Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
February 11, 1864

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Series 1 - Volume 33

p. 151-54

FEBRUARY 11, 1864.

Gilmor's Raid on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.


No. 1.Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley, U.S. Army,

No. 2.Maj. Gen. James E. B. Stuart, C. S. Army,

No. 3.Synopsis of testimony as to robbery of the passenger.

No. 1.

Report of Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley, U. S. Army.

CUMBERLAND, MD., February 12, 1864.

(Received 8.45 p. m.)

The express train west last night was thrown off the track near Kearneysville by a band of Gilmor's guerrillas, numbering about 25. They did not burn the train or take away any prisoners, but robbed the conductor and passengers of quite a sum of money. Brigadier-General Sullivan reports his cavalry in pursuit. General Duffie reports his cavalry had captured a portion of the guerrilla force that took General Scammon, but does not say that the general is recaptured.


Brigadier-General CULLUM,

Chief of Staff.

No, 2.

Report of Mai. Gen. James E. B. Stuart, C. S. Army.

February 24, 1864. On the night of the 11th instant he, with 20 men, penetrated to the railroad at Browns Shop, between Kearneysville and Duffield's Depot, attacked the express train from Baltimore, threw it from the track, disabling the engine and damaging the track. He captured nearly 90 prisoners, but owing to the proximity of the enemy was compelled to abandon them, having taken away their arms. He returned to Mount Jackson without loss, although pursued, as lie states, as far as Strasburg by four or five regiments.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Col. R. H. CHILTON, Chief of Staff.

No. 3.

Synopsis of testimony as to robbery of the passengers.*


The first proof is a letter from Mr. Phil. Williams, of Winchester, a very prominent citizen, whom Hyman consulted on his arrival at that place. The letter is to General Early, and is dated February 15, 1864. It contains Hymans version of the robbery. Hyman says that as he passed a brick house on the west side of the road near Woodstock (north of it), he saw 7 Confederate cavalry; that the same 7 men passed him as he was approaching Strasburg, at Fishers Hill. Hyman had two wagons, driven by two sons of Mr. Cross, of Newtown, and there was a young man in one of them named Grove, also of Newtown, who remarked as the men passed, "There goes Cherry." (Grove subsequently denied having made the remark.) There was also with Hyman a boy of about seventeen years of age named Ezekiel, from Richmond. The men halted at the foot of the hill near the river, and one of them rode back to the wagons and asked Hyman if he had any papers. He showed his passports, when the man said he wanted his purse. Hyman gave him a small purse with ten gold dollars and some paper money, when the man said to him that he had a belt on while money in it, which he wanted. Hyman had on two belts, and while he was trying to get off one without showing the other was knocked down and robbed of about $6,000 in gold (chiefly twenty-dollar pieces), a silver watch, a great coat (invisible green with yellow silk sleeve linings), in the pocket of which was a fur collar and a small Hebrew prayer-book. There was taken from young Ezekiel a lady's gold watch and a belt containing a number of silver coins and medals.

It appears from the letter of Colonel Carrington, provost-marshal at Richmond, that soon after the robbery General Winder sent two detectives to the valley to investigate the matter, at the request of the father of Ezekiel. These detectives reported that they were convinced that Cherry and some other men committed the robbery; that they determined to arrest Cherry, and were piloted by a negro 6 miles beyond Strasburg in search of him. Fearing foul play they turned back, but on searching the negro found on him the watch stolen from young Ezekiel, which was subsequently identified by his father. They did not bring off the negro because they said they were afraid to encumber themselves with him. It should be mentioned that the detectives got Mr. Williams letter from General Early before they went down the valley. On March 9, 1864, a letter was written by a Maj. E. W. Cross from Harrisonburg to Colonel Carrington, in which he charges that the detectives did find out the guilty parties but were bribed to say nothing. Cross says that he had examined some of the money said to have been taken at the railroad robbery, but that all was marked in a peculiar manner. (In Mr. William's letter it was stated that the stolen money was marked.) Cross further says that the perpetrators were generally known in the vicinity of Harrisonburg. He gives the names of a number of persons who can show some of the money. He also states that Major Gilmor, while under the influence of liquor, had boasted that he had arranged the whole affair. He says he can name every man concerned but could not prove the fact, but gives the names of others who can; also states that Gilmor had boasted that he had arranged the matter with the detectives, and could man- age the whole detective force of the Government.

