Frank Moore, ed. Vol. 4. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1862
Buckhannon, Va., was the day entered by a force of rebel guerrillas, and plundered of a large amount of military stores, fire-arms, ammunition, etc. Private property was respected. Before entering the two a skirmish took place between the loyal inhabitants and the rebels, but the latter being superior in numbers, the Unionists had to give way. --Wheeling Intelligencer, Sept. 4.
September 3, 1862
Full Particulars of the Raids on Buckhannon and Weston—Immense Loss of Quartermaster’s stores at the former place—The Fight that was made to save the Town—Number of Killed and Wounded—The Arrival of the Twelfth Regiment at Clarksburg—Their Experience in the Rain.
Clarksburg, Monday, Sept. 1.
The capture of Clarksburg by the guerrillas is still a thing in the future. The expected attack last night did not come off, and we are still in the United States. Whether there was any probability of such a thing is a matter of doubt; but it is one of the certainties that very grave fears existed here and in the surrounding country. The excitement appears to have been very high, and not only were all the troops here under arms, but the citizens shouldered muskets and went into rank. Several companies of volunteer militia or “home guards,” came in from various parts of the county, so that one now sees about as many soldiers on the streets in citizens dress as in regulation blue.
Of course amid so much excitement it is the most difficult of all difficult things to get at the exact truth. It is so easy to exaggerate and so natural for those to do so who ran away from the guerrillas, that very little of the current talk about the streets and hotels is to be relied on. I have talked with many about the probable force of the guerrillas, and have had all kinds of estimates, from 500 up to as many thousands; and their exact whereabouts is a matter of as great conjecture as the precise locality of the proverbial flea. I will give you, however, what seem the most moderate and truthful statements I have been able to gather in the haste of sending you this by the earliest mail.
The guerrillas have taken and sacked (but not burned) the towns of Buckhannon and Weston—the former first. I fell in with some prominent citizens of Buckhannon, who were at the attack and escaped, who give in substance the following particulars:
The guerrillas came in on them about noon on Saturday, from the Webster county region to the South, by way of the French Creek and Kanawha pike. Their progress as usual was marked by the arrest and plunder of Union citizens, who fleeing for safety, first brought tidings of the rebels’ approach when they were almost upon the town. There was but one company of troops at the place, (company E, 10th Virginia, commanded by Capt. Marsh, of Tyler) and part of a company which was being recruited for the artillery service.—These with the citizens who turned out with such arms as they could get, made up 240 or 250 fighting men. These rallied at once on the danger being made known, to the outside of the town, where they met the guerrillas, estimated at from 500 to 700. A sort of irregular fight ensued which lasted probably half an hour, when the Unionists finding themselves overpowered retreated. No sooner was the retreat commenced than the rebels rushed after them on horseback, yelling like demons and shooting down and capturing many of the fugitives, who scattered in all directions and made their escape as best they could. One old man named Jacob Rohrbaugh refused to run. He stood his ground loaded and fired and declared that he would die fighting. The rest not being so plucky left him behind and he was shot down in the street. My informants think our loss in killed and wounded did not exceed twenty. They think the rebel loss is greater, but how they should know that I don’t see as they didn’t stay to count. However, there has been later information through paroled soldiers. It is said that the rebel Captain and Lieut. Colonel (names unknown) were wounded, the latter thought to be mortally. I have not been able to obtain the names of our killed and disabled there. I think there were not very many, as legs seem to have done some excellent service and a good deal of it.
But the loss at Buckhannon, under the circumstances, was a serious loss, and the result of a grave dereliction or blunder on the part of somebody. A great deal of government property was captured and destroyed, among them several thousand stand of arms. There was a large quantity of subsistence stores, part of which had but recently been removed from Beverly.—There were three churches and the basement of the Court House stored full of them, besides a great deal of pickled pork, in barrels, outside. Besides this, there was a quantity of ordnance stores. All these were destroyed, the guerrillas being unable to carry them off. The loss is heavy, but none know the figures but the officer having them in charge. Wh6y such heavy stores were left thus unprotected at an exposed point, lying just on the frontier of guerrilla land, none can tell, though somebody ought be able to do so. There has been gross negligence somewhere.
