April 29, 1863
Monday night at a late hour, news reached here that a heavy force of Rebel cavalry had occupied Morgantown, during the afternoon, and were believed to contemplate an advance on Wheeling. The intelligence was confined to a few, and while it occasioned great activity in some quarters, the city was comparatively quiet. The morning train, which came down from Washington, brought a confirmation of the news. Col. Boyers, deputy Marshal, who lives about two miles from Morgantown, had arrived there in the night. He reported that a cavalry force of 1,500 under Imboden had occupied Morgantown about three o’clock on the preceding afternoon. Their appearance was very sudden and unexpected.
The Court, which was in session, had barely time to escape. Senator Willey got away. Col. Boyers says their horses were very much jaded. It seems pretty certain that this force is the one, in part at least, that was at Oakland, the day preceding; they having come across by Kingwood. They burned the bridge over Yough river, about a mile west of Oakland, also the station at Cranberry Summit.
Col. Boyers had gone to Washington, under belief that he could telegraph from there, but upon finding himself mistaken in this, he proceeded at once to Pittsburgh to try to procure arms and aid.
Early in the day, yesterday, it was reported that the force at Morgantown had advanced to Waynesburg, Pa, which is nearly equivalent distant from Morgantown and this city. This looked like an advance on Wheeling. Not long after, communication was lost with Fairmont, and it was believed that place had fallen into Rebel hands.
In the afternoon communication was again opened with Grafton. About two o’clock it was represented that the rebels instead of going to Waynesburg had moved up from Morgantown and were approaching Fairmont; that a company of militia had been sent thither from Mannington and that a part of Mulligan’s force was moving in the same direction. Dispatches were received stating that two or three bridges had been burned near Mannington by guerillas from the surrounding country. Later in the evening communication was had with Mulligan at Grafton and Wilkinson at Clarksburg. Col. Wilkinson expressed a good deal of incredulity at the news from this point.
Col. Mulligan said his position at Grafton was secure, and that he had sent force sufficient to make Fairmont safe, although was threatened. Doubts were felt as to the genuineness of these dispatches, and some were inclined to believe that the rebels had possession of the line and were answering.
Late in the evening a lot of engines which had been lying at Cameron came in. Some of the citizens who come on them reported a great deal of excitement there, occasioned chiefly by reports from this city that the enemy were at Waynesburg. They reported however that a bridge was burned this side of Burton where a few cavalry were seen, about 20 miles east of Cameron.
Still later a dispatch was received from Pittsburg stating that a force of Rebel cavalry had come into Uniontown, Fayette county, where they are tearing up the Pittsburg and Connellsville road. This is presumed to be a force from Morgantown, and if true it is difficult to reconcile it with the statement that Fairmont is threatened by the same force, as the two places are not very near together.
The indications at a late hour last night were that there was a good deal more scare than danger about the situation of affairs at Grafton and Fairmont. – The operators at these two places got scared and packed up and left. That was why no communication could be had with those points; but the cause not being understood here it occasioned a good deal of anxiety. At nine o’clock last night the operators here were conversing with these points. The fine bridge over the Monongahela was untouched. The bridges burned between here and Grafton are not important and can soon be repaired.
We shall not be surprised if it turns out that there has been a good deal of unnecessary alarm.
STILL LATER – At ten o’clock a dispatch from Grafton announced that at 2 o’clock P.M. a rebel force estimated at 4,000 suddenly appeared at Newburg, a station 13 miles east of Grafton, burnt the fien company shops there, and came down to Independence, a mile below, destroyed the bridge there over Three Fork, and disappeared in the direction of Morgantown. –
Whither they were really going was a matter of conjecture.
April 30, 1863
The remainder of the cavalry scout which went out in the direction of Waynesburg on Monday returned last evening. Three of their number proceeded to Poplar Spring, within four miles of Waynesburg, when learning that the rebels had not been there they went over to Cameron, and returned thence to the city. From intelligent parties at Poplar Spring they learned something of the capture of Morgantown and the subsequent movements of the enemy. They were told that about four companies of Militia were at Morgantown when the enemy came in, and undertook to defend the place. They took refuge in houses fired from the them, but the Rebels shelled them out and set the houses on fire, and they were then gobbled up. Seven of them were killed. The rest were taken off in the direction of Dixie, as prisoners. The estimate of the force put it at 4,000, which is without doubt a great exaggeration.
