not get in their trap, they made signs of a retreat; but when they found out we would not be fooled they raised a yell like so many devils would do, and made at us hallowing and crying abolitionists, &c. We stood our ground, they advanced within one hundred and fifty yards of us before either side fired a shot, and then they let us have about eighty rounds, at this we gave them one volley and brought down one of their cavalry, which by this time were coming too near or at least they thought so. We exchanged several shots when the rebels broke for the woods and our forces after them. Twenty of our sick that had been engaged had given out not being able to stand the fatigue. The number we had now was 27 fighting men, who were behind trees, rocks, &c., and every shot we made brought down a man or horse. They saw it would not do to stand much longer so they gathered their wounded and dead which they carried on their horses before them. At seven o’clock they commenced retreating and we followed them about one mile, but gave up the chase for I will acknowledge they can run faster than our forces, for they are used to it.
We returned to camp, and found out that three of Capt. Shell’s men were wounded, but not bad. One of our scouts, a member of Capt. Reese’s company, had four bullet holes shot through his great coat, three through the cape and one in the sleeve. Our scouts were in charge of our Orderly Sergeant, and it is said they behaved extraordinarily good for the first engagement they had been in. Capt. Shell’s men are good soldiers, and all crack marksmen, and much credit is due him for the interest he takes in the glorious cause.
Capt. Shell sent a messenger to Captain Reese, at New Creek, requesting him to send reinforcements, for fear the rebels would be reinforced and make an attack. In twenty-eight minutes after Capt. Reese got the message, he was on his way to Greenland with sixty men, at which place he arrived on Sunday night at 10 o’clock. The next morning the Ringgold Cavalry and two other companies (names not known) arrived from Romney, and scouted the country roundabout Greenland, but found no indications of the enemy.
Capt. Keyes, of the Cavalry, found one dead rebel. His gun was laying along side of him, and had never been discharged. He had a letter in his pocket from his wife, requesting him to come home on Christmas. He had also a furlough, given by Colonel Jackson, to pass out of the rebel lines.
Capt. Reese returned last night, bringing one captured gun and a few other trophies.
Later reports say the rebels have been reinforced, and are going to attack Greenland to-day, but it is not credited here.
The news of the surrender of Mason and Slidell is received here with joy.
No more, &c., H. B. B.,
Co. K, 6th Va. Reg’t .
January 9, 1862
Greenland, Jan. 5, 1862.
Editors of Intelligencer:
I write to give you a correct statement of the little battle at Greenland, as I have noticed statements in your paper on different occasions, briefly referring to it. I in company with five other men of Captain Reeses company, left New Creek station on Staturday [sic] morning on a scouting expedition, and reached Greenland ere nightfall, a distance of twenty-one miles. Nothing occurring worthy of note until we arrived at the latter point, we stopped for the night, there being a company of the 7th Virginia regiment, stationed here, who have for a long time been a terror to the secesh in this region until recently, the measels [sic] having broke out among them, which disease prevailed to such an extent as to disable all but twenty who were fit for duty. The rebels having learned this determined to strike a blow at this critical juncture, and did on Sunday morning at dawn of day. Their forces consisted of a full company of infantry and fifty of the Rockbridge cavalry, their infantry having succeded [sic] in getting beyond the line of the pickets undiscovered, when the cavalry dashed up the road at the southwest end of the town from the direction of Petersburg. At such a time ordinary men would have considered resistance fruitless; but the little Spartan band as it were, formed into line and opened fire upon them, our party joining in the contest determing [sic] to sell our lives as dearly as possible. The rebels seemed sure of victory. After the first fire they set up a yell of triumph, but after a few well aimed fires we succeeded in turning their shouts of joy into stern command. The fire was kept up briskly on both sides and for a time we thought we were doomed, but the infantry at last gave way, and then followed the cavalry. They retreated precipitately, leaving four dead upon the field but succeeded in carrying off their wounded. We have since learned that there were fifteen “mustered out of service;” (which phrase is commonly used by both parties, when a soldier is sent to his long home).—There were none of our men injured, as they were fortified a portion of the time in a log church. We pursued them about three miles but they were so swift of foot that they succeeded in making their escape. Thus a party of only twenty-six men repulsed the attack of one hundred and fifty Confederates well armed and equipped, with a considerable loss of life on their side.
The more fully to illustrate the character of these rebels, I cannot refrain from telling you of their intentions if they had succeeded, in regard to the sick. When asked, they answered that they intended to knock them on the head with the butts of their muskets, which orders we have learned from reliable authority, was given them by their commander. Thus by our conduct we saved our sick comrades from a horrible death, and saved the rebels of an act of barbarism that would have been a lasting disgrace, longer to be remembered than the barbarism at Guyandotte. Since, however, we have been reinforced by troops from New Creek and Grafton, there were four of us in company started out of Friday evening last, for the purpose of ascertaining the number of troops stationed at Moorfield [sic]. We had not proceeded more than five miles until we came in contact with a party of secesh who gave us chase and followed us until 5 o’clock the next morning, they having got in the rear of us, we had to take a western direction, contrary to camp. We traveled until the next morning, being hotly pursued until within about half a mile of camp.
I must now close, as I am somewhat chilled, as the weather is very cold in this mountainous region.
If anything worthy of note occurs I will be prompt in giving you information of the facts connected with it.
Yours truly, D. P. Little.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: December 1861