LOYAL WESTERN VIRGINIA.
The determination of the loyal people of Western Virginia not to yield to the demands of the Secessionists of the State, created a great deal of enthusiasm in the bordering states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and did much to attract volunteers from those states, to the support of the brave loyalists of this section. The treason of Richmond furnished the occasion to the West to assert its dignity and independence. The triumph of secession on the James, led to the triumph of loyalty in the mountains but it was a struggle such as few people have ever gone through, and fixed for all time the undaunted courage, the sublime devotion to principle, and the patient endurance, of the noble people of this western section. While Gov. Letcher was training the State militia for use against the government, the people of the western counties were holding Union meetings for the support of the government. The militia in the western part of the State were called into action, but largely refused, many of the officers and men becoming gallant officers in the regiments that were soon formed for the defense of the Nation. The sketches of many officers, and of companies, in the succeeding chapters, will show the work of some of them, and give a tolerably fair idea of the intense loyalty of these men. For a number of years, there had been a heated contest between the contending principles that were fully developed by the war, and there was no neutral ground upon which any persons could stand. This so completely defined the positions of the two, that when the war actually broke its dark and hideous cloud upon the rugged mountains and fair valleys of Western Virginia, the people were in line where they belonged, and the battle was on. The dominant party of the State being naturally for the principle of states rights, the Unionists suffered much at their hands, and it was no easy matter after all to be for the Union. Speakers were mobbed, meetings were broken up, rough and tumble fights were frequent, and neighbors were arrayed against neighbors, yet there was no yielding of the loyalty of the people.
During all this stormy period, there were a number of avowed abolitionists along the border of the state, some also in the interior of the state, but their influence was abridged. They could not get access to the masses. The preachers of the M. E. Church North, had a large membership in the state, and were closely watched. They were pressed by the M. E. Church South, and other denominations, on account of their anti-slavery tendency. Hon. F. H. Pierpont, one of the leading men of the state, though not a member of that church, wrote one of his most effective letters and published it in a local paper, vindicating the preachers of the M. E. Church, maintaining that they were simply living under the rule promulgated by Wesley. This letter had wide circulation, and served the end designed.
In the fall of 1860, the Virginia legislature was called in extra session; then came the state convention; then on the 17th of April 1861, the ordinance of secession was passed, and on the 25th of the same month the state, by secession commissioners, acting under authority of the convention in session at Richmond, was annexed to the Southern Confederacy at Montgomery, Ala. Of this the people knew nothing. They were called upon to go through the farce of an election on the fourth Thursday in May following, to vote on the adoption or rejection of the ordinance of secession, the time for electing members of the senate, house of delegates and members of congress. The news of the passage of the ordinance spread like wild fire. The union members of the convention escaped from Richmond, some at the hazard of their lives. Hon. John S. Carlisle was among the first to escape. As soon as he arrived at Clarksburg, his home, he called a public meeting, and that meeting called a convention, to consist of ten men from each county, which would send delegates to a convention to be held in Wheeling on the 11th of May following. In the meantime, public meetings were called in every county, the shortest notice calling out large concourses and they were addressed by union men and secessionists.
All the leading offices, civil and military, were held by rebels. Orders were issued from Richmond to assemble the militia by companies, battalions and regiments, and to push forward the militia officers' training. Rebel military companies were being raised in every county, their rendezvous being Grafton. What were called the "terror men" were active: A few of the most determined men in each county called on militia officers, and notified them that they must go with the state or resign; also on union men, to admonish them that if they did not go with the state, they might expect serious consequences. Mr. Pierpont was among the most active of the speakers, and was approached, to learn what he meant by stirring up sedition in the state, and opposing the organized commonwealth of Virginia; and assured that if he persisted, he would be arrested and sent to Richmond, and tried and hung for treason against the great state. He had been in four or five principal counties, and the old men asked him what the union people could do. He expected advice from them, and in his own language, "the very heavens appeared as brass without a single rift." His neighbors in the midst of this terror, asked him what they should do. He simply said, "hold on to the union."
