War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0120 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

ion Virginia Cavalry, moved on West Union, while, with the remainder of my command, I took the Parkersburg pike, to attack the railroad at Cairo. Both were entirely successful. Colonel Harman amused a strong infantry force with skirmishers while parties were burning the two bridges to the right and left of the town. At Cairo, the guard being small, surrendered without firing a gun. Three bridges, of probably 60 feet span, and a tunnel cribbed with wood, were burned. I captured 20 men and 1 lieutenant. Colonel Harman captured 94 men. All were paroled and their arms destroyed. This work was done by hard marching, my command having traveled upward of 80 miles without unsaddling.

From here we moved on Oiltown, where we arrived on May 9. The wells are owned mainly by Southern men, now driven from their homes, and their property is appropriated either by the Federal Government or Northern men. This oil is used extensively as a lubricator of machinery and for illumination. All the oil, the tanks, barrels, engines for pumping, engine-houses, and wagons-in a word, everything used for raising, holding, or sending it off was burned. The smoke is very dense and jet black. The boats, filled with oil in bulk, burst with a report almost equaling artillery, and spread the burning fluid over the river. Before night huge columns of ebon smoke marked the meanderings of the stream as far as the eye could reach. By dark the oil from the tanks on the burning creek had reached the river, and the whole stream became a sheet of fire. A burning river, carrying destruction to our merciless enemy, was a scene of magnificence that might well carry joy to every patriotic heart. Men of experience estimated the oil destroyed at 150,000 barrels. It will be many months before a large supply can be had from this source, as it can only be boated down the Little Kanawha when the waters are high. My orders were in all cases to respect private property, irrespective of the politics and part taken in the war by the owners. Horses and supplies were to be gathered indiscriminately. Two saw-mills (private property) were burned by my order-one, at Fairmont, was engaged on a contract with the Federal Government in making gun-stocks, and had on hand many thousands; the other, at Cairo, would have been used to repair the damages done the railroad. I am aware my orders were in a few instances disobeyed. The library of Peirpoint was burned, in retaliation for a like act on the part of the ambitious little man. One or two stores were plundered, but as far as practicable the goods were restored.

From Oiltown we marched by Glenville and Sutton to Summerville, where the command of General Imboden was again overtaken. Our exhausted condition and exhausted supplies rendered homeward movements necessary. Our marches henceforward were easy, and little of interest occurred.

In thirty days we marched nearly 700 miles through a rough and sterile country, gathering subsistence for man and horse by the way. At Greenland and Fairmont we encountered the enemy's forces. We killed from 25 to 30 of the enemy, wounded probably three times as many, captured nearly 700 prisoners, with their small-arms, and 1 piece of artillery, 2 trains of cars, burned 16 railroad bridges and 1 tunnel, 150,000 barrels of oil, many engines, and a large number of boats, tanks, and barrels, bringing home with us about 1,00 cattle, and probably 1,200 horses. Our entire loss was 10 killed and 42 wounded, the missing not exceeding 15.

Throughout this arduous march the men and officers evinced a cheerful endurance worthy of tried veterans. They have shown a skill in