War of the Rebellion: Serial 018 Page 0950 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.

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nies here and expect five more to arrive in camp this evening or to-morrow. They are now on their march to join me, a part from Pocahontas (refugees from Braxton, Lewis, and Webster) and a part from Hardy and Hampshire. The large majority of my men have but recently escaped from Peirpoint's dominion and are brimful of fight. By the way, I have recently invaded that part of Virginia.

On August 14 I set out from Franklin with four companies to reach Rowlesburg, if possible. We marched through the woods, crossing rivers and mountains, sometimes by a path; more frequently in the wild woods cutting out our own roads. The difficulties were so great that we could not average over 12 or 15 miles a day. When I reached the eastern base of Cheat, a little north of an only 12 miles from Beverly, on the Seneca route, I turned off short to the northward, intending to strike the Dry Fork of Cheat a few miles below the month of Glade Creek and to surprise a party of Yankees (41) at Parsons' Mill, on the main fork of Cheat, 3 miles below Carricks' Ford. I marched all day, reaching the Dry Fork just at dark. We halted for supper, and at 10 p. m. (the darkest night I ever saw) resumed the march for Parsons' Mill, 10 miles distant. We only made 7 miles until daybreak. Here I took a citizen, who assured me the Yankees were at the mill, 3 miles below, as he had seen them at sunset the night before. I at once divided my forces and surrounded the mill (wading Cheat at the head of my men-water cold and 3 feet deep-five times), when. lo! the Yankees were gone, and full 2 miles on their way to Saint George and Rowlesburg. I afterward learned that an old fool, a friend, who saw our route the day before, spoke of it to a Union man, who took the news to Beverly, and thence a courier warned the post of my approach just in time for them to flee. It was too had. About 15 mounted men I had along came up with them and had a skirmish. No damage done. My infantry were so broken down by twenty-four hours' marching that I had to halt a few hours for rest and sleep. During our rest a d-d scoundrel-a sharp, shrewd German-deserted, stole a mule, and went to Beverly and disclosed my numbers and what he suspected of my plans. The commandant at Beverly at once telegraphed to New Creek, and 1,000 men were sent up to Rowlesburg. Not knowing these facts at the time, I moved on as soon as my men could travel to Saint George. Here I first got reliable information that the troops from New Creek had reached Rowlesburg, and outnumbered me five to one. In a short time I also ascertained that they were marching upon Saint George and were only a few miles distant. I took from the post-office such of the records of the bogus county court as I could conveniently carry. I have sent them to Governor Letcher, where you can see them. I took all the goods (sugar and coffee and medicines) from the store of Dr. Solomon Parsons, member of the Wheeling Convention and leader of the Lincolnites in Tucker, and left him a receipt for them-he and all the Union men of the county having fled that morning-and began to fall back up the river. When within about 5 miles of Parsons' Mill my brother George met me, and reported a sharp skirmish he had had on the Beverly road, near Carrick's Ford, with a Yankee picket or advance guard. Things began now to look squally. I feared a force from Beverly might reach the mill before me and cut me off from the Dry Fork Pass, in which event I would have been compelled to whip them or take to the mountains, with the loss of my packmules; so I pushed ahead for the mill, and on arriving there found no enemy. I moved up Dry Fork and encamped for the night, with my rear safe, and in a position to whip 1,000 men in front if they should pursue me.