In this depressed state of mind, he went to his office and took down the Constitution of the United States. Audibly he said, "Old constitution, I will give you one more reading." He does not know why he had not done it before, but he commenced at the preamble, carefully reading article by article and section by section, until he came to the section which provides- "The Government of the United States shall guarantee a republican form of government to each state in the Union, repel invasion, and suppress insurrection and rebellion when called on by the legislature, or by the Governor, if the legislature cannot be convened in time," When he got through the section, he sprang to his feet, threw the book with force on the table and exclaimed, "I have got you." The cold chills ran from his head to his feet and his hair stood on end. He walked the floor for a few minutes in brisk step, and in less than a minute the whole proceedings of the convention, its representation, the declaring of all offices held by secessionists vacant, representation in Congress and division of the State, passed before him like a panorama. He went into his house and told his wife that it was clear. He met one of his neighbors on the street and remarked to him, "It will all come out right." He knew at that stage that success could only be had by secrecy.
The meeting at Wheeling, on the 11th of May, came off in a few days, and was presided over by Dr. John W. Moss, of Parkersburg. It was a great mass convention. The wealth and talent of the Union men in the State were there, earnest and determined, without reference to numbers from counties. Thirty odd counties were represented. They assembled in the afternoon in a large hall. A large number of resolutions were presented, all breathing a strong Union spirit. Daniel Lamb, Geo. McPorter and F. H. Pierpont were appointed a committee to whom all the resolutions were referred, with request to report next morning. Pierpont met with the committee and told them that they could report that he had three resolutions, which he desired adopted before the convention adjourned. They were about as follows:
2nd. That this convention so elected, should meet in Wheeling the 13th day of June next following.
3rd. That this convention appoint - members as a committee of safety, whose duty it should be to direct the manner of electing members to the convention, who were not members of the Legislature, and to attend to such other affairs as they deemed necessary for the Union cause.
2nd. That this convention so elected, should meet in Wheeling the 13th day of June next following.
3rd. That this convention appoint - members as a committee of safety, whose duty it should be to direct the manner of electing members to the convention, who were not members of the Legislature, and to attend to such other affairs as they deemed necessary for the Union cause.
Pierpont put these resolutions in his pocket, and said he would wait for a proper opportunity to offer them. Speech-making began in earnest at an early hour in the evening. Mr. Carlisle led off, advocating the division of the state at once, the new state to be composed of two congressional districts, and he had a strong following. He was followed by Gen. Jackson, of Parkersburg, Hon. W. T. Willey, Hon. C. D. Hubbard, Campbell Tarr, J. S. Burdett, Daniel H. Polsley, and others, nearly all of whom had been members of the Richmond convention. Various propositions were suggested. About half an hour before dinner next day, Pierpont was called for; he took the stand and spoke until adjournment for dinner, and promised to finish after dinner. In the meantime he saw Wm. G. Brown, member of congress-elect of Kingwood. He told Brown that he did not care about speaking, but he wanted to wear out the convention so as to get in some practical resolutions; that after dinner he would resume his remarks, but he knew be would get hoarse in a short time, and would call upon him to finish, he being fully in possession of his, Pierpont's, views. This line was followed. After Brown had been speaking some time, Pierpont left the platform and went down one aisle of the hall, and met Carlisle. He took the resolutions out of his pocket, and said to Carlisle, "here is what you want." Carlisle read them carefully and said "that suits me exactly. Why did you not show them to me before?" Pierpont said it was not time. Carlisle addressed the President with a motion to refer all resolutions back to the General Committee with instructions to report as soon as possible. The committee retired, Pierpont's resolutions were presented, and the sub-committee was instructed to report them.
The convention reassembled just before sun-down. News bad gone out that all disagreements were settled. A number of ladies and gentlemen were on the large platform. The convention was called to order, the resolutions were read, and unanimously adopted with great enthusiasm. The chairman then announced the committee of safety. Immediately a clerical gentleman stepped forward and struck up the star spangled banner, in which the band and all on the platform joined, the ladies acquitting themselves with great honor. Then another and another patriotic song, then the doxology, "Praise God, &c.," and the convention adjourned amid ringing cheers. This meeting was of national importance. The great daily papers of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Chicago had their reporters there. An intense union feeling was developed and it greatly encouraged the sentiment in the North.
