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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
May 9, 1864


The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 26, 1864

From Crook and Averill’s Expedition.-Letter of a Wheeling Boy in the 15th West Virginia Regiment to his Parents.

Medow [sic] Bluffs, Greenbrier Co., VA.,
May 19, 1864

My Dear Parents:

I know you are anxiously waiting a letter from me, for no doubt you have heard of our great raid and hard fights. When we got to Camp Piatt on the Kanawah [sic], we received orders not to write any letters, as no mail would be allowed to go. We left Camp Piatt on the last day of April and have marched every day since, and it has rained nearly every day since we started; this makes 20 days we have been out. We got to Dublin, on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad on the 9th instant. Here we had a hard fight but not a long one. This is the first battle we had, though we had been skirmishing with and driving the rebels for several days before, and have been ever since. The rebels fought well but not quite well enough. They lost heavily and so did we, but not near so many as they did. We have with us about 300 prisoners which we captured, while I only can hear of one man they took of ours, and he was sharp enough to get away. Gen. Crook, our commander, says it was as hard a fight as he ever saw for the length of time engaged. It is strange, but nevertheless true, that our company came out of it all safe, while every other company in the regiment received more or less wounded. Our company escaped with but a few little scratches and bullet holes in their clothes. I was not touched in any way that I know of, but while we charged the enemy’s fortifications the grape, shell and bullets came so thick and fast that I thought they were cutting the hairs off my head one at a time. I will not have time to write any particulars, but will say that we went on through to the railroad and destroyed it at Dublin, and on the next day moved up to New River Bridge and after another hard little fight took it and destroyed it. We only lost three men this time they out of other regiments. After very hard marching we have got this far on our way back. We expect to lay here a few days, waiting for supplies, as we have been out of rations for several days. Three days last week all I had to eat was a little corn meal baked on a stone and one cup of coffee. I have not changed my clothes since I started and have none to put on. We have no tents with us or anything else to make us comfortable. My coat is in ribbons, and my pants hardly hold together. I am about as hard a looking fellow as ever you saw. But notwithstanding this I am in the best of health and have been so all the time.

Mother, if I could talk to you to-night I could tell you many things both interesting and painful, but as it is so late and the wagon train leaves at 1 o’clock in the morning I will close for I am very tired from our march to-day. I hope you will look over this poorly written letter. I know you would be anxious to hear and this is the only chance I may have for a long time to write you.


The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 27, 1864

Gen. Crook’s Brilliant Achievements in Southwestern Virginia.

The Enemy thoroughly routed – Large amount of Property Destroyed-Confusion and Dismay among the Rebels-A Daring, Dashing and Eminently Successful Raid.

Special Correspondence of Wheeling Intelligencer:

CHARLESTON, WEST VA.,
May 23, 1864

You have doubtless learned, ere this, of the success which has crowned the recent raid of Gen. George Crook, through the enemy’s Department of Southwestern Virginia, but I propose in this letter to furnish you with fuller and more authentic details than you have been enabled to glean. I have observed in several prominent daily journals, various reports of this raid, all purporting to be from authentic sources, and all equally false. And, en passant, I will simply remark that the various newspapers cannot be too careful in tracing their authority to its proper source, before giving credence and publicity to rumors.- This thing has been carried to excess by journals of prominent standing, purporting to have special correspondents with the various military commands, and I regard this as a fitting opportunity to rebuke them.

The command of Gen. Crook, consisting of three brigades of infantry, under his immediate supervision, and two brigades of cavalry under General Averill, left this place on the 2d inst., for the purpose of penetrating the mountainous region of Southwestern Virginia and tapping the Virginia and East Tennessee railroad – the great Southern railway artery – at Dublin depot, formerly the headquarters of Gen. Breckinridge, commanding that department. From Raleigh to Princeton, the enemy had attempted to blockade the road by means of fallen timber, etc., but the efficient pioneer corps of the command speedily swept their pigmy efforts at obstruction out of our path, without a moment’s delay to the artillery or wagons.

The rebels were first encountered at Princeton, where two companies – one of infantry and one of cavalry – had been left as a reconnoitering party, who were gallantly charged by Maj. Rucker, of General Crook’s staff, at the head of about 160 Virginia cavalry, and speedily routed with a loss of two killed and five wounded.

The enemy were next met in force at Cloyd’s mountain, (not Lloyd’s, as some papers have it,) under command of Gen. Jenkins, where they had selected a position naturally strong and advantageous, but which they had rendered doubly so by the various lines of fortifications behind which they had entrenched themselves. Jenkins had selected this position with great caution, as he was fully alive to the momentous issues pending on the battle; and he seemed, also to have a wholesome dread of the young General against whom he had to contend.

