December 3, 1861
Editors Dispatch: I wish to draw public attention to the situation of the Twenty-Second (late Tompkins's) Regiment Virginia Volunteers. This force is composed of the troops that were raised in the Kanawha Valley at the commencement of hostilities, who have been in active service ever since, and now, after a campaign of unsurpassed hardship, suffering, and gallantry, were recently stationed with the command of Gen. Floyd on Cotton Mountain. From that bleak summit they looked down on the encampment of the invaders who have seized on their country, and still hold the fairest region of the Confederation in bondage.
Let us remember that the men of this regiment are Virginians, who have gained victories, endured privations, and braved the worst difficulties of a soldier's life for the common cause; and yet are as much strangers now on the soil of the State as the poor exiles of Maryland and Alexandria.
It is generally known that the Valley of the Kanawha is cut off in a manner from Virginia by reason of geographical position, and lies distant from it by the whole breadth of all its mountain ranges. On this account the trade of all its business interests were formerly with the people of the Ohio Valley, now turned to deadly enemies. This trade was once carried on through the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, but when the war broke out the navigation of these streams gave easy access to their invaders, while the State could lend but little assistance to the brave and unfortunate Virginians of the Kanawha Valley. Yet, soon as hostilities began, they were among the first to fly to arms, and expose themselves to the vengeance of the Lincoln Government. It was late in the month of June before the authorities at Richmond sent Gen. Wise to their assistance. The results of his [ expedion ] are well known. Wise made head against the enemy till Garnett's defeat at Rich Mountain. But this disaster to our arms left Northwestern Virginia undefended, and set free the innumerable hordes of McClellan to turn their arms against Wise's command, to intercept his communication with the East, and, by surrounding, to capture or destroy him. Wise was recalled at once, and by making good his retreat saved his command, to which the Kanawha troops were attached. It has been about four months since these things happened, though the country has passed through so many trials, it seems to us as many years. But the events of that time can never be forgotten by the Kanawha.--They had just triumphed over their enemies at Scarey Creek. Constituting the advance of Gen. Wise's forces, about six hundred Kanawha men had met fifteen hundred Lincoln troops, defeated, and utterly routed them. A large number of the invaders had been killed, wounded, and made prisoners; and more superior officers taken, I believe, than anywhere except at Manassas; and not even that, when all things are considered, was a more intrepid defence, or more decided victory. True, this was one of the minor combats of the war, but nowhere has there been a more gallant fight than that on the Scarey.
Just then, news of the Rich Mountain disaster reached Kanawha. At a few hours' notice, its brave defenders were summoned to commence a retreat, and forced to leave home, family, and all they had, to the enemy, who have held possession of their country ever since.
It will also be remembered that, soon as the Government could rally from the discouragement of Garnett's defeat, General Floyd was sent to the relief of the Kanawha counties; and the troops of the Valley, placed under his command, marched back to meet their invaders again; but new disappointments awaited them. They fought again at Cross Lanes and Carnifax Ferry on the Gauley; shared in the triumphs of those well-contested fields, but again gathered nothing but barren laurels.
They have now advanced a third time against their enemies. We have heard something of the autumnal storms on Sewell Mountain, the privations and sufferings of the troops there, the crossing by Floyd's men of the New river and their terrible march over the mountains of Fayette. The last news is that at least half the command are in the hospitals. But I ask particular consideration for the Kanawha regiment. Its present condition is better known to others than myself; but we may imagine their state of destitution and suffering, when we remember that they have been constantly marching and fighting for four months past; that they are cut off from friends and kindred; that driven from their homes, they know not the cares of sister, or wife, or mother, and that even now, it is said, the property they left for support of their families, lies under decrees of confiscation to the Pierpont Government at Wheeling.
The Department does all it can, no doubt; but it is very difficult for succor from that quarter, to meet privations such as theirs.--The aid our generous people have lavished on their brave defenders, has heretofore been bestowed on objects nearer home and better known; and not even the acknowledgment due their courage and constancy has yet reached the remote and obscure quarters of the Virginians from Kanawha.
P. S.--As my knowledge of the Kanawha Valley troops, and of the counties bordering on it, was acquired early in the summer, it may be that some of them belong to other regiments than the 22d. Wherever they are, they merit more than I have said of them.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: December 1861