The next day the committee of safety organized. The committee appointed a sub-committee to remain at Wheeling and take charge of affairs. Then the next day when the sub-committee met, some one who had heard that Pierpont had a plan of action asked him to explain it. He admitted that he had; and that it was this: "On principle the loyal people of the state are entitled to the protection of the laws of the state and United States. When our convention assembles I have no doubt we will know that the Governor of the state has joined the Southern Confederacy. The convention will pass resolutions declaring, in the language of the declaration of independence, that he has abdicated his office by joining a foreign state, and that it is the right of this convention to appoint a Governor and Lieutenant-governor, and pass such other ordinances as are necessary to turn out of office all disloyal men and to fill them by loyal men, and do anything else that may be necessary. Our actions must go to the whole state. We will call the legislature together immediately if necessary. You observe the convention is composed of double the number of delegates of the lower house. It may be we will need a legislature and convention both at once. We will elect Senators to fill the places made vacant by resignation of Hunter and Mason. We will commission our members elected and send them to Congress. The Governor will call upon the President for military aid to suppress the rebellion. In the meantime, we will get the United States Army to occupy the Monongahela and Kanawha valleys, drive the rebels beyond the mountains, and we will organize below. Now if we carry out this program, we will represent the State of Virginia, and divide the State by the consent of Congress and the consent of the Legislature of Virginia." The committee unanimously assented, and worked diligently, attending to all the details necessary to strengthen the union cause.
On Saturday before the fourth Thursday in May, election day, Pierpont's friends at Fairmont thought it safe for him to come home and stay until the election. There was great commotion, on the day before the election, and a regiment from Georgia and the Valley of Virginia arrived at Phillippi and Grafton. A large rebel meeting was held in Fairmont the same evening. Threats were freely made. About 2 o'clock at night, a lady living near called to Pierpont and told him that she had been watching all night, that she heard of threats, and feared that he would be killed or his house burned that night. He told her not to be alarmed, they would not hurt him, but he watched from that to daylight, got an early breakfast, and went to his office. A friend came in excitedly and declared there was present danger, and insisted on his leaving at once on the train for Wheeling. He went and got to the office of the committee at Wheeling at half past 3 p. m. The committee was there. They gibed him about not being at home voting. He replied, "The time of voting is past. I move that Mr. Carlisle be sent, at once, to Washington, to demand troops to drive the Rebels out of Western Virginia." Carlisle readily consented to go on the next train, at 8 o'clock that night. He had to go by Harrisburg and Baltimore. He got to Washington at 3 p. m. next day. He told the hackman to drive him to the White House as quick as his horses could go, got there and inquired for the President; was informed he could not see the President, as all the Cabinet were there in cabinet meeting. Carlisle said he wanted to see all the Cabinet and President together, and demanded that his card be taken in. The President called him in. "Well," said the President, "Mr. Carlisle, what is the best news in Western Virginia." Carlisle, without answering that question, said, "Sir, we want to fight. We have one regiment ready, and if the Federal Government is going to assist us we want it at once." "You shall have assistance," said the President. This was on Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning, United States troops, from Ohio and Indiana, crossed the river at Wheeling and Parkersburg, and on the third of June the first fight in the State came off at Phillippi.
Before the assembling of the convention, a number of union gentlemen in Wheeling, held a kind of informal caucus, and discussed the men who would likely be prominent for governor. They finally agreed on Pierpont and appointed a gentleman to see him and ascertain if he would accept; if so they would work to that end. Pierpont was seen, the matter submitted, he declared "that he had never thought of occupying the place. He had been looking to older men." After hearing all his friend had to say, he replied: "I am in for the war to lead or drive, and if the convention so orders I will do the best I can." Two days before the meeting of the convention, the members began to arrive in Wheeling. The first question to leading union men was, "What are we going to do?" They were told to see Pierpont, he had worked up a plan of action. So they went to him singly and by numbers. He explained the proposed action in detail. All inquired, "Have you consulted the President or any of his cabinet?" He answered, "No. We don't want to consult them. This action by our enemies will be called revolutionary. The government of the United States is watched in this country and Europe, and we don't want to compromise it in any way. But we will submit our work and I will guarantee its acceptance."
