Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1093-94
Headquarters Department of Western Virginia,
Dublin Depot, January 16, 1863.
Officer Commanding U. S. Forces in the Valley of the Kanawha:
Sir: It has been represented to me that on the night of the 9th instant a body of cavalry, constituting a part of your command, came within a mile or less of the town of Lewisburg, [W.] Va. They entered the house of Mr. Austin Handley, which was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Handley and their three or four small children. The first warning the enemy gave of their wicked and barbarous purpose was the application of the torch to the bed-clothes and other combustible articles in the different rooms of the house. Mr. and Mrs. Handley and their young children were turned out of doors at a late hour of the night, barefooted and in their night-clothes. The weather was cold, and the ground covered with snow. The dwelling-house, with all the furniture, private papers and money, the stables and horses, the barns and forage, were all destroyed in the conflagration. They also set fire to the residence of Mr. Feamster, and burned his stables, six horses, and a quantity of forage. They were driven off by my troops stationed at Lewisburg, and thus prevented from committing other depredations, which they had declared their purpose of doing.
When the enemy was asked by Mr. Handley for an explanation of their conduct, their only reply was that they were ordered to do it. These facts are communicated to me by undoubted authority. I cannot believe that you have ordered any one under your command to commit such wanton acts of barbarity, in violation alike of the usages of civilized warfare and the ordinary dictates of humanity. I communicate this information to you in order that you may institute such investigation as you may think proper, and visit upon the offenders the punishment they deserve. If, however, I am mistaken, and these acts were committed by your authority, I have to ask that you will so inform me, that I may know whether the existing war is to be carried on in this section of country in accordance with, or in disregard of, the usages of civilized warfare.
I respectfully ask an early answer to this communication.
Very respectfully, & c.,
Series 1, Volume 25, pt. 2, p. 607
February 3, 1863.
Samuel Price, Esq.,
Lewisburg, Greenbrier County:
Dear Sir: On the 16th ultimo I addressed a letter to the officer commanding United States forces in and near the Kanawha Valley, stating the barbarities committed by his cavalry near Lewisburg on the night of the 9th ultimo.
Brigadier-General Scammon, commanding at Fayette Court-House, replied that the outrages were committed without orders, and that the matter should be properly inquired into. Will you be good enough to procure from Mr. Handly and Mr. Feamster, and from any other persons cognizant of the outrages, depositions in due form of the facts as they occurred, and forward them to me?
If General Scammon is disposed to investigate the matter, he should have the proof.
I have ordered all the troops I can possibly spare to Lewisburg, and hope and believe they will give adequate protection to the citizens of your county whilst the enemy’s force in the Kanawha Valley is no larger than it now is.
Very respectfully and truly, &c.,
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: January 1863