The papers above referred to were sent by the department to General Imboden, with orders to investigate the whole matter. The proof obtained by General Imboden was as follows:

Captain Owings, quartermaster of Gilmor's battalion, states that Gilmor gave him $160 in gold to buy a horse with, and told him that most of it was taken from a Jew, and that he had arranged the affair, though he did not take the money personally. Gilmor stated that Cherry, Martin, and others were engaged; other names not remembered. The robbery took place below Harrisonburg. The conversation took place soon after Gilmor's return from the railroad expedition. Gilmor was in liquor when the conversation occurred.

Captain Ross, of Gilmor's battalion, testifies that he conversed with several of the men engaged in the railroad robbery, who told him they got no gold. He talked with Martin, and told him that if he had had anything to do with robbing the Jew named Hyman he had better make a clean breast of it. Martin said that he met Major Gilmor near Fishers Hill with other men not recognized. He did not know Gilmor until the latter hailed him, nor was Gilmor riding his own horse. Gilmor ordered Martin with some others to follow a wagon then near to a certain place, and take out two boys named Cross and remove them out of sight of the wagon. The wagon contained Jews. Martin's share of the gold was about $800. Gilmor acknowledged to Captain Ross that he had arranged the affair of robbing the Jew; had put the men concerned all right, and had stood off and seen the thing well done.

Quartermaster-Sergeant Gorsuch, of Gilmors battalion, testifies that the men got but little gold, if any, from the railroad.

Private John Bosley, Company C, Gilmor's battalion, told Gorsuch that he had seen a pile of gold in the possession of Major Gilmor.

Private Todd, of Company C, told Bosley that he (Todd) had received about $800, and also that Major Gilmor, Cherry, Mel. Todd, Martin, and one man in McNeill's company were engaged in robbing the Jew. Bosley also stated that Martin had given more than $500 to Cherry's mother, in Staunton.

Private Bosley testified substantially as above. Says that M. Todd admitted that he was engaged in the robbery, and gave the names of the others above mentioned. Todd says his share was about $860, and that there were eight persons concerned.

Private Harding, Company C, testifies that he stopped all night below Woodstock the day after the railroad affair, and that the next morning he met Gilmor, ex-Lieutenant Billings, and Snodgrass, with two or three others, going down the valley, and a man remarked that he would "bet the major was on the make now."

Lieutenant Kemp testifies that he heard Cherry say that he had placed some money in the hands of Todd; do not know how much. Heard that all the money stolen was gold. Heard Major Gilmor say that he was not there, or that they would not catch him in the affair; does not remember the words.

In Major Gilmors report of the attack on the railroad he says Cherry was present, but he was not aware of it until after the affair was over.


Gilmor's report states the reasons why he did not bring off the prisoners taken in the cars. Alleges that the robbery of the passengers was without his knowledge and against his orders. States that he took about $900 in greenbacks from the mailbags. Most of the men got money, but would not admit how much. That when the train was first attacked he went to get in the express car to break open the safe, but went into the smoking-car by mistake. The robbery took place while he was engaged in the express and smoking car, where one of the passengers attacked him. The report shows that the principal attention was given to plunder.

Sergeant Levy, Company B, testifies that Gilmor gave orders the evening before not to molest citizens or ladies.

William Gilmor, Company C, testifies to the robbery at the cars, and that he heard Major Gilmor say that if any more citizens were robbed the robber should be shot. More robberies were committed.

Quartermaster Sergeant Gorsuch proves that men who were on the expedition admitted that they robbed citizens, except those in the ladies car. Pistols, money, and clothing were taken.

Private Bosley testifies to the admissions of men engaged on the railroad that they had robbed passengers. One man took a watch from a lady.