The rebels proceeded from Morgantown into Uniontown, where they committed some depredations, and returned by way of Blacksville towards Fairmont, passing within thirteen miles of Waynesburg. –
There was a good deal of alarm at Waynesburg, and the cashier of the bank there destroyed $60,000 of the bank’s issue for fear of its falling into their hands.
This, in view of the fact that the rebels now occupy Fairmont, gives us a tolerably intelligent idea of the movements of this force.
It is claimed that they have artillery, but if so it must be very light to be moved with such facility.
April 28, 1863
The City was filled with excitement yesterday about the rebel raid. Early in the day it was reported that more fighting had been going on at Rowlesburg, and that our men had again repulsed the rebels. About five in the evening a train came in Grafton. The passengers reported that a dispatch had been received at Grafton from Rowlesburg stating that the rebels had been repulsed there were on the way to Grafton by way of the Northwestern Turnpike. The agent of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company immediately had the machinery and other property of the company loaded up preparatory to moving. The post office was boxed up, and all who could begin making preparations for leaving. Everything was excitement there, the people running to and fro in the utmost confusion. This train brought away all the papers of the post office and all the mails then lying there, accompanied by the Deputy Postmaster and one of the route agents of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad. When it left Grafton the force of rebels approaching from Rowlesburg were reported to be at Fellowsville, about eight miles distant. Mulligan, who had advanced in the morning towards Philippi had encountered a superior force and fallen back, after some severe fighting, to Webster. It was said he had lost two field pieces, and recaptured them by a brilliant charge. The freight engines and trains lying at Grafton were all on the way to this point.
About an hour later another passenger train came in. It proved to be the train off the N.W. Virginia Road, which ran right across upon the main stem and came on to Wheeling. It brought the Parkersburg mails accompanied by the other route agent. Passengers by this time reported the Rebels at Thornton, a small station on the Railroad some six miles east of Grafton, Col. Mulligan’s force was at Webster on the N.W. Virginia Road when they passed, and the only remaining train on that part of either road was lying there awaiting his movements. Everybody who could get away were leaving and the train brought great numbers of refugees. The report by this train was that Latham had fallen back on Buckhannon. The rebel force was estimated at from 1500 upward to 7,000.
Information of a reliable character was received late in the evening to the effect that Col. Mulligan with his force was in Grafton and prepared to hold it. It does not appear, as reported, that he encountered any force in the direction of Philippi, but that his backward movement was in obedience to a telegram informing him of the approach of the force from Rowlestburg. If this force was not sufficient to take our four companies at Rowlesburg, there is but little danger, we imagine, of their taking Mulligan. Contrary to previous reports concerning Colonel Latham, it appears that he is not cut off, nor captured, nor at Philippi, nor at Buckhannon, but between these places fighting his way to Buckhannon, the same force that attacked him at Beverly following him up and harassing him. It would seem that he first fell back from Beverly to Philippi, and then changed direction and undertook to cross over to Buckhannon and join Gen. Roberts. A dispatch published in the Parkersburg Gazette from Capt. Over, at Clarksburg, to Col. Frost, states that the troops at Bulltown and Sutton had been ordered to Buckhannon, so that when Latham makes the junction of our forces will then be strong enough to change the direction of the rebel advance.
There seems to be a total lack of any accurate estimate of the number of the rebel force, it being enlarged or diminished according to the strength of the imagination in the informant. We would have been glad to lay before our readers the simple facts in regard to this matter as, known in official quarters, but as it has been thought best not to make them public we are obliged to content ourselves with repeating the various and conflicting reports of unofficial parties.
