Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
February 21, 1865

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
February 22, 1865

The Capture of Generals Kelley and Crook, and Capt. Thayer Melvin.

The people of the city were somewhat surprised yesterday at a tumor prevailing in the streets to the effect that Generals Kelley and Crook had been taken from their beds in the city of Cumberland and carried off by a gang of rebels. It was soon ascertained that Gov. Boreman had received a dispatch from an officer in Cumberland, stating that yesterday morning about three o?clock, a party of rebels captured the pickets, entered the town and carried off generals Kelley and Crook. The dispatch says it was a daring and well planned affair. The rebels, about a hundred in number, were well mounted, and were evidently picked for the purpose. The rebels left in the direction of Romney, and cavalry was sent in pursuit.

Subsequently the following dispatch was received by Col. Washburne, commander of this Post:


Col. Washburne:

A rebel force of some sixty or more men dashed into town about three o?clock this morning, and took off Generals Crook and Kelley and Capt. Thayer Melvin, but none else. Our troops from here are in full pursuit, and troops have been sent from New Creek. Troops from General Sheridan have also gone across to intercept the rebels. They will probably scatter into the mountains, and endeavor to get off with the Generals. Hope is still entertained of a recapture.

J.C. Campbell
Judge Advocate

A gallant and distinguished officer with whom we conversed yesterday, ventured the prediction in the absence of any particulars, that this capture was planned by rebels in the city of Cumberland, and that the rebels, upon entering the town rode straight to the rooms occupied by the captured officers and threw them upon horses brought for the purpose. Gen. Crook occupied a room at the St. Nicholas Hotel. Capt. Melvin occupied a room immediately adjoining and opening into that of Gen. K. to which circumstance our young friend is indebted for his capture.

We learn that there was only one company of soldiers in the city at the time of the capture, and it is not likely that it could be rallied for any considerable resistance at three o?clock in the morning.?Gen. Duval?s brigade was encamped about two miles from the city. The rebels, it is said, were well mounted. Both men and horses were selected for this purpose.?They no doubt put this little affair through with dispatch, and before the cavalry could be summoned from Gen. Duvall?s camp, which would require at least an hour, the rebels were no doubt far away. They have laid their plans well and will strain every nerve to execute it successfully and thoroughly, and we shall be very agreeably surprised if our soldiers overtake them.

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
February 23, 1865

FURTHER PARTICULARS ABOUT THE CAPTURE OF GENERALS CROOK AND KELLEY AND CAPT. MELVIN.?A member of the Legislature who was in Cumberland when Generals Crook and Kelley and Captain Melvin were captured, furnishes us with some additional particulars. Our informant thinks it was about one o?clock on Tuesday morning when the rebels entered the city. They came in very quietly without firing a gun, and halted in front of the Revere and St. Nicholas Hotel, which stand close together upon the same street. The rebels without appearing to have made a single inquiry of any one, made straight-way to the rooms of Gens. Crook and Kelley, about half of the gang remaining upon their horses in the street. The door of Gen. Crook?s room at the Revere House was not locked and the rebels entered so quietly and took possession for his body so stealthily that those who occupied adjoining rooms knew nothing of the capture until was all over. The same quiet and caution were observed in the capture of Gen. Kelley and Captain Melvin, who occupied adjoining rooms at the St. Nicholas. It is supposed that the first intimation the officers had of the presence of a foe was the gentle nudges of the Johnnies signifying to the sleeping gentlemen that they were desired to get up. Horses had been provided for the Generals and they were thrown astraddle of the cavalry saddles with great haste and without much ceremony, and moved away to a place of concealment. The rebels remained in the city only about twenty five minutes, during which time a squad of the gang kicked over the tables and instruments is the telegraph office and seized the operator. They destroyed none of the papers at headquarters and made no attempt to capture any officers or men except those named. The rebels were dressed in the uniform of the United States soldier. The sudden appearance of the rebels, at such an hour, and their bold and confident way of doing things put every thing [sic] in confusion, and they had secured their prisoners and were galloping away before the officers remaining behind had time to think about what was necessary to be done. After the departure of the rebels, however, a piece of artillery was fired off to alarm the sleeping people, but it was nearly two hours before our cavalry were fairly started in pursuit.

Some of the gang said they belonged to Gilmor?s command, others that they were Rosser?s men, and others that they were commanded by McNiel.

It was, however, the common talk among a certain class of people in Cumberland, that the men who took away the Generals were our own soldiers, and it is said that a distinguished officer connected with Gen. Sheridan?s scouts was seen walking around among the rebs [sic] speaking to them in a tone of authority. This conjecture found credence only among the citizens, the military authorities being firmly convinced that it was a bona fide capture.

P.S.?We learn from passengers who arrived last evening that Capt. Hart, of Gen. Kelley?s staff, who pursued the rebels a considerable distance had returned, having killed one of the gang and captured a Lieutenant.

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
February 23, 1865

ONE OF THE CROOK KELLEY CAPTORS.?The Sergeant Major of the 11th Virginia (rebel) cavalry, who was one of the party that captured Gens. Kelley and Crook and Capt. Melvin, arrived in the city yesterday morning and was committed to the Atheneum. He was captured by Captain Hart on Tuesday last, some distance from Cumberland.

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
February 24, 1865

CAPTURE OF PHILLIPPI.?We don?t mean the town of Phillippi in Barbour county, but the horse named in honor of Gen. Kelley?s victory at that place, which was purchased and presented to the General by his personal friends in this city?The rebels when they captured General Kelley at Cumberland, on Tuesday evening, went to his stable, and stole all his best horses, and among them ?Phillippi.?

