Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
May 6, 1864

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 7, 1864

REPORTED SURRENDER OF MORGANTOWN.- Persons who arrived here from Fairmont last evening assert that on Thursday night two rebels rode into Morgantown with a flag of truce, and representing that there was a large force outside, demanded the surrender of the jail in which was confined a notorious rebel horse thief. The keys were given up and the thief was liberated.

This story seems too silly to be believed, but it is told for the truth.

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 10, 1864


A Gang of Rebels make an Unexpected Dash and Rescue Van Cicero Amos from our County Jail.

(From the Morgantown Post.)

On last Thursday night, or rather on Friday morning, at one o'clock, a force of rebels variously estimated at from 15 to 20 men, made an unexpected dash upon our jail and released therefrom a rebel soldier by the name of Van Cicero Amos, who was arrested some time ago in Marion county on a charge of secreting himself within our lines.

Mrs. Stewart, the keeper of the jail, was awakened by one of the gang, who asked her to open the door and let him in. She asked who he was and he replied a friend; but she mistrusting that things were not altogether right refused to admit him, when he burst the door open which led into her chamber, and with a drawn revolver demanded the keys of the jail in order to secure the prisoner. On being informed that the keys were in the possession of Mr. Brand, our sheriff, the soldiers then proceeded to the cell in which Amos was confined, and without any ceremony smashed the locks and brought forth the prisoner.

All this was accomplished so quickly that no alarm could be given in time to thwart them in their bold enterprise, and before a dozen citizens had arrived at the jail they had made their escape with the prisoner.

Amos was also charged with stealing horses, and his trial was to take place on Monday next, in our court.

The following letter he left in his cell, addressed to Mrs. Stewart:

"To-night I leave you. I would stay and see my trial through with, but the Union party are using all influence against me that they can, trying to prove a thing which I am not guilty of. I only ask for a fair trial, but on account of my politics they won't give me justice; therefore, I shall tarry with them no longer, and hope for a better day. I will be with my command, if no bad luck in three days. I will be relieved by five or six confederate soldiers, who come expressly to release me. They will also accompany me to Dixey. Prison is not for the innocent. I stay no longer. VAN C. AMOS."

The soldiers were all dressed in the regular rebel uniform and were well armed. As they were on foot it is supposed they left their horses on the outside of the town for fear the clattering of hoofs through the streets would arouse the citizens.

Several shots were fired at random by the gang as they left, and they seemed to be in high spirits from the amount of noise they made when leaving town.

Sheriff Brand started in pursuit of the party about half an hour after they left.

It is a great wonder they did not rob the bank.

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

West Virginia Archives and History