May 6, 1863
On Monday morning, 24th [27th] ult, several citizens of Kingwood arrived at this place, Morgantown, and reported that the rebels had encamped beyond or near Kingwood the night previous, and had 500 camp fires. Immediately upon the news getting abroad the funds of the banks were removed and some of the prominent citizens left. A meeting was called at the Court House (it was Court day and there were four or five hundred people in town) to adopt measures for resistance, &c. It was decided that if the rebels were coming “in power” not to resist, but if there were not over 100 of them to make defence, and scouts were organized to go out on the different roads, examine and report. About noon the squad which came into town at full speed and reported that the rebel advance were within two miles of town. The people all left, especially those who had horses, on “double quick,” and most of the citizens also. –
About one o’clock two rebels with a flag of truce came in town, asked for the Mayor and whether any resistance was to be made, and were informed that the town was surrendered to them. They returned to their main body and in half an hour they again came back. First came about eighty men and in half an hour there was a force of over 600 rebels in town. They stole all the horses they could get, asked for provisions, and some purchased and others “captured” store goods of various kinds. The farm house of Captain William Lasier, a mile from town, occupied by a tenant, (who with his family had escaped from home) was burned by the rebels it is supposed. They molested no private homes except the last mentioned, and generally conducted themselves in a civil manner, except as to stealing horses, store goods, and asking for something to eat. This force was under command of Col. Harman of Staunton, and consisted of a regiment of Virginia cavalry, and a Maryland battery under Maj. Brown. They crossed the railroad in the neighborhood of Oakland, and came via Cranberry summit and Kingwood, in the evening they were joined by a company which crossed the Railroad near Altamont. In the meantime they had detailed squads scouring the country for six or eight miles round about, capturing horses, etc. Shortly before night the whole force left in the direction of Independence. They bivouacked along the road from eight to ten miles from town for four or five hours and towards morning again took up their march in the direction of Independence. In the neighborhood of Three Forks, a few miles this side of Independence, they met General Jones’ command, consisting of two to three thousand men. Two regiments of them mounted infantry and all returned in the direction of Morgantown. It was all quiet at Morgantown Monday night.—Not a rebel was to be seen or heard of.—Many of our citizens who had escaped to the hills had returned to their homes and many country people had come to town.
They were all standing in crowds on the streets, to the number of some two hundred, discussing the events of the day before and hoping that the rebels had bid us farewell forever, when, about 11 o’clock, fifty or sixty rebels on their fastest horses charged into the town upon the two main streets, at the most terrific rate, yelling like hell hounds. They gobbled up twenty horses off the streets, searched every stable in town and got a few more – sounded a bugle call in front of the bank, and left town in than fifteen minutes from the time came in, with nearly forty-five horses.
When this charge was made, no one understood what it meant at first; and supposed that everybody was to be shot and quartered, and there was a pretty brisk skedaddling off the streets, you may rest assured. It was reported there were four hundred Union troops within a few miles of town on the Uniontown road, of which the rebels were informed and they left town on the “double quick.”
The people again began to breath freer and supposed they were gone. The rebels, again commenced coming into the town in force, and occupied the town till near dark, repeating the occurrences of the day before on an increased scale. They were variously estimated at from 3,000 to 4,000. One of our colored citizens counted over 2,000 passing one point and was then called away. My own opinion is that there were not less than 2,000 and from to 3,000.
On that evening about dark, the whole body left in the direction of Fairmont, on the west side to the river, and we have seen none of them since, except one captured at Rowlesburg, and one left behind at Laurel Point, who was asleep, and upon awakening in the morning and finding himself sober, came back to town and surrendered himself to the authorities, and was placed in jail.
The rebels said they were occupying Wheeling, Virginia, permanently; that Fitzhugh Lee had Harper’s Ferry and Winchester, and that they were all under Stonewall Jackson, who had 30,000 infantry no far behind him.
