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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
November 16, 1863


Official Records
Series 1, Volume 29, Part 1
643-51

Report of Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden, C. S. Army, commanding Valley District, including attack on supply train at Burlington W.Va.

HEADQUARTERS VALLEY DISTRICT,

Linville’s Creek, Rockingham, November 19, 1863.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report the following operations of detachments from my brigade on Monday last, the 16th instant:

Maj. Robert White, commanding Forty-first Cavalry Battalion, with a portion of Gilmor’s battalion, Captain Davis’ cavalry company, Maryland Line, and a section of McClahanan’s battery, was attacked at Mount Jackson by Colonel Bryd, of the Federal Army, in command of the First New York and Twenty-first Pennsylvania Regiments, and Cole’s battalion Baltimore cavalry, and a section of artillery, numbering in the aggregate about 700 men. After a sharp fight at the town, Major White took position on Rude’s Hill and succeeded in repulsing the enemy very handsomely. Captain Davis with about 60 men pursued him 2 miles below Woodstock, where he halted to encamp; but Davis, dismounting a part of his men, approached near the camp and fired into it after dark, when the retreat was hastily resumed, the enemy shooting a number of his own broken-down horses to prevent their falling into our hands.

Major White has ascertained from the people of Mount Jackson that he killed 8 of the enemy and wounded 18; a part of the dead were left in our hands. We captured 11 prisoners and some horses.

Our loss, 1 lieutenant and 8 men, captured on picket; 1 man slightly wounded; 2 horses killed.

A Blakely 12-pounder gun was burst by Lieutenant Berkeley on the first fire. It was deemed defective when I first got it a few weeks ago.

The enemy got no government horses, cattle, or other property in this raid. They robbed a few individuals of watches and jewelry on the road, and took some cattle and horses from a Union man near Mount Jackson. They have returned to Martinsburg and Harper’s Ferry.

On the same day, 15th instant, Captain McNeill, in command of his own company and a detachment from the Sixty-second Regiment, under Lieutenant Moorman, attacked a train of eighty odd wagons near Burlington, in Hampshire, hauling supplies to Averell, at Petersburg, and after a sharp fight whipped the escort of 100 infantry, captured and brought away 25 prisoners and 245 good horses, with all their harness, and set fire to the wagons, but probably did not burn them, as my men had to leave immediately to escape a large body (over 600) of cavalry.

They really captured over 300 horses, but the danger of recapture was so great that they only got out with 245. Captain McNeill took to the mountains, and by a wonderful march (for rapidity) escaped, through pursued by over 600 of Averell’s best cavalry, his own force being but little over 100 men.

McNeill’s loss, 1 man badly wounded; Moorman’s loss, 1 mortally and 4 badly wounded. All our wounded were brought out except 1, who is probably dead.

I have dispatched two other parties to attack trains and hope for good results.

Lieutenant Todd, with his torpedoes, is in Hampshire, and Captain Lovett, commanding his escort, reported the way clear and expected to blow up the trains last night.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J.D. IMBODEN
Brigadier-General.

Col. R.H. CHILTON
Chief of Staff, Army of Northern Virginia.

(Endorsement.)

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
November 25, 1863.

Respectfully forwarded for the information of the War Department.

The report reflects great credit on the officers and men engaged.

R. E. LEE,
General.

NOVEMBER 16, 1863. – Skirmish near Burlington, W. Va.

No. 1.

Report of Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley, U.S. Army, commanding Department of West Virginia.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WEST VIRGINIA,

Cumberland, Md., December 10, 1863.

GENERAL: I have the honor to forward herewith official reports, exhibiting the circumstances of the attack on the supply train between New Creek, W. Va., and Petersburg, on the 16th ultimo and the action taking looking to the recapture of the property.

It was an unfortunate affair, and the conduct of the officer in charge will be investigated by general court-martial.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. F. KELLEY,
Brigadier-General.

Brig. Gen. G. W. Cullum,
Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.

No. 2.

Reports of Col. James A. Mulligan, Twenty-third Illinois Infantry commanding Second Division.

New Creek
November 16, 1863.