Capt. Marsh and Lieut. Samuel Adams, of Bethany, Post Quartermaster, were captured, but afterwards paroled. A good deal of credit is awarded to Capt. Marsh for obtaining from the commander of the guerrillas (who is none other than the notorious Jenkins) a stipulation for the protection of private property. No outrages upon houses or families are known to have been committed, but in addition to destroying all the government property, the guerrillas gutted all the stores in the town, except one—there being ten in all—and after stealing as much as they could carry, took the goods into the streets and burned them to ashes.
The Quartermaster is blamed for refusing to distribute the Government arms to the citizens without they were all receipted for. The result was they had to fight (or run rather) without them, and the guns were captured and burned up. Red tape is a good thing in its place, but there seems to have been no time for it then and there.
The guerrillas are represented as being well armed and as being all mounted—traveling on horseback and fighting on horseback or afoot, according to circumstances. They all carry breech-loading rifles and side arms.
They did not remain long in Buckhannon after completing their work of destruction, but moved on to Weston, sixteen miles distant and twenty-three miles from this point. The citizens are returning to Buckhannon. Many of them are here and intend to go back to-day. Others scattered into the country around, and have probably returned to their homes ere this. All was quiet there at the latest advices, the guerrillas having abandoned the place almost as suddenly as they took it.
About daylight Sunday morning they appeared at Weston, coming in by three routes and almost surrounding the place. Our force there consisted of two companies (A and G of the 6th Virginia,) Capts. Mattingly and Fisher, both of whom were absent. They were encamped on a little knoll, a short distance up the river above town. The morning was very foggy, and their retreat was nearly cut off before the danger was discovered. Had they been a quarter of an hour later they say they would have been surrounded. I have talked with several of the soldiers of these companies and their story, while it agrees in the main, seems rather exaggerated.—They think the rebels numbered not less than 4,000, consisting of cavalry and infantry. How they managed to see so many through such a dense fog I cannot conjecture, as they appear to have kept a respectful distance. Probably the mist magnified the number of the enemy somewhat. The troops fell back to this point, abandoning everything they had, tents, camp equipage, &c., and leaving two sick behind, named Franklin Shear and F. Saterfield. One named Loudon was captured.
Lieut. Hoy, who had been under arrest, and whose faithfulness was more than suspected, is said to have gone over deliberately to the enemy, and joined them in the work of plundering the town. This they began before the fugitives were out of hearing. Although it was so foggy they could not see, they could hear them breaking open stores, houses, &c., amid the greatest confusion and uproar. It is said that the stores of Union men were plundered, while those of the rebels were spared. How the information is derived I do not know, but give it as I heard it. Numbers of citizens are doubtless killed. One citizen, who was running across the bridge, gun in hand, was seen to fall; and numerous shots were heard after “halts” had been ordered by the robbers. Jas. Treadway, of Co. G, on picket, was killed, and Peters Dils, of the same company, was shot through the hand.
There is nothing from Weston or vicinity to day. Yesterday the pickets extended to a short distance above Jane Lew. What has taken place there since, is not now known. My conjecture is that the rebels have retired, and gone off for fresh mischief, at some point, probably along the railroad between here and Parkersburg.—They are very clear of coming down in this direction, and probably have not contemplated such a thing. A force goes in pursuit of them to-day, but it will be too late, of course.
The fears for the safety of this point were undoubtedly groundless, unless indeed the rebels have the very large force some profess to believe they have. If they had had such a force, they would have come directly here from Buckhannon, instead of coming around by Weston. But they never aimed at this point. They only aimed to destroy the stores at Buckhannon and get the money in Bank at Weston, (one of which they did and the other they didn’t,) and then strike at some other exposed point.
