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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
November 20, 1862


Richmond Daily Dispatch
December 3, 1862

From the army of Western Virginia light Punishment for Desertion the wants of the soldiers, &c.

[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch]

Camp at Princeton, Mercer County, Va., Nov. 24th, 1862

In my last I mentioned that a Court Martial was in session for the trial of deserters from this brigade. On last Thursday evening the sentence of Victor Bell, (alias Ross Payne,) a deserter from the 36th regiment, was carried into execution in the presence of the troops. The delinquent's head was first close shaved; he was then branded on the left thigh with the letter "D," and drummed out of camp. Payne was a notorious character anterior to the beginning of this war, and has been guilty of no less than three desertions. His fate will doubtless have a healthy effect upon the brigade, though it would certainly have men the demands of justice more fully had he been shot.

We have just passed through a very severe spell of weather, for which the men, as a body were but illy prepared; many of them being without shoes, pants, or blankets. It is certainly hard that these poor fellows should be reduced to their present condition, and no prospect of speedy relief; and there is certainly heavy censure deserved somewhere. Requisitions for all necessary clothing for this brigade were handed to our Division Quartermaster, McMahon, in September, while the army was in the Kanawha Valley. Whether the fault rests with him or with somebody at Richmond I shall not pretend to decide. I merely state facts. A due consideration of all the circumstances, however, should have prompted the clothing of the army of Southwestern Virginia long ago. This army use marched no less than 600 miles since the 6th of September. In this time it has been exposed to many hardships and privations; besides it should have been borne in mind that winter sets in at least one month earlier here than in Eastern Virginia--Only feed and clothe these men as they deserve to be and they will fight well; but let a soldier's treatment be such as to get up the idea in his mind that his Government is indifferent as to his welfare, or ungrateful for past services, and his spirit is destroyed and his services are rendered grudgingly While her soldiers are only allowed the pittance of $11 per mouth, be Government should see that they are at least rendered comfortable.

A report has just reached camp that there are three regiments of Yankees at Raleigh Court-House and two at Fayetteville, I think it quite likely the report is true, especially if any design is had on Salem or Staunton.

I was delighted to-day when I read the proclamation of the President touching the brutal murder by McNeill of ten citizens of Missouri at Palmyra. Retaliation sure, swift, and bloody is the only means by which the heartless enemy can be brought to his senses.

A Rebel.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: November 1861

West Virginia Archives and History