December 31, 1864
Deserters From The Rebel Army. – Nearly every day a dozen or so deserters from the rebel army report themselves to the commander of the post here and exhibit certificates that they have taken the oath of allegiance, whereupon they are furnished with transportation and sent to the west or wherever they wish to go. Yesterday a forlorn chap, who looked like the stage version of the apothecary in Romeo and Juliet, accompanied by another “anatomy of a starved pilchard” that might have been mistaken for his shadow, entered Col. Washburne’s office in great distress. The apothecary said that his shadow had lost the written evidence of his having taken the oath. The Colonel informed him that it made no difference – that if anybody interfered with him on his travels he could easily take the oath over again and it wouldn’t hurt him a bit. The men took their departure for Ohio.
Since the cold weather set in deserters have been flocking into all the outposts in this department. They take the oath and are sent on here or elsewhere. Sometimes a rank rebel makes his way into our lines for mischief, through this means, but generally they are genuine deserters, badly clothed, poorly fed and shivering in every limb.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: December 1864