I must not omit to say that the “Bully Twelfth” arrived here at midnight last night, without serious mishap. It began a hard, steady rain about that hour, and the men remained penned up in the horse and cattle cars, like so much live stock, till morning. This was not so bad where the cars had tight roofs, but some of them leaked like a seive [sic], and the men in them had to sit and take the rain till daylight, about which time it slacked. I fear some of them will be the worse of it. All this time we lay within fifty yards of the depot and numerous other buildings, said to be empty, in which they could have been comfortably quartered. They pitched their tents this morning on high ground, and are not “pretty well, thank you.”
Since writing the foregoing a report has gained currency here that the rebels took West Union last night, and destroyed the fine railroad bridge over Middle Island Creek. Hope it is not true, but have not time before the mail closes to trace it up. It is not credited.
Very little is known here of the movements of Gen. Kelley. He is believed, however, to be all right, and will be heard of shortly.
September 4, 1862
Full Particulars of the Sacking of Buckhannon—Our Reporter’s Conversation with the late Quartermaster there—The way the Quartermaster was put through—Jenkins and his Men Described—A Wheeling Chap among them—Probable amount of Loss to the Government—Arrival of Col. Mulligan—How the 12th Regiment get on—Some Sickness among them—The Federal Court and its Misfortunes, &c., &c.
Special Correspondence of the Intelligencer.
Clarksburg, Tuesday Morning, September 2, 1862.
“All quiet on”—not the Potomac, but the West Fork of the Monongahela. Not even an alarm—scarcely a respectable excitement any longer. In some respects, I have been reminded of the celebrated expedition to Worthington last summer, under Gen. Wheat. Not but that there really has been an enemy in this section, and danger, too; for the capture of two military posts proves the one, and the concurring reports of many soldiers and citizens proves the other. But the danger has not been so immenent [sic] as represented, and the force of the enemy not so large. You people out there must have thought the very Satan was to pay out here, the 12th having been ordered here under summary orders, ane [sic] immediately afterwards a section of Capt. Carlin’s battery, with, I am told, scarcely half an hour’s notice. They say everything was in an uproar, and the streets and depot full of people, anxious and excited, making the most affecting adieus, as if their brave lads were going right into the battle field. How much they would feel relieved if they could just be here a half an hour and realize how quiet and safe a place it is at this time.
The rebel force has taken the back track. They left Weston on Sunday evening.—Jenkins having received information from here of the force collected, seemed a little apprehensive, and left shortly afterwards. It was reported here last night that they had moved in the direction of Parkersburg, but it is contradicted this morning, they having been heard of at Troy, Gilmer county. Citizens of Weston here are going back in considerable numbers this morning.
First reports are always exaggerated. It now appears that very little damage was done at Weston. There was but little government property there. Private property of citizens was not disturbed, except that some saddles were taken from the saddler shots, and one store—that of Hale, Anderson & Co.—was pillaged. I have not yet been able to ascertain the actual facts, as it regards the fighting that was done and the loss.
I omitted to say yesterday that a train of ours, guarded by fifteen men, was captured at Weston, Sunday morning. It had left Weston for Sutton, and had been ordered to return in view of apprehended danger. It got back just after the rebels had got the town and of course fell an easy prey.
The really important event of this raid was the capture of Buckhannon. I have just had a conversation with Lieut. Samuel Adams, of Bethany, Quartermaster of the 10th Virginia, who I told you yesterday was paroled. He arrived here last evening. His statements are substantially the same as those obtained from citizens yesterday, but more explicit and satisfactory. He says the loss to the government is the heaviest ever experienced in this part of the country. I will repeat them somewhat at length.
They had had rumors of the attack for two or three days, and made some little preparation. Had an alarm on Friday and made a reconnoissance [sic] out the French Creek road several miles but discovered nothing. On Saturday, however, about one o’clock the enemy came suddenly upon town, and they had barely time to muster Capt. Marsh’s company and Capt. Moore’s piece of a company together with the citizens to meet them. Here I must say that he contradicts the statement of citizens which I gave you yesterday of the refusal of the Quartermaster to distribute arms among the citizens. Every Union man who wanted arms was supplied. Three or four days before, people had come in from the country and asked for guns and been refused, unless some responsible party would receipt for them, and others whose loyalty was suspected had likewise been refused. A few days before they armed a company of Home Guards from French Creek, in obedience to an order from Capt. Harris; and Lieut. Adams had himself taken the responsibility of giving arms to small parties in the country around, whom he knew could be trusted, without instructions. He says the citizens had every facility afforded them in the way of arms and ammunition, before the fight, and he knows many that were armed did not go near the fight at all.
