Series 1, Volume 29, Part 1
DECEMBER 7-11, 1863. – Scout in Hampshire, Hardy, Frederick, and Shenandoah Counties, and Destruction of Columbian Iron-Works, W. Va.
Report of Col. John E. Wynkoop, Twentieth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
CAMP NEAR SPRINGFIELD, W.Va.,
December 11, 1863.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that Capt. Theodore F. Singiser, commanding scouts sent out in pursuance of an order from your headquarters, has returned. His force consisted of 96 men, and with this command he marched through the counties of Hampshire, Hardy, Frederick, and Shenandoah, penetrating to a distance of 15 miles south, and west of Woodstock, traveling ground for the march from this camp on Monday last, reaching the Cacapon Bridge about sunset.
On the following day he moved in the direction of Wardensville, his advance harassed by small parties of the enemy, who fired upon them from the mountain sides. Information of his approach having been commuted, about noon of the following day he encountered the enemy’s cavalry, some 25 men, commanded by Lieutenant White, of White’s battalion, whom he charged and dispersed, capturing 2 of their number. He pushed on rapidly with his command toward the Columbian Iron-Works, which are situated 15 miles west of Woodstock and an equal distance from Mount Jackson, General Imboden’s headquarters (and about 75 miles from Springfield). Here he was met by the enemy’s vedettes, who were completely surprised and fell into his hands without resistance. Hurrying forward, he scattered the reserve, 3 of whom were severely wounded.
He then proceeded to destroy the iron-works, which he did most effectually, burning the structure and breaking up the engine. These works were of an extensive character, employing 35 men, and have been in operation for a long period, furnishing large quantities of material to the rebel Government. The enemy had frequently boasted that their position secured them from danger. It is believed that the loss will be keenly felt and can be but illy supplied.
Three miles beyond the Columbian are situated Newman’s Iron Works. Captain Singiser received information that these were guarded by 160 men, with two pieces of artillery. The strength of his command did not warrant him in attempting an assault and he made preparations to return.
At Woodstock he dispersed the rebel pickets, cut the telegraph wires, and moved on rapidly toward Strasburg, reaching there at nightfall, where he received intelligence that White, with 400 men, had started in pursuit, and was then but 8 miles in his rear. He made but a brief halt and pushed on toward Winchester, near which he bivouacked, passing through the town on the succeeding day, eluding White, and arriving safely in camp at an early hour this morning, without the loss of a single man, bringing with him 5 prisoners and a team of 7 mules marked with the government brand.
I would most respectfully commend the conduct of Captain Singiser, his officers and men, to your consideration, their exploit, in my opinion, reflecting great credit upon themselves and the regiment.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. E. WYNKOOP,
Colonel, Comdg. Twentieth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Lieut. Wm. H. Rose,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: December 1863