War of the Rebellion: Serial 028 Page 0157 Chapter XXXI. IMBODEN'S CAPTURE OF SAINT GEORGE, W. VA.

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would be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, as soon as it was known to the enemy that I was there; but my horses being too much exhausted to return without being fed, I resolved to press on to Saint George, surprise and capture Captain Hall and his company stationed there, procure supplies, and then determine my future course. The snow and sleet storm still raged furiously and impeded our progress greatly, but I succeeded in reaching Saint George just after day-break on the 9th, dismounted nearly all my men, surrounded the town, and after the exchange of a few shots, with no damage to either side, Captain William Hall, commanding Company F, Sixth [West] Virginia Regiment, U. S. Army, surrendered unconditionally. He had but 31 effective men, armed with the best Enfield rifles. He was quartered in the courthouse, a new brink building, with the doors and windows strongly barricaded with logs, and might have given us a good deal of trouble. Not being able to bring the prisoners away, I paroled them all, and have sent the certificate direct to the adjutant-general. The arms and equipments I brought away safely, and some of my men being badly off for overcoats and blankets, and the weather terribly severe, I took those the prisoners had and supplied my men, and thus far retaliated for the burning done by the enemy at Cacapon Bridge in October.

My horses now began to show great distress, and my captains, with a single exception, opposed going any farther. I, moreover, ascertained beyond a doubt that the Union people above Saint George had dispatched two messengers to Beverly, where Milroy had left about 2,000 men. I had but two routes to escape by. One was to go forward to Rowlesburg, destroy the railroad bridge, and cross over into Pennsylvania, and attempt to get back to Virginia by a road crossing between new Creek and Cumberland, and take the chaces of escaping Kelley's large cavalry force in hampshire and hardy. I believed this to be utterly impracticable in the broken-down condition of our horses, and on account of the snow, which enabled the enemy to track us. The other route was to return to the Dry Fork and fall in the rear of Milroy, and follow him until I reached a point where I could pass him in the night. I believed this to be the only possible means of saving my little command, especially as i knew that kelley would be on the qui vive for me at every pass in his vicinity, as subsequently turned out to be the fact. Another cause of hesitancy about advancing was the fact tact the snow-storm had delayed my arrival at Saint George twelve hours beyond what I expected, and would have made me arrive at Rowlesburg late in the evening, where I could do nothing in the darkness of the night, and by morning re-enforcements would be there from New Creek or Clarksburg, to drive me back up Cheat River, to be cut off by the troops from Beverly. I, therefore, at 10 a. m., began to retrace my steps, and by 9 o'clock at night I crossed Dry Fork, below the mouth of Glade Creek, and halted until midnight, when I resumed the march along a path up Glade Creek, which I had cut through the wilderness in my expedition of last August.

At 4 p. m. I reached a place 10 miles east of Beverly, and there spent the night of the 10th. This was the first night's rest for men of horses. At this place a man came into camp who had been in Beverly that day, through whom I learned that there was high excitement at Beverly, and that my force was reputed to be large, and to consist of infantry and cavalry. I also learned that Milroy's baggage-train was probably at Camp Bartow, on Greenbrier River, and resolved to attack it and escape through Pocahontas and Bath by flanking him. With this view, I set out through the unbroken forest on the morning of the 11th, and traveled all day, by the aid of a mountain guide of great skill and a compass, on the course