The convention assembled on the 13th of June 1861. It was agreed that all the members before taking their seats, should take an oath to support the constitution of the United States, as the supreme law of the land, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the ordinance of secession passed at Richmond on the 17th of April 1861. About thirty-five counties were represented, and every delegate elected but one, took his seat. Hon. A. I. Boreman was elected President of the convention. Appropriate committees were appointed on fundamental principles and
plan for reorganizing the state. The committees went to work in earnest, and in a few days they reported in substance that the loyal people of the state were entitled to the benefit of state and national government; that the offices of Governor and Lieutenant-governor were vacant by reason of the officers who were elected to their places having joined a foreign government; and that it was the duty of the convention to elect a Governor and Lieutenant-governor for six months until the offices could be filled by an election of the people. They made it the duty of the Governor to require all the officers in the state to take the oath to support the constitution of the United States, as the supreme law of the land; and the restored government of Virginia as vindicated by the convention assembled at Wheeling on the 13th of June 1861, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the ordinance passed at Richmond on the 17th of April 1861. It was made the duty of the Governor on the refusal of any office-holder of a state or county office to take this oath; to declare the office vacant, and order an election to fill the vacancy with a loyal man. By the 21st, all the preliminaries were completed, speeches of explanation made and election of Governor ordered for that day. Pierpont was asked privately to leave the hall.
Daniel Lamb, Esq., nominated him, in a short speech, for Governor of the Restored Government of Virginia. No other nomination was made, and the vote was unanimous. Pierpont was sent for, and informed of the action of the convention by the President, who asked him if he was ready to take the oath of office. He said he was. The oath was then administered on the President's platform, in the presence of the convention. Pierpont turned to the convention and said he thanked them for this expression of their confidence, and would serve them to the best of his ability.
Francis Harrison Pierpont was born in Monongalia county, Va., about five miles east of Morgantown, January 25, 1814. The same year his father, Francis Pierpont, and mother, Catharine, removed into Harrison County, three miles southwest of what is now Fairmont. They settled in a log cabin in an unbroken forest. In 1827 his father removed to what is now Fairmont, West Va. What work Francis did until thirteen years old, was on the farm. After he was of school age, he went about two and one-half miles to a log school house, four terms of three months each, in the winter time. From thirteen years old to twenty-one and one half he worked in his father's tan yard, then he started on foot to seek an education at Allegheny College, at Meadville, Pa., about one hundred and eighty miles distant. He remained at Allegheny College four and one-half college years, and was graduated in the class of 1839 visited home three times, in vacation, travelling as he first started most of the distance. After he left college he taught school for three years in Virginia and Mississippi. In political opinion he was a Whig. His father taught him that slavery was a moral, social and political evil. During his college life this sentiment was increased. While residing in Mississippi, his personal observations of the institution intensified this sentiment. After leaving college and while teaching, he studied law. In consequence of the failing health of his father, he returned home in 1842, and was admitted to the bar in that year. He was an amateur politician, though never a candidate for office, and frequently addressed the people on political subjects. He was placed by his party on the State electoral ticket for President, in 1848. His district contained ten counties, six mountain counties of which were overwhelmingly Democratic. It was proposed and agreed upon that the two electors should hold joint discussions of the points of difference between the parties, in all the counties in the district, at the county seats, and at such other points as they could attend. The meetings were largely attended and the canvas lasted over three months. Much of the capital of Democratic politicians then was to abuse abolitionists. Abolitionism was the sum of all villainies in politics. Socialism, free love, negro equality, slave insurrection and general spoliation of women and property, were attributed to designing abolitionists. But Pierpont did not suffer himself to be put on the defensive, but assumed the aggessive at the start. Whatever accusations were brought against the abolitionists, he knew that the people of Western Virginia knew the slavocracy of the State only by its oppression of the white laboring people; that the Democratic party had always held the political power in the State, and that the part east of the Blue Ridge, though largely in the minority in population, held controlling power in the legislature. The west had had but one United States Senator and never a judge of the Court of Appeals or a Governor. By the laws of the State, they to a great extent exonerated their slaves from taxation, and taxed all the laboring man had, from a pig to an engine. By law, a poor man with three sons over sixteen years, with himself, might be called to work the roads ten or twenty days in the year, while the gentleman owning two male slaves over sixteen years, was exempt from road working, and his land was seldom taxed for road purposes. The children were without free schools, and almost without schools of any kind. He pointed them to Pennsylvania and Ohio, with their free institutions; on the one side of an imaginary line you could see thrift, intelligence of the children and prosperity of the people; not so where slavocracy reigned. He declared that Western Virginia wanted free schools, a sound currency and a tariff for protection. He continued this line of attack on the oppression of slave holders, through the local press and before the people, in 1852, 1856, and in the Governor's election in 1859. When the Democratic party divided in 1860, and nominated Breckenridge and Douglas for President, Pierpont at once announced that the Breckenridge party meant secession, rebellion, division of the Union and war. He maintained this country could not be divided without war. Breckenridge Democrats vehemently denied this charge. Pierpont pressed it the harder, so that when the rebellion came, a large number of Democrats were on the union side. He was not an Abolitionist in their sense of the term, but he hated the institution of slavery, the intolerant spirit of pro-slavery men, and their oppression. At the age of seventeen Gov. Pierpont joined the M. P. Church, was an active superintendent of the Sunday school for eighteen years before the war, has had a class ever since, and says that the most valuable knowledge is that received in this grand work. The Governor is now an honored resident of Fairmont, West Va., and though beyond three score years and ten, is active in good works. The Second Virginia regiment has many reasons to be grateful to him, and he is held in the highest esteem by every member of the old organization.