We were mistaken in saying yesterday morning that horses were procured for Generals Crook and Kelley and Captain Melvin. They were each thrown upon the bare back of a horse behind as many soldiers. Capt. Hart, who pursued the rebels a considerable distance found every few miles a letter addressed to Gen. Crook lying in the road. The General had doubtless dropped these letters slyly from his pocket that the pursuers might know the direction the rebels were taking.

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
February 25, 1865

REPORTED RE-CAPTURE OF GENERAL CROOKS.?It was reported yesterday along the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that Gen. Crook, who was taken out of his bed in Cumberland on Tuesday morning, was re captured on Wednesday by some of the cavalry sent in pursuit by Gen. Sheridan. We do not place much confidence in the report in the absence of anything like reliable information upon the subject.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
February 25

The capture of Generals Crook and Kelly--still Another Disaster.

Another of those "surprises," of so frequent occurrence (says the Baltimore American) during the past year in the western portion of the State, bordering on Virginia, occurred on Tuesday at Cumberland, Maryland. A dispatch from Wheeling announces that a party of rebel cavalry dashed into Cumberland before daylight yesterday morning, "surprised and captured the pickets, and then made prisoners and carried off Generals Crook and Kelly." The marauders were probably a portion of White's rebel cavalry, which has been operating in West Virginia for some time since. "Surprises of pickets" is the stereotyped excuse for all the depredations that have been committed at Cumberland, New creek, Piedmont, and other points in that vicinity, and it is nearly time they were effectually put an end to. A force was sent after the rebels, as usual, but with what success has not yet been ascertained. General Crook has several times distinguished himself in the operations under General Sheridan. General Kelly has been a long time in command of the Department in which Cumberland is situated, but we cannot say whether he was in command at the time of the raid.

A few days ago, a scouting party, one hundred and twenty-five strong, under the command of Major Thomas Gibeon, went to Piedmont, Virginia, by way of Berry's ford and Ashby's gap. At or near Piedmont they surprised and captured a number of Mosby's guerrillas, together with a commissary train and a large lot of horses and mules. On their return to headquarters the party was ambushed in Ashby's gap by a superior force of rebel guerrillas, and the property and prisoners they had taken recaptured by the rebels. We lost between fifty and sixty men in killed, wounded and missing.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
February 28

The capture of Generals Crook and Kelly.

A correspondent of the Baltimore American gives an interesting account of the capture, by McNeil, of Generals Crook and Kelly. He says:

At half-past 2 o'clock a body of picked cavalry, seventy in number, mounted upon horses selected for the purpose, crossed the river at Brady's ferry, nine miles from Cumberland, they having traveled, during the afternoon and night, from beyond Moorefield, in Hardy county, a distance of thirty-five or forty miles, and moved in the direction of Cumberland, on the road called the New Creek pike. Approaching the picket post, they were halted, and upon their answer to the challenge that they were friends, one was ordered to advance and give the countersign. While he was advancing, the pickets, who had mounted their horses, and had given notice of a party advancing, saw the main body quietly separating, and moving forward for the purpose of surrounding them. They at once commenced firing, but a sudden dash of the enemy overpowered and disarmed them. The inner post, consisting of infantry only, was captured in a similar manner, and was at once disarmed. The party rode, without halting, into the town, and quietly waited while two men each went forward, dismounted, to capture the guards in front of the headquarters of the two Generals.

These men succeeded in getting to the guards and disarming them, though both were watchful, and promptly challenged the advancing party, but in the darkness, the reply being "relief, " they were deceived, and were quickly quieted by threats. The mounted party coming up at this moment with led horses, hurried up to the rooms of the two Generals, and very quickly compelled them to dress, when, without further noise, they mounted their horses and left the town, striking a rapid pace immediately after getting out of the streets. No other captures were attempted except Captain Melvin, the adjutant-general of General Kelly, who was sleeping in the room adjoining General Kelly, and whom they were compelled to pass to get to the General's room.

No other persons were disturbed by them except the telegraph officer.

A few moments after, the officers of General Crook's staff, thinking they had heard footsteps, and fearing fire, got up, and finding the room open and the General gone, became suspicious, and upon inquiry, found General Kelly also missing; they went to the telegraph office and learned from the operator that the rebels had but that moment left.

Steps were immediately taken to repair the wires and put the lines in working order. This required about an hour. In the meantime, a body of forty horsemen, belonging to the escort of General Crook, were ordered out, and in one hour and twenty minutes started in pursuit. As soon as the wires were repaired, all the cavalry at New creek was ordered to meet and move for Romney and Moore-field, and, if possible, head the rebels off at one of these points; and were further ordered not to spare their horses, but to push forward with all possible haste.

General Sheridan, being notified, sent a body of cavalry at once from Winchester in pursuit. Thus everything was done within an hour and thirty minutes that could be done. The rebels rode rapidly; they had replenished their horses by fresh ones taken from stables during their short stay in town, and were ready for another long ride.

Our men were after them; but with an hour's start, and comparatively fresh horses, they succeeded in getting away. This is the plain story of the capture of Generals Crook and Kelly.

It was a bold and daring attempt, successfully carried out by men selected for the purpose, who came to capture the Generals, and, having captured them, rode quietly away. They called at the Adams House and inquired for General Hayes, but, finding that he was not there, left the house, though some other officers were there.

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: February 1865

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