War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0457 Chapter XXIV. SKIRMISH AT WARDENSVILLE, W. VA.

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No. 2. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen W. Downey, Third Maryland Potomac Home Brigade Infantry.


Petersburg, W. Va., May 20, 1862.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the 7th instant, at 7 o'clock, I proceeded with Firey's cavalry and 125 infantry from Moorefield in the direction of Wardensville, at which place we arrived at sunset the same day, after a fatiguing march of 30 miles. The town was completely surprised. We took some prisoners and killed I man, named Hanson, whom the better portion of the citizens pronounced a very bad man, and one of the particulars in the late attack upon Dr. Newhane and his party. From Wardensville we proceeded across the mountain to North River. At the house of one John T. Wilson, situated about 12 miles from Wardensville and 18 from Rommey, we surprised and killed Umbaugh and some of his men. Captain Umbaugh, from the best information I could obtain both at Romney and Wardensville, was the prince of the bushwhackers. He held a commission from Governor authorizing him to recruit men and carry on that guerrilla warfare. When killed he had on clothing taken from the corpse of one of my men killed in the skirmish at Grass Lick a month ago. We surprised several small parties on our route, some of whom we wounded and captured; others escaped. Not a man of my command was killed, or wounded. We killed 4, wounded 4, and took 12 prisoners. Some of the latter are probably innocent. I shall examine them as soon as practicable, and release those who prove to be innocent.

The people of Wardensville treated my men with the greatest kindness. No private property was destroyed. The citizens were, however, warned that they would be held strictly accountable for any future demonstrations of guerrilla warfare, and plainly informed that the only way in which they could save their houses from conflagration was for them to defend their territory against incursions of all lawless bands of guerrillas. My men behaved with much gallantry throughout. Their capabilities for hard and long marches were severely tried, and deserve the highest commendation. I was materially aided by Firey's cavalry. Without disparagement of others, I take great pleasure in commending the alacrity and valor of Captain Firey and his company quartermaster-sergeant, John Rivers.

I remain, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Third Regiment Potomac Home Brigade.


Assistant Adjutant-General, Mountain Department.