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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
December 16, 1864


Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
December 22, 1864

More Guerrilla Atrocities – Another shocking Murder – Retaliation. – We learn from a citizen of Harrison county that on last Friday night the house of Mr. Henry Swiger, living on Coon’s Run, in that county, near the Marion line, was entered by a gang of guerrillas, sad himself robbed and brutally murdered.—The villains had their faces blacked to prevent recognition. Mr. Swiger was roused from sleep by their entrance. They demanded his money with cocked muskets at his breast, and he gave them what he had in his pockets, some $40. They cursed him and told him they must have the green backs for which he had sold his cattle the day before. As Mr. Swiger turned to pass through a door into another room to get the money one of the robbers gave a signal to “let in!” and three of them gave him the contents of their guns. Even after receiving three balls the victim did not fall, and one of them snatched up Mr. Swiger’s own gun standing by and shot him dead.

Mrs. Swiger who had been a witness of this atrocity, gave the alarm, and the next day some members of a home guard company started out to search for the murderers. The tracked one of the horses ridden to the house of a rebel named John Short, two or three miles distant, and in searching his house found the roll of the gang, including his name. The soldiers also appeared to have some information obtained from the widow of the murdered man. Short was not at home, but they found him at work in a corn field of his brother in law, arrested him, took him out and shot him dead. It was said by those who laid out his corpse that remains of the black disguise were still visible about his face and neck. We learn that two others of the gang have been caught and summary justice executed on them, but did not learn their names.

On Sunday evening last about dark, some unknown men probably members of the same gang, approached the house of Mr. John Barns, living on Shinn’s Run about three miles from Shinnston, In Harrison county. The dogs giving the alarm and a little girl informing the family that there were some men on the porch. Mr. Barns stepped outside the door and was saluted with the “click” of two or three gun locks. He hastly sprang within and bolted the door. Two sons of Mr. Barns, and the Rev. W. H. Wallace were in the house, and they had three guns, and prepared for fight. No attempt was made to break in, however, and the scoundrels decamped.

Great alarm prevails in the immediate section where these successive outrages have been committed. These outlaws appear to be partly resident rebels, and partly deserters from the rebel army; and they evidently are sufficiently numerous and desperate to create alarm, for no loyal man’s life or property is safe in their ranch. – Sections of the same gang have undoubtedly committed the numerous robberies at Worthington, Farmington, West Warren, Littleton, Burton and Shinnston, of such recent occurrence.

There can be no adequate protection against a repetition of these outrages by the military. Soldiers unacquainted with the country cannot find the perpetrators of them. The citizens must arm and organize for their own defense. They should execute instant vengeance whenever one of the villains is caught; and we are glad to learn that this is now the feeling, aroused by these recent events and backed by the recommendations of the commander of this department.


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

West Virginia Archives and History