May 5, 1863
Clarksburg, April 29th, 1863
The rebels under command of William I. Jackson, about 4,500 strong, with six pieces of artillery, attacked Col. Latham, at Beverly, on Friday last, about 2 o’clock P.M. Col. Latham had some 700 men, two pieces of artillery, and a part of a cavalry company. Some ten or twelve hundred of the rebel force consisted of cavalry. Latham held the enemy in check until near five o’clock in the evening, when he drew off his forces and retreated to Leading Creek, a distance of 8 miles west of Beverly, on the Beverly and Fairmont turnpike. The retreat was conducted in good order. Two or three men were killed and one mortally wounded on the Federal side. A few men who were on picket duty were cut off and captured by the rebels. The rebel loss, if any, has not been ascertained, yet. It is said they certainly had several killed.
On Saturday morning lat the Federal troops continued their retreat to Bellington, where Col. Latham received orders to report with his command at Buckhannon as soon as possible. The command reached Buckhannon at three or four o’clock the next day (Sunday).
During the retreat from Beverly to Leading Creek, the rebels made several cavalry charges on the rear, which were handsomely met and successfully repulsed.
Before Beverly was evacuated and the Government buildings and property was burned. It is said the fire communicated with some private buildings and burned them also. The extent of the burning is not known to the writer. The successful and able manner with which this retreat was conducted, in the face of overwhelming odds, entitles Col. Latham to the approbation and confidence alike of his command and the country,
If this narrative could stop here there would be some consolation in it, but its sequel is humiliating and disgraceful. Up at 12 o’clock on Monday last, the citizens of Buckhannon were assured that there was no danger, and that the place would be held. The whole community was utterly astounded when it became known that Buckhannon was to be evacuated; and as, many thought, without reason in the world – and subsequent events have demonstrated the correctness of their opinions. During the day on Monday it was reported that Col. Mulligan, with twelve or fifteen hundred men and six pieces of artillery, had been badly whipped by the rebels at Philippi, and almost the first thing the citizens knew was that the Government property was being destroyed; the soldier’s tents were on fire, and the fine bridge across the Buckhannon river was in flames. The bridge across the Middlefork River, 13 miles east of Buckhannon, had been burned a day or two before. This was all done by the Federal army, under orders – under whose orders, it is understood, will be a matter of investigation hereafter.
The Federal army, about 2,500 infantry, 4 pieces of artillery and two or three companies of cavalry, left Buckhannon on last Monday afternoon, when it is confidently believed there was not an enemy, in any force, within ten miles of the place. The present writer is informed that some of the officers and men shed tears over the strange and unaccountable movement, while all with deepest sorrow, regretted it. The boys wanted to fight the enemy, but were not permitted. The troops were marched to Weston that night, and thence to Clarksburg on yesterday, and here we are now sickened and disgusted. Our whole country, east and south of here, thrown open to the enemy, and roving bands of rebel cavalry, plundering and destroying the country. Is there no help for us? Yes there is. Give us our own army we have sent so freely into the field and a Brigadier General, with more brains and less regulations, and the new state of West Virginia will take care of itself.
May 8, 1863
Grafton, Va., May 6, 1863.
Gents: I see several statements in your paper in regard to the recent rebel raid, all of which come far from the mark. You have the rebel Imboden in too many places. I was at Beverly at the time of the fight, and can give you the facts as near as can be had.
On the 23rd ult. Col. Geo. R. Latham sent a cavalry company out on the Staunton road thirty-five miles, who returned without seeing or hearing anything of the “shivalry,” but on the 24th, at 8 p. m., the pickets came in stating that the rebels were at Hutton[s]ville, and had shot J. F. Phares, the sheriff of Randolph.
