Series 1 - Volume 33
Report of Col. Jacob M. Campbell, Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Infantry,
commanding First Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE,
Cumberland, Md., February 24, 1864.
LIEUTENANT: In obedience to your letter of the 23d instant, directing me to report “what damage was done to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, or any part thereof; where the troops of your (my) brigade were stationed; what bridges on said road were destroyed or injured; whether such bridges were protected by blockhouses or otherwise, and through whose fault, if any, the injury occurred; also what, if any, losses of men, animals, transportation, ordnance, quartermaster’s and commissary stores, in the last two movements of the rebel force in West Virginia, and also, as far as you have the means of knowing, the captures from and losses to the enemy in these operations,” I have the honor to report as follows:
At the time of the first rebel raid—January 4, 1864—I was stationed at Springfield, W. Va., with the Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Infantry, and Battery E, First Virginia Volunteer Artillery. At 6 p. m. on that day I received orders from Brig. Gen. B. F. Kelley, commanding Department of West Virginia, to move to Cumberland, Md., by way of Patterson’s Creek, but which was afterward changed, directing me to move by way of Green Spring at once. This last dispatch was received at 8 p. m. My orders were to reach Cumberland at daylight. I immediately began the movement. My supply train had that evening arrived from Green Spring with a load of supplies. This materially reduced my means of transportation, and I had no time to send out to press teams, if, indeed, I could have found any in the neighborhood. Yet I took off all my stores except a few sacks of grain and some other stores of but little value, which were concealed in the night and afterward recovered by a scouting party sent out for that purpose. I arrived at Cumberland about daylight, January 5, having lost neither men, animals, or stores.
At the time of the second raid—February 2, 1864—I was stationed at Cumberland, Md. On that day Company F, Capt. John W. Hibler, Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, with 57 men of my brigade, was stationed at Patterson’s Creek bridge, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and a detachment of the company at the North Branch bridge as pickets. I had warned Captain Hibler to be on the alert and to keep scouts well out, but it seems that General Rosser (rebel), with from 400 to 500 cavalry, succeeded in penetrating to Patterson’s Creek bridge on the 2d of February. His advance guard were dressed in Federal uniforms, and succeeded in getting up to Captain Hibler’s by representing themselves as part of the Ringgold Cavalry (Union), and thus successively captured all the pickets on the Patterson’s Creek road, and then rapidly dashed into camp while the men were at dinner. A slight skirmish ensued, in which we had 1 man killed, 1 mortally and 3 slightly wounded. The rebels captured 1 captain and 36 men, with all the camp and garrison equipage of the company, 40 Enfield rifles, and 4,000 rounds of rifle cartridges. They then set fire to the Patterson’s Creek bridge, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and thence went to the North Branch bridge, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and fired it, the guard at the latter bridge making their escape.
I may here say that as there was known to be a large Union force some 18 miles south and west of Patterson’s Creek, and part of the Ringgold Cavalry there, taken in connection with the fact that the rebels wore our uniform and claimed to be Union cavalry, may, in a measure, account for the pickets being deceived.
Neither the Patterson’s Creek bridge nor the North Branch bridge were protected by block-houses, and the only protection for them was the company of infantry which the rebels captured.
As soon as the news of the rebel force being at Patterson’s Creek was received at this place, one company of the Ringgold Cavalry, Captain Myers, was dispatched to that point, and arrived at the North Branch bridge in time to put out the fire. Neither of the bridges—mere trestle-works—were totally destroyed. Captain Myers, immediately after putting out the fire, pushed on after the enemy. This is all the loss any portion of my brigade sustained, and the partial destruction of the two above-mentioned bridges being all the injury done to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. A scouting party from this place captured during the last raid 1 rebel captain. This is all the loss I know of the rebels sustaining.
As to whose fault it was that the injury occurred, whether the fault was with the large force that lay some 18 miles in front, near the junction of the Burlington and Patterson’s Creek roads, or with the mere detachments of a small company of infantry at the two bridges, I am not prepared to say. I am, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. CAMPBELL, Colonel, Commanding First Brigade.
Lieut. M. J. RUSSELL,
Acting Assistant Adjutant- General.
February 6, 1864
A LETTER from Cumberland says that in the attack of the rebel Rouser on the company of infantry stationed at Patterson’s Creek bridge, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, last Tuesday, two of our men were killed and ten wounded. The greater part of the company was captured. This accomplished, the Rebels set fire to the bridge, and leaving it to destruction, started off with their prisoners in the direction of Romney. The employees of the railroad succeeded in staying the fire and saved the bridge. With only slight damage.
General Averill, with his command of nearly two thousand cavalry, and who had been sent from the Martinsburgh [sic] by General Kelley overtook the Rebels near Springfield, and a severe engagement ensued. The Rebels were driven through Springfield and thence to and south of Burlington.
Many of the Rebels were killed and wounded and our captured are large including the recovery of our own men taken at Patterson’s Creek, and many horses. The enemy are making rapid tracks for the back country, hotly pursued by our cavalry.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1864