All the force that could be thus mustered was sent out to the South side of the town where the French Creek pike came in, and disposed as advantageously as they could be to receive the enemy. A squad of cavalry first appeared upon an elevation, while some three or four hundred dismounted behind it and came in as infantry, on the flanks. A spirited fight ensued, in which our men acted bravely, and were afterwards complimented by the rebels for their conduct. Captain Marsh, Adjutant Boughner, and Captain Moore, deserve praise for their conduct and bearing. Lieut. Adams was busy sending forward ammunition and dispatching to Gen. Kelly. Within a half hour our little force was overpowered and some thirty captured. On our side there were some five or six of Capt. Moore’s men wounded, and one of them named Black, died. Of Capt. Marsh’s company, two were mortally wounded, one of whom, Henry Dight, has since died. The other’s name was Rose. He had some half a dozen others wounded, but not seriously. Jenkins himself told the Lieutenant that our men fought as bravely as any men could fight and only lacked numbers. After the Lieutenant was captured (he could have escaped but his family was there and he would not go and leave them,) he was taken to Jenkins and was introduced to him as to “Gen. Jenkins,” who questioned him closely about the force here and at Weston. Everything was taken from him except the suit on his back. They took all his private papers, about $200 in money, even his pocket knife. They went to his office where there was a lot of clothing and supplied themselves with all they could carry, and burned the rest. They appeared to be posted as to everything he had; and the General then told him, said he: “the next thing I want you to deliver up is those Enfield rifles, you have. The Enfield rifles, about 200 of them, were pointed out, and the rebels took them and armed all their men who had inferior guns, which they piled up and burned. They took as much ammunition as the men could carry, and burned the rest in the street.—They then demanded of the Lieutenant to deliver up the Quartermaster’s and Commissary stores, being under the impression that he was Post Quartermaster. (The Post Quartermaster was an agent of Capt. Huntingdon of this post, and the stores were under his control. Lieut. Adams had been Quartermaster of the post, but at this time was acting merely as Quartermaster of his regiment, the 10th.) As soon as the Lieutenant showed them where the stores were they began on the clothing, of which there was a very large lot in the Court House—the largest at any post in this region—and just went in pell mell, every fellow for himself, and took every thing they could wear and carry,--overcoats, pants, shirts, drawers, blouses, dress coats, socks and boots. They also took some cavalry sabres and saddles. They next went to the Quartermaster’s and Commissary departments, took what they wanted and distributed coffee and provisions among the secessionists around town, who had very suddenly become right plenty.—What they could not carry and the citizens did not take, they took into the street and destroyed. Next they went to the ordnance department. About three thousand stand of arms were stored away in the Court-House and hospital. They took all these into the street and burned them. They also destroyed a considerable lot of ammunition for muskets and a large quantity for six pound and ten pound guns. These ordnance stores were under control of Major Constable. Two days before the raid they were ordered to be moved, but they were all loose, and it would have taken nearer two weeks to have got them ready to move, and of course there was no time to do it.
They went to the hospital and took most of the medicines, of which there was a good lot, and all the surgical instruments.
They then went around and built fires in the different streets, piled up wagons, ambulances, muskets and Commissary stores, and set them on fire and reduced them all to ashes. The whole town was ablaze with the destruction, and it was this, doubtless, that gave rise to the rumor of burning the town.
The Lieutenant says he never witnessed such wholesale destruction. It took them till about 12 o’clock at night to get through it, and they worked all the time like beavers. Meanwhile they broke open nearly all the stores and pillaged whatever suited their fancy but did not destroy the goods except of two stocked with notions which were pointed out to them as “Yankee stores.” These they gutted and completely ruined—didn’t leave a patch of anything.
