From the Fifteenth.
July 4, 1863
From the Fifteenth.
Camp Skedaddle, New Creek, W.V.,
June 19th, 1863.
The Fifteenth is again in camp at New Creek, though under far different circumstances than when we camped here before. We composed a part of the body of skedaddlers from along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Our Regiment was scattered along the Baltimore road from No. 12 Water Station to Back Creek Bridge. Company B, at Back Creek; Company D, at Big Capon and Company H, at Sleepy Creek were engaged at the time we had to skedaddle, in erecting block houses for the defense of the road. It was calculated that these companies, with the aid of these block houses, would be able to resist quite a force of rebels, provided they did not bring artillery against them. But all the labor was in vain.
The first intimation our company had of the raid the rebels were making, was on last Sunday evening. Our Captain (J.B. Lukens) and one of the men went down to Cherry Run, (where Company I is stationed.) There they learned that the rebels had whipped our forces at Martinsburg and Winchester, capturing the 106th New York and 126th Ohio at the former place. Gen. Milroy, it was said, retreated to Harper’s Ferry, from Winchester. On the return of Captain Lukens, our pickets were strengthened, to guard against surprise. – As Martinsburg is just seventeen miles below, it behooved us to look out for a surprise. Everything remained quiet, however, until Monday morning. About nine o’clock we could see stragglers plodding along the National Pike, across the river from our quarters. They were composed of citizens, soldiers, and contrabands; some on horseback and some on foot. We would call to them and ask them how far the rebels were below. From each one we would get a different story. Some said the rebels were about eight miles below; some said ten miles, while others said the rebels were still at Martinsburg. Of course we could put no reliance in such reports, and had to do the best we could.
Capt. Lukens ordered our company to pack their knapsacks and be ready to retire within the rifle-pits. We soon had our knapsacks packed, and putting on our accoutrements, waited for further orders. – Our captain had come to the determination to fight the rebels no matter what their numbers might have been. The same feeling animated every man in our company. Every one expressed his determination and willingness to fight, no matter what the consequences might be. We waited patiently for the coming of the rebels. About eleven o’clock a train of three cars came down from Sir John’s Run with orders for us to pack up everything, and be in readiness to get on the train when it came back. The train then proceeded on to Back Creek, its destination. When our company received these orders they were surprised and mortified. But there was no help. Such were the orders, and they had to be obeyed. We got everything in readiness, and awaited the return of the train. About two o’clock the train returned, and our company got on and away we went for Sir John’s Run. We arrived there about half past four. Then one regiment had to wait until about 8 o’clock for transportation. When the train did arrive, there was not cars enough for the whole regiment. Companies H, E, C, I, B and G then got on the cars, and away we went for Grafton that being the point we were ordered to. At Big Capon we picked up Co. D. When we arrived at Orleans, where Co. F, was stationed, it was found that there was not enough room for them, so we had to leave. At Big Capon we picked up Co. D. When we arrived at Orleans, where Co. F. was stationed, it was found that there was not enough room for them, so we had to leave them until the next morning. We arrived at Cumberland between two and three o’clock in the morning. There we laid until about night, when we again started. We arrived at our present camp ground (New Creek) about 11 o’clock, and were ordered to get off the cars. About 12 o’clock we were ordered to take up our march for our camp. It took us about an hour to reach it, although it is but a mile and a half from New Creek. Our camp is on a large mountain and the road up to it is very steep. The first two nights we slept on the side of the mountain, which is to steep that we would slip down the hill off our blankets in our sleep. We had no tents pitched, and as the hillside was too steep, we had to lay out under the trees, with the canopy of heaven for a covering.
Our regiment is now engaged in clearing the mountains side and throwing up rifle pits. The boys do not like this, and curse loud and deep at it. They do not like the idea of throwing up entrenchments, and then having to leave them probably without firing a gun. We are on fatigue duty every day. You can imagine from this what heavy details our companies have to furnish. We have just begun to see the elephant.
There are reports through camp this morning that the 1st Virginia, 14th Pennsylvania and 2d Maryland have marching orders for Cumberland. They leave this morning, I believe.
Our 1st Lieutenant, W. L. Schoff, had a narrow escape from capture when the rebels entered Cumberland. He remained behind the company for some purpose, and when the rebels entered he was so closely pushed that he had to leave all his clothing and sword, in order to get on the train to save himself. He came around by the way of Flushing and Piedmont, and joined his company.
But I have written more than I intended to when I began, and will close by saying that the regiment is in its usual good health. Company F is in excellent health. Should we get into an engagement, you will have a good account from Company F.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: July 1863