After his election, Governor Pierpont at once entered upon the duties of his office. The collector of the port offered him an office, with a bare table, half quire of paper and pen and ink, in the custom house. Some friends came in to congratulate him, and some of them remarked that he was the first man they had ever known to thank men for putting a rope around his neck. The Governor replied that success was never convicted of treason.. He immediately addressed a letter to the President of the United States, in substance informing him that there was an insurrection and rebellion in the state; that certain evil minded men in the state had banded themselves together and had joined with like minded men from other states; that they had formed strong military organizations and were pressing union men into their army, and taking their substance to support their organizations; that their object was to overthrow the government of the state and United States, and that he had not sufficient military force at his command to suppress the rebellion. He called upon the President for military aid, and signed his letter, "F. H. Pierpont, Governor of Virginia."
About the fourth day after, the Governor received a letter from Secretary of War (Cameron) acknowledging receipt of his letter, saying that he was directed by the President to congratulate the people of Virginia on their so soon resuming their relations with the United States Government, and authorizing Gov. Pierpont to raise volunteer regiments for the United States Army and to appoint company and field officers. This letter was read to the convention and greatly strengthened their faith in the movement.
The second week of the convention was nearing its close. Serious trouble was ahead. Landlords were informing members that they would expect their pay at the end of the second week. Money was exceedingly scarce. The Governor was informed of the situation. "Yes," said he, "I have been actively thinking about that. Tell them to hold on until next week." This was on Saturday. On Monday morning Gov. Pierpont said to Mr. P. G. Vanwinkle, "We must have money. I want you, after breakfast, to go with me to the N. W. and M. M. banks, and endorse my notes for $5,000, one on each bank. I intend to have $10,000 from these banks." Vanwinkle said he would do it. They got the cashiers together. The Governor told them what he wanted. They raised the objection that they could not make the loan to the State without a vote of the stockholders. The Governor replied, "I want it on my own individual note and Mr. Vanwinkle will endorse it. I want it to pay the mileage and per diem of the members of the convention. If my government succeeds you are sure of your money. If it does not succeed, your money is not worth a bubble." One of the cashiers replied, "You shall have five thousand from this bank, what shall we do with it?" The Governor replied, "Place it to my credit officially and I will so draw my checks." The other cashier said he would like to do the same, but nearly all his directors were of the secession party, and they would not meet until Thursday. Governor Pierpont said, "Please give them my compliments, and tell them to place that money to my credit, and I don't want any higgling about it." On Wednesday the cashier informed him that $5,000 was placed to his credit in the other bank. The Governor went immediately to the convention, asked the President to inform all the members that if they would get a certificate from the Sergeant at Arms of the mileage and per diem due them, and bring it to the Governor, he would give them a check for the money. This gave great strength to the convention. Thus the Governor became Auditor and Treasurer also.
The convention soon brought its work for the present, to a close, and convened the legislature, which elected United States Senators to fill the vacancies made by the resignation of Mason and Hunter. The Governor procured proper seals, and issued commissions to Senators and Representatives in Congress, who were admitted to seats in the extra session called by the President to meet on the 4th of July 1861.
