CHAPTER 18 – 64 War Events in Jefferson County Oct. ’61-March ’64 Summarized by Jim Surkamp (3 parts). Part 3

3264 words.

STORY 18 – A TWELVE-MINUTE MEDITATION ON WAR Click Here and the link will take you to the beginning of this story at 55:40 within the longer video called “Jasper Thompson’s Destiny Day September6, 1906”

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Jasper enlisted in March, 1864 –
  1. 1864.January.10.Loudoun.Heights.Skirmish:
    Partisan Commander Mosby gave this first-hand account of the January 10th event:
    On Saturday, January 9, having learned through Frank Stringfellow (a scout of General Stuart) that Coles (Maryland) cavalry was encamped on Loudoun Heights with no support but infantry, which was about one-half mile off, I left lie with about 100 men in hopes of being able to completely surprise his camp by a night attack. By marching my command by file along a narrow path I succeeded in gaining a position in rear of the enemy between their camp and the ferry. On reaching this point without creating any alarm. I deemed that the crisis had passed and the capture of the camp of the enemy a certainty. I had exact information up to dark of that evening of the number of the enemy (which was between 175 and 200), the position of their headquarters, & c. When within 200 yards of the camp I sent Stringfellow on ahead with about 110 men to capture Major Cole and staff, whose headquarters were in a house about 100 yards from their camp, while I halted to close up my command. The camp was buried in profound sleep; there was not a sentinel awake. All my plans were on the eve of consummation (16) when suddenly the party sent with Stringfellow came dashing over the hill toward the camp yelling and shooting. They had made no attempt to secure Cole. Mistaking them for the enemy, I ordered my men to charge. In the mean time the enemy had taken the alarm and received us with a volley from their carbines. A severe fight ensued, in which they were driven from their camp, but taking refuge in the surrounding houses kept up a desultory firing. Confusion and delay having ensued from the derangement of my plans, consequent on the alarm given to the enemy, rendered it hazardous to continue in my position, as re-enforcements were near the enemy. Accordingly I ordered the men to retire, which was done in good order, bringing off 6 prisoners and between 50 and 60 horses. My loss was severe; more so in the worth than the number of the slain. It was 4 killed, 7 wounded (of whom 4 have since died), and 1 captured. A published list of the enemys loss gives it at 5 killed and 13 wounded. Among those who fell on this occasion were Capt. William R. Smith and Lieutenant Turner, two of the noblest and bravest officers of this army, who thus sealed a life of devotion and of sacrifice to the cause that they loved. In numerous other affairs with the enemy between 75 and 100 horses and mules have been captured, about 40 men killed, wounded, and captured. A party of this command also threw one of the enemy’s trains off the track, causing a great smash-up. – J. MOSBY, Chapter XLV, The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. (multiple volumes) Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1880-1901., Series I, Volume 33, pp. 15-16 (Vol. 33 ALL)

Federal Officer Henry Cole gave his first-hand report of the January 10th event:
I have the honor of addressing you for the purpose of reportlng the facts of an attempt by Major Mosby’s battalion of guerrilla cavalry to surprise and capture my camp, between the hours of 3 and 4 am. of this day. They studiously avoided my pickets; divided themselves into small bodies, which were speedily consolidated in sight of my camp. They then made an impetuous charge with a yell on the right of the same. In consequence of the suddenness of the same this company could offer but a feeble resistance. In the mean time Company A, the second in the line, was speedily rallied by its commanding officer, Captain Vernon, who contested their farther advance in such a sanguinary manner that [they] formed a rallying point for the balance of the command, who were now thoroughly aroused of the danger that threatened them, and one and al], from the officer to the private, entered into the contest with such a determined zest as led to the utter rout and discomfiture of the enemy, and the signal failure of their base attempt. They experienced a loss of 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, and 2 privates killed, and 2 privates mortally wounded, and 1 prisoner. It was also very evident that they removed a large portion of their wounded with them in their precipitate flight, as a detachment of the command, subsequently sent in pursuit, found evidence of blood all along their line of retreat. I experienced a loss of 4 enlisted men killed and 16 wounded. – H. COLE, Chapter XLV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 33, pp. 17-18.

