July 15, 1864
Delegate Wheat, of Morgan county, recently abducted by rebel guerrillas from his home, arrived in the city yesterday from Washington, after “a good trip” as he calls it, to Richmond.
July 16, 1864
We had a conversation yesterday with Mr. Wheat, “the member from Morgan,” as he familiarly known here in the Legislature last winter, who on the 19th of March last, in company with Senator Bechtol and the Prosecuting Attorney of Morgan county, was captured by the guerrillas at his home and carried off to Richmond. He is the same man exactly that he was before his captivity, and we do not gather that he has any more love for the rebels. We feel sure that the guerrillas thought they had caught a Tarter before they had progressed far, for Wheat is a man for plain talk everywhere and under all circumstances, “if he dies for it.” He told them just what he thought of their act in this capture – of all their other acts – of all that was connected with them and their confederacy. Mr. Wheat says that he was not used roughly on his trip – not half so much so as he expected, and certainly nothing like he would have been a year or two ago. The rebels have an idea that their confederacy is a long ways from a fixed thing – that there is: lease a chance that it will never become a fixed thing, and that, therefore, the best thing they can do it to imitate the unjust afterward in the Scriptures, who proposed in such a novel way to make the best out of his bad case.
Mr. Wheat showed us a list of the citizen prisoners who were confined in his room in Castle Thunder – nearly all of whom were from other states. He told his fellow prisoners when he entered the room that he had not come to stay long with them: that he had left a Governor at home who was not in the habit of permitting his people to be stolen without at least making an effort to get them back again. As to this point, Mr. Wheat assured them that there would be no mistake, and he says that he never for a moment doubted his speedy release, although he had no intimation of such a thing. The first news that he had of the arrest of hostages on behalf of himself and Mr. Bechtol and the Prosecuting attorney, was conveyed to him by the arrival of a copy of the Wheeling Intelligencer in Richmond, from which one of the papers there made extracts. – The news made him feel very jubilant.
The negroes brought papers into the prison every morning, selling them for fifty cents, and half sheets at that. He says that it was amusing to watch their intercourse with the Union prisoners to whom they were strongly and serviceably attached. Even although watched by the guard very closely, yet the negroes while making change would always have a bit of outside news, not published in the papers, as to the real situation near the city, so far as they could gather it from the expressed apprehensions of the whites. A sharper set of fellows than those negroes he says he never saw. The Union men implicitly trusted them is important, matters and never were once betrayed.
When Mr. Wheat and his Morgan county companions were released the other prisoner seemed to think that West Virginia was rare enough a live State, and that she exercised an influence in the capital of reb ____.
From Morgan County.
July 14, 1864
From Morgan County.
Sir John’s Run, W.V., July 8, 1864.
Senator Bechtol, Robert Finn, Prosecuting Attorney, and T.M. Shives, Esq., who were captured by a band of Imboden’s men under O’Ferrell, on the 19th of March last, at Bath, have been released on parole, and arrived home. Delegate Wheat, one of the captured party, was also released and is in Washington.
On Tuesday, July 7th, the rebel Gen. Smith entered Bath with 2000 men, and remained for two days. Every Union house was pillaged, and the rebels carried away all clothing they could lay their hands on. Marauding parties scoured the county and carried away a large number of horses. The clerk’s office at Bath was broken into and most of the county records destroyed.
On Wednesday the rebel chieftain O’Ferrell, with about 300 men, marched to this place for the purpose of destroying the railroad property. He was opposed by Capt. Dean Co. K, 153d Ohio, and fifty men, who were stationed in their rifle pits on the Maryland side. The rebels succeeded in burning the telegraph office, and made an effort to burn the place but were prevented by the gallant Ohioans, whose well directed shots brought down the rebel torch-bearers. After the fight had progressed for four hours, a train with an iron clad car attached to it, came in and the rebels under the impression that it was a train loaded with Government stores, rushed down the bill pell mell, to capture it. As they reached it they received a broadside and hastily retreated swearing that a “d----d old rail car shot at them.” They were pursued by our troops and left the county of Morgan in a hurry.
O’Ferrell was elected Clerk of Morgan County when but eighteen years old and an orphan, dependent on his own exertions for a support. A generous people whose sympathies were enlisted in his behalf and almost for the first time in history elected to a responsible office, a mere boy, are now being repaid for their disinterested kindness, by being robbed of their horses and driven from their home to seek refuge in the mountains.
Series 2, Volume 6, 1116
RICHMOND, VA., April 1, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded to His Excellency Governor Smith through Brigadier-General Winder. The prisoners are in Eastern District Prison.
IS. H. CARRINGTON,
Harrisonburg, March 29, 1864.
Brigadier General J. D. IMBODEN, Commanding Valley District:
GENERAL: I have in my guard-house four prisoners, captured in Bath, Morgan County, W. Va., by Major O'Ferrall on his recent trip to that place, viz: Aaron Bechtol and Joseph S. Wheat, members of the bogus Virginia Legislature; Robert Finn and S. M. Shrives, members of the Union League. I respectfully refer you to Mr. C. A. Swann and Major Buck, very respectable and reliable citizens of Morgan County, who have had to leave their homes partly on account of these very men, for information respecting them. Major Buck has informed me that the first named, Aaron Bechtol, headed a party of Yankees who stole and destroyed a large amount of his property. You will please indicate what disposition shall be made of them.
I am, general, very truly, your obedient servant,
J. R. NUNN,
Lieutenant and Provost-Marshal.
HEADQUARTERS VALLEY DISTRICT, March 29, 1864.
Lieutenant Nunn, provost-marshal at Harrisonburg, will forward Bechtol and Wheat, members of the bogus Legislature at Wheeling, and Finn, the bogus Commonwealth's attorney of Morgan County, to Richmond to His Excellency Governor Smith, as these men are guilty of treason against the State. Shrives will be sent to Castle Thunder on the charge of aiding and abetting the public enemy and being a member of a treasonable organization known as the Union League. I earnestly request the authorities at Richmond not to release these men without giving me the opportunity of proving their offenses.
J. D. IMBODEN,
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: March 1864