Another Sheriff Captured.
February 21, 1863
Another Sheriff Captured.
Point Pleasant, Va.,
February 11, 1863.
The rebels are still pursuing their old game of arresting and carrying off peaceful, unoffending Union citizens of West Virginia, and in the humble opinion of Union men in this part of the country it is high time that some protection was extended to them - some military organization put on foot that could succeed in making it a little less safe than it is now for mounted rebel guerrillas to venture so far within our lines.
About ten days since Benjamin Morris, Sheriff of Putnam county, returning from a sale, was captured ten or fifteen miles in the rear of Putnam Court House, by a portion of Hiram Kirby's mounted guerrillas. On information of which Lieut. Col. Hall, commanding a detachment of 13th Virginia, sent out a party with instructions to overtake the rebels, disperse them, and recue Morris, or failing in that to seize a number of the leading secessionists of the neighborhood where the capture was made. The guerrillas could not be overtaken by infantry soldiers, so seven prominent secessionists were brought in by the party, and are now held by Col. Hall as hostages for the safe return of Morris. Nothing has since been heard of Morris or his fate. But this is not all. Some two or three days ago, Jihn Winkey, residing near this place, while going up the South side of the Kanawha a short distance to buy furs, was captured by about twenty guerrillas or Herndon's band. His horses were taken and himself stripped of boots and money, and forced to "double-quick" for several miles in front of the party, and then set at liberty to find his way home barefooted.
The rebels have also captured and carried off, within a short time past, fourteen horses from the lower end of this county, and I am safe in asserting that they will continue to carry off men, horses, and whatever else suits their pleasure so long as we have nothing but infantry to meet them with.
Perhaps the authorities at Wheeling are not aware that teh success of the new State is seriously endangered by the very considerable force of rebels now ranging the country between the Kanawha and Sandy rivers. This force will undoubtedly, unless vigorous and effectual measures are taken to prevent it, play an important part in the general election soon to be held. Comprising it we know there are Capt. Herndon & Co., Capt. Kirlty & Co., Capt. Morgan & Co., Capt. Carpenter & Co., Major Wieter with three Companies, Major Gun with four Companies, and Col. Clarkson, is said to have nine or ten hundren men. These forces are variously estimated at from eighteen to twenty-five hundred men, and from captured secesh letters, which I have seen, I have no hesitation in saying the estimate is not far from correct. Gen. Jenkins has, agreeably to the best information I can get, about thirty-five hundred dismounted Cavalry in Roanoke county, which he is drilling as Infantry, with the view of using them in the Spring, either as Infantry or Cavalry, or both. Their horses have been sent to North Carolina to be kept through the Winter. All this force, we are told, is to be used to bear upon the vote at the coming election in that part of the new State South of the Little Kanawha river. What is likely to be the result? The prospect certainly is anything but cheering. And if something cannot be done to prevent the threatened armed interference, and to humble the disloyal inhabitants of the country our success in securing a vote in favor of the new State will be very much jeopardized. Indeed those who have the best opportunities of knowing and judging, say it will defeat the new State altogether.
All of these men have been raised in that portion of the new State referred to; they thoroughly know the people, and every road and by-path within the boundary, and are peculiarly well qualified for the work laid out for them, and success in the accomplishment of their object (the defeat of the new State in the counties below the Little Kanawha) is morally certain, unless the Government can be induced to mount and equip four or five of our Virginia regiments - say the 8th, 9th, 11th and 13th. They also are perfectly well acquainted with the country, the roads and the people, and could and would do more to suppress the abounding manifestations of disloyalty, and restore confidence once more to the Union men than twenty thousand infantry.
The rebels have been threatening Lieutenant-Colonel Hall's command, at Winfield, for some time past, but the Colonel is prepared to render a good account of himself should be be attacked. You may know the danger is real and imminent when Gen. Scammon ordered him to be reinforced without delay.
In conclusion I would say, as the game now stands, the chances are that all the detached companies and small commands, stationed all over the country, will be gobbled up in the spring, and we shall have - but on a larger scale - a repetition of the disgraceful scenes that attended Jenkins' raid last fall.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: February 1863