About 11:30, A. M., May 9th, the battle of Cloyd’s Mountain fairly opened, the 1st and 2d Brigades of Infantry moving steadily forward to the attack, supported at a suitable distance, by the 3d Brigade. – Did I possess the penciling powers of “Port Crayon,” I should like to bring to your mind’s eye the magnificent spectacle presented by these solid bodies of troops crossing the beautiful green fields to attack the enemy’s breastwork. I can only compare them to a solid blue belt, glittering with innumerable spangles, winding over an enameled surface, as they quickly deploy in line of battle and advance to the attack. The contest was short, sharp and decisive. Volley after volley of musketry was poured in, at short range and with deadly precision, and the wavering fortunes of the day were finally decided by a flank movement which Gen. Crook determined on and successfully carried through. Space will not permit me to describe this fight as minutely as I should like, but I will state that in fierceness of duration and deadly effectiveness, it has not been surpassed if equalled, during the pending struggle. Our loss within the space of 61 minutes was fully 500 killed and wounded, while that of the enemy will not fall short of 900 in killed, wounded and prisoners. – When we look at the mortality and casualties, and regard the time occupied and forces engaged, (about 4,000 on each side) we cannot but regard the fight at Cloyd’s Mountain as one unequalled in desperation since this Rebellion was inaugurated.

On the succeeding day, (Tuesday May 10th) the rebels again having made a stand at New River Bridge after a wild footrace from their fortifications at Cloyd’s mountain, - Capt McMullen Chief of Artillery, opened his batteries upon them with deadly precision and terrible effect, and continued it throughout the greater portion of the day – finally succeeding by his excellent gunnery, in dismounting two of their large seige [sic] pieces, and silencing their whole park of field artillery. Too much praise cannot be given Capt McMullen for the efficient manner in which his artillery duel was conducted on the 10th, and did his particular grade permit, I am satisfied he would be recommended for further promotion. He certainly deserves it, if gallantry and efficiency are any test of merit.

From New River, the command slowly took up its line of march for Meadow Bluff, (where it is at present encamped,) encountering no obstacles on the return trip, save some 1500 men under Gen. Jackson, who fled before our approach, after a very short struggle, leaving behind them in their wild terror, blankets, knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc. We also captured from them one 12 pounder brass howitzer (old pattern) and some 18 or 20 of his transportation wagons. Jackson also left seven pieces of artillery, in position at the narrows of New River, and nothing but the exhausted condition of the men and horses and miserable rainy weather prevented General Crook from capturing the whole concern. At this point, as also at the battle of Cloyd’s mountain, the General lost advantages which could have easily secured by the co operation of a sufficient cavalry force. Especially at Cloyd’s mountain, the General lost advantages which could easily have been captured if the cavalry arm of the service had been present in sufficient force to join in the immediate pursuit when the enemie’s [sic] lines were broken and his flank turned. I understand that one cavalry regiment was present, but failed to pursue according to orders. If this is true, the commander of that regiment should be held strictly accountable, as no excuse should be accepted for a disobedience of orders under the enemie’s [sic] fire.

The command was delayed three days in crossing Greenbriar [sic] river, which we found much swollen; but through the strenuous exertions of Gen. Crook, who was ably seconded by his efficient staff, the Rubicon was safely crossed, and the command now rests from its labors amid the green fields of Meadow Bluffs.

Dr. Kellogg, Chief Medical Director, has endeared himself to the hearts of the whole command, and won the reward of the faithful servant, for the unremitting attention which he has paid to the wounded, and the successful manner in which he has had them transported, over a dangerous route, from the field of battle to a haven of rest. It affords me pleasure to be enabled to testify as to the ability and strict attention to business of this worthy officer, who was ably seconded by several of his medical staff.

Too much praise cannot be accorded Gen. Crook for the able and successful manned in which this raid has been conducted; and if success be any test of merit or recommendation for promotion, I think he has nobly won his right to a Major Generalship. That the authorities at Washington will agree with me, time alone will tell. Gen. Crook is a man of modest unobtrusiveness and one, also, who is decidedly adverse to newspaper puffing; yet his merits in this affair shine forth with a brilliancy too dazzling to be hid under a bushel, and point him out as one who will yet wear the victor’s wreath of fame.

I shall write you again in a few days, as there are numerous incidents and details which I have been necessarily compelled to omit in this imperfect and hastily written letter.

Below I annex a list of the various brigades and regiments comprising General Crook’s command.

FRANKFORT

[list not published in paper]


The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 30, 1864

General Crook’s Expedition.

Wheeling, West Va., May 29, 1864

Messrs. Editors:

Your editorial in Saturday’s issue referring to the interview with Major Rucker about Gen’l Crook’s recent raid on the Virginia and Tennessee railroad, is highly calculated, in my opinion, to place the Major in an untrue light, and to underrate the series of brilliant successes achieved by the bold and dashing young commander of this fruitful expedition.

