April 10, 1863
From the 1st Virginia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry.
Camp Mechanicsburg Gap, Near
Romney, Hampshire Co., April 10.
May I hope that a word of intelligence from the 1st regiment will meet with as much favor as you usually grant to correspondents of other regiments. Yes, I imagine I hear you say, and without any more ado, I will recite to you the incidents of the last few days, presuming that the recital will interest the well wishers of the regiment.
On last Monday afternoon a dispatch from the wagon train, arrived at headquarters (Col. Campbell of the 54th regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers, commanding) stating that the rebels had made a dash upon the train and had captured five wagons with the horse attached to them and gone out the old Moorefield road (which unites with the New Creek road, some six miles from camp.) As soon as the cavalry could get underway they started in pursuit of the confederates, and overhauled them four or five miles up the road. Our boys made them vamoose in double quick. After running them some distance, the confederates thought they were able to show fight which they accordingly did. The Ringolds kept a short distance in advance of them awaiting for more cavalry to come to their relief. At length they came; once again the tables were turned upon the rebels who about face, and made good their retreat. Our boys pursued them, leaving a detachment on the right side of the road, hid from view by being placed over the brow of a hill.
At length the confederates, seeing they were again pursued by an inferior force, turned, and our cavalry adroitly succeeded in getting the rebels to pursue them until they arrived opposite the ambuscade. – They there faced about and both squadrons charged upon them at once, making sad havoc among them. Our loss was two wounded. Their’s two killed, six or eight prisoners and ten wounded.
Meantime, 100 men from our regiment and 100 men from the 54th, under charge of Capt. Thomas Reed, started to assist the Ringgold cavalry, but could not make the march in time to have the pleasure of participating in the engagement.
Reinforcements were again asked for, and 200 men from the 54th and 100 men from our regiment, Lieut Col. Linton of the 54th in conjunction with Major Stevens of the 1st Va., commanding, left camp at dusk for the scene of action, Capt. Robb of company A, having the advance. This detail reached the advance at midnight, after wading through creeks, runs and mud, as wet as water could make any set of people, and bivouacked on the side of a bill without any fire. The wind was piercing and a very disagreeable night was passed.
Day break at length came and we started in pursuit of the confederates, but did not learn anything of their whereabouts until we arrived at the fording of the south branch of the Potomac, five miles below Moorefield. They were encamped distant some two miles from the fording. Colonel Linton ordered up two pieces of artillery that accompanied the last detail of infantry to take position on the bluff and shell their camp, which was accordingly done.
The most gratifying sight I have witnessed for some time was to see the rebel cavalry break and run. Here, there, and everywhere, you could see their dusty forms jumping up or going out of sight behind a bluff; and I warrant you they had quite a hatred to that portion of Dixie’s fair land where only a few moments before they were enjoying the pleasures of a soldier’s life.
Shortly afterwards Capt. Works of the cavalry, Capt. Reed, of our regiment, and a Captain of the 54th, whose name I did not ascertain, each took a company across the river – the whole command of Captain Stevens – and reconnoitered the camp group and adjacent country. The wagons which the rebels had captured were found and destroyed, and the detachment returned to the main body. We arrived at dusk where we had bivouacked the night previous. Major Stevens returned to camp and ordered out the post wagons to haul us into camp. The wagons came up to us at midnight and in the morning we started for camp, where we arrived at 8 A. M. completely exhausted. Much to our gratification, we found the Paymaster here to pay us off, accompanied by Mr. Jacob Hornbrook, who kindly volunteered to take our money home safe for us. We were paid on Thursday, and Mr. Hornbrook left for Wheeling this morning with $15,000 for the old folks at home. Many a heart will rejoice at receiving what is only their just due--their husband's pay. We had expected to move to New Creek some time ago, but did not get to go. More anon. M. H.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: April 1863