November 27, 1862
Correspondence of the Ironton Register.
Saturday night, 15th inst. Lieut Witcher (now Clawhammer) who knows how to draw rebels from their holes, with twenty-five of his company, now recruiting for the 3d Virginia Cavalry, and composed mostly of recent refugees from Cabel[l] county, made his first excursion into that county. They were absent about sixteen hours, travelled thirty-six miles, captured three horses, belonging to leading rebels, and the notorious bandit, “Pres. Hodges,” who has been committing all sorts of enormities during the last year, and has heretofore contrived to elude the efforts of all the Zouaves, and Capt. Smith included. His house, situated near Howell’s Mill, had been repeatedly surrounded and searched without success. Lieut. Witcher’s forces arrived about one o’clock, Saturday night, surrounded the house and ordered the inmates to strike a light. A female responded and while she was heard stirring about at one end of the house raising a light, which took a long time, there was a rattling of boards heard at the other end, by one of the guards. When the light was at length struck, Lieut. Witcher and part of his men entered. Mrs. Hodge received us with apparent kindness and to an enquiry for her husband, replied he was not at home. The Lieutenant, not satisfied, ordered the house to be searched, to which the wife readily consented, and assisted, until, at the Lieutenant’s suggestion, a search was made under the bed, and reported that there were short pieces of boards in the floor, apparently loose. At this report the madam’s countenance fell, and she left us and sat by the fire. The Lieutenant ordered the boards removed, and at once our good-natured and gallant Charley Shipe, with torch in hand, stretched at full length under the bed, popped his smiling face down the hole, and exclaimed: “Here he is, with eyes shining like a wildcat.” A thrill of joy and triumph ran through us all, except the wife; she sighed as if all was lost.
Being ordered, the God-for-saken monster slowly emerged from his hole, and from under the bed, where he had eluded for a year past all search, and often heard the tramp of brave but baffled soldiers—to confront in that dim torch light his own neighbors, whose fathers, brothers and friends he had waylaid and shot in cold blood, for no other cause than their steadfast loyalty to the Government; whose property he had plundered and peace and happiness he had maliciously destroyed. He at first assumed to know none of us, and to be cold and defiant. But when Orderly Sergeant Lesage introduced himself as the son of Capt. Lesage (our brave and patriotic citizen whose services we appreciate) whom he had waylaid and host; and Mr. Hinchman, the son of that aged, worthy and uncomprimisingly [sic] loyal citizen, whose captivity and suffering he had helped to aggravate, and others sustaining similar relations—his soul and that of his confederate wife sank beneath the weight of conscious guilt. To-day Lieut Witcher handed the monster over the Col. Zeigler at Ceredo, who we trust will deal with him according to his deserts—to be determined by the government’s present policy, and not its former, which has crucified loyalty for the entertainment and sport of rebels—by “swearing copperheads and letting them go.” From our intimate knowledge we hope to be able to do that among our native hills, which our brave country of other States—from a want of that intimate local knowledge, heretofore have failed to accomplish, viz: To out guerrilla and subdue the guerrillas.
November 18, 1862.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: November 1862