Private property except in the case of the Lieutenant himself was scrupulously respected. He heard Jenking [sic] give orders to his men not to enter a house, or disturb a woman or child.
The prisoners were all paroled except Lieut. Adams, though I told you yesterday he had been. They told him they had an idea of taking him away with them, and said if they could not do that they were going to shoot him. After three or four hours of confinement with this pleasant prospect before him, they gave him the privilege of going around town on promise that he would not attempt to escape. They however gave him to understand that he was a paroled prisoner, and would be shot if he undertook to leave.
Being at liberty to go pretty much where he pleased, he didn’t stay around very close where the rebels were, and after night they appeared to get in considerable of a hurry, and went away and forgot to take him along or shoot him, for which he is duly obliged. After the rebels had gone, fearing they might make a dash back, or that another lot might come in, he thought it best to get out of town; and feeling assured of the safety of his family, he went out to the woods and stayed all day Sunday. That night several of them got together and struck across the country afoot. They made eight miles that night, and came on here yesterday.
He says great blame rests somewhere for leaving such quantities of stores at so exposed a point with only a single company to guard them. He could form but little estimate of the value in dollars and cents, but thinks it must be several hundred thousand.
The force of the rebels he puts down at twelve hundred—all cavalry. They took all the horses they could get, generally exchanging their fagged and inferior animals for them. They also took all they could find at Weston, and at that place are said to eave [sic] had a large number of led horses with them.
Upon the whole, he says he was disappointed in the men. They were not the kind he had expected to see, but were a rather good style of men, pretty well dressed, and a good looking set of fellows. He thinks Jenkins is pretty smart at that sort of thing, and describes him as a tall, finely formed good looking man, with black beard and moustache and dark hair. He was dressed very well but without any particular mark of rank, and wore a white soft hat. This agrees very well with my recollection of Jenkins, except that I think he is only above the medium height—perhaps five feet ten or eleven. He was the busiest man of all his gang, assisting with his hands as well as direction.
The Rebels had a Lieut. Colonel and Captain wounded, as I told you yesterday. They went away and left both behind. It was said they had seven killed besides.
A man named Sweeney, formerly of Wheeling, was with them, but Lieut. Adams did not learn his first name.
I was mistaken yesterday in saying a force had gone to Weston. Trains are loading to-day, indicating a movement shortly, in some direction—probably Beverly.
Of course there is no thought of catching Jenkins, for he has two or three day’s start, and could not be caught even with cavalry.
Federal Court is again in session to-day. One man was admitted to bail—Abraham Hess, of Marion county—in the sum of $5,000 for his appearance here day by day; and one of the Basils, of this county, renewed his recognizance. The Federal Court is unfortunate. It is always being threatened with some danger. The session at Charleston was held under some apprehension, while Judge Jackson’s tribulation at Winchester is well known. Last Friday things got hot here and Court adjourned over till Monday, the Judge going to Parkersburg, while Col. Smith took a little run down to Grafton. To-day, however, the machine is again in blast.—The venira [sic] was empanelled this morning.
It is reported here on the streets, that Gen. Kelley is after Jenkins, a very improbable thing, for they must be a great way apart.
The Twelfth and the Battery boys are getting along pretty well. Dr. Ruggles reports some sixteen of the regiment unwell—nothing serious though—mostly colds and diarrhea.
The 12th will probably get Bob Johnson’s house for a hospital. It is now occupied by the 86th Ohio. It is an excellent building for the purpose, and is well and conveniently situated.
Gen. Mulligan, with the greater part of his brigade, arrived here yesterday afternoon. Nothing for them to do here. They might be useful to Kelley however.
Nathan H. Taft has raised a splendid company of 100 men in Barbour county.—Fenton Howes is to be the Captain. Mr. Taft has raised the company by his individual exertions, and deserves great credit for it.
The 87th Pennsylvania is in motion, probably going along with the train, which is doubtless for Kelley.
September 8, 1862
Correspondence of the Intelligencer.
Weston, Sept. 4.