On Monday morning two citizens of the neighborhood of Newburg and Independence came in and reported that there was 15,000 rebel Infantry at Independence and that they were conscripting, &c, &c. This did not tend in the least to allay the painful apprehensions of our people, and we were afflicted by vague and uncertain rumors all day, till late in the evening about 400 men under command of Maj. Showalter, principally of the 6th Va. Inf, and one battery of Artillery, arrived here on their retreat from Rowlesburg. Their 400 had repulsed Jones with 1500 men at Rowlesburg, and their supplies being cut off, both east and west, they were compelled to retreat. These forces were received with great demonstrations of joy, and were “taken in and fed” rather more cheerfully than our people fed the rebs. This force stayed all night and till next evening; Maj. Showalter awaiting information from his scouts and spies. About sundown, Maj. Showalter’s command left very suddenly in the direction of Uniontown, great consternation prevailed, the Couth House bell was rung, the people assembled, and were informed that Major Showalter had received information that the rebels had Philippi, Clarksburg and Fairmont, and that Mulligan was surrounded at Grafton—that 15,000 rebels were at Independence and their advance on the route to this place. And after this interesting information and the soldiers had skedaddled, the people were coolly advised to go home and keep cool. You might as well have ordered Vesuvius “to keep cool” or Niagara to “dry up.” Nearly every man then left and many women.
About 9 o’clock, Friday evening, 100 soldiers of the 106th New York, paroled at Fairmont, arrived here and were fed and lodged for the night. It seems that these men were seen by one of Major Showalter’s scouts and were considered the advance of the rebel infantry. Another restless night was spent and the next day till noon the town was a facsimile of the “deserted village” of Goldsmith. About noon of that day, Mr. Geo. Hardman of Franklin Furnace, near Independence, came to town and informed us there was no rebels at Independence nor within several miles of there, that the Railroad telegraph wires were repaired, that Gen. Kelley was at Oakland and Cranberry and Rowlesburg, and would soon be at Grafton – that we American people (you know George is a Dutchman) were the most excitable people in the world, and some us the biggest cowards on the Globe. For the first time since Monday morning some of the few citizens left could raise a whistle – the painful suspense was relieved – we were satisfied that it was nothing but a cavalry raid, and that we had seen the last of the rebels for this time at least.
This rebel cavalry was undoubtedly the flower of their army. Ashly’s old regiment was amongst them. The most of them were comfortably dressed and well equipped. Their boots, particularly, were better than we expected to see. They were healthy looking and stout men, evidently experienced in “raiding” and capturing horses, if not in fighting. Most of them educated men, and most of them well behaved. They killed two men and wounded, and left for dead another on Tuesday morning, about seven miles from here near John Darnell’s. The two killed were Lloyd Bell (a very estimable man) and a Castle, and the latter was named Roby. He is not dead yet. The rebels alleged that they were bushwhacking them, and wounded one of their Lieutenants and shot two or three of their horses. Their friends allege that they were not bushwhacking at all. While here on Monday, they fired out beautiful suspension bridge, but greatly to our relief again put the fire out, and our bridge still stands. They shot at several persons running with horses but without effect so far as I have learned.
The losses in this county are about as follows:
|Say, 200 horses.|
|Carr Hanway, drugs, &c.||$1000|
|Fitch & Scott, drugs.||300|
|Capt. Wm. Lazier, goods.||1500|
|Chas. Watts, boots, &c .||400|
|Frank Demain, groceries .||500|
|G.M. Hagan, goods.||500|
|J. Hickman, hats.||500|
|D.H. Chadwick, goods.||100|
|H.D. Murphy, goods.||100|
|All the hotels of all their grain and provisions. .|
After all the scare is over, there are many incidents very serious, amusing and ridiculous, which might be related, but time and your space forbid. I believe I have stated the main facts of the raid at Morgantown. It may be mentioned that in taking horses they were not respecters of persons, and if a horse owner claimed to be inclined to the South side, they would reply, “All the better.”
I forgot to mention that Ed. Zane, of Wheeling was among them. He is a Lieutenant. There were no others from Wheeling, as far as I learned.
This is a beautiful, quiet Sabbath morning/ But few of our citizens have returned, having made for Pennsylvania, to get rid of conscription and have not yet received the good news.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: April 1863