Doc. 120.-operations in Western Virginia.
Charlestown, Va., Jan. 8, 1864.At an early hour on the morning of the sixth instant, Colonel Boyd, commanding the cavalry brigade at Charlestown, started with his entire command and a section of artillery, for the purpose of reconnoitring the enemy's force and position. For some days past considerable excitement had prevailed relative to the intentions of Imboden and Early, and an attack upon Martinsburgh was considered imminent, until the timely arrival of General Averill restored confidence in our ability to resist and repel the enemy, in case such attack were made. In the mean time, however, Imboden had remained stationary in the vicinity of Winchester, and it was considered advisable to feel his actual strength and force him to fall back to his old quarters. He seemed to have anticipated this plan of ours, for when our cavalry reached Winchester, he made a retrograde movement in the direction of Strasburgh. Accordingly, our force marched as far as Newtown, the First New-York cavalry, under command of Major Quinn, being in the advance. Some of the men having accidentally heard that the notorious Captain Blackford and a few of his men were in a certain house in town, determined on capturing the party. Sergeant Edwin F. Savacol, company K, was the first to discover the locality, although it was almost dark at the time. Blackford succeeded in escaping from the house by the rear, and took to the fields, closely followed by Savacol, who ordered him to surrender. He halted and held up his hands in token of surrendering. The Sergeant was satisfied and lowered his pistol, when the scoundrel immediately fired upon him and wounded him in the thigh, but the next instant a bullet from the pistol of the Sergeant passed through the traitor's heart. Both fell almost at the same time — the rebel a corpse, and the gallant Union soldier writhing under his wound. In this condition they were discovered after the pistol-shots had attracted our men to the spot. Thus fell the notorious Blackford, the prince of horse-thieves, and a bushwhacker of the “first water.” To give merit its due, it is but just to say of Sergeant Savacol that this is not the first occasion when his coolness and determination have elicited for him the respect of his officers and the approbation of his comrades in arms; and as they gathered around to bear him from the field, each ardent spirit wished that “Ed's luck had been his.”