November 13, 1862
CHARLESTON, KANAWHA COUNTY,
Nov. 2, 1862
Mr. Editor:-- The rebels have come and gone. I was favored with the precious privilege of seeing their triumphant entrance and their somewhat hurried exit, and such a woebegone, God forsaken, starved and ragged set, I hope never to see again, and although their career of six weeks in our Valley has produced those evidences of desolation that usually follow in their train, whatever the country is cursed with their presence. Yet I must say that their career was milder than was anticipated, they did not seem to have that disposition to murder and burn and to destroy and make desolate as was expected by some. Theft and plunder seemed to be the ruling motive, from the highest officer in command down to the humblest private in the ranks, this prevailing purpose was practiced by all classes, not only commanders of all grades and privates in the ranks but by Secessionists and Secession sympathizers in private circles; this latter class availed themselves of the opportunity thus offered by the absence of the Union men of the county, to replenish their wardrobes, and ladies to an extent not known for months or even years,--in fact, it is a noticeable fact that this ingrained disposition to appropriate themselves what belongs to others seems to be a leading idea with them amounting to a passion—this gratification of which would satisfy at least nine-tenths of them if permitted to do so without let or hinderance [sic]. I understand, however, that some searches are to be made to-day, which will probably disclose some rich evidences of the facts stated.
A more docile and humble set of cravens than the common soldiers are, I never have seen--not among the slaves of our community to this principle the feelings and antipathies of our Union ladies entirely gave way, and seemed to take some pleasure in supplying their urgent wants, who however much they may have detested the principles for which they were in arms against their country and friends. Anything, whatever, to satisfy the cravings of hunger, even to a few cold potatoes or any old garments were received with such expression of thankfulness for to completely arouse their commiseration. This spirit, however, was much abated after a few days practice, at their favorite game, when they became much more independent. The poor fellows had been most woefully deceived, they had been advised that when they got to Charleston everything was to be abundant, but alas! None but a very few favorites were permitted to enjoy any of the promised hospitalities. Many desertions have been the result already, and doubtless where will be many more before they cross the Alleghenies. Their depredations and plundering was not confined to the Union men, but many supporters and sympathizers were made to feel to their sorrow, the effects of their visit, in fact, they did not seem to have any particular scruples as to who should be the victims of their plunder. Our poorest citizens, even the negroes, old and lone women, were robbed of their last old horse and cow, in fact there is only one class of individuals that are satisfied that they paid us the visit that is those of our community—of which we have a considerable sprinkling—who have nothing whatever to lose and may gain something from whatever may turn up.
Floyd, the great arch thief, however, did not make his debut, until he was so pressed for time that the spoils that fell to his share was rather meager. He professed to be very pious and to entertain great respect for the rights of citizens. One of his staff officers upon demanding the key of the house of a Union man, which had been vacated, assured the person having charge of the key, that everything would be preserved inviolate—as evidence of which, he declared that Gen. Floyd was going to occupy himself! Whether the fellow really intended it as irony or whether he really thought his master did not steal, I do not know, but certain it is he was not the man to resist such a temptation, for upon leaving, hurried as he was, he indulged the instinct of his nature, by appropriating to himself and carrying off a large piece of half worn carpet, a few old clothes, several articles of clothing of a deceased child, (kept and esteemed as relics by a fond mother,) and a jar of soap grease.
What I have said about Secessionists plundering their neighbors houses, I must say that although this is true as a general rule, that there are honorable exceptions, some of which, were it not for being personal, I would like to point out, who like Milton’s fallen angels, still retain some evidences of their prestine [sic] excellence, notwithstanding the depths to which they have fallen by Secession.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: November1862