SIR: A fight occurred this morning about 8 o’clock, 3 miles south of Burlington, between 300 of the enemy and two companies of the Fourteenth (West) Virginia and Second Maryland (Potomac Home Brigade), 100 strong, the escort of the train to Petersburg. The enemy captured a number of the horses, and injured a dozen wagons. Nine of our men have been brought in wounded, 2 killed. One of the latter is Lieutenant Hardman, Fourteenth (West) Virginia. The enemy hastened away so quickly that they left their wounded. I moved one of Campbell’s regiments on their rear, and dispatched ten or twelve hundred cavalry in pursuit.

I hope to report the enemy destroyed or captured before morning.

JAS. A MULLIGAN,
Colonel.

Captain Melvin,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, DEPT. OF WEST VIRGINIA,
New Creek, W. Va., November 16, 1863 – 1:30 p.m.

GENERAL: It is reported that 400 or 500 rebels attacked the train for Petersburg this morning about 7 o’clock, near Burlington, and captured it. I have dispatched messengers to Colonel Thoburn at Petersburg to send his cavalry into the Moorefield Valley. I have also ordered by telegraph Colonel Campbell’s infantry to move from Springfield down the Moorefield pike. If you are, as I suppose, near Williamsport, I respectfully suggest that the enemy might be intercepted by you were you to move east across Patterson’s Creek Mountains, entering the Moorefield Valley by the Willamsport and Moorefield road.

Faithfully,

JAS. A. MULLIGAN
Colonel.

Brigadier-General AVERELL,
Commanding Fourth Separate Brigade.

HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, DEPT. OF WEST VIRGINIA,
New Creek, W.Va., November 23, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I inclose herewith official report of Colonels Campbell, Thoburn, Bruce, and Captain Jeffers, Fourteenth (West) Virginia, of the attack of the enemy under McNeill on our supply train near Burlington, W.Va., on the morning of the 16th instant. I also inclose copy of a communication addressed by me to General Averell informing him of McNeill’s movements, to which the general replied from near the junction of the Moorefield and Alleghany roads, that he had been apprised of the attack at 11:30 a.m., and had started a portion of his command to endeavor to cut him off.

Believing from the reports obtained that the loss inflicted was owing to a want of precaution, a want of skill, and a want of fighting, I have ordered charges to be preferred and forwarded against the commanding officer of the escort.

I am, captain, faithfully,

JAS. A. MULLIGAN,
Colonel.

Capt. T. Melvin,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Dept. of West Virginia.

No. 3.

Report of Col. Jacob M. Campbell, Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding First Brigade.

Springfield, W. Va., November 20, 1863.

LIEUTENANT: Your communication of the 19th instant, directing me to make a full report of the action taken by me on the telegram of the colonel commanding of the 16th instant, specifying the very minute when I left Springfield, the distance marched, &c., has just been received. In reply, I have the honor to state that I received the colonel’s first telegram while at Green Spring, visiting the troops along the line of the railroad belonging to this brigade.

I immediately telegraphed Colonel McCaslin the message, directing him to act at once and order out the troops. I received the colonel commanding’s dispatch at 2:10 o’clock, and at 3:30 p.m. the same day, November 16, 1863, the Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieut. Col. J. P. Linton, two companies of the Fifteenth (West) Virginia Volunteers, Major Wells, and one section of Captain Moore’s battery, were on the march. The second dispatch of the colonel commanding was received a few minutes after the command had left Springfield, and was sent to Colonel Linton by courier. Lieutenant-Colonel Linton pushed in through Romney, having sent a detachment across the river at Hanging Rock, with orders to proceed on the west side of the mountain to Burlington.

Linton reached the junction in the evening, where he was joined by the detachment he had sent to Burlington, and then proceeded up the Moorefield road, on the side of which he bivouacked for the night. Early next morning he pushed on to near Reynold’s Gap, a distance from this camp of 28 ˝ miles, where he learned that the enemy had crossed near that place. He waited, expecting the cavalry would drive the rebels back in the direction of Moorefield, having previously sent a detachment, with orders to proceed on in the direction of Petersburg until they met and communicated with our forces from that place. This detachment, following his instructions, pushed on to Petersburg, where they arrived at 12 p.m. the 17th, having traveled a distance from this camp at 46 miles, where they found Colonel Thoburn, who informed them that his forces had all returned and given up the pursuit. The detachment returned the same night and joined the main body near Reynold’s Gap.

