FROM BRAXTON COUNTY.
July 2, 1862
FROM BRAXTON COUNTY.
CAMP SUTTON, Braxton County.
West Virginia, June 18th.
It does seem to me, that a few words in regard to the rebellion, and the vigorous nerve with which Company F, of the 10th Virginia, who were enlisted in their county, are putting it down, would not be out of place. Twelve months ago we were pressed down, and nobody at that time thought that one hundred men could be found within the limits of Braxton, who would be willing to stand by the old Flag. But a reverse of circumstances has proved to the rebels that there still exists a patriotic spirit, even in Braxton, which is now being exerted in a manner that proves to be a terror to those evil doers whose sole aim was and is to destroy the Federal Government.
Since the organization of our company, which took place in May last, many rebels have been brought to a just retribution; and I am astonished when I hear some of them declare their innocence, especially those who have engaged in this guerrilla warfare, who have been shooting at our soldiers from the woods as they pass along, stealing horses and robbing and burning houses. Whenever they are overtaken they declare their innocence, and try to enlist the sympathies of the Union men in their favor. And there is another class of rebels in our midst, worse, if possible, than the bushwhackers themselves, and it is from this fact: they have remained at their homes, having taken the oath, and by their cunning craftiness, and vile deceitfulness, they have assumed the title of good loyal citizens. Consequently living as they do in our midst, can do us more harm than any other men. – Their hearts are with the rebellious party. We cannot send out a scout in search even of horse thieves, but what the news is five miles in advance, and the villains make good their escape. Fortunately, however, on the evening of the 13th ult., we were too fast for the horse thieves. Lieut. Bender, with fifty men, started in the direction of Webster county. Having proceeded as far as Holly river, 12 miles distant, he learned that the notorious Capt. Goff, the leader of a band of robbers and murderers, was engaged in recruiting for the guerilla service. He immediately changed his course a little and set out for his hiding place, some four miles distant. By this time it was dark and pouring down rain. At a little past nine o’clock they found themselves at the house of Andrew Wares, surrounding the house quickly, a voice was heard from within, halt, surrender, and the discharge of three or four rifles. At this Lieut. Bender ordered his boys to fire on the door and windows. No sooner did they get the order than they opened a galling fire upon the door and in at the window, which compelled them to acknowledge that there was yet a God in Israel. One wretch attempted to get out at the window, but fell back on the floor, having his head and breast pierced through by Minie balls, and indeed it was with some difficulty that the soldiers could be restrained from firing on these villains. When the firing did cease, the inmates were very distinctly heard pleading for mercy. Sergeant Baxter then ordered the villains out of the house one at a time, this they readily obeyed, and out came Captain Goff and one of his brothers, James Lake, Adam Warner and Wesley Pritt. The house was then examined and in it lay John Butcher and Barney Smith, the former dead, the latter shot through the hips and screaming with the pain, lay weltering in his blood. Pritt had the under part of his left ear shot off. No other casualties occurred during the scrimage [sic].
The prisoners were tied and marched to our head quarters at Sutton and forwarded to Clarksburg by Capt. Hyer, where I hope they may also meet their just reward. Goff acknowledged to stealing several horses and robbing several houses, but the others were very innocent fellows. This Goff was a terror to every Union man in the county who was within his reach; he is savage in his appearance and disposition, and possessed with great muscular power, and thought nothing of coming within six miles of our camp in open daylight and taking whatever he wanted. And there are other bad characters not necessary to name who have been sent to that bourne from whence they will not return, for stealing horses and shooting at our men while passing along the highway, and if we are not called away too soon from this Post, Capt. Hyer and his men will take the last man of them yet remaining in the woods of Braxton. I close by saying that, in my judgement [sic] we have a number one company, and I think that we will make our mark in putting down this unnatural, unholy, withering and desolating rebellion.
If you think this letter worth publishing, you given it room and you shall hear from Company F again.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: June 1862