January 9, 1863
Another Raid---The rebels in Tucker and adjoining counties are becoming more bold in their demonstrations. On last Sunday afternoon, a gang of them [went] to the house of the sheriff of Barbour county, captured the sheriff and carried him off. We did not learn whether or not they got any of his money. In consequence of the above affair was considerable excitement at Grafton and vicinity. Capt. Shaw’s company, which has been doing guard duty at this point for some time, left on Wednesday for Grafton.
The Barbour County Outrage.
January 17, 1863
The Barbour County Outrage.
One of the most notable signs of the times, in a local and small way, was the article in the secession organ yesterday assailing very bitterly the Governor for his excellent and much needed recommendations to the Legislature on the 13th inst. The article was virtually an open espousal of the side and cause of secession. The Governor, as was his most bounden duty, recommended to the Legislature “that there should be some law passed authorizing the arrest of distinguished secessionists to be held as hostages for the release of Union citizens that have been or may hereafter be arrested.” The immediate cause of this recommendation by the Governor was the fact that the Sheriff of Barbour county a few nights ago was taken from his house by a band of secession scoundrels; supposed all of them to be residents of the county, and carried into the secession lines for the reward, as it is alleged, of a thousand dollars offered by the Richmond rebels for officers under the Wheeling Government. The Sheriff of Barbour county was a non-combatant and simply a civil officer, and contrary to all usages of war he was taken a prisoner, and by those too, not in the ranks or the uniform of the common enemy. The case is the same, only greatly aggravated, as that of Roberts, who last winter was carried off from the Kanawha Valley to Richmond. It will be remembered that Laidley and others were arrested by the State authorities here and brought up as hostages for his extradition. Nothing else ever saved Roberts from death, for he would certainly soon have died, and he did suffer permanent mental and physical injury. The Richmond rebels found that arresting non-combatants for no other crime than the fact of their officeship under the restored government of the State was a game that two could play at, and accordingly after having degraded and injured Roberts as much as possible they released him. When this was done, Laidley & Co. were discharged from their arrest.
The same thing is now called for in the case of the Sheriff of Barbour, a most estimable and respectable citizen. It is a credit to Gov. Peirpoint that he dares to act so promptly and decidedly in such matters. He wishes to meet this case, so flagrant are the circumstances of its perpetration. To meet it it is necessary to do as was done in the case of Roberts, viz, arrest certain noted conniving and winking and influential secessionists in Barbour, men who are justly suspicioned with being the procurers of the abduction of the Sheriff. Whether they are or are not the procurers, they should be arrested, for only by their arrest can an innocent unoffending Union man be released. If every secessionist in Barbour county has to be arrested before the Sheriff is given up, they ought without any hesitation and in the most summary manner to be seized. And we trust that they will be if it is found necessary. Let there be no shrinking. The cowardly secession organ here has become bold because Union men have become weak. We call upon the legislature to stand up like men and patriots at this crisis and hold up the hands of the Governor. Shall these midnight secession betrayers and scoundrels rule us? Are we going to quietly suffer our officers or private citizens to be carried into the ranks of the enemy, without visiting swift and severe reprisal upon the traitors in their midst who invite such outrages. God forbid! It would be cowardly and unworthy in the last degree for a government to desert the humblest and meanest Union citizen in the State. We rejoice in the belief that our legislature will not let the Barbour county outrage go unavenged to the uttermost.
The Circumstances Attending the Abduction of Sheriff Trahorn of Barbour County.
January 24, 1863
The Circumstances Attending the Abduction of Sheriff Trahorn of Barbour County.
Philippi, Barbour County Va.,
January 18, 1863
In response to the solicitude manifested in your letter of the 14th instant, to learn the facts concerning the abduction of James Trahorn, Sheriff of this county, I have to state, that on Sabbath evening aout 9 o’clock of the 4th instant, Mr. Trahorn’s house, situated in a somewhat isolated section of the Cove’s settlement, was surrounded by about twenty-five or thirty mounted men, most of whom were leading horses other than the ones they rode, who demanded admittance immediately, threatening to break the door in, unless the request was complied with. Besides, Mr. Trahorn’s family, including a Miss Bosworth, who was acting as an instructress to his children, there was present a Mr. James Harvey, a Justice of the Peace, under the restored Government, who succeeded, together with a son of Mr. T. in escaping to the attic story of the house, and were not discovered by the rebels who announced themselves a[s] belonging to “Imboden’s cavalry.” Mr. Trahorn found an opportunity to slip near $1,000 of the money about him up to where his son and Mr. Harvey were concealed, and the rebels succeeded in getting nearly another $1,000. Upon giving up his money, and stating that he had no more, one of the rebels answered, “You have, I saw you have more than that on Saturday.” He had spent the greater part of that day on Elk Creek, engaged in collecting taxes. They broke into his store, kept in a wing of his house, and took about $500 worth of goods out of it away with them. They also took his papers, and the papers contained in the saddle pockets of Mr. Harvey, who was formerly a constable, and had his papers along with him at Mr. Trahorn’s. They compelled Mr. T. to go along with them, first gathering together some five or six horses of his which they also took with them. They then proce[e]ded to the house of John Shrayer, some half a mile distant, and took from him three horses, and thence went to the house of Henry Martin, a Union Magistrate, apparently for the purpose of taking him or his horses, but upon his breaking out of the house, and calling out lustily to some supposed friends to “shoot the scoundrels” they beat a hasty retreat over the Laurel mountains. About the middle of the week after, Maj. Showalter accompanied by Capt. Lot Bowen, with a squad of cavalry, came to this county and arrested the following secessionists as hostages for the kind treatment and return of Mr. T. to his home, viz: Samuel Elliott, John Koonts, Samuel Stalnaker, Dr. Abraham Hershman, Jacob Belyards, Peter Johnson, William H. Dougherty and David Anglen who were sent to and lodged forthwith, in the Atheneum, at Wheeling, where they now remain, with the exception of Dr. Hershman, who was paroled to return and remain in Barbour, upon condition of getting one or more persons, to go to Richmond for the purpose of negotiating Mr. Trahorn’s release. Pursuant to this arrangement, John R. Williamson, and William Elliott, started for that destination on the 16th instant.