On the morning of the 18th instant, Lieutenant-Colonel Linton, having ascertained that the cavalry (Third (West) Virginia) had returned by way of Romney, sent a detachment out in the direction of Wardensville (and which proceeded to within 5 miles of that place), returned with the main body to camp, bringing in with him1 horse and 1 mule, as was supposed, belonged to the train. The command arrived here at 11 a.m., November 19. Linton has seen nothing of any rebels during the whole march. The detachment he sent to Wardensville arrived here at 7 p.m., this 20th instant, bringing in 5 horses but no prisoners.

Total distance traveled by main force, 57 miles; by Petersburg detachment, 92 miles; by Wardensville detachment, about 90 miles.

I am, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J.M. CAMPBELL,
Colonel, Commanding First Brigade.

Lieut. M. J. Russell, A. A. G., Second Div.

No. 4.

Report of Col. Joseph Thoburn, First West Virginia Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.

Petersburgh, W. Va., November 20, 1863.

LIEUTENANT: On the morning of the 10th instant, the supply train from New Creek to this place was attacked by a party of guerillas under Captain McNeill, 4 or 5 miles this side of Burlington. The train consisted of 70 wagons, also some sutlers’ wagons, and was under the care of Captain Jeffers, of the Fourteenth (West) Virginia Infantry, with a guard of 90 men, 50 under command of Lieut. G. H. Hardman, of Fourteenth (West Virginia, and 40 under command of Lieutenant Edwards, of the Second Maryland (Potomac Home Brigade). The train at the time extended over at least 1 mile of the road, with the guard about equally divided between the front and rear, Captain Jeffers, with 10 men, occupying the center of the line. The attacked was first made upon the advance guard of 40 men under Lieutenant Hardman, who was killed the first fire, when his command broke for the woods. Firing commenced in the rear almost simultaneously, but by what was supposed a smaller force. The guard under Lieutenant Edwards succeeded in repelling this attack, and also saved the horses and wagons at the rear of the train. Captain Jeffers appears to have sent his men to the front, where the heavy firing was, and himself started for the rear. I refer you to his report, which accompanies this. Some of our men seem to have kept near the road and fired upon the enemy from behind trees, but it was of little avail, the enemy making their escape and taking with them over 200 horses and 4 prisoners, besides some 20 wagoners and negroes. We lost 2 killed and 10 wounded. The enemy’s loss was 4 or 5 wounded.

A messenger from General Averell informed me of the disaster about 2 p.m., and notified me that he was sending one of his regiments and one battalion toward Moorefield to intercept and cut off the enemy’s retreat. I at once ordered out all our available cavalry (about 100 men) and started down the South Branch to co-operate with him. General Averell’s command arrived in Moorefield about half past 3 o’clock, twenty minutes in advance of us. Col. Thompson, of the Third (West) Virginia, had marched out the Wardensville pike with his regiment, while Major Gibson occupied the town. I started Captain Greenfield after Colonel Thompson, with instructions not to rest until they heard from McNeill, and cut off his retreat, or until all the intersecting roads from the direction of the South Branch were occupied. This would have cut off McNeill’s retreat. Colonel Thompson went into camp before dark. Captain Greenfield, with his command, proceeded onward until he received what he believed to be reliable information that McNeill had crossed the pike at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, about 13 miles out of Moorefield. It was then 9 p.m., and with six hours of a start he thought it useless to pursue. He went into camp for the night and returned the next day. From a wagoner who made his escape at Brock’s Gap, I learn that McNeill did not cross the pike until after midnight, and then passed within 600 yards of Colonel Thompson’s camp. His force did not much exceed 100 men.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant

J. THOBURN,
Colonel, Commanding.

Lieut W. J. Russell, A. A. A.G., Second Div.

