Firing at Dam No. 5, 1861 ( - A Barn Destroyed)
Firing at Dam No. 5
—A Barn Destroyed.—
About 3 o'clock on Saturday afternoon heavy cannonading was distinctly heard in this town, which continued until nightfall, and was resumed on Sunday morning and again continued for several hours. The discharges were heavy and with but little intermission between them, numbering over two hundred, and producing a very general impression that a severe engagement between the Federal and Rebel troops was progressing at some point not very far West of us. The reports were heard in all the country around us, and as far North as Waynesboro', Chambersburg and other towns in that direction, creating ore or less of anxiety and excitement there, as they did here, until the true cause was known.
It appears that a band of rebels, being a part of Jackson's forces at Winchester with four or five pieces of artillery, proceeded to Colston's Mill on the Virginia side of Dam No. 5, on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and commenced firing upon the Dam with a view of destroying it to prevent, as is supposed, the resumption of navigation upon the Canal. Failing in this, they commenced throwing shot and shell across the river at the houses and barns within reach of their pieces, and we regret to say succeeded in setting fire to the barn of Mrs. Jacob Reitzell, at present in the occupancy of Mr. Samuel Starling, which was entirely consumed, together with a thousand bushels of corn, a quantity of wheat, hay and other property, inflicting a heavy loss upon both the owner of the barn and the tenant. A toll house in the vicinity was also riddled with shot. There were no Cannon on this side, but one or two companies of the 13th Massachusetts Regiment hastened from Williamsport to the spot, and returned the fire of the rebel dam-destroyers -and barn-burners with Enfield rifles, with what effect is not known, but it is believed that several of them were killed. One of the Massachusetts men was severely wounded whilst venturing beyond his place of shelter for ammunition. The Dam has not been injured, and a trip or two may yet be made before the Canal freezes up. The loyal citizens residing along the banks of the river on this side are in some danger of being shelled from the opposite side, but it is to be hoped that ere long the county of Berkeley, which is as thoroughly Union in sentiment as this county, will be relieved from the rebel yoke, and the people on both sides of the river reunited in the bonds of friendship and permitted to live in peace.
Herald of Freedom and Torch Light
More information on the Reitzel house can be found at Elizabeth Reitzell House, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties.
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (Md.); Washington County (Md.), History