February 26, 1863
CALVARY GIBSON was the name of the Union citizen who was so brutally murdered in Putnam county, Virginia, seven miles back of Winfield, Sunday night, 8th inst., by a band of thirty-four guerrillas under command of a thief named KEATING. When Mr. GIBSON learned that his house was surrounded by a large force, he supposed their object merely was to take him prisoner, and was in the act of opening the door to invite them in, when several of the party effected an entrance by breaking a window sash with their guns. Most of the murderers were recognized by Mrs. Gibson as formerly near neighbors, and a scamp named Emmerson Chapman, raised in a manner by Mr. Gibson, was the first who dealt him a fatal blow, which fractured his skull, when by order of Keating, seven shots were fired into the body of the dying man, blowing out every vestige of life, and mutilating the remains in a terrible and sickening manner. Mr. Gibson was raised in the neighborhood where he met his death, and was brother-in-law to Mrs. ELIZABETH BENNER, who resides in Green township, Gallia county. A terrible retribution is in store for the murderers.
Letter from the 5th Virginia.
Two Days Scout On Guyan River.
March 26, 1863
Letter from the 5th Virginia.
Two Days Scout On Guyan River.
EDITOR REGISTER: Allow me the use of your columns to give to your readers an account of a two days scout on the waters of Guyandotte and Mud Rivers. Lieutenant Witcher’s Cavalry (not Claw Hammer) left this camp at one o’clock P. M. on the 18th inst., and marched that day to Poors Hill, a distance of 25 miles through a drenching rain. We encamped that night without supper in a barn and in our wet clothes. Next morning we resumed our march and brought up in the Keaton settlement, a distance of 40 miles from camp. Here is the place that a few days ago a company of the 13th Virginia was fired upon from the bushes in retaliation for which a house or two soon disappeared. Here we found that a horseman had lately passed; we followed the trail up a by-path and a short turn in the way bro’t us (six in number, not including Lieutenant Witcher) upon a log house, at which were hitched four cavalry horses. A charge was ordered, four men came hastily out, armed and equipped; after a slight resistance and the exchange of a half a dozen shots, they were captured. They seemed well rationed as among the haversacks were found two cooked chickens, two or three suspicious looking black bottles, &c., &c., all of which were duly confiscated, when de Lincum sogers come up. This proved to be a very important capture, as among the squad was the leader of the gang, Lieut. Keaton, a desperado, that has been annoying the citizens of this part of Virginia for twelve months past, and has eluded vigilance, heretofore of the military authorities. This same Keaton was engaged in the murder of Mr. Gibson, a citizen of Virginia, who lived on the waters of Hurricane. The facts of that atrocity as related by the Prosecuting Attorney, are about as follows: This Keaton and his gang came to the house in the night and shot three balls into the room where they supposed he was, which hit within three inches of his wife’s head. He was in another room and the gang went around to the other side of the house, and went into his room. As he was putting on on [sic] his pants, he cried out “for God’s sake don’t murder me.” They paid no heed to his entreaties, but shot him in his left breast. He fell and they shot into him four times as he lay on the floor writhing in his blood. His little girl ran about screaming to her Mother “they’ve killed Pa, they’ve shot Pa,” and got in the way of this brute C. S. A. Lieut. Keaton, and he threw her into the fire. The wife and mother sprang to the child exclaiming, “Don’t burn up my child after killing my husband.” Keaton said: “shut up, you d___d union b___h, or I’ll kill you too.” This happened about a month ago and is fresh in the memory of many and this is the kind of men & acts that the rebel, Gov. Letcher in his late (intercepted) message recommends the State and C. S. A. to employ, as then most useful troops. After the prisoners were properly secured, we shaped our course toward the Poor House settlement. As we approached the house of Doc Bledsoe our advance concluded that they heard some running up stair, and accordingly proceeded to search the house. The woman who was frying meat found the stairs a convenient place to set the skillet upon, all of a sudden and declared “there is nobody up stairs,” still the boys would go up, and soon came down with the veritable Doctor. This same Bledsoe is the one that Keaton swore, “he could hold West Virginia with.[”] Not minding the drenching rain and swollen creeks, we pushed on, surrounded the house of Johnson inside of which were three more Keaton’s command. Their guns were lying on the bed, for which they immediately sprang, but ‘twas to[o] late. A half dozen revolvers in the hands of as many true patriots, presented at their breasts, admonished them that resistance was useless. They had ordered a dinner and were just going to sit down to it. It was decided at once that this dinner was contraband as well as providential, and it was confiscated. We ate our dinners, secured our prisoners and horses, and pushed on about three miles, when our advance came on three more, one of whom was Marion Adkins, one of the murderers of Lawrence Nixon, a son of William Nixon, Sheriff of Wayne county, Virginia. A few shots were exchanged, when Adkins was severely wounded. Of the other two also taken, one was a noted Guerrilla by the name of Bias, who was captured about two months ago, and broke