No. 5

Report of Lieut. Col. Francis W. Thompson, Third West Virginia Mounted Infantry.

CAMP NEAR NEW CREEK, W. Va.,

December 5, 1863.

LIEUTENANT: On the 16th of November, as the brigade was marching from Petersburg to New Creek, information was received by the commanding general that a supply train had been captured near Burlington. This information was given by two soldiers who said they were sent by a lieutenant, who heard that the train was captured and driven off; that there were 1,500 rebels, but on reflection said there were only 500. One of the men professed to know the country, and was sent by General Averell as guide, and was with me until the Ringgolds joined me; he belonged to that command. Being at the head of the column. I was ordered by General Averell to go in pursuit, taking the Third (West Virginia Mounted Infantry and Gibson’s battalion, in the direction of Moorefield, to pursue them vigorously, and subsist on the country, as we only did had rations to last to New Creek. The command was kept at a brisk walk, and a trot when possible. Soon after leaving the New Creek pike, a blockade of timber was found to obstruct the travel. This was sufficiently removed to enable the command to pass. The command arrived at Moorefield about 3 p.m. Gibson’s battalion was left there to guard the roads in that valley, in the direction of New Creek. I proceeded with the Third (West) Virginia toward Wardensville. Night overtook us near the intersection of the North River pike, our horses having traveled about 33 miles and no feed since morning. The horses were just off of a fifteen days’ raid, and many of them could not be kept up with the column. Supposing the enemy might be I the immediate neighborhood, I considered it impracticable to leave them behind. I halted the command to feed 1 mile down the North River pike, leaving one squadron to guard the Wardensville pike and sending one squadron 1 mile down the pike below camp. In half an hour after arriving there I was joined by the Ringgold battalion, commanded by Captain Greenfield.

It was decided on consultation with Captain Greenfield that he should proceed with his battalion to the Grassy Creek road, 10 miles below the Wardensville pike, that being the road the rebels must take to pass teams over. After Captain Greenfield left it was believed that the rebels had crossed the pike at 3 p.m. that day, with horses only, they having crossed at a place where there were no roads. This was also the information received by Captain Greenfield, the rebels having eight hours’ start before we found their trail. Owing to the worn-out condition of our horses, I thought it useless to follow them farther. The Ringgolds returned to Petersburg, via Moorefield and New Creek road. I went via the Grassy Creek road and Romney, arriving at New Creek on the evening of the 18th.

I am, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

F. W. THOMPSON,
Lieut. Col., Comdg. Third (West) Virginia Mounted Infantry.

Lieut. L. MARKBREIT,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Separate Brigade.

No. 6.

Report of Col. Daniel d. Johnson, Fourteenth West Virginia Infantry.

Petersburg, W.Va.,

November 19, 1863.

SIR: On the 16th instant, while escorting a provision train from New Creek Station, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, to this point, a regiment, and – officers and 40 enlisted men of the Second Maryland Volunteers (Potomac Home Brigade) were attacked by Captain McNeill’s rebel cavalry. The affair lasted about one hour, and occurred 3 ˝ miles south of Burlington, on the Burlington and Petersburg turnpike.

It becomes my painful duty to report the following casualties in this regiment resulting from this affair.*

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

DANIEL D. JOHNSON,
Colonel.

LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General.

*Nominal list reports Lieut. George H. Hardman and 1 enlisted man killed, 6 men wounded, and 1 man missing.

No. 7.

Report of Capt. Clinton Jeffers, Fourteenth West Virginia Infantry,

Petersburg, W. Va.,

November 20, 1863.

SIR: On the 15th of November, 1863, a train of wagons under my charge, consisting of eighty wagons loaded with quartermaster’s and commissary stores, as well as a number of sutlers’ wagons, left New Creek, W.Va., on their way to Petersburg, W.Va., and encamped that evening near Burlington, W.Va.