  1. 1864.February.5.Smithfield.Skirmish:
    Local resident and Confederate Artilleryman Roger P. Chew gives his first-hand account of the event on February 5th:
    In February, 1864, General Rosser, with all his command except a small portion which were picketing the outposts down the valley, was west of the mountains on his celebrated cattle raid. Captain Kearney, with a part of his company engaged in picket duty at the time, and being relieved too late to join Rosser, asked permission to make a scout to Jefferson (County-JS). The request was granted. He got together nineteen of his company and started, early on the 4th of February, 1864, from New Market; and by 2 AM of the fifth, eighteen of his men were hidden in the pines and cedars along the pike, a short distance north of Smithfield. A picket was placed on the Charles Town pike, and one on the Shepherdstown pike, with instructions to report in haste, the approach of the enemy, and count the number, if possible. It was known that every day a squad came from Shepherdstown or Kearneysville on that pike to Smithfield, and a battalion came from Charles Town three times each week. About sunrise, both pickets came at a gallop, and reported that 22 federals were advancing from Kearneysville. Kearney kept nine of his men to charge down Main street, and sent nine in charge of a sergeant, down a back street, to meet in the centre of the town; and he started these nine a moment ahead to allow for distance.

Just at this stage, with the nine gone on their mission, some one exclaimed, “Look there on the Charles Town pike, there comes the battalion,” which unfortunately, was true. Kearney, equal to the emergency, said, “Boys, we will charge through the yanks in the town, but don’t stop.” Forward and away we went. We were on them so suddenly, and the surprise was so great, that nearly all surrendered without a shot, not knowing that several hundred of their own men were at hand. We had not time to disarm them. A few took our direction ahead of us; and as soon as we passed those in the street, they, seeing the situation, with the whole battalion, gave chase, and began firing with their carbines, killing one of our best men, David Hoffman. The squad that tried to escape ahead of us on Main street had one killed and several wounded. Two of our squad, wanting a remount, stopped long enough to disarm and dismount two yanks, and, taking as they thought, a near cut to overtake the company, were captured. The horses would not jump fences.

We were thirty-five miles outside our lines. A ruse saved the rest of the company. The Major inquired, “How many men had you in that command?” The reb thought quickly, “The truth will be the best answer,” and replied, “Eighteen.” “You are lying”, he said, “Eighteen men would not come so far out of their lines;” and he would not follow. Our horses were nearly worn out from hard service and the long ride from New Market the day and night before, they could have easily overtaken, at least, some of the men. Our scout was a failure, as was Captain Baylor’s the year previous. – Military operations in Jefferson County, Virginia (and West Va.) 1861-1865 (1911). published by authority of Jefferson County Camp, U.C.V. [by] Farmers Advocate Print written by Roger P. Chew pp. 21-23

More from Federal Col. RODGERS, Chapter XLV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 33, pp. 508-509.

  1. 1864.February.11.B&O.Railroad.Kearneysville.Browns.Shop.Raid
    Chief Participant Harry Gilmor gives his account of the February 11th event:
    There were three thousand cavalry encamped around Charlestown, near which we must pass, and a double row of pickets, extending from the Shenandoah to the North Mountain, through which also we had to find our way. The point on the railroad to which my attention was directed was about midway between Duffield’s Depot and Kearneysville, and at both of these places a strong (144) picket-guard of cavalry and infantry were stationed; therefore it must be quick work. Well, after a great deal of nice manoeuvering, I worked through all the pickets, and dismounted in a piece of wood near Brown’s shop. Obstructions were soon placed upon the track, but we were unable to move a rail, so securely were they bolted down. Having firmly placed these obstructions so that the train could not drive through, I sent two men two hundred yards down the track, to put light fence-rails across, in order to check the engine, and not let it run into the logs at full speed; for I would rather have let it go than inflict injury beyond what was actually necessary to stop the train. Lieutenant Kearney was put in charge of the boarding party, with very precise instructions as to their conduct toward the passengers. The train in a short time came thundering along from Harper’s Ferry. The fence-rails had the desired effect; the engineer had time to check and reverse the engine before it struck the logs, and it ran off the track so easily that some of the passengers were still asleep when Lieutenant Kearney boarded the train. I ran to the engineer to know if he was hurt; he said “No.” I then entered the smoking-car, thinking it was the mail, but found it filled with soldliers, mostly cavalry, all armed. I announced to them they were my prisoners; ordered them to take off their arms, and come out one at a time. But a large Irishman drew his sabre and swore “he had paid his passage, and intended to ride.” As I went up to take hold of him, he made a tremendous front cut at me; but, fortunately, the roof was too low to allow his sabre full swing, and I caught the blow on my fore-arm. I had a thick overcoat on, and received merely a bruise. Orders had been given for no firing under any circumstances (145), but I could not refrain from striking the fellow a blow on the head with the barrel of my revolver, which brought him down on his seat. I then seized him by the collar and hurled him to the door. There were several more around me disposed to fight, but a little persuasion from the muzzle of a cocked pistol quieted them all, I then turned to see what was meant by a scuffle at the door, and found that two of my men, in coming to my assistance, had been thrown off the platform by my Irish friend, whom the blow had made ferocious, and one of them, Norwood, severely injured. Dropping on one knee, and seizing him at the same instant, I threw him head foremost from the platform, and he fell on a flat rock lying on one side. When we left, there he still lay. Having had all the prisoners brought together, I ordered the stoves to be knocked down, and all the train burned except the sleeping-car, which was reserved for the ladies. Information had been given me that a large amount of public money was in the iron safe, and I made every effort to get into it, but in vain. The expressman had made his escape.

I then went back to see how the men were getting on, and was told that some of them had been robbing the prisoners and passengers. This was against my positive orders, and I threatened to shoot any one caught in the act. Of course I could not see every thing going on, and all around was in confusion. Judge Bright, of Indiana, complained that he had been robbed of his watch. I promised him to endeavor to have it restored, which was afterward done. Just then a scout informed me the other train was coming from Wheeling with troops on board, and soon after it came near and stopped. I ordered all hands to make for the horses, taking with me two officers whom I had captured (146). There were some others who, having torn off the insignia of their rank, could not be detected. We had not been gone five minutes before the enemy were all through the wood in which our horses had been tied. The two officers were carried behind our men; but, as it was rather hard upon the horses, to say nothing of the officers, and a long tramp lay before us, I let them go, under a promise not to leave the house in which we left them until daylight. We had passed the picket-lines by break-of-day, although the whole country was alive with cavalry, hunting for us in every direction. I took the most out of the way by-paths, but did not hurry myself. I preferred to let the Federals go ahead, and then follow on in their wake, until we got above Winchester, where I went into the pine hills and laid by at a friend’s house. The enemy soon became tired of looking for us, and returned to camp. . . More . . . – Gilmor, Harry, (1866). “Four years in the saddle.” Baltimore: Butternut and Blue pp. 143-146.

Federal General Kelley gave the report of the February 11th event:
The express train west last night was thrown off the track near Kearneysville by a band of Gilmor’s guerrillas, numbering about 25. They did not burn the train or take away any prisoners, but robbed the conductor and passengers of quite a sum of money. Brigadier-General Sullivan reports his cavalry in pursuit. General Duffie reports his cavalry had captured a portion of the guerrilla force that took General Scammon, but, does not say that the general is recaptured. – B. KELLEY, Chapter XLV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 33, p. 151.

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart reported on the February 11th event:
I have the honor to report that Maj. H. W. Gilmor, commanding cavalry battalion, has made a successful attack upon the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. On the night of the 11th instant he, with 20 men, penetrated to the railroad at Brown’s Shop, between Kearneysville and Duffields Depot, attacked the express train from Baltimore, threw it from the track, disabling the engine and damaging the track. He captured nearly 90 prisoners, but owing to the proximity of the enemy was compelled to abandon them, having taken away their arms. He returned to Mount Jackson without loss, although pursued, as he states, as far as Strasburg by four or five regiments. – J. STUART, Chapter XLV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 33, p. 151.

  1. 1864.March.10.CharlesTown.Kabletown.Skirmishes:
    Federal Col. R. F. Taylor gives eyewitness account of the March 10th events:
    I have the honor to report that our pickets were attacked between Charlestown, Va., and the river, at the crossing of the Keys Ferry and Kabletown roads, yesterday morning at 6 o’clock, by what is supposed to be a portion of Mosby’s command, numbering from 40 to 80 men. The force passed to the left of the vedette, on the Kabletown road, seen by them, but supposed to be a reserve from Charlestown, they being dressed in our uniform. The mistake was not discovered until the rebels had obtained a position and fired a volley into the reserve at less than 10 rods distant, completely surprising them. The loss at the reserve post is 1 killed and 4 wounded, and 2 lieutenants and 11 privates missing. After the attack they retreated with great rapidity by the way of Kabletown, recrossing at Sampson’s Ford, about 3 miles this side of Snicker’s Ferry, except small parties, which went to the right below Kabletown, crossing near and at Snicker’s Ferry. Major Sullivan, commanding picket, pursued the enemy with 9 men, overtaking them at Kabletown; found them concealed behind an old building, from which they fired a volley, killing Major Sullivan and 2 privates, and severely wounding Lieutenant Baker, all of the First [New York] Veteran Cavalry. The balance of the reserve, under Lieutenant Conway, numbering about 50 men, came up a few moments after, but failed to overtake the enemy. The firing was distinctly heard at this place, and the entire force ordered out. Lieutenant Wyckoff, with 15 men, got to the ford just as they had succeeded in crossing. Anticipating an attack, I sent Lieutenant Wyckoff to Charlestown on the evening of March 9, informing Major Sullivan of the probability of an attack, ordering him to strengthen his pickets and order them to keep on the alert, which I learn he did. I also informed him that I had 150 men in readiness to re-enforce him at any moment. I learn that there were a number of shots fired by the vedette at the post attacked between the hour of 3 and the time of the attack. – R. TAYLOR, Chapter XLV, Official Record, Series I, Part 1 Volume 33,, p. 248.

Confederate Partisan John S. Mosby describes the events of March 10th:
On March 10, with a detachment of about 40 men, I defeated a superior force of the enemy’s cavalry near Greenwich, severely wounding 3, and capturing 9 prisoners, 10 horses, arms, &c. **On the same day Lieut. A. E. Richards, with another detachment of about 30 men, surprised an outpost of the enemy near Charlestown, killed the major commanding and a lieutenant, several privates, and brought off 21 prisoners with their horses, arms, &c. In neither engagement did my command sustain any loss. – J. MOSBY, Chapter XLV, Official Record, Series I, Part 1, Volume 33 pp. 248-249.

  1. 1864.March.16.Shenandoah.Ferry.Scout:
    Federal Gen. Averell wrote in his report of March 16:
    I have out three patrols, one to Bloomery Gap (on the Shenandoah River-JS), one beyond Pughtown, and one to Smithfield. I have to request you to direct the senior officer of your cavalry to report to me in person at this place as soon as practicable, bringing with him the latest returns of all the cavalry with your division. – W. AVERELL, Chapter XLV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 33, p. 683.
  1. 1864.March.22.Keyes.Ford.Skirmish:
    Local resident and Confederate Artilleryman Roger P. Chew described the March 22nd event:
    On the night of March 22, 1864, George Baylor with seven men passed unnoticed through the enemy’s infantry picket at Halltown, and got in rear of a cavalry force at Keyes Ford, giving the Rebel yell they charged along the river road and dashed into the enemy’s camp, where they found fifty horses and 13 men. The party consisted of 50 cavalry, the rest had taken to their heels and concealed themselves. Baylor and his party gathered up thirteen prisoners and 26 horses, leaving the other horses because they could not well manage them. Then they crossed the river and made their escape along the Blue Ridge Mountain road. This remarkable skirmish illustrates the terror troops feel when surprised and attacked in the night. – Military operations in Jefferson County, Virginia (and West Va.) 1861-1865 (1911). published by authority of Jefferson County Camp, U.C.V. [by] Farmers Advocate Print written by Roger P. Chew p. 42.