July 12, 1864
A Man Hung for Killing A Soldier. – An incident of Gen. Hunter’s Raid. – Major Capehart, 1st Reg’t West Virginia cavalry who is now in the city, relates an incident in connection with the late raid of Hunter, which we have never seen in print. It appears that in the month of November last a prominent citizen of Greenbrier county, named David Crea, killed one of Gen. Averill’s soldiers who belonged to a company on picket duty near Crea’s house. Crea first shot the soldier with a revolver and then struck him in the head with an axe, carried the body to a well on the place and tumbled it in with a view of concealing his crime.
When the army passed through Lewisburg recently, on its way to Lynchburg, negro man informed some of Gen. Averill’s officers of the facts mentioned above. The General at once ordered the arrest of Crea, who was staying at this house about six miles from Lewisburg, and he was taken along with the army. On the way to Staunton a Court martial was called in the case; and Crea upon being brought up for trial made a full confession of the murder. The sentence of the Court was that he be hung by the neck until he was dead, and that all his combustible property be destroyed. The dreadful sentence was approved by Gen. Crook, and put into execution the day after the army left Staunton, at a little place called Brownstown, in the presence of a large number of soldiers.
It was the opinion of all that Crea richly deserved the terrible punishment he received as the murder was without provocation. We understand that Crea at one time represented Greenbrier county in the Richmond Legislature.
The murder of David Creigh.
October 6, 1864
The murder of David Creigh.
The fate of the late Mr. David Creigh, who was executed, by the orders of General Hunter, near Brownsburg, is one of the darkest and most horrible of the tragedies of this war. The more we reflect upon it the more does it assume the plain, unmistakable features of a cold-blooded, deliberate, demoniac murder, for which, if justice has not left the earth, the perpetrators will yet be visited with the retribution such a crime deserves. Mr. Creigh was an old man, the son of an Irish gentleman, who settled in Western Virginia, and, by a life of great probity and energy, became one of our most prosperous landholders, and, by his moral worth and excellent character, commanded the respect of the whole community. Mr. Creigh had a large family, who walked in the footsteps of their father, and were not only men of superior intelligence, but remarkable for their exemplary and blameless conduct. One of these gentlemen, Dr. Thomas Creigh, is well known to many of our Richmond people, having long represented his district in the State Senate; and a purer gentleman and more manly spirit never beat in human bosom. The late David Creigh was an older brother of the Senator, an Elder in the church of Dr. Mcllhany, the venerable pastor of the Presbyterian church in Lewisburg, respected by all who knew him for the piety and virtues of his character, and remarkably domestic in his habits, finding his chief happiness in the society of his affectionate and devoted family.--We dare say, if anybody had gone over Virginia, and been asked to select a man whose unobtrusive habits, whose avoidance of political agitations, and whose religious character would have thrown a shield over him in the wildest political convulsions, David Creigh could not have been overlooked. Yet this was the very man singled out for the most horrid injustice which any man in Virginia has suffered in this war. We do not except the dismal case of the beloved Dr. Wright, of Norfolk. David Creigh, in his secluded mountain home, was sought out in his own house — that house which ought to have been his castle — and there assaulted by a ruffian Federal soldier, who plundered his property, insulted that family which was dearer to the old man's heart than all his worldly possessions, and finally attempted to take his life, deliberately firing upon him. Is there any court of law under the canopy of Heaven which would not justify David Creigh in killing an assailant under such circumstances? There was strength enough left in his aged arm to slay the ruffian who was seeking the disgrace of his family and his own blood. A year elapsed before the fact became known to the Federal generals, and, on the late Hunter raid, they seized David Creigh for this defence of his children and himself, dragged him from his beloved home and, at a distance of a hundred miles from that home, hung him to a tree like a dog. The old man died, as he had lived, showing no fear, full of love as he had ever been of his dear ones at home, and with the same pious trust and reverence in God that had made his gray head a crown of glory. We are familiar with the region where this crowning wickedness of the Federal generals in Virginia was perpetrated; we know its plain, moral, church-going people, and we can imagine the amazement and horror with which they looked upon such a scene — upon an aged, venerated Elder of their own faith hung like a murderer in the midst of a population, who, though remote from his residence, were of the same race and the same religion. We speak of this event with all the calmness we can command; but none of the innumerable atrocities of this war have affected us more profoundly; none have demonstrated more clearly the profound malignity and remorselessness of our enemies; none have given better ground for a belief that men become sometimes so wicked that they are given over by God, even before they die, to the actual and literal possession of devils. Shall such crimes as this be perpetrated with impunity? Are we to have more such victims? The case of David Creigh is not the last, unless, by our future action, we convince our adversary that our long talk of retribution is no idle threat. No earthly motive but fear will ever compel them to assume even the semblance of humanity, and that motive can only be put in operation by steady and systematic retaliation.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: June 1864