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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
May 9, 1863


Wheeling Intelligencer
June 2, 1863

Particulars of the Destruction of Burning Springs in Wirt County.

On Saturday last, about 11 o’clock, A.M., nearly 4,000 rebels made their appearance at Burning Springs, in Wirt county, 30 miles from this place. Most of them were armed with navy revolvers and sabers very few had guns. They were under command of Gen. Jones. After surrounding the place and sending out squads of men to gather up horses, they commenced firing the oil wells, from 80 to 100 in number. These were all burned, together with about 30 engines, all the oil tanks, barrels, oil boats and cooper shops, with all the implements connected in any way with the oil business. The principal sufferers are Mr. C. Rathbone of this city, Camden & Byrn, Mr. Lewellyn of N.Y., Gambrill, Braton & Co., of Parkersburg, John H. Ware of Ky, the Washington Oil Company, Gordon & Co, of Ky., Patterson, Carnes & Co, of Penn., Jones & Co of Penn., McCush & Co of Wheeling, McFarlan & Bros of Penn., Gordon & Styles of Ky, Wait & Co., C. Shattuck of Penn., Camden &Rathbone of this place. There are other who have suffered largely but we have not been able to procure their names.

As near as can be estimated, the property destroyed amounts to a full quarter of a million. The rebels obtained about 75 good horses at or near the springs. In all, they had when there from 600 to 800 extra horses which they had gathered up in passing through the country. They were dressed in all kinds of un-uniform, many of them having on union pants and coats. The leading color perhaps was grey, they burned every liquid that would take fire, except the whiskey. This, to the amount of about 20 barrels, they consumed in a summary manner. The effect upon them became very visible towards night, which did not increase the feeling of security among the inhabitants.

The fire made by the burning of many thousand barrels of oil is described to us as terrific. At times the whole country would be enveloped in one vast rolling, surging mass of pitchy smoke streaked here and there with quivering tongues of flame. Then the fire would gain the mastery and burn clearly for a few minutes, only to soon again be almost lost in the dense smoke. By this wanton act of worse than vandalism, some three or four hundred laborers have been deprived of employment. At about 1 o’clock Sunday morning the force commenced leaving, and at daylight the people were relieved of their accursed presence.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: May 1863

West Virginia Archives and History