It is known beyond question, that many of the number of rebels who capture Mr. T. were former citizens of this section, whose names for the present it is thought not best to communicate. There was great commotion among our citizens, consequent upon Mr. T.’s abduction, and a squad out of Co. B, 6th regiment Va. Volunteers, stationed here, immediately repaired to the vicinity, and the Rev. Henry Wilson, and Henry V. Bowman, said to be mischievous and influential secessionists were in the melee shot and killed.
It is melancholy, indeed, to reflect, that two men, in view of the necessity to adopt measures of a stern character, for the protection of our citizens, should have thus expiated their zeal in this rebellion, but the result portends future good, for on the 15th inst. a meeting was called at White Oak, which was largely attended by the citizens of that section, (who are all secessionists,) and were addressed by Dr. E. ___ and resolutions were unanimously passed, expressing a determination to assist the Federal authorities, in the suppression of kidnapping, horse thieving, marauding, &c. This is a movement in the right direction.
On the 16th inst. the citizens of this town were agreeably surprised at the capture of James E. Lynch, charged with being a notorious horse thief, and Benton Johnson, son of our former delegate to the Richmond Legislature, both recently from Dixie. The latter reports Mr. Trahorn to have been seen by him, several days previous, at Harrison’s in Crab Bottom, in company with five guards, whose names are given to the military authorities, on their way to Imboden’s camp. It is therefore confidently presumed, that Messrs. Williams and Elliott, above referred to, will shortly overtake him; and it is greatly hoped, will procure his release.
These are all the facts, connected with the subject of your inquiries, within my knowledge, that will afford any interest to you.
I am very respectfully,
Hon. W. A. Harrison.
January 31, 1863
What Col. Imboden Threatens To Do. – Some correspondence that lately took place between the rebel Col. Imboden and General Milroy was received yesterday at the Executive Department. Imboden says that Sheriff Trayhorn, of Barbour county, was arrested by his order. He understands that two rebels, named Henry Wilson and Henry Bowman, were recently murdered in Barbour county. Imboden further understands that fifteen citizens of Barbour county have been arrested and confined in this city, and are to be executed in fifteen days, if Trayhorn is not released within that time. Imboden informs General Milroy that he will not release Trayhorn, and if the fifteen citizens are executed, Imboden will execute thirty Union citizens and officers now in his possession. Imboden says he is resolved that within the limits of the pretended State of West Virginia, he will at all times arrest as dangerous enemies to his State, every man he can lay his hands upon who holds any office under the usurped State Government at Wheeling. He says, further, that when he ascertains for certain that Wilson and Bowman were murdered he will cause to be executed Lieut. Dawson, of the 1st Virginia cavalry, and Sergeant Atkinson, of the same regiment, now in his possession.
General Milroy replies to these threats that he is not in command of any troops in West Virginia, and knows of nobody who has been murdered except in battle. Gen. Milroy reminds Imboden that the number of rebels in his possession is much greater than the number of Union men in Imboden’s, and that he must not presume so far upon the forbearance and superior humanity of the Federal Government as to put his threat of executing Dawson and Atkinson into execution. General Milroy hopes that Imboden will not compel him to the painful alternative which the execution of his threat will render inevitable. Gen. Milroy says in conclusion:
“I notice that the Confederate Government is about to offer $100,000 for my head. Had you not better come down to Winchester and go into the speculation?”
Wilson and Bowman, the parties alluded to in the correspondence, were killed under the following circumstances: The morning after Sheriff Trayhorn was kidnapped by the rebels, a part of a company of Union soldiers started in pursuit, and overtaking Bowman and Wilson upon the road, near the home of the latter, commanded them to halt; instead of halting, they hurried on, and were fired upon and killed.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: January 1863