Private Harding testifies that they were ordered not to take anything from the employees of the railroad, but understood they might take from citizens. He remonstrated against the proceeding, and told Gilmor there were as good Southern men as himself in the train. One man got $13 in gold and silver. Gilmor told them they might take anything from the conductor or from the express agent.

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer

February 16, 1864

The rebels under Gilmore, when they boarded the train of cars which they stopped at Kearneysville on Friday morning, inquired for the Messenger of the Adams Express Company, that they might get the keys of his safe. Mr. Ishade, the agent sort of concealed himself under some mail bags, and all the passengers were wonderfully ignorant of his whereabouts. The rebels examined the safe, turned it over and looked at it very wistfully, but as they had not time to break it open and it was too heavy to carry off, they were compelled to abandon it. The safe contained about four thousand dollars in money.

The Baltimore papers say that several members of the Maryland State Legislature, delegates from the Western counties, were among the passengers, but on the occasion are represented to have been quite taciturn as to their official positions. Their greenbacks, watches, &c., are said to have formed a part of their booty.

The scene inside the train after the affair is said to have been mournfully indictors. As certain of the passengers would bring forth from a hiding place various amounts of greenback or other valuables, which, however, was from time to time well balanced by imprecations and mournful announcements of losses on the part of others.

The other whole affair, indeed, is a strange and novel one; the first time since the war, it is alleged, that passenger train has been captured not destroyed. As to who the raiders really were so many various opinions have been expressed that nothing definite can yet be stated on that score. It was thought by some that it was done by a local predatory band, organized for that purpose of plundering at every opportunity. The fact that no prisoners were taken off was regarded as arguing rather strongly that they were not regular rebels.

The complete success of the daring affair created quite an excitement in military circles, and it was stated that a thorough investigation would be made is regard to it.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
February 19, 1864

The Railroad Raid near Harper's Ferry.

The Baltimore American, of Saturday, has the following notice of the capture of a railroad train near Harper's Ferry, by Gilmer's cavalry. It says: The train which left Baltimore at six o'clock on Thursday evening reached Harper's Ferry about 11 o'clock, and moved on towards Martinsburg, having on board a goodly number of passengers bound West. When at Kearneysville, about nine miles beyond Harper's Ferry and ten miles this side of Martinsburg, the train encountered a pile of rails on the back, and the locomotive was thrown off, but going at a slow speed, no damage was done.

As soon as the train was stopped a crowd of armed rebels, about forty in number, surrounded it and took possession of the passenger cars. They then went round and searched and robbed each passenger, commanding each to "stand and deliver" their watches, pocket-books, and other valuables. The work is said to have been done most thoroughly, with all the grace and sang froid of experienced highwaymen. Even their pocket-knives and toothpicks did not escape the plunderers. Those who did the robbing were accompanied by pistol- holders, who thrust the muzzles under the noses of the victims whilst they were being plundered.

They did not touch the engage train or Adams Express car, and when they had finished their work with the passengers, mounted their horses and left. The locomotive was soon put upon the track and proceeded on to Cumberland.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
February 22, 1864

The Capture of an Express train on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

We have already given an account from the Baltimore American of the capture of an express train on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, on Thursday week. The capture of this train was made by Major Gilmer's battalion of independent rangers, at a point in Jefferson county known as Brown's Shop, about midway between Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg. At both of these points there was a heavy force of the enemy, and, after the capture of the train was discovered, detachments were sent out to intercept Gilmer's band. The train was the Express from Baltimore, and on board of it were eighty armed Yankee's, all of whom, with their arms fell into Gilmer's hand. Major G.'s force consisted of but twenty-eight men. Among the passengers on board the train was ex-Senator Bright, of Indiana, who is reported to have rather enjoyed his capture by our forces.

The results of the capture were about $100,000 in greenbacks, 100 fine revolvers, a large lot of sabres, several gold watches, and many other articles of value.

Being closely pursued by a heavy column of the enemy, Maj. Gilmer found it necessary to let the prisoners off, which he did with great regret.

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1864

West Virginia Archives and History