The restored government being recognized by the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government, they were ready to divide the state. Accomac, Northampton, Fairfax and Alexandria were now represented in the legislature. The legislature gave its consent and called on the people in the bounds of the proposed new state, to elect delegates to a convention to frame a constitution. That convention met and submitted its work for adoption or rejection in the spring of 1862. The people adopted the constitution so submitted with great unanimity. It was then submitted to Congress. The senate passed a bill admitting the new state of West Virginia. The lower house took objections to the constitution on the ground of the provisions on slavery, and required alterations in that particular. The state convention was reassembled and alterations were made to conform to the views of Congress. In December 1862, at the reassembling of Congress, all alterations had been made, the lower house passed the act, and it was approved by the President; and the new state was to be admitted on the proclamation of the President to be thereafter issued on proper certificates of ratification by the people of the alterations Congress proposed. Elections were held in the spring of 1863, in the old and new state, at the usual time of holding elections, and the constitution was adopted, and the government of West Virginia was organized June 17, 1863.
Governor Pierpont went into the loyal part of the old state, not embraced in West Virginia. The people were anxious for him to follow the restored government, which he decided to do. "I feared" said he, "if it failed the young state might fail." The people elected him to take the office of Governor of Virginia, for the full term from the 1st of Jan. 1864. Then he removed the seat of government of Virginia from Wheeling to Alexandria, and in 1865, after the rebellion collapsed, he went to Richmond and completely restored the government of the state. He was governor for seven years, and was superceded by the "Force Acts" of Congress passed in 1867.
Gov. Pierpont says the formation of West Va. was not the act of any one man, nor was it the act of the politicians of the State, as they were in the rebellion. It was simply the carrying out of an enthusiastic determination of a large body of serious, determined men, who felt that they had been oppressed by the slave power of the State, which power was then, forcing them to antagonize the Union they so dearly loved, to enlarge the slave power they so cordially hated. This intense power was behind him, and he also had the counsel of true, intelligent men. The Wheeling Intelligencer, the only daily paper in the State, edited with great ability and discretion by A. W. Campbell, Esq., was a tower of strength in support of the movement.
The movement forming the restored government and the new state, was of vast importance in determining the fate of the Union. It checked rebellion in Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri; it strengthened union sentiment in the north; it added backbone to the administration at Washington, and it dampened the ardor of the rebels at Richmond. The Western Virginia politicians promised the Confederacy 50,000 Western Virginia troops. Rebels in the cotton states in the spring of 1861, said to the people, "Plant your broad acres of Corn and cotton. The war is transferred to the Potomac and the Ohio." The intention was to make these rivers the picket line, but the first movement in Western Virginia removed the picket line from the Ohio far back into the Allegheny mountains. Gov. Pierpont mustered into the United States service about 19,500 men, as brave as ever shouldered a musket or drew a saber. Some of them were brave Pennsylvanians and Ohioans, who wanted to help Western Virginia. The rebels were paralyzed in that section, and it is believed that less than 5,000 of them were in the confederate regular service.
The threatening advance of the confederate forces in the latter part of May, 1861, necessitated the advance of union troops to repel them and on the 27th, of May, Col. B. F. Kelley with his noble First Virginia Infantry, left Wheeling, followed by other troops, and by May 31st 7,000 or 8,000 men were collected at Grafton under Gen. Morris. The enemy retreated to Phillippi, where they made a stand under command of Colonel Porterfield. An advance was made, on June 2nd, by the forces under Gen. Morris, to capture Phillippi by surprise. They moved in two separate columns; one, under Col. Dumont, proceeded on the N. W. Va. railroad to Webster, twelve miles from Phillippi, and thence marched against the enemy's front, while Colonel Kelley, accompanied by Col. Lander, moved another column eastward to Thornton, from which point they marched twenty-two miles, and got in the rear of Porterfield's forces. The troops advanced through the peltings of a fierce storm. The darkness was so intense, and the mud so deep, that travel was exceedingly difficult, and it was daylight before they reached Phillippi. The plan of the attack was for Col. Dumont to attack in front, and Col. Kelley in the rear, simultaneously. The attack was to be made at 4 o'clock, but Col. Kelley, having the longer distance to travel, could not possibly reach the point desired at the time, so that Col. Dumont waited till daylight revealed his presence to the enemy. Seeing the enemy's camp in confusion, the colonel then ordered an attack, and about the same time Col. Kelley came in sight across the river below the camp and charged forward with great cheering. Col. Kelley's forces charged into the town but found it deserted. Passing along Col. Kelley was shot through the body by some concealed person, but recovered and became one of the honored and brave generals of the State.