On the following morning we resumed the march at 7 o’clock, and the force under my command as guards, consisting of 1 lieutenant and 50 men of the Fourteenth (West) Virginia Regiment and 1 lieutenant and 40 men of the Second Maryland Volunteer Infantry, I disposed of as follows, viz: I placed 40 men in advance of the train, under command of First Lieut. George H. Hardman, Company C, Fourteenth (West) Virginia Regiment. In the rear I placed 40 men under command of Lieutenant Edwards, Second Maryland Regiment Volunteer Infantry, while I took position near the center of the train with 10 men, 4 of whom I threw forward between myself and the advanced guard, as a signal party.

About 9 a.m., as the center of the train was passing an old house by the roadside, near the residence of the notorious rebel, Pierce, the advance of the train, then making a short turn in the road in the woods beyond, were fired upon by a party of concealed rebels. Lieut. George H. Hardman, commanding the advance, being killed instantly by the first volley, threw the advance into confusion, but being rallied by Sergt. Silas W. Hare, of Company I, Fourteenth (West) Virginia Regiment, they fell back from the road into the woods, skirmishing at the same time with the rebels, who now charged after them in overwhelming force. I immediately sent forward the 6 men remaining with me, and started back to bring up the 40 men under command of Lieutenant Edwards. I had gone but a few steps, however, when the rebels began to poor out of the old house near the center road, and immediately commenced a fierce attack upon the center of the train, while at the same time a body of rebel cavalry made an attack upon the rear guard.

The firing now became general along the whole line, and I, being cut off from communication with my men, was pursued by a party of rebels, and had my horse shot dead under me while escaping. About this time the rear guard fell back and took a position in the edge of the woods, from whence they kept up a rapid fire upon the rebels. I now started to look for the advance, whom I found had fallen back and taken up position behind a fence, from which they kept up a spirited and telling fire upon the rebels, who were now busily engaged running horses off from the train and attempting to fire the wagons. The fire of our men, however, prevented them from burning but five wagons and injuring two others. About this time the rebels began to disappear rapidly with their plunder, which consisted only of horses.

When the fight first commenced, Capt. A. L. Holt, stationed at Burlington, hearing the noise of the firing, immediately started off to re-enforce us with the company of men under his command, but unfortunately arrived too late to participate in the engagement. His men, however, rendered valuable service in extinguishing the fire among the wagons.

From the best information I could gather the rebels numbered about 250 men, under the command of Captain McNeill, part cavalry and part infantry, while I had but 90 men under my command.

Our loss consisted of Lieutenant Hardman and 1 private, both of the Fourteenth (West) Virginia Regiment, killed in the engagement, besides 1 missing and 6 wounded of the same regiment. Of the Second Maryland Regiment, there were 6 wounded and 4 missing.

The loss of the enemy I could not ascertain, but it must have been considerable. They left 1 of their men, supposed mortally wounded, in our hands.

Our loss in horses will probably amount to 150.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CLINTON JEFFERS,
Captain, Co. B, Fourteenth West Virginia Regiment.

Lieut. H. G. Johnson
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


Richmond Daily Dispatch
November 30, 1863

McNeill's capture in Hampshire county.

A participant in the last raid of Capt. McNeill in Hampshire county, relates the following with reference to the affair: The soldiers engaged numbered one hundred and eleven, consisting of McNeill's own company of sixty-eight men, thirty-four men from the 62d regiment, commanded by Lt. Jno. B. Moorman, and nine men of Capt. Enright's company, under command of Lt. Fleming. Nearly a week was spent in the vicinity of Moorefield, watching for a Yankee train to come along; and they would have intercepted a train near that place but for the desertion of two men of White's command, who informed the enemy of their designs. On Monday morning, the 16th inst., some three miles from Burlington, and fifteen from New Creek, in Hampshire, they came up with a train consisting of eighty wagons, loaded with commissary and sutlers' stores. The train was guarded by about 120 men, cavalry and infantry. A brisk skirmish ensued, in which we had one man mortally wounded and three or four others severely injured. The enemy lost fifteen or twenty killed and thirty-four prisoners. The wagons were fired and the most of them destroyed; but the horses, numbering 245, with their harness, were brought off safely.--About 600 of Averill's cavalry followed the party as far as Bean's Settlement, in Hardy county, where they gave up the chase.


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

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