The Jones-Imboden Raid
Imboden Leads Rebels Into Western Virginia
(Continued from Page 1) Mountain we found the snow in many places 18 or 20 inches deep and had to face a pelting storm of sleet. At Camp Bartow, on the Greenbrier, I learned that the notorious Yankee scout, John Slayton, and seven Federal soldiers had passed about sunrise on the morning of the 22nd, hurrying on to Beverly with intelligence of our approach. Anticipating some attempt to precede me with information, I had ordered a mounted picket from Pocahontas to Greenbrier River, at the foot of Cheat Mountain on Apr. 20.
“This compelled Slayton to attempt to reach Beverly through the mountains north of the turnpike. On the night of Apr. 22, I sent a party of 20 men in pursuit of him, but they failed to find or hear anything further of him, and I took it for granted he had succeeded in getting through to Beverly, and would prevent a surprise of the forces there by giving the alarm.
Advances Toward Beverly
“It continued to rain all night and the morning of Apr. 24 was one of the most gloomy and inclement I ever saw. At an early hour I started all my infantry down through the plantations of the east side of the river, where they were joined by four guns of my battery seven miles above Beverly. The cavalry and a section of artillery pursued the main road on the west side of the river, under Col. George W. Imboden, with orders as soon as they discovered the enemy to be in Beverly to press forward and gain possession of the road leading to Buckhannon, and cut off retreat by that route. About five miles above Beverly, the cavalry advance met a man, who, as soon as he saw them, fled.
Sheriff Gives Alarm
“They fired upon him, but he escaped. It turned out to be the bogus state sheriff of Randolph County, named J. F. Phares, who, though shot through the lungs, succeeded in reaching Beverly and gave the alarm. About the same time, on the east side of the river we captured a forage train and its escort. I learned from the prisoners that the enemy was in ignorance of our approach; but as soon as Phares reached town and gave the alarm, the whole force was drawn up to fight us. About a mile above the town they opened upon the head of my column with artillery. On reconnoitering their position, I found them strongly posted on a plateau 50 or 60 feet above the river bottom, and commanding it and the road for more than a mile so completely that to attack them in front would probably involve the loss of hundreds of my men before we could reach them. I at once resolved to turn their position by making a detour of over two miles across a range of steep and densely wooded hills, and attempt to get around to the north of the town.
“To occupy their attention, I placed a rifle piece on the first hill, and engaged their battery. The cavalry, under a dangerous fire, dashed forward and gained the Buckhannon road west of the river, and cut off retreat by that route. The enemy immediately began to fall back below the town, leaving a strong force of skirmishers in the woods, which my infantry had to pass. A running fight was kept up for more than two miles through these woods, and a little before sunset I had succeeded in gaining the north side of the town, but too late to cut off retreat toward Philippi. The enemy was in full retreat and about one-third of the town in flames when I gained them. My cavalry attempted to intercept them from the west side of the river at or near Laurel Hill, but the difficulty and the depth of the ford and the lateness of the hour prevented it.
“On the evening of Apr. 26, I crossed Middle Fork and encamped about midway between Philippi and Buckhannon, some 12 miles from each, sending all my cavalry forward to seize and hold the bridge across the Buckhannon River, near its mouth. Considerable cannonading was heard at this time in the direction of Philippi, which I supposed to proceed from the enemy we had driven from Beverly in an attempt to prevent Maj. Lang from going on toward the railroad, where I expected him to find Gen. Jones; but at 11 p.m. Col. Imboden informed me that the Beverly force had passed up toward Buckhannon at sunrise that morning, and that there was a fresh brigade at Philippi, reported by citizens to have arrived the night before by rail from New Creek under command of Acting Brig. Gen. Mulligan, and that the cars had been running all night previous, and other troops were in the vicinity. He requested me to send two regiments of infantry, a section of artillery to the bridge that night, as he was apprehensive of attack.
“He also informed me that he had captured a courier from Buckhannon, and that two others had escaped and gone back to that place. This information was all confirmed by two citizens who arrived at my camp from Webster.
“We marched back to Roaring Run on Apr. 27. The road was so bad that it took from 5 a.m. until p.m. (nine hours) to accomplish two miles, and the command did not reach camp until in the night. Having recalled my cavalry from Buckhannon Bridge, I sent forward a scout that night toward Buckhannon, which returned after midnight, reporting that the enemy had burned the bridges across Middle Fork and the Buckhannon Rivers, and retreated that night from Buckhannon, blockading the road behind them.
“On Apr. 28, I pressed on to within four miles of Buckhannon, and the next morning took possession of the town with a regiment, which I crossed over the river on the debris of the burned bridge. The enemy had burned all his stores here and destroyed two pieces of artillery which he was unable to move. On account of the extraordinary bad roads I had been compelled to leave at Greenbrier River, east of Cheat Mountain, 40 barrels of flour and also several barrels in Beverly. Our horses were giving out in large numbers, and some dying from excessive labor and insufficient sustenance. Not being able to cross my artillery and wagons over the river, on my arrival I ordered a raft to be constructed and the country to be scoured in every direction for corn and wheat; impressed two mills, and ran them day and night.
Cavalry Collects Cattle
“I employed a considerable portion of my cavalry in collecting cattle and sending them to the rear. I required everything to be paid for at fair prices, such as were the current rates before we arrived in the country. This gave general satisfaction in the country, and our currency was freely accepted.
“Yesterday, I received my first information from Gen. Jones and on the same day I ascertained that the enemy was massing his troops at Janelew, a village about midway between Buckhannon and Clarksburg, and fortifying his position. Today was spent in collecting corn and cattle.”
This is not a historic newspaper. It is instead a commemorative of the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. The page, while printed in 1963, portrays events from April 1863.
Maryland, History, Civil War, 1861-1865, Campaigns; United States, Army, Supplies and stores, History, 19th century; Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, History,19th century; Jones, William E., d 1824-1864; Imboden, John D. (John Daniel), 1823-1895; Con