January 30, 1864
Rebel Raid Broken Up
HEADQUARTERS 13TH W. V. J.,
BARBOURSVILLE, Cabell co., W. V.
January 30, 1864
On the morning of the 27th of this month at about five o’clock, information was received at these Headquarters, that a body of rebels, said to number about one hundred in all, were within some five miles of this post, and were moving in the direction of the town of Guyandotte. Upon receiving this intelligence, Capt. Witcher, with twenty-five of his company, the rest being out on a scout, was ordered to proceed down to the Guyandotte river, on the opposite side from where the rebels were supposed to be. This done, he crossed at its mouth and proceeded up the river to Russell’s creek, a distance of one mile.—Here he learned that a body of rebels, under the command of the notorious Hurstin Spurlock, had left but a short time before, having captured Mr. Smith, Deputy Sheriff of this county, and robbed him of $500.—They also captured Mr. Wright, Commissioner of the Revenue, John Furgerson, Esq., and four veteran soldiers from the 5th and 9th W. V. Infantry, and then started in the direction of Wayne C. H. The Captain continued his pursuit, and after going some two miles, learned that they had divided their force, part going in the direction of the Beech Fork and part in the direction of the falls of Twelve Pole. This latter force being commanded by Captain Spurlock. The object of this force was to capture Esquire Barber and other civil officers in Wayne county. The pursuit was kept up with great vigor and determination and at about ten o’clock they came up with the enemy at Esq. Barber’s, whom they had arrested just arrested. This was six miles from Wayne C. H. Here the enemy, thirty in number, were strongly posted on the top of a hull; a charge was immediately made firing briskly as our forces advance, and after skirmishing some thirty minutes, the enemy gave way, flying in all directions for the woods. Our forces pursued hotly and succeeded in capturing one sergeant and three privates. Three of the enemy were killed and several wounded. We captured ten guns, five revolvers, two horses, and recaptured two soldiers from the 9th W. V. Infantry and two citizens.—The balance of the prisoners, with the papers and money, had been sent through with the direction of Beech Fork and consequently were not recaptured.
Capt. Witcher’s force being small and within a few miles of the rebel camp, he deemed it imprudent to remain longer in that vicinity and returned to Barboursville, which place he reached about sunset having traveled some forty miles, started before breakfast fasted twenty-four hours swam Guyandotte river, and arrived in camp without the loss of a single man.—One horse was wounded in five places but not seriously. This Captain Spurlock is one of the most desperate men in the country brave, determined and uncompromising. He has been an active and daring enemy ever since the outbreak of the rebellion. He has been in most all the fights in this part of the State and without doubt has taken the life of many a loyal soldier. Yea, he had on his head, when arrested, a hat taken from the head of one of our Lieutenants, when his traitorous hands had taken the life of at Round Bottom, on Big Sandy river, but a short before. He has robbed the loyal citizens of Wayne and adjoining counties of thousands of dollars worth of their property under the false pretense that he had the right to do so because they were disloyal to his rotten confederacy. There is no man in the country against whom the loyal people of this county have so large as account to settle because of his barbarous and inhuman treatment towards them. He is a perferct maniac upon the nigger, and it would be a blessing to the country if he were sent to Johnson’s Island, and kept in close confinement until his beloved confederacy, is which the seems to have so much confidence, be sunk into utter oblivion.
Capt. Witcher and his brave little band deserve the congratulations of the country or the brave and gallant manner in which they pursued and dispersed this rebel horde of incendiaries.
W. W. H.
Series 1, Volume 51, Part 1, pp. 211-12
Report of Capt. John S. Witcher, Third West Virginia Cavalry.
BARBOURSVILLE, W. VA., January 29, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that in pursuance to orders received from you on the 27th instant I marched at daylight on the 27th with twenty-five men of my company in pursuit of a body of rebels who were reported to be in the vicinity of Guyandotte. I marched to Guyandotte, crossed the suspension bridge, and went up to the mouth of Russell’s Creek, about one mile above the mouth of Guyandotte River. I there learned that a body of rebels under the command of the notorious Capt. Hurston Spurlock had been there and after capturing Mr. Smith, the deputy sheriff of Cabell County, whom they robbed of about $500, and Mr. Wright, commissioner of the revenue of Cabell County, John Ferguson, a magistrate, and four or five veteran soldiers of the Fifth and Ninth Virginia Volunteers, they had left the neighborhood, taking the direct road to Wayne Court-House. I pursued them until I came to the forks of the road about two miles and a half from Guyandotte. I there found that they had divided their force, one party going on the Beach Fork road and the other the forks of Twelve Pole road. From the best information that I could obtain at this point, I was satisfied that the largest party had gone by the Twelve Pole road; this party numbered about thirty men. My force not being large enough to divide, I pushed on after this party with my whole command. I came up with them about 10 o’clock at Squire Barbour’s (whom they had just arrested), about six miles from Wayne Court-House, the headquarters of the rebel Colonel Ferguson. I found Captain Spurlock here, strongly posted on a hill with thirty men. I immediately charged his position, firing briskly as I advanced, and after a spirited skirmish lasting about half an hour the rebels gave way and fled in all directions through the woods. I ordered a vigorous pursuit, and two of my men, recognizing Captain Spurlock with five of his men, gave chase, and after pursuing them about a mile succeeded in capturing Captain Spurlock and killing one of his men. Captain Spurlock fought bravely, firing at us every opportunity. He shot one of my horses five times with his own hand. The result of the engagement was the capture of Capt. Hurston Spurlock and 4 of his men, killing 3, recapturing 2 soldiers of the Ninth Virginia Volunteers and 2 citizens. I also captured 10 Enfield rifles, 5 revolvers, and 3 horses. I learned from the prisoners that they had sent Mr. Smith, the sheriff Mr. Wright, the commissioner, and Squire Ferguson to Wayne Court-House by the other route thus preventing their recapture; they had also disposed of the money and papers taken from Mr. Smith by sending them by another route. Lieutenant-Colonel Hall, with a detachment of the Thirteenth Virginia Infantry, came up just after the engagement, but our united forces being small, lie deemed it prudent not to advance nearer to Wayne Court House, and ordered me to return to Barboursville, which place I reached about sunset, having traveled about forty miles in twelve hours without stopping long enough to get anything to eat for either men or horses. I was compelled to swim the Guyandotte River on my return, in doing which I had one horse drowned.
J. S. WITCHER,
Captain, Commanding Company G, Third Virginia Cavalry.
Col. W. H. BROWN,
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: January 1864