A large force of the enemy was firmly entrenched on Laurel Hill under Gen. Robert S. Garnett, and a smaller force under Col. John Pegram at Rich Mountain. On July 11th General McClellan ordered an attack, on the forces on Rich Mountain. General Rosecranz was sent with some Indiana and Ohio regiments to get in the rear of the confederate forces. This was accomplished, but the plan of attack was disclosed to the enemy, by the capture of a courier from McClellan to Rosecranz. This put the enemy on their guard and they hastily marched 2,500 men, with three pieces of artillery to the summit of the mountain, where they intrenched themselves. Rosecranz had no artillery, as he had to march his weary columns through almost impenetrable woods, by mountain bridle paths, under a cold, intermittent rain. About noon he reached the confederate position, when the enemy opened on him with their artillery. The bushes were so thick that the location of the enemy could not be made out, and their whereabouts was known only by the explosions of their guns. Colonel Lander with twenty sharp shooters found position among the rocks close to the enemy's artillery, where they picked off their gunners as fast as they took their places. In the meantime an Indiana regiment came up, and the order to fix bayonets was given. The next moment an Ohio regiment posted on a high piece of ground, poured in a terrible volley, and the Indianians charged with a cheer that carried terror to the hearts of the enemy; who at once retreated, leaving their artillery, wagons, tents, provisions and stores, with 135 dead. The enemy were driven about 300 yards, when a recall was sounded and the column formed in line of battle, to meet the forces of Pegram at the foot of the mountain. But Pegram fully understanding the position of Rosecranz's forces, became alarmed for his own safety, and ordered an immediate retreat, but was compelled to surrender the next day. General McClellan then marched to Beverly.
General Garnett on Laurel Hill, hearing of Pegram's defeat, retreated through the mountains. General Morris took possession of the camp, and next day five regiments of Ohio and Indiana troops started in full pursuit, forcing the enemy directly over the mountains, toward the Cheat river. The rain fell without intermission, making the marching miserable in the narrow valley of the Cheat river. No guide was needed to point out their track, the trampled mud, haversacks, blankets, tents, etc., that strewed the valley, showing plainly enough the route taken. It was a wild chase and when open ground was reached, skirmishes were frequent. Four companies of a Georgia regiment were cut off and captured, and at Carrick's ford Gen. Garnett made a stand, his artillery being posted on a bluff, while the infantry were concealed behind the bushes. A desperate fight followed, the enemy's forces far exceeding the union troops, but they were compelled to retreat in great disorder. Gen. Garnett bravely exerted himself to stop the demoralized command, but his efforts were fruitless, and while so doing, he was shot through the body and died without a groan. The pursuit was continued only two miles beyond the ford, when the union troops camped for the night. The remainder of the enemy under Col. Ramsey, made their way across the mountains, joining Gen. Jackson at Monterey. Our loss in these fights was not more than sixty, while the killed of the enemy was nearly two hundred, and about one thousand captured.
Both armies now settled down to the organization needed for the conflicts that were certain to follow. Enlistments came in rapidly from this time forward, and side by side with the other loyal sections of the Union, Western Virginia did her full share for the maintenance of the National Government. As showing the readiness of the people to support the flag, it is proper to state here, that there were placed in the field of Western Virginia soldiers as brave a body of men as anywhere fought for the union cause. As showing the patriotic spirit existing, it is well to note that out of a population of 393,234 in Western Virginia, in 1860, afterward the state of West Virginia, including the slaves, there were furnished 32,068 soldiers, or 8.1 per cent of the population; and the character of the troops may be shown, by the following statement of the losses of the several organizations:
This hardly does justice to the West Virginians, since the regiments were, as a rule, under the average size, and owing to the difficulties of recruiting, they had, from first to last, fewer men on their rolls, so that the apportionment of mortality to the total number was greater than would appear from a similar showing in regiments from more Northern States. As an instance, take our own regiment. The muster out rolls show a total enrollment of 1,069 men from first to last, of whom about sixty-five were discharged before the arduous campaigns of 1862 began, and Company G was detached for artillery service, making the real strength of the regiment before leaving cheat mountain, about 900 men. The losses given were really from this number of men. As a rule, when a West Virginia regiment was once formed and mustered into the service, it had to depend on its original members for its future strength. But few recruits were received, and as comrades fell in battle or by disease, their places were forever left unfilled; sad reminders of the horrible realities of war. In our own regiment, but 19 recruits were received in the whole of the three years service.
