April 5, 1862
My last letter closed with a short account of a recent scouting expedition sent out into Pocahontas county. At the time of writing the result had not been heard – Since that we have learned the details, but they are not worth repeating. We lost two men. Albright and Spurgeon (not Irwin, as was at first reported). Both of these men are believed to be still alive and in the hands of the secesh.
Every day or two a squad of refugees from Pocahontas come into camp. They are fleeing from the mobs who prowl through that county attempting to enforce the order of Letcher, to draft the militia. The refugees confirm the information which we have long heard, that the majority of their fellow-citizens in the old mountain county are in favor of the Union.
Our regiment has been considerably augmented by recruits from among these loyal men who have fled from the tyranny of the nigger [sic] aristocracy. A new company, for the 10th Regiment (Col. Harris), is about being organized, and will consist entirely of recruits from Pocahontas county.
This is a rough, wild, out of the way place; but our boys are very well pleased that they are here, near the enemy, with some prospect of fighting before them, however remote. It is a pleasing change from guarding railroad bridges and commanding posts, where there is not enough danger to create even occasional gratifying excitement.
Our regiment is especially joyous, because we are under the general command of Fremont, who has no feelings of petty spite for us; and under the special command of Milroy, who shows us kind regards and gentlemanly attentions, which we have never before received from any General, and who, we know, will lead us to battle whenever favorable opportunity shall be found or can be made.
At present there is, indeed, an unpleasant stagnation in army movements everywhere, so far as we can hear. But, (to use a dolefully trite figure,) this is but the lull before the storm. Presently again, we will hear it “thunder all around the sky,” and especially in Eastern Virginia. Whenever it shall thunder there, then listen for reverbertations of the sound among the mountains.
So far as an early advance by our armies is concerned, much depends, of course, on the condition of the roads. At present they are wretched. In fact, few things are now brought from the railroad by wagons. Our provisions are transported on four-wheeled, hairy carts, commonly called mules. This saves the necessity of using harness; even bridles are dispensed with. It is said, however, that by this mode of transportation corn costs about two dollars a bushel in Huttonsville, not counting what was originally paid for it. In fact, it has been calculated that the Government would have economized money by constructing a railroad at first, from Grafton to Huttonsville. And this calculation leaves out collateral considerations, such as convenience of travel, greater security to these outposts, and the probability that with such conveniences we might have taken possession of Monterey, not to say Staunton, long before this time. Besides, when the Government should have been done using the railroad, it could have realized a large per centum of original cost by selling to a company.
However, the reality is before us. We have no railroad, but a mud road, and a very bad one at that; of which we must make the best that we can. Fortunately we are almost as near to Staunton as to Webster, and we prefer moving in the direction of the former place. We shall find the road good in that region in a few weeks. When I write again, I want to give you short sketches of some of the “notables” in this division of the army.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: April 1862