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Doc. 204.-Western Virginia. The advance of Federal troops.

The passage of the troops who left for Western Virginia has been one continued ovation, as far as they have gone. We went down on the train carrying the troops from Camp Carlisle, the Ohio Regiment coming soon after. Those who witnessed the parting scenes at the depot will not soon forget them. Some of [297] them were very touching. At Benwood, one mother, who had come out to exchange the parting word with her son, said, with tears standing in her eyes, as the train rolled away, “Go; you leave sore hearts behind you, but all will be well when you return.” And a grayhaired sire, at the same place, hobbling on a cane, shouted after the train as it moved away: “I have three sons with you now, and I wish I could go myself.” Such was the spirit manifested everywhere, and a corresponding feeling pervaded the hearts of the men.

All the way out through Marshall the utmost enthusiasm was awakened by the appearance of the soldiers. They had not known them to be coming, but they divined at once their mission, and the most joyful excitement was everywhere exhibited. Owing to the alarming reports of the night before, rumors that Southern troops were approaching, we found crowds at every stopping place, who cheered the trains as they passed, with wild vehemence. At Glen Easton we found a company of twenty-five or thirty-eight riflemen, and further on passed another company of them numbering perhaps forty, all marching towards Cameron, which they heard was to be attacked and burnt by State troops. At Cameron we found a crowd assembled of some three hundred, perhaps, who insisted in standing out in a pelting rain and cheering the soldiers nearly all the time they were there. The report of the advance of Southern troops had been received the night before, and a hundred riflemen had been under arms, guarding the town all night; and at this time men with rifles on their shoulders were coming in from all directions, word having been sent out the night before. It really looks just like what we read of as having taken place in the days of ‘78, when men left the plough standing in the furrow, dropped the uplifted hammer, and rushed to the defence of their country. At every station and every house people greeted the soldiers with cheering and the waving of hats and handkerchiefs, and the women and girls, when they had no handkerchiefs, waved their bonnets and aprons. The men returned all the salutations, and enjoyed the demonstration immensely. At one house by the roadside an old lady, who seemed excited to the highest pitch, waved her hand till the trains were entirely past, and then gave vent to her over-wrought feelings by yielding to a flood of tears. Such was the exuberant joy with which the people, alarmed but the hour before by undefined apprehension, welcomed the appearance of their defenders.

Our trains reached Mannington a little after noon, and the appearance of the troops there, as everywhere else, took the people completely by surprise. They had heard, however, that a train was coming from the West, and, as this was unusual since the burning of the bridges, a considerable crowd was at the depot waiting. As the trains rolled in, they displayed the American flag, and with that, and the gleaming of a thousand bayonets, the people almost went wild with enthusiasm. In a very few minutes the whole town was there, and the gladdest set of people a man ever laid eyes on. Their joy scarcely knew bounds. Hardly had the soldiers been there five minutes, till they had arrested and under guard as many secessionists, viz.: a tavern-keeper named Wells; Mr. Knotts, a merchant; Charles Mathews, superintendent on that section of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; Dr. Grant, defeated secession candidate for the Legislature, and one Zeke Snodgrass, a constable, who tried to give leg bail, but didn't succeed quite sufficiently to save his bacon. They were arraigned before Col. Kelly, who released Wells, Knotts, and Grant, on their taking the oath of fidelity, but retained Mathews and Snodgrass.

The train soon after moved on down to the first burned bridge, where the men disembarked and paraded in a meadow. Col. Kelly then detailed six companies and started for Farmington, a notorious secession nest, some three miles below, from which it was said the men who burnt the bridges had come, and where it was stated some fifty armed secession troops were stationed. Meanwhile, the remainder of the troops stacked arms, after throwing out pickets and scouts on the neighboring hills, with orders to bring in any persons they might find. In less than ten minutes after their arrival, they brought in six, some of whom, it was positively asserted by some Union men from the country around, were accessory to the destruction of the bridges. Squads of men continued to go out in different directions, and to bring in prisoners, until they must have had at least a dozen under guard at once. Several of them were released after an examination by the officers, but at least six or eight were retained until the return of Col. Kelly. It was rather exciting to see the scouts, or “Snake Hunters,” as they style themselves, on a trail. As certainly as they would spy a man anywhere in sight, a squad of them would seize their guns, and start after him on a run, and before very long, would bring him in; for they were sure of their game if they got eyes on it. The prisoners were all treated with the utmost courtesy, but nevertheless some of them looked terribly frightened.

In the evening the companies returned from Farmington, bringing with them several prisoners, and reporting that their scouts had killed one secessionist and wounded another. When they reached Farmington they found it almost entirely deserted, the secessionists having got wind of their approach through the offices of one Jolliffe, who, when the trains entered Mannington, mounted a horse and galloped off in hot haste to Farmington, to warn the secessionists of their danger.

Finding the town deserted, Col. Kelly ordered his men to scour the woods surrounding it, and it was not long till they had unearthed several of the fugitives, most of whom they captured. The men who were shot were running [298] from their pursuers, who called out to them to surrender. Not heeding this, they were told that they would be shot unless they did. No attention was paid to the command, and several shots were fired, killing one instantly, and wounding another.

The bridges burned were over Buffalo Creek, and were common open railroad pier bridges, all iron except the sills and the cross-ties of the track; both of which were consumed. The upper one is about four miles below Mannington, and the other some quarter of a mile below it. It is feared that others are destroyed between there and Grafton. The anxiety about the splendid iron bridge over the Monongahela is especially very great.

Sunday night several bridges between Mannington and Glover's Gap were guarded by the citizens of the former place. At the same time they had need of guarding their town, for the gang at Farmington had threatened to burn it to the ground, and there were various rumors afloat about accessions to their number.

Glover's Gap is a way station several miles above Mannington, inhabited by but one or two families, but surrounded by a secession country, which polled some sixty or seventy secession votes. These men live around among the hills and are almost inaccessible. That part of the road will bear watching. As the train came west this morning, the telegraph was found cut not half a mile from this place.

The Ohio Regiment reached Mannington Monday evening, just at dark, having felt their way over the road, examining all the bridges to see that they had not been injured. The whole town assembled to receive them. They paraded in the street, while their band, a superior one, played the Star spangled banner and other airs. At the conclusion, the crowd gave three cheers for Ohio, which compliment was returned by the Ohio men, who gave three for the citizens of Mannington. The citizens then proffered their houses for quarters for the soldiers. Some were put in the church, some in the Odd Fellows' Hall, others at the hotel, others in private houses, until they were all provided for, the people all manifesting the most cordial feeling for them.

And well they merited such treatment; for, besides that they came here to protect us, they are a splendid set of fellows — tall, handsome, and soldier-like in appearance, and dignified and gentlemanly in demeanor. They were immensely pleased with their reception all along the road, and particularly with the substantial compliments of the good people of Cameron and Belton. The citizens of Cameron were taken by surprise by the train that conveyed the Wheeling Regiment, but learning that more were on the way, they went to work and got together all. the provisions in the place, bread, pies, cakes, a barrel of crackers, meat, butter, and eggs, and had them all boxed up and ready for them. By the time the Ohio men reached Cameron there had collected from the surrounding country some eight hundred or a thousand people, who received them with enthusiastic demonstrations.--Wheeling (Va.) Intelligencer, May 29.

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