Col. Latham immediately ordered out a company of Ohio cavalry, and the “Kelley Lancers,” who proceeded in less than thirty minutes towards the foe. They met about six miles above Beverly, and the fight commenced. The Ohio cavalry, numbering eighty men, were charged on by 400 rebels and had to retreat to the infantry pickets. Capt. Hagan’s company was planted on both sides, and great fears were entertained for their safety, but they dashed through the old road and got away. The day was wet and foggy, and we could not see above two or three hundred yards. The force of rebel cavalry was soon ascertained to number near (if not quite) 2,000, and Col. L ordered out his command of the 2nd and 8th Virginia infantry – numbering in all about 650 men, and one section of Ewing’s battery. The rebels then commenced a right and left flank movement, and succeeded in cutting off the Buchanan road. We fought the cavalry from half past two a. m., until half past four p. m., and would have been able to hold the position against the cavalry, but the fog clearing away revealed to the Colonel a line of infantry four miles long coming down the old or “back road,” with six pieces of artillery, one 20 pounder. It would have been worse than madness for Col. Latham to attempt a stand against such a superior force; so according to orders from Gen. Roberts he commenced retreating towards Buckhannon, but soon found that the rebels had 500 cavalry and 3 mountain howitzers on the top of “Rich Mountain,” therefore he fell back into Beverly, and cut his way to the Webster road. The “shivalry” followed him six miles, when darkness compelled them to “halt.” Our men camped near Ludwill’s on Friday night. Saturday they marched to Phillippi, and on Sunday Col. Latham joined Gen. Roberts at Buckhannon, with a loss of – so far as known – one killed, one wounded, and two taken prisoners. The enemy’s loss in killed and wounded cannot be less than 30 to 40. The 2nd and 8th Virginia boys picked them off in the retreat.
I cannot praise anybody. All did well. But Col. Latham, by his coolness, inspired hope and confidence in his men, and he saved his men and baggage. If he had been provided with transportation, he would have saved three or four thousand dollars worth of government property, which had to be burned to keep it from falling into the hands of the rebels. No man could have done better, and I am sorry that this Colonel has not a star on his shoulder instead of an eagle.
The cavalry that came through Morgantown, was not part of the force that was at Beverly, because when Imboden was at Phillippi – or Bealington – Gen. Jones was at Fellowsville and Rowlesburg.
Imboden’s and Bill Jackson’s force at Beverly numbered 5,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 9 pieces of artillery.
The Kelley Lancers were completely cut off at Beverly, but Capt. Hagans – a cousin and not a brother of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, took through the woods and came into the pike eight miles from Beverly. The boys knew the woods too well for the bloody rebels.
P. S. – Lieut. J. H. Conn, Privates B. H. Saer, and W. C. Riddle, of the Kelley Lancers, were taken prisoners at Bridgeport, on Friday night. The balance of the company are safe and ready for Staunton.
Lieut. N. N. Hoffman, who was wounded on the 15th, will be ready for duty in two or three weeks.
From Northwestern Virginia--movements of Gen. Imboden.
May 1, 1863
From Northwestern Virginia--movements of Gen. Imboden.
From an entirely reliable source we have the information that the Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. Imboden captured the town of Beverly, Randolph county, on Friday last Gen. I., with his forces, reached the town on the afternoon of Friday last, and after a sharp skirmish, in which two or three of his men were wounded, he succeeded in driving out the enemy, capturing a number of Wm guns, with some prisoners. Previous to the evacuation the enemy destroyed some $40,000 worth of commissary stores. Gen. Imboden states that he has driven the enemy out of the town, and expected to continue the pursuit of them the next day, (Saturday) He also states that as a result of his expedition he expected to secure one thousand head of cattle in Randolph county.
The reported evacuation of Winchester is not yet confirmed, though the information from that quarter tends to the belief that Milroy's forces have fallen back, with a view to the protection of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad.
These writing the above we have received an extra from the office of the Staunton Vindicator, containing the following official report from Col. Imboden:
Headq's N. W. Va. Brigades.
Two miles North of Beverly, April 24, 1863,
I attacked the enemy in a strong position on the heights in the rear of Beverly to-day, and defeated and drove him from the town after a stubborn resistance of three hours pursued him till dark on the Philippa road — renew the pursuit in the morning. He burnt a considerable part of the town and destroyed his stores, which were very considerable — commissaries alone over $40,000.
I captured five new army wagons, thirty odd fine horses and males, thirty-four new field cities, a number of good tents a quantity of grain, a bogus mill is Major, and a number of prisoners — height not made up yet I learn I will procure over 1,000 hand of fine cattle in this and Barbour county, and large quantities of bacon.
