August 27, 1862
Beverly, Aug. 19, 1862.
In order to keep your readers posted in regard to the progress of the war in this portion of the State, I will drop you a few lines to show them its latest phases and developments. The late call for additional troops and the order for drafting have produced a great commotion amongst the people of West Virginia. As far as the knowledge of the writer extends, and whilst the loyal people of many counties are responding nobly to the call for volunteers, the rebellious portion are fleeing in consternation from the draft. I have pretty reliable information that not less than four hundred rebels have left the counties of Harrison, Lewis, Upshur, Barbour, and Randolph.—These go with the purpose of joining the guerrillas. Some of them have gone through Pendleton by the Seneca route to join Imboden, taking with them all the good horses they could lay their hands on; whilst others are concentrating in Western county.
Eighty men left Hacker’s Creek on Thursday night last in one company, under the lead of one Isaac Benson, who, on the day before leaving was arrested and taken before the commander of the post at Weston, when he took the oath and was discharged. This company was well mounted, and may be looked upon as a promising company of marauders is embryo. All they lack is arms and equipments, ammunition, &c. Two of them had swords, six had guns, the balance were without arms. They have united with others from other places, and now number one hundred and fifty. Their place of rendezvous is in Webster county, and they are compelling all they come across to join them. When they left Hacker’s Creek and had been seen passing through Upshur, Capt. Marsh, who is in command of the post at Buckhannon, notified Col. Harris who was at Beverly, by telegraph of the fact. The Colonel at once organized a party of cavalry and infantry and started with a view of intercepting their progress under the idea that they would try to make their way through to the reel lines. He marched up the valley by the Huntersville road, dropping squads of infantry at every road that come in from the direction from which they were expected to come, whilst he with the cavalry penetrated Pocohontas [sic] to the distance of fifty-six miles from Beverly, making the march in about twenty-six hours and placing guards on every road leading in from Webster county. After waiting in vain for two days for the approach of the party, the Colonel was compelled by want of provisions, forage, &c., to return. Starting on Monday morning at one o’clock with a fine moon, the return march was made with so much facility that by eleven o’clock A. M. the Colonel had gathered up the last squad of infantry guards which had been left on the road on going out. The return march was commenced at so early an hour to avoid the danger which the Colonel had reason to apprehend from bushwhackers on his return. By three o’clock in the afternoon the whole party had passed the last point at which danger was apprehended, and having gotten into a nice open country in the vicinity of Huttonsville, with large farms lying along the road, and farm houses being seldom out of view. The colonel seeing he would have time to reach Beverly with the cavalry by sundown, and apprehending no further danger began to advance more rapidly, leaving the infantry to follow at their leisure. The howitzer team being jaded and several of the horses being tender footed from having lost their shoes, it was not cared for and also left behind.
The column had advance a mile or two, and having arrived within two miles of Huttonsville, everything going free and and [sic] easy, when crack went a rifle near the head of the column, and then another and another, and many others, to the number of fifty or sixty in rapid succession from the front to the rear of the column. Colonel Harris was riding at the head of the column with Lieut. Myers of the Ringgold Cavalry, and a citizen by the name of Pharis, who had accompanied the expedition, at his side; the colonel being on the side nearest the guerrillas. Seven or eight of the first shots were evidently aimed at the colonel, striking his horse and various objects about him, yet, strange to say, that notwithstanding the distance of the guerrillas from him was not more than thirty paces, not a ball touched his clothing or his person. His horse being very severely wounded became unmanageable and went plunging over the road in spit of all the restraint of the bit to the distance of one hundred and fifty yards from the scene of action, when the shoulder blade which had been weakened by one of the balls which had struck him suddenly gave way when he began to break down on that leg, although he still continued to plunge for a rod or two further when the Colonel dismounted he saw the blood spouting out in a stream as thick as his thumb from a hole made by a minnie ball in the rump.—The horse, a fine dapple grey, being the same on which Gen. McClellan made his campai[g]n in West Virginia last year, was then stripped and abandoned, the Colonel mounting a horse which just then came up carrying an empty saddle. Several of the boys by this time came up bringing the intelligence that two of the Ringgold boys had been killed. Several horses were severely and several slightly wounded. One man had a buckshot lodged in his forearm whilst many of them had holes in their clothing; the balls grazing in some instances the head, the feet, and in various other parts of the body. One man found a rifle ball in his boot but was unhurt by it. The position of the guerrillas had been very skillfully taken, being the rocky top of a low but steep and brushy bluff where the road ran closely along its base with a fence on the opposite side. The party quickly rallied, throwing down the fence and making rapidly for the opposite side of the field, which was narrow, from whence they fired two or three volleys into the thick brush on the face of the hill, but without effect, the guerrillas having, as they afterwards learned, dropped over the opposite side of the brow of the hill as soon as they had emptied their pieces.
Whilst the cavalry was gaining its position some of the guerrillas ran down into the road, rifling the pockets of the dead and robbing them of their sabres and revolvers, picking up also Col. Harris’ and Lieut. Myers’ hats, that had been lost at the first spring of their horses. They did not take time, however, to rob the dead of their boots.
As soon as the howitzer came up a few shells were thrown onto the hill, and when the infantry arrived they were deployed as skirmishers and scouted all the woods, but could find none—all had gone. We then came on to Beverly, it being now dark, without further molestation.
P. S.—The names of the men who were killed were George Snyder, Corporal, and Christian Snyder, private, both of Washington county, Pa.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: August 1862