guard from this camp to our great mortification. Adkins dashed into Barboursville, Virginia, revolver in hand shouting for Jeff. Davis and rode up to the store of Thompson and ordered out a pair of boots dress pattern, &c. &c., after they were handed him, he asked Thompson if he could change a $50 bill Southern scrip; being answered in the negative, he turned his horse, riding off, replying: “Just charge to Jeff. Davis.” This same gang of horse thieves is the one that robbed Cox’s store boat about a month ago of Goods amounting to be about eight hundred dollars. On the person of Keaton were notes and accounts amounting to about $4,000, showing the sale of about 100 horses (All of which he had stolen). His accounts also show that he was dealing largely in the mercantile business. On the different leaves of his pass book was found charged here and there, a pair of drawers, &c., with various articles such as pocket knives, combs, &c. Besides the above, Lieut. Keaton had a C. S. A. mail with letters to various parties at different points inside of our lines, addressed to persons in Parkersburg, Point Pleasant, &c. It is of great importance and no doubt will be made use of by the authorities. We returned to camp after an absence of two days traveling through drenching rains and swoolen [sic] stream, bringing back nine of the most desperate characters in the North west Virginia, besides their guns, revolvers and 9 splendid horses, well equipped, one horse is valued at $2,50. [sic]
These fiends have been sent to Wheeling where they will be put on trial for murder. Thus through the indominitable energy of Lieut. Witcher and his brave men, this band of Devil’s [sic] have all been captured and without loss to our side. This excellent company composed as it is of true and brave loyal men fighting for their own homes is doing a vast amount of good, and have already struck terror to the hearts of rebels in Cabell and its adjoining Counties. As the men are acquainted with every bridle path through this region, woe be to the Rebel upon whose track they chance to fall.
ONE OF THE FIFTH.
From Point Pleasant.
February 24, 1863
From Point Pleasant.
Headquarters 13th Regt. V. V. I.
Pt. Pleasant, Mason co., Va.,
Feb. 17, 1863.
You will please excuse me for troubling you with a communication at this time and from this Regiment. We have but three companies here now, the rest having gone to Hurricane Bridge, in Cabell county, to give protection as best they can under the circumstances, to the Union people in that section of country, which has of late, and in fact, ever since the outbreak of this infernal rebellion, been haunted by raids of guerrilla bands of rebels and murderers, and who have lately been making sudden dashes into the neighborhood, and after having accomplished their fiendish purposes, as suddenly disappear again. Mr. Morris, the Deputy Sheriff of Putnam county, was captured a few days ago, with all his effects, and carried off Southward, since when he has not been heard of. James B. Edwards, Commissioner of the lower district of this county, was captured on the 10th inst and all his books and papers taken from him. They attempted to make him take the oath of allegiance to the C. S. A., but he refused. They then turned him loose and permitted him to go home without further molestation. About the same time, and perhaps by the same gang, a Mr. Gibson, of Putnam county, living in Tasey’s Valley, who was one of the Home guards, was murdered in his own house, right in the presence of his wife and children, at the hour of midnight. They shot him through with seven balls, and then, as though that was not sufficient to satiate their ravenous thirst for blood, they then broke his skull with the but[t] of a gun, and a little daughter of her murdered father who attempted to plead for his life was knocked into the fire by one of these ruthless monsters, but happily escaped being much burned by the interference of her heart-broken mother, who was an eye witness to the whole tragedy.
Night before last a Government train was fired into by these marauding bands while going from Gauley to Fayetteville, but were repulsed twice, and finally gave it up.
Now the question naturally presents itself: What is the best remedy for such a state of things? Well, sir, in the first place, these guerrilla bands are all mounted and we are all on foot, and who don’t know that a man must be exceedingly swift on foot if a horse cannot our run him. Let the Government station at several important points in this region of country, two or three regiments of mounted infantry, and we will guarantee that rebel raids will be less frequent and less successful hereafter, and that if they do venture in, there will be some probability of cutting off their retreat, and of making their blood atone for the crimes that they may have committed. The truth is, unless there is something like this done for this part of West Virginia, and that speedily too, we will hear of more blood being shed and more robberies being committed.
And furthermore, (and it is a very important item,) unless the powers that be will do something like this for this part of the State, there is but little doubt that these gangs of desperadoes will be sent into every part of the country to intimidate and prevent the people from acting and voting as they ought on the new State. This is a consideration paramount to every other. Let us then have the means of protecting ourselves, and we will see that our citizens are safe, and that every new State man will have the opportunity of voting his sentiments.
W. W. H.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1863