A Journey in the Tracks of Averill.
[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
I write you this letter on the subject of Averlips raid in November, to notice some facts illustrating the cruelty and barbarity of that incursion of the enemy, not before brought to light.
's November raid was amongst the most unscrupulous and the most destructive of private property which have taken place in Virginia
In its march towards Salem
we hear of nothing especially interesting until it emerged from the Alleghenies
's, the famous old stand at the base of those mountains.
This point they had visited several times before, always helping them selves to some of the moveables and supplies thereabouts.
In their advance and retreat on this expedition they left Mr. Dixon
, the proprietor, little save his land and houses.
Proceeding rapidly up Dunlop
's creek, they entered the Sweet Springs
road at Crow
's, that other famous stage stand of other days, where the traveller was so eager to pause, ever sure of a most palatable and refreshing repast, of which venison was a usual dish.
The venerable and for famed keeper of the gun died some two years since and left it in the hands of his widow, who still resides there.
She has a son or two in the war, and was still offering, in a limited manner, rest and food for the traveller — her means for that purpose being like those of all other publicans in the narrow valleys of the Alleghenies
, greatly reduced by the war. The main body of the Yankees
paused for the night there and literally cleared the establishment of everything, so that there is no longer a mouthful for man or beast, and the traveller goes hungry and tired by a place where in other days it was never known that a bod or a meal was denied him. No appeals could reach the mercies of the Yankees
Horses, provender, meat — everything was taken from the aged widow.
The next theatre of their exploits was at the two Sweet Springs
— the Red
, now owned by Mr. Kelley
, and the Old Sweet, by Mr. Oliver Belrue
The valley just at these springs is one of the riched in the world.
There was more forage here than the invaders could consume or carry away.
They used and took all they could, as they did of grain.
was killing hogs as they came up, and they found a scaffold filled with fat hogs already butchered to their hand, and these they helped themselves to at once.
They took all of Mr. Kelley
's horses and mules, his wagon, a negro boy, and some of his gearing, wantonly cutting up that belonging to his carriage and all that they did not carry off. Gen. Averill
, however, put a guard be fore the entrances to the houses and kept the men from intruding into them.
was treated with singular brutality.
His houses were ransacked — his stores pillaged — all his meat (several thousand pounds) taken — all his liquors and wines appropriated by the plundering soldiery — His watch violently taken from his person — all his horses carried off. His place was well stripped of all that the Yankees
desired or could convey away.
Continuing their march rapidly, they picked up several horses at Kylets, and appropriated the most of Mr. Kyle
His negroes refused to follow them.
Their worst acts of brutality were perpetrated at Mrs. Scott
's another of the good mountain inns of olden time.
S. is a true Southern woman, and has two or more sons in the army.
Year before last the demands of our own soldiers, in passing over the road by her house, mountain us and thinly populated as it is, were such that all her supplies were gone before the year was half expired, and in the inst spring her losses of cattle for the want of food were very heavy.
She gave freely and patriotically as long as she had it. Favored by the seasons and her own energies, she succeeded in laying up liberal supplies of corn and bacon last fall and these Averill
completely swept off — leaving her not a pound (out of 4,000 pounds) of meat for her large family, and no corn.
Her fences were burned — her yard palings included — leaving her house in the open road.
The boarding was torn from her granary and burned.
Two coal black soldiers sat at her place and played while the column paused for rest and plunder, and her parlor furniture was piled up in the yard and burned.
Not satisfied with as this, they took from the beds all the covering save a scant supply for two beds, and this was all that was left, at a most rousement season, to the widow and her family, including several daughters !
But the family is loyal and courageous.
It is refreshing to see their cheerfulness amid a their desolation.
I saw them and conversed with there, and can say from what I know that their conduct amidst their trials not only entitles them to the applause of their country, but it should cause the blush of shame to cover the cheeks of those weakened and desponding men whose hears sink will every reverse, while they have never seen an enemy and never felt his crucify.
The oldest daughter, a maid stout of heart and arm — being imbued by mountain life with more of physical force than is usual for her sex — defended herself from the rudeness of a Yankee subaltern, and punished lum to boat.
He solicited a sing which she wore, and being refused with proper contempt, he seized her to wrest it from her; whereupon she foreign withdrew her hand from his grasp and kicked him down stairs.
Some may say this was unwomanly.
I think not. When the true woman is left to brutal hands she never fails to defend herself with the boat means at her command.
This young lady was endowed by locality and nature with a very timely and effective means which she had the courage to employ.
She further proved her calmness and deliberation in the moment of danger and excitement.
A Confederate officer had just reached her mother's house a little before the Yankees
He utterly discredited all rumors of Yankees, and assured the family that there was no danger.
While he sought to allay their fears the Yankees
rushed into the house.
The officer had a large sum of Confederate money for the western army, and in his alarm was about to place it in his breast, when she snatched if from him and secreted it on her own person.
She thus saved $75,000 of Government money — The Yankees
got $10,000, which the officer had in another package.
Honor to this young lady.
True, courageous, and even cheerful amidst the severest trials, she deserves honorable distinction in times like these, which try alike the souls of women and men. None but the brave deserve this fair.
I cannot follow the route of Averill
all the way. I only cite instances as Illustrative of the brutalities of his raid.
He was pioneered by some traitors who had lived in Virginia
Among them two stage drivers, named Hall
, who had driven stages in the mountains.
As a sort of apology for excesses at Mrs. Scott
's — which even Yankees thought needed some apology — It was alleged that Miss
S. had some time ago hung out a Confederate flag !
The main army turned to the right below Scott
's for Salem
A detachment of 100 continued down the Fincastle
road to a field near Craig's Creek
, some four miles, where 130 C. S. horses were at pasture.
They captured three of the guard that had charge of them and set fire to an unoccupied dwelling to illumine the field so that they could gather up the horses, it being midnight.
En route this party plundered Major McCartney
's house, taking clothing, a gold watch, liquor, horses, &c; but having no transportation they returned without carrying off much that required it
You know all about the doings at Salem
, their retreat to Jackson
's river and final escape via Covington
They continued their depredations with more or less vigor in proportion to their time and opportunities.
They departed in haste, lost all their wagons,
and appeared finally in Pocahontas county
without a single wagon.
They burned no railroad bridge on Jackson
They turned off from the Sweet Springs
road at Mrs. Scott
's in their retreat, and moving up Barbour
's crock at the foot of Price
's mountain crossed over the Rich Patch
, striking Jackson
's river three miles above the railroad depot.
They charged Colonel Jackson
's small guard at the turnpike bridge, four miles above the depot, crossed it, and burned it behind them, as you know, and continuing their march rapidly through Covington
burned also the bridge over Jackson
's river at that place.
Marching by Callahan
's, they left the White Sulphur
road two miles beyond that stand at Mrs. Lockhart
's. Taking to a mere bridle path, as it were, they fled across the mountain and reached Anthony
's creek, in Greenbrier
, where they continued their robberies on that and Little creek probably as much from necessity as inclination.
The weather was dreadfully Inclement, and their trains and supplies were gone.
Many were frosted.
himself was reduced to the necessity of clothing his frostbitten feet in sheep skin, the wool turned in. They stripped the country of provisions and horses, and the houses of bed covering and clothing.
In one house there was one person sick, but convalescing, from typhoid pneumonia.
So little bed covering did they leave in this house that the patient could not be kept comfortable, and took cold, relapsed, and died.
The whole country rings with the curses of Averill
My account comes from eye witnesses.
To the Confederate Government the raid did very little injury, but on private property, against women and children, their outