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Skirmish at Huntersville

The following are a series of reports filed by some of the participants during and following the engagement at Huntersville.

I have tried to preserve the continuity and the look and feel of the Official Records within the limitations of my knowledge of html.

JANUARY 3, 1862.--Descent upon, and skirmish at, Huntersville, W. Va.


No.1.--Maj. George Webster, Twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry.
No.2.--Brig. Gen. William W. Loring, C.S. Army.
No.3.--Brig. Gen. Edward Johnson, C.S. Army
No.4.--Col. George W. Hull, C.S. Army
No.5.--Capt. H.M. Bell, Assistant Quartermaster, C.S. Army

No. 1.

Report of Maj. George Webster, Twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry.

HUTTONSVILLE, W. VA., January 6, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your orders, on December 31, 1861, at 1 p.m., I left this place with a detachment of 400 men of the Twenty-fifth Regiment Ohio Volunteers for Huntersville, Pocahontas County, West Virginia. At Camp Elk Water I was joined by a detachment of 300 men from the Second West Virginia Regiment, under Major Owens, and at Big Spring by a detachment of 38 cavalry, of the Bracken Cavalry, under First Lieutenant Delzell. I appointed First Lieut. Charles B. Jones, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio, acting Adjutant.

On the morning of January 3, finding the road at the base of Elk Mountain, and for a distance of 1 mile, so obstructed by felled trees as to render the farther progress of teams impossible, I left my wagons and detached Captain Johnson, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio, with 50 of the most disabled men to guard them. Avoiding the obstructions by a detour to the left, I pushed forward to Greenbrier River, and ascertained that a considerable number of militia were gathered at the bridge, 1 mile below, on their way to Huntersville. I directed Lieutenant Delzell with his detachment of cavalry to ford the river, and by a rapid movement across the river bottom to gain possession of the road in rear of the bridge. This he did in most gallant style, except a few mounted scouts. The balance fled back into the country, evidently in great confusion and dismay. Hastily detaching Captain Williams, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio, with 50 men, to hold the bridge, I pushed forward, and when 2 miles from town the enemy's pickets fired upon my advanced guard- -Companies E and G, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio--but after a few shots retired.

The column moved forward, and 1 mile from town I discovered the enemy's cavalry at the extreme of a level bottom field, dismounted and posted over the brow of a hilly spur which jutted out into the field from their right, with Nap's Creek on their left. I immediately deployed a part of the Twenty-fifth Ohio up the hill to our left to turn the enemy's right, and with the balance of our force moved up in front. The enemy at once opened upon us and their fire became general, which was vigorously responded to by our men. They soon discovered my flank movement, however, and falling back to their horses hastily mounted and retreated.

I again moved the column forward, crossed Nap's Creek, and found the enemy posted upon a second bottom, extending from our right nearly across the valley and half a mile in front of town. I promptly deployed Companies A and B, of the Twenty-fifth Ohio, into line to our right, at the base of the hill, to attack the enemy's left, and directed Major Owens, with the Second West Virginia and Bracken Cavalry, to make a considerable detour, turn the enemy's right, and take him in rear. The balance of the Twenty-fifth Ohio I formed to attack in front. This disposition made and in the way of rapid execution under the enemy's fire, and Companies A and B having opened upon his left, the enemy again retired, mounted, and retreated into town. After a few minutes' rest I formed my command into two columns, the Twenty- fifth Ohio to move upon the right and the Second West Virginia and cavalry upon the left of the town. In this order the troops rushed forward, cheering, into town as the enemy, after a few inefficient shots, fled from the rear.

We found the place deserted, the houses broken open, and goods scattered, the cause of which was soon stated by a returning citizen. The rebel commander had ordered the citizens to remove all their valuable property, as he intended, if beaten to burn the town. We found large quantities of rebel stores, consisting in part of 350 barrels of flour, 300 salt beeves, (about 150,000 pounds), 30,000 pounds of sault, and large amounts of sugar, coffee, rice, bacon, clothing, &c , all of which I caused to be destroyed by burning the building in which they were stored, having no means to bring them off. The value of the property thus destroyed I estimated at $30,000. Our forces captured and brought home a large number of Sharpe's carbines, sabers, horse- pistols, and some army clothing.

The enemy had in the action 400 regular cavalry armed with Sharpe's carbines, and several hundred mounted militia assembled from Pocahontas County the night before. There were also two companies of infantry quartered in town, but fled without making a stand. The enemy's loss is believed to have been considerable. It was reported by a citizen who returned at 1 killed and 7 wounded. Private Oliver P. Hershee, of Company E, Twenty-fifth Ohio, was seriously wounded in the arm. No other casualties occured on our side. I nailed the Stars and Stripes to the top of the court-house and left them flying.

After remaining in town two hours I marched back to Edray through a drenching rain and sleet, having made 25 miles that day. To-day I returned to Huttonsville with the detachment from the Twenty-fifth Ohio, having made a winter march of 102 miles in a little less than six days, and penetrated into the enemy's country 30 miles farther than any body of our troops had before gone. The men are in good condition, considering the march, and are in excellent spirits.

To the men composing my command generally too much praie cannot be awarded. During the long and weary march their spirits never flagged. They at all times cheerfully submitted to necessary discipline. For one hour and a half in which they were engaged in driving the enemy from cover to cover, a distrance of 2 miles, not a man flinched.

I cannot close this report without expressing the deep obligations of myself and comrades of the Twenty-fifth Ohio to the officers and men of the Second West Virginia for the very hospitable manner in which we were entertained at Camp Elk Water last night, and thereby saved a night's exposure to a storm of rain, hail, and snow.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours, &c.,
Maj. 25th Reg't Ohio Vols., Comdg. Huntersville Expedition.

Brig. Gen. R.H. MILROY.

No. 2.

Report of Brig. Gen. William W. Loring, C.S. Army.

January 6, 1862

SIR: I have the honor to inclose a letter received from General Johnson, commanding the army on the Alleghany, and also one from Colonel Harman, at Staunton, informing me that the enemy were moving against Alleghany. I think re-enforcements ought to be sent him, but it will be impossible for me to do so from this portion of the army, now before the town of Hancock, too great a distance from his position, and he will have to be re-enforced from elsewhere.

I am respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding, &c.

Adjutant-General COOPER.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

CAMP ALLEGHANY, January 2, 1862.

Colonel HARMAN:

The enemy are at Greenbrier in considerable force. I think it likely I shall be attacked in the morning. We are able to hold our position. I received intelligence a day since from the commanding officer at Huntersville that he expected to be attacked by a large force. Our position may be turned. If the enemy get in our rear intelligence from us may be cut off; so you must look to your own expresses for intelligence from us. The enemy may attack here and at Huntersville. Should we be besieged, re-enforcements may be hurried out. You must keep yourself advised in this matter. I have sent for Scott and Goode to come up.

Respectfully, &c.,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

WINCHESTER, VA., January 4, 1862.

General W.W. LORING, Commanding Army of the Northwest:

GENERAL: I inclose you a letter from Gen. Edward Johnson, which I received just as I was leaving Staunton. I immediately telegraphed General Cooper, advising that two regiments be sent up to re-enforce him, if it was possible to do so, as the enemy might get to his rear by the Huntersville road and cut off his supplies. I write by this express to General Jackson, inclosing a copy of General Johnson's letter, thinking you might not be near him.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant-Colonel, &c.

No. 3.

Report of Brig. Gen. Edward Johnson, C.S. Army.

Camp Alleghany, Va., January 4, 1862.

SIR: Intelligence has been received that the enemy have entered Huntersville, and that the small force there by General Loring, some 250 men, had fallen back towards Monterey. I have no authentic information as to the number of the enemy, but it is reported at from 4,000 to 5,000.

I received a communication a day or two since from the commanding officer at Huntersville, stating that he apprehended an attack from the direction of Elk Water. Since the withdrawal of troops from that line it has been at the mercy of the enemy. Colonel Goode, with his regiment, heretofore stationed at Forks of Water, I ordered to Monterey; Colonel Scott, with his regiment, the Forty-fourth, is at Crab Bottom, some 6 miles from Monterey, in this direction. Both of these regiments are weak-- together not exceeding 600 or 700 men. Here I have not in all 1, 200 effective men. If it is intended to hold this line it is important that troops should be sent on the Huntersville line or to Monterey. The troops at Monterey, permanently stationed there, are some two or three companies of cavalry. I have sent scouts to ascertain the strength of the enemy at Huntersville. The stores there fell into the hands of the enemy. I got my intelligence from the commanding officer at Monterey, whose report I herewith transmit.

I have directed the commanding officer at Monterey to report directly to Richmond and additional intelligence he may receive. If the enemy advance towards Monterey in force, re- enforcements are imperatively required.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Monterey Line.

General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.

No. 4.

Report of Col. George W. Hull, C.S. Army.

POST MONTEREY, VA., January 4, 1862.

GENERAL: I am unofficially informed that a dispatch was sent to you last night from the commanding officer at Huntersville, informing you of the fall of that place, but do not know that it reached you, or was sent, as I was not informed of it until a few moments ago, when the scouts sent out on the road returned with the intelligence. The place, as I hear, was attacked by some 4, 000 or 5,000 men yesterday at 1 a.m. Our troops offered but little or no resistance, being overpowered in numbers. They fell back, and are on their road to this post.

I have scouts out on the road to Huntersville some distance, and will keep you fully advised of any movement of the enemy that I may learn. Most, if not all, our stores fell into the hands of the enemy. Fire was set to the buildings, but it is not believed to have consumed them.

Very respectfully, your servant,
Colonel Commanding Post.

General EDWARD JOHNSON, Camp Alleghany, Va.

No. 5.

Report of Capt. H.M. Bell, assistant quartermaster, C.S. Army.

Sunday Morning, January 5, 1862--5 a.m.

GENERAL: I send you inclosed copies of dispatches just received from Monterey by special express from Whitely. It appears that the enemy in considerable force have advanced upon and taken possession of Huntersville, our small force retiring before them and offering but small resistance. I have no further information upon the subject, but suppose Monterey will be their point of destination, as I suppose they will hardly risk an advance upon the Central road at Millborough with that force, although the movement would be entirely practicable.

I will hold the force of wagon trains here to carry up any re- enforcements that you may send until I hear from you. I want corn.

In haste, yours, respectfully,
Captain and Assistant Quartermaster, Commanding Post.

General S. COOPER, Adjutant-General.

P.S.--I ascertained from expressmen that the occupation took place at 1 a.m. yesterday. The force that appeared in General Johnson's front had disappeared at daylight Friday morning, and had not been reported up to dark that night, and is doubtless the same force that is at Huntersville.

[Incolsure No. 1]

POST MOMTEREY, VA., January 4, 1862.

COLONEL: Yesterday about 1 o'clock the enemy advanced and took possession of Huntersville. Our forces offered but little resistance, their numbers, as I understand from a member of the Tennessee cavalry, being only some 200 men, while that of the enemy could not be correctly estimated, but supposed to be about 4,500.

Our command at Huntersville is now on its road to this place and will be in to-night. I cannot give you an account of the fight, but sure it is that the town and all our stores are in the hands of the enemy, unless it be that a barn, in which some of the commissary stores were placed, was burned, as fire was communicated to it; but it might have been extinguished by the enemy, who were near at the time of setting fire to it. Nothing new from Alleghany.

Very respectfully, yours,
Colonel, Commanding Post.

Col. JOHN B. BALDWIN, Commanding Post, Staunton, Va.

P.S.--We lost no men, and supposed the loss on the side of the enemy to be about 4.

[Inclosure No. 2]

Monterey, Va., January 4, 1862.

CAPTAIN: I write to say that the Yankees, some 4,000 or 5,000 strong, have taken possession of Huntersville, and our forces, some 250 in number, have retreated to this place. What will happen next I cannot tell, I will keep you fully advised as to what may occur.

Very truely,
Captain and Assistant Quartermaster.

Capt. H.M. BELL.

U.S. War Department, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, DC; Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), v. 5, 496-501.