Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
May 5, 1864

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 6, 1864


A considerable sensation was produced on the streets yesterday by rumors that a force of rebels had succeeded in reaching the Baltimore road at New Creek and Piedmont, and in destroying a large amount of government and railroad property at those points. For some hours early in the day no telegraphic communication could be had with those points, and it was impossible to get at the truth of the rumors afloat. Such news as we had came round on the northern lines from Baltimore.

Toward evening the direct lines were in working order and it was then found that a gang of guerillas, probably McNiel's [sic] or Harness' men, had crept in over the tops of the mountains and descended on Piedmont, and there fired some of the workshop buildings belonging to the company, to what extent is not yet known. So far as ascertained no trains were caught, but it is feared that some cars, and possibly engines, standing at Piedmont, were injured or destroyed. The track is believed to be uninjured. The Express train left here last night as usual, and the mail train will go out this morning, as also will the regular freight and stock trains.

The enemy did not make their appearance at New Creek, for the reason, we suppose, that they found themselves too weak to attempt a raid on that point. It is not believed that they numbered more than fifty men, if that, and for the reason that their movement was sudden and totally unexpected. They must have crept in through the mountains in a very stealthy manner, and concentrated very near the post?? of attack.

The great movements now going on, requiring as they do the concentration of our troops, afford opportunities for the guerillas which they are endeavoring to improve, and hence we must expect trouble from them. Their aim, in part, is to get plunder, and in part, to create a diversion. We are forced to choose between exposing our frontier or weakening the grand central operations in progress, and the government for good reasons no doubt, chooses the former risk.

If the concentrated movements shall prove to be as vigorous as we are led to suppose they will be, we will not long be be [sic] exposed to these incursions on the railroad. Once the central column of the rebels is thoroughly and effectually broken, all its flanks and projections will scatter and disappear like chaff in the storm.

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 7, 1864


We have some further particulars from the recent guerilla raid on the Baltimore road at Piedmont. Unfortunately our information yesterday was much below the mark in respect to the damage done to the property of the road. It seems that in all about a quarter of a million worth of property was destroyed. All, or nearly all, the extensive workshops of the company were burned, including four engines and the expensive machinery used for the manufacture and repair of cars. Two freight cars, loaded, and one passenger train were captured and partially burned and partially thrown over the bank. The guerillas made good use of their time and did great damage. It will be hard indeed to repair their mischief.

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 7, 1864


The Washington City Star says: Among the captures made by the rebel guerillas in their last raid upon the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Piedmont was the capture of Mr. Wadsworth, an opposition member of Congress from Kentucky, who was held for some three hours and then let go, in (to Mr. W ) blissful ignorance of the value of their prize.

"We hear, also, that a hundred soldiers of our Veteran Reserve or Invalid Corps were taken on the same train with their arms in their hands, but without a single cartridge or cartouche-box, for which the officer in command of them should be instantly dismissed the service. This capturing party of rebels was but thirty strong, and they had cartridges in abundance. The passengers on the train were summarily plundered of watches, money, &c., of course."

The Washington correspondent of the New York Tribune, in addition to the above, says:

The attack on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad train, near Piedmont Station, was made by sixteen rebel soldiers, backed by a larger force as they stopped the train. It is guessed that they captured about fifty Union troops, who were aboard without ammunition and mostly asleep, and a number of passengers, all whom they paroled, taking from the prisoners some articles of value, and burning the train and all the railroad property at the station, estimated at half a million dollars.

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 9, 1864


New Creek, W. Va., May 6, 1864

Editors Intelligencer:

Having some leisure time, I concluded to write you concerning the "Piedmont raid."

The notorious land pirate, McNeal, with about sixty of his desparadoes, succeeded in evading the Greenland Gap force, and traveled all night (Wednesday) by an obscure route undetected, arriving near Piedmont at 6 o'clock yesterday morning. Having sent twenty five men to Bloomington, the rest dashed into Piedmont, took possession of the telegraph office, captured the guards (10 men of Cos. A and G, 6th Va. Inf) and immediately inaugurated their fiendish work - running engines together- setting fire to whole trains of freight cars, burning the engine house and the valuable machine shops located at that place, - stealing horses &c.

Meanwhile a passenger arrived, reporting the facts to Col. Wilkinson, who immediately dispatched Lieut. Brown, of the 23d Ill., with thirty men and one howitzer to reconnoitre [sic], Lieuts. Suman, Tenant and Wilkinson, of the Colonel's staff, going as volunteers.