The interview between you was short and hurried, but the Major endeavored to impress upon your minds, as influential journalists, that General Crook’s command had done all it was ordered to do, and even more than it was expected to do; that it had heavily blockaded roads, corps of observation, skirmishers, bushwhackers and armies, first and last under Generals Jenkins and Morgan, and Cols. McCausland and Jackson, to contend with every mile from the vicinity of Raliegh [sic] C. H. to New River bridge, and from New River bridge to Meadow Bluff. That it had a number of fierce engagements, and two hard fought battles in all of which Gen. Crook was the hero – he leading in person the charge against the enemy’s breastworks at Cloyd’s Mountain, and being the first to enter the rebel fortifications at New River; that the rail road was literally demolished from Dublin depot to Christiansburg; that at the battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, among a number of other rebel officers wounded and captured, are Gen. Jenkins, Lieut. Col. Linhous, Lieut. Col. Smith (son of Extra Biley) and one other field officer, who were left behind on their parole of honor, to report at Charleston as soon as sufficiently recovered from their wounds to travel; that the feint in the direction of Lewisburg was a most happy success – deceiving the enemy at every point; that Gen. Crook’s command fell back to Meadow Bluff because it was ORDERED TO DO SO; that it is ready to move forward again at any hour, and IS ANXIOUS TO RECEIVE THE ORDER.

This I am sure is a truthful outline of the conversation refered [sic] to respecting Gen. Crook’s immediate command of infantry.

Gen. Averill, who commanded the Cavalry attached to Gen. Crook’s division, was ordered across the country via. Logan C. H. to destroy the salt works in Washington Co., but was forced to retire by Gen. Morgan, who commanded a superior force.

Hoping you will give this hasty note an early insertion, I remain

Respectfully, M. A.

REMARKS

The writer of the above labors under a mistake in supposing we did not understand Major Rucker’s account of General Crook’s expedition. The opinion we expressed as to the ultimate paying worth of such expeditions was deduced by us, not the Major, from what was accomplished. – Gen. Crooks made a severe march – overcame many obstacles – fought two battles and had several sharp encounters, and what was the net result? He cut the Va. & Tenn. road at New River bridge – a very important point, and destroyed several miles of track. Transportation, (local in its character of course, because, the road has not been a connecting route for months,) was delayed for a month perhaps. We suppose that trains ran again as usual in a week, excepting that freight was necessitated to break bulk at New River. – Nothing serious to the Confederacy will come of the expedition – nothing commensurate with what the expedition cost in men and material. As we understand the various accounts, Gen. Averill’s cavalry was badly disabled both by the marching and the fighting, while at Cloyd’s mountain, alone, Gen. Crooks lost near five hundred men in killed and wounded. The expedition failed to destroy the great salt works at Saltville, which was a primary object, and which would have been worth twice over all that was accomplished.

The point we made in our notice on Saturday was that the losses were too great in these expeditions to be repaid b the necessarily temporary and transitory results achieved, and we expressed the opinion either that forces like those of Genl. Crook ought to be made strong enough to seize strategic, co-operating and vital points, like Staunton, Lynchburg or Barkesville, or else be confined to duty as corps of observation and protection in a debatable country. What, for instance, in point of comparative effectiveness would Genl. Crook’s command, including Averill’s cavalry, be worth to-day, in case of an emergent call from Grant? The expedition neither broke up or destroyed any detached corps of the rebels. Their detachments are still effective to oppose us were we to go to back to do our work over again.

General Crook and his command did well in obeying orders and doing all they could. That consideration, however, is not embraced in the point made. The question is, did the expedition pay? Our opinion, expressed on Saturday, and again to-day, is that it did not?


The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
May 30, 1864

Col. Duval. – We were yesterday permitted to examine a private letter written from Meadow Bluff, and dated May 19th. It speaks in the highest terms of the conduct of Col. I. H. Duval and his gallant 9th West Virginia Infantry during the recent engagement at Cloyd’s Mountain, Pulaski county. The rebels made a desperate resistance and the 9th regiment is said to have saved the day. Col. Duval, with his regiment was ordered to take the rebel works and artillery, which were destroying our men very rapidly. The works and artillery were stormed and taken. – Many men of the 9th were bayoneted in carrying the works, and one hundred and eighty five of the brave boys were left upon the field. Not one of the men of the 9th faltered. Col. Duval and his two color bearers were the first on the works. -- The rebels fired a volley as the Colonel went over and the first nine men behind fell. Their places were soon filled – the regiment was soon over and the clubbed muskets the rebels were driven from their works. Col. Duval was struck in the sole of the boot with a ball and the bullets hailed about him, and his escape is regarded as miraculous. The 9th is said to have met with the heaviest loss in one fight of any regiment during the war, considering the length of time it was engaged, being only forty-five minutes. The letter states that Gen. Crook’s men had gone four days without bread and would have to go for three more.


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

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