May 16, 1863
WINCHESTER, May 12, 1863.
As our kind friends in Wheeling are always anxious to hear anything from the Wheeling Battery, I thought it would be interesting to them, to read a rough description of our trip to New Market: On May 4th, the middle section left camp for a scout, taking for day’s rations and marching by way of the Romney Road, at 5 A.M. Their destination was not known, but it was supposed they would go to Moorefield. On Tuesday the 5th No. f gun of the right section left camp at 2 A.M., taking two days rations. They were to go to a rebel tanyard on Cedar Creek, and load the train wagons with leather and green hides, found there. The middle section, and one gun of right section, being gone, left us three guns in camp. At 11 A.M. on the same day (5th) orders came for our three remaining guns to prepare four day’s rations and form on the Strasburg road; by 12 30 P.M. we were all ready, and joined the 123rd, 122nd, 110th Ohio regiments, 10th Va. Regiment, Roan’s cavalry, a detachment of Utt’s cavalry and Keefer’s battery. The Sun was shining bright when we started, but at 2 P.M. a violent storm overtook us, the thunder and lightning was awful, while the rain poured down in a perfect deluge; gum blankets were of no account, and we were drenched to the skin in short metre. The storm overtook us at Middletown. It seemed quite an enjoyment to secesh women of that place to view our discomfiture, from their windows, and many a slur was thrown us from them.
It rained without ceasing all day, our march was a weary one, and we did not reach Strasburg until 9 P.M. We quartered in an old house, in the town. There was no such thing as drying clothes that night, so we all turned in and slept with wet clothes on, and wet blankets over us. We were aroused in the morning at 3 A.M. and to our great disappointment still found it raining, -- the boys took it easy, laughing and joking, making the best of everything and paying no attention to the rain. Breakfast over, horses harnessed, and we were off at 6 A.M. The roads were in an excellent condition, and but for the eternal rain, our trip would have been interesting to us. We reached Woodstock at 12 A.M., here we rested for an hour, a cup of hot coffee was made and drank, in the rain, horses fed, trumpets sounded, and we were off one more.
Roan’s cavalry had a hard chase after some rebel cavalry, a short distance from Woodstock, succeeding in taking two prisoners.
We camped for the night two and a half miles past Edenburg – Still it rained – our tents had been all left at Winchester, so you can imagine what a pleasant night we passed, with an unceasing rain falling on us, and the wet ground under us. Our pickets were skirmishing all night, and several feints were made by the rebels to drive them in. We were up at the first bugle call, and it commenced our march at 6 30 A.M. – it rained until 8 A.M., when to our great surprise it stopped, and looked something like clearing off. A body of rebels made an attack on our front at 10 A.M. One gun of Keefer’s unlimbered and commenced firing on them. The rebels drew off, and kept leading us at few miles ahead, until our arrival at New Market which at 11 A.M. Here for once we had a chance to eat our dinner without getting wet. We stayed at New Creek two hours, and then turned back towards Winchester. We took several Union families with us; they said they were starving to death at New Market, but I do not see how it is, for we found thirty barrels of flour in one house, 10 in another and a warehouse with 50 to 60 barrels in – over 100 barrels of Whisky, several boxes of secesh blouses, and a number of trunks filled with officers clothing. Our cavalry took several prisoners while we lay there. Insults of all kinds were directed to us from the secesh ladies, one in particular showed her disgust for a Yankee Officer, by placing her thumb on the most prominent feature of her face, and wagging her fingers in a very mysterious manner. This act was received with jeers and peals of laughter by our boys, making the young lady feel so bad that she retired from the window in great confusion.
We went back as far as Mount Jackson where we camped for the night, quartering in the rebel hospitals – three in number, -- In searching through one of the hospitals, one of the boys found two pieces of bone, they had been sawed off 1 ¼ inches square, and one piece was partly formed into a ring. They were shown to the Surgeon, and he pronounced them pieces of a human skull. I have often heard of rebels making ornaments out of Yankee bones, but never could believe in such an atrocious thing. Now from what I have seen with my own eyes, I am forced to believe it is but too true.
It commenced raining at 11 P.M. Our three guns were placed in position to command the banks on the opposite side of the river, as an attack was looked for from that direction; but the night passed away without anything occurring of consequence, with the exception of some of our infantry being nearly frightened to death, by one of the boys swearing he saw the ghost of a departed bushwhacker, in the hospital where they were quartered.
Six men of the 123rd Ohio were captured some time through the night, by their straggling away from camp.
We left Mount Jackson at 6 A.M.; it was raining steady reached Edenburg at 8:40 A.M. When a short distance from Edenburg, a body of rebels were seen on the opposite side of the river. Our guns were brought to bear on them, and a few well directed shots soon sent them flying for the woods.
We reached Strasburg at 6 P.M. , it was still raining. We appropriated a school house for our quarters, and passed a very pleasant night. The morning came, bright and beautiful, the sun shone with all its splendor and was hailed with joy by the boys, as it was the first glimpse we had had of it for three days.
Our march from Strasburg and Winchester was very pleasant, and fully appreciated by the boys. We reached Winchester at 2:30 P.M., and felt very glad to get back to our old camp.
The 9th Virginia regiment has gone to Clarksburg.
The 87th Pennsylvania regiment and Keefer’s battery left here by the Berryville road. It is reported they go to Clarksburg also, but no person is certain of it. Hoping that this will be received by your with favor, I remain yours, G.G.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: May 1863