February 16, 1863
A DESPERATE ENCOUNTER – A noted Moccasin Killed. – We have the particulars of an unsuccessful attempt to capture a Union man and his gun by four Moccasin Rangers which we proceed to give as follows:
On last Wednesday night, between 9 and 10 o’clock, the members of the family of Wm. D. Richards, a farmer living on Tucker Creek, in Wirt County, about seven miles from Elizabeth, the county seat, and seventeen miles from Parkersburg, were disturbed by the voices of a number of me not far from the house. One of the females was in the yard at the time and called to know what was wanted. The leader of the gang replied that they wanted the old man and his gun. The girl told them there was a sick person in the house, and they ought to go off. The leader said they didn’t intend to disturb any person but the old man, but they must have him and his gun. In the house at the time were the old man Richards, his son Isaac and a soldier named Page, belonging to the 11th Regiment Virginia Volunteers, who was a neighbor’s son at home on a sick furlough. Mr. Richards had retired to bed, but the two young men were up. The Old Gentleman was aroused, and jumping out of bed, seized his rifle, and the son got down a musket that he loaded a few days before the purpose of shooting a fox. The soldier was unarmed, though there was another rifle in the house, which, in the confusion, he did not get hold of. The son went outside to the corner of the house and saw a man standing on the porch, aimed and fired. The man fell and dropped his gun from his hands. He then went behind the house to reload his piece, when he saw two men struggling a short distance from him. He rushed up and struck his father a blow on the head, mistaking him for a ranger. Fortunately he discovered his error in time to give his father’s antagonist a stunning blow on the head, which caused him to drop his gun and stagger toward the fence. The son then went around to the back of the milk house to finish loading his gun, when he saw his father approaching him, trying to get a shot at him with his revolver. He shouted to his father not to fire. Two men were then seen to leap over the fence, mount their horses and ride off into the darkness. Upon returning to the house and striking a light, the man who was shot was found dead, the load of buckshot having taken effect in the head, scattering the brains all around. He was recognized as Emery Ball, a noted bush-whacker and a lieutenant. His gun, and the one dropped by the man engaged with the old gentleman, and two others found leaning against the fence where the rangers hitched their horses were picked up, and it supposed the horse of the dead man is somewhere in the neighborhood. In the melee the old gentleman tried to fire his gun, and never discovered until the affray was over that his piece was at a half-cock. His revolver got entangled in his belt and he was unable to use it, and the soldier was unarmed, so that by the daring and coolness of young Richards, the rangers were driven back with the loss of their leader and their arms. The two young men came into Parkersburg about daylight the next morning and reported the facts to Col. Frost, who immediately started a squad of ten picked men in pursuit of the gang.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1863