Gen. Averillís Men.
January 1, 1864
Gen. Averillís Men.
Clarksburg, Harrison Co., W.Va.,
December 29, 1863.
General Averillís troops having arrived at Webster last evening from their more than Alpine raid, I stepped aboard the cars this morning and ran down to see the boys and learn how such a wonderful, rapid and almost super-human raid and march in mid-winter, through mountain gorges, icy glades and frozen or swollen rivers, into which they plunged, both man and horse, either to swim or sink to rise no more, had left the command.
I found them encamped (if without a single tent could be called camp, their tents having been burnt by order of that miserable coward General Roberts last May,) about five miles from Webster, in a monstrous big meadow, with nothing but old mother earth under them, with here and there a sprinkle of hay, and nought above (with the exception of gum blankets) but the canopy of heaven and the blue ethereal through which these frosty nights twinkles the bright wintery star Ė that star the soldier loves so well, an emblem in his countryís flag. The men, so far as I observed, appeared cheerful, and not a murmur escaped a single lip, although many were more or less frozen, and some it was feared would lose their feet by amputation. The poor horses showed sadly the hardships they had endured, some sixty or eighty having perished by the way, but their places had been supplied by those captured. Most of the boys have some little trophies as mementoes of the dreadful, trying ordeal through which they had just passed. One of them handed me a bundle of Dixie papers captured at Salem. The bundle represents Richmond, Lynchburg, Stanton, &c., -- rather poor specimens of half sheets, and all in all (having got soaked in the raid) a pretty hard looking set, and in appearance much resembled the present plight of these weatherbeaten troops. Amongst them is a veritable Dixie Almanac for 1864, a curiosity in its way, containing some very useful, (to us) statistics and tables, and giving the precise time Judge G. W. Thompson holds the 20th, and Judge G. D. Camden the 21st Circuit Courts. Also the quarterly terms of County Courts for Ohio, Harrison may be of much use to you in enlightening the people of Wheeling and citizens general, and as you may find something useful and attractive in the papers, (I canít unless it is their miserable appearance and lying meanness,) I send the bundle to you.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: December 1863