In justice to some Western Virginia regiments that were brigaded with our regiment during the service, we here recall them, in order that the readers of this book, may have a better idea of what the organizations were, as they read their noble records in the battles herewith given. The State and country had no abler defenders, and a truer, nobler set of men could not be found anywhere in the land. They were a tower of strength in the shock of battle, and brothers and comrades in the camp and on the march. Our sufferings together made us brothers in fact, and the memory of all of them is one of the most precious recollections of the war.
The Third Regiment Virginia Infantry was organized at Clarksburg, Va., in July 1861, by Col. David T. Hewes, and at once began operations in Western Virginia, having companies stationed in different places in the State, engaged in scouting and fighting bushwhackers, until it joined the brigade under Gen. Robt. H. Milroy in the spring of 1862, and proceeded to McDowell, where the Mountain Department was formed under Gen. Fremont. From this time on, until after the battle of Cloyd Mountain, in May 1864, this regiment and ours were in the same brigade. When the regiments were mounted in June 1863, and the Second became the Fifth Western Virginia Cavalry, the Third became the Sixth Western Virginia Cavalry, the two regiments bearing the same relative rank as when infantry. The two regiments were thus constantly together for over two years, and when their time of enlistment expired, the veterans and recruits of the two regiments were consolidated, taking the name of the Sixth West Virginia Cavalry.
The Fifth Regiment Virginia Infantry was organized at Ceredo, Va., during the summer of 1861, and was mustered into the United States service October 18, 1861. It was engaged in protecting the loyal citizens of the Kanawha Valley, and ridding it of the confederates, until ordered to Parkersburg on Dec. 10. A principal part of the regiment was sent to New Creek and in February 1862, accompanied Colonel Dunning of the Fifth Ohio, commanding brigade, on his expedition to Moorefield, against Col. Harness of the confederate army. On the 2d of April the regiment left New Creek, and went to McDowell, joining the command of Gen. Milroy, and taking part in the battle at that place, and after that battle became a part of General Milroy's brigade. They remained with the brigade all through Pope's campaign, participating in all the battles in which the brigade took a part, from Cedar Mountain to the second battle of Bull Run. The regiment returned to the Kanawha Valley in October 1862, and was detached from Milroy's brigade, and in May 1864, it became a part of Gen. Crook's command, participating in his expeditions. It took a part in Gen. Hunter's advance on Lynchburg, and the battle at that place June 18. Returning, it proceeded with Gen. Hunter's army to the Shenandoah Valley, forming a part of the Army of West Va. under General Crook in the brigade commanded by Col. I. H. Duvall 9th W. Va. Infantry. On the 9th of November 1864, the Fifth and Ninth Western Virginia Infantry were consolidated by order of the War Department, and designated the First Regiment, West Virginia Veteran Infantry, and were mustered out of Service, July 21, 1865.
The Eighth Regiment Virginia Infantry was organized in the Kanawha Valley, during the fall of 1861, headquarters being at Charleston. The regiment was ordered to New Creek in April 1862, becoming a part of Gen. Fremont's Mountain Department, and with the Sixtieth Ohio Infantry, was organized as an advance brigade, and placed under the command of Col. Cluseret A. D. C. to Gen. Fremont. In the pursuit of Jackson up the Valley, this brigade had the advance, and were engaged in several skirmishes with Ashby's cavalry, followed him closely to Harrisonburg, where they engaged him, resulting in the death of Ashby. This brigade occupied the centre at the battle of Cross Keys and was complimented by Gen. Fremont for its gallantry. The regiment became a part of Gen. Bohlen's brigade, Sigel's corps, in Pope's campaign, and served with great gallantry in all the engagements of that campaign. On arriving at Washington City, the regiment was transferred to Gen. Milroy's brigade, and returned with him to Western Virginia, and was again assigned to duty in the Kanawha Valley. In November 1862, it was transferred to Col. Moore's brigade at Buckhannon. On the assignment of Gen. Averill to the Fourth separate brigade, this regiment was mounted, and became a part of his brigade, as the Seventh West Virginia Cavalry, with which it served as long as the organization existed. It was mustered out of the service August 1, 1865.