As they neared the town they commenced firing on them, while they were still at their fiendish work. McNeal finding that it was going to be unhealthy to remain in town, beat a precipitate retreat toward Bloomington, with an occasional shell coming in rather close proximity to his rear guard. McNeal's force being mounted, soon got out of sight of the pursuing party, who were on foot. The detachment that he sent to Bloomington had stopped the Express coming east and robbed the mail and express car, captured and paroled fifty invalids, robbed the passengers of their money, watches and jewelry, destroyed the engine and burned the train. They had no time to disturb private property, except horses, of which they took all they could get. They stole from one firm (Davis & Co.) thirty-five splendid horses. The loss sustained by the B. &. O. R. R. Co by this raid, cannot be less than $150,000.

Col. Wilkinson has taken every precaution to have their retreat cut off, and the whole band captured, the want of sufficient cavalry being the only impediment to such an event.

Everything is quiet here now. Refugees and deserters are coming in at the rate of about ten a day. All tell the same lamentable story of destitution and wholesale conscription.

By inserting this, you will oblige.

Yours, truly. H. S. White

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 9, 1864

The Late Raid. Trains are now running as regularly as usual over the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. At Piedmont the rebels broke and burn up a number of cars, and threw four of five engines off the track, damaging them to some extent, and burnt three or four buildings in Piedmont, including the square workshop and the paint shop, with tools and machinery, belonging to the railroad company. A portion of the round top workshop was also destroyed. They then went to Bloomington, a station on the road, two miles west of Piedmont, and there threw off the track several engines, and damaged a number of cars. They took no prisoners at either place. They then left Bloomington, and retreated down the country. Gen. Kelley (acting under orders of Gen. Sigel) went from Cumberland to Piedmont with troops, but the Confederates had made good their escape before he arrived there.

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 11, 1864

An Unfortunate Shot. -- When the rebels were at Bloomington, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, an unfortunate mistake occurred, by which two children were killed and five wounded. Our forces at New Creek, hearing that the rebels had gone from Piedmont to Bloomington, sent up a battery to the latter place. As the battery came up, the rebels were winding up what is called Hampshire hill, following an obscure cow path. The battery sent several shells after them, some of which appeared to explode in their very midst. There was a house on the hillside, supposed to be occupied by the rebels, into which a shell was thrown. Instead of being occupied by the rebels, the house was filled with children, who had congregated there for safety. As before stated, two of the occupants were killed and five wounded. We are informed that the citizens of Bloomington appropriated a considerable amount of goods from the burning freight train, which the rebels set on fire at that place. If the people had taken the pains to notify the passenger train from this end of the road of what had been done, the train would not have been captured, but they could not spare the time which they so industriously devoted to the saving (for their own use) of the goods which were being destroyed by fire. There were only sixteen rebels at Bloomington.

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 16, 1864

Supposed Rebel Spy in Custody ? A man by the name of James Smith presented himself at the Provost Marshal?s office in Pittsburgh, on Tuesday morning, and expressed a desire to enlist in the United States army. He stated to Capt. Wright that he had been in the rebel service, but had deserted in order to join the Union army. After giving this information, in accordance with a general order from the War Department, in relation to rebel deserters and refugees. Smith was put through a rigid examination. He stated that he had been in the rebel service for two years and eight months as a member of the Eight Tennessee (Rebel) cavalry, commanded by Col. John White, and had participated in the battles of Belmont, Fort Henry, Fort Donaldson and Shiloh. In February last he states that his regiment was transferred to the army under Lee, since which they have been engaged in scouting service. He claims that he accompanied the forces that made the raid on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, at Piedmont, on the 5th inst., and that when near that town he deserted. After the rebels retreated he alleges he made his way to Uniontown, fro thence to Brownsville, from which place he went to Pittsburg by steamboat, arriving only a few hours before presenting himself at the Girard House for enlistment. He claims to be a native of Elgin county, Canada West, and states that he had been working in Tennessee about eight months before the war broke out. During his examination Smith was asked a number of questions concerning the movements of his regiment, prior to the Piedmont affair, what corps it was attached to, and the route they had taken to reach Piedmont. His replies, however, were evasive in some instances and in others he professed ignorance. He wanted to join the 14th Pennsylvania cavalry regiment, and the fact that this regiment is now in the locality of his late exploits, it naturally aroused suspicion that the fellow might possibly be a spy. He was accordingly placed under guard to await further developments.

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

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