At length we are over our bad scare and are rid of the rebels. I received your issue of Wednesday, which contains a letter from Clarksburg, in relation to matters and things at this post, and find its statements so incorrect that I write you the following particulars:
On Sunday morning just after daylight the town was entered by Gen. Jenkins between five and seven hundred cavalry.—Our troops were well aware of their approach, and were sleeping on their arms, here. All was in readiness to meet them. After the rebels entered our out posts they made a charge in the direction of the camp, when capt. Fisher, who was in charge of Companies A and G, of the 6th Virginia, ordered his men to retreat—an order which the men very much disliked to obey, especially as they had not called in their pickets and not a gun had been fired. They were forced to obey, however. They rallied on the hill at the north of the town and prepared to maintain their position. The firing had now commenced on the pickets, and either through fear or precaution Capt. F. ordered a general retreat, which so excited the men, that a general skedaddle ensued, excepting with a few of Co. G who rallied around Orderly Sergeant Dils and refused to run until they had had a shot. These brave fellows did wait, and had a shot which mortally wounded a young rebel named Cook who resides in Nicholas county. This little squad then fell back in cover of the woods, and are now here safe.—Our loss was slight.
Joseph Treadway of G was the only one seriously injured—he was shot in the leg, which was afterwards amputated by Drs. Camden and Chalfant; he is in a fair way to recover.
The rebels finding they had full control of the town, commenced their work of pillage, the first point of attack was the building occupied by the Quartermaster and Commissary. Here, however, (thanks to Capt. H. S. Winant,) they found but little of importance, as he had shipped nearly all his stores and horses to Clarksburg. They then entered the store of Anderson & Vandervort, which was soon cleared of its valuable stock of goods. Gen. Jenkins here rode up and ordered the work of destruction to close, which order was obeyed, with the exception of robbing the saddler and drug stores. They then turned their attention to the collection of horses through the county. They succeeded in stealing about 75 horses.
About noon the court house bell was rung and Jenkins made a speech in which he stated “that it was not his intention to to [sic] harm citizens or their property, but to kill ‘Yankee Blue Jackets’ and burn Government stores. The taking of horses was a military necessity, but if a hair of a secession sympathizer was disturbed, woe betide the town on his return, which would be in a few days.” This we looked upon as all gas. When evening drew near he thought it was prudent to withdraw, as he had heard that the ‘Blue Jackets’ were coming. He skedaddled in much haste in the direction of Glenville. The citizens of the town were all provided with arms from the Quartermaster’s Department, and were ready for fight—until they learned that the soldiers had left—when they thinking that discretion was the better part of valor, retired to the woods where they remained until Monday morning. The worst feature in this raid was the conversion of several citizens to the Rebel cause. Three or four volunteered with Jenkins, among others were Mr. Joseph McGee and C. S. Hurley, both prominent business men of the town. Lieut. H. J. Hoy, of Co. G, who has been under arrest by order of Gen. Kelley for some weeks, also joined the thieving crew. He has long been suspected of secession proclivities but no one was prepared for this movement. Thank God the Union army is no longer disgraced with such a villian [sic]. The only persons who regret his departure are those to whom he owed large bills, of which class there were not a few. Charles Clark, of Wheeling, a private in Co. K, 1st Va., Cavalry, also deserted and joined the rebels. The loss to the Government and individuals will not exceed $25,000.
The rebels after leaving here went to Glenville, and there routed Co. G, 10th Va. Infantry, but done little damage. They then went to Arnoldsburg where they seem to have divided, part going to Spencer and a apart to Suttonville, of this however I have no official or reliable news. A large body was seen this afternoon between Bulltown and Sutton, and rumor says Col. Rathbone surrendered to Jenkins.
The citizens all feel justly indignant towards Capt. Fisher for ordering the retreat so soon, and are of the opinion that if he had acted rightly we could have whipped them—in which opinion I fully coincide. We are now in great dread of an another [sic] attack and have but one company of Cavalry, (Capt. Rowand’s,) for defence. We have been promised reinforcements, but none have arrived. Can’t we have them? If not I may yet have a more terrible raid to report. If there is such I will let you know in due time.
J. T. G.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: August 1862