It has been raining for four days--roads in a perfect mire.
--A few badly wounded on our side; none killed, enemy's loss unknown, as he removed all before the retreated. The people are rejoicing at the government from the oppressor.
Enemy's force to day two regiments of infantry, a battery and two companies of cavalry.
J. D. Imboden.
The Rebels and their late Visit to Beverly.
June 10, 1863
The Rebels and their late Visit to Beverly.
Beverly, W. Va., June 1.
Some weeks have elapsed since we were gladdened by the sight of your ever-welcomed pages! To us it has seemed a very long time. Perhaps the moments are longer in the Southern Confederacy than they are any where else. I am inclined to think they are, as the inhabitants of that delightful region accomplish in days, that which it would take weeks, for some of their more northern brethren to do. Be that as it may, I know it seemed a long while to do without seeing a blue coat or a newspaper, or indeed scarcely any other article that we really wished to see; but a kind Providence so willed, that a month from the evacuation of Beverly found the dear 2d Virginia, (with the almost adored Latham still at its head, despite the prevalent opinion that he should be a little higher,) again the occupants of our quaint old town. Since then, the Fourteenth Penn. Cavalry and Ewing’s Battery have come in; and now the mails (with the newspapers) are coming in regularly, and we begin to feel as if we had really “come in out of the cold.”
But let me tell you of our sojourn in the peaceful regions, where the “chivalry” reign. I shall not tell you of the fight or retreat, as it would of course be stale news. But I will tell you that Col. Latham has the gratitude and respect of every loyal person in the place, for his excellent management in defending the place so long against so greatly superior force, and in keeping his stores out of their hands; and especially for not burning the bridge. We all think the Second is hard to beat! I feel myself unequal to the task of describing the “appearance” of the Southern army, as they came into Beverly, on the evening of the 24th of April. It was equal to Robinson’s circus, horned horse and all, for if they had no horned horses, they had every other kind. Such a lot of bones have not been seen in this country since the flood. And their riders – dirty, ragged, starved and dissatisfied. Poor fellows! The first feeling excited, was merriment, the next, pity. Talk of our army being discontented! I never felt half so sure of conquering the seceded States, as I did when talking to the privates of the Southern army. Imboden had twenty desertions while at Beverly.
Of course their sympathizers gave them a cordial welcome; and why shouldn’t they, since they have been sending and writing for them to come for almost two years? But I can tell you they soon got tired of them. Their friends cursed them and they cursed their friends. I suppose that if their provision and sustenance trains had been as long as the Yankee trains were, it would have been different. But, unfortunately, the third day after the arrival of Mr. I. found the hitherto plentious [sic] town of Beverly without a yard of cotton or calico, a grain of coffee, sugar, or salt, and indeed almost out of flour. May be we did not enjoy their chagrin, although we felt that it was rather dear fun; but we still kept up a brave face, for we felt sure that Uncle Sam would not desert his infant State entirely. But O, how angry it did make us to see our best property going to give the starving Confederacy another meal. The butcher of their army publicly declared that there was but a thin veil betwixt them and starvation. But the West Virginia cattle will strengthen that veil a little. We could not help wondering if Gen. Roberts lacked means, bravery or sense. We suppose a “little of each.”
Had Latham been in his place, we can’t help thinking yet, that Imboden would never have crossed Middle Fork Bridge. But I fear I’m trespassing too much upon your pages! However, before I close, let me tell you an incident of Mr. Imboden, the famous Imboden. A gentleman living near Beverly (Mr. Harper,) had an old family riding horse; some of the chivalry captured him. Mr. I had put up bills assuring all citizens who had never been in arms, that their private property should not be molested. So. Mr. H. called upon him and politely told him the circumstances, telling him that a horse twenty-seven years old could not be of any use to him, that if he would let him have the old horse, he would say nothing about his team which had been taken also. Intelligencer! dear Intelligencer! don’t forget what the mighty Imboden said. He said: He’ll do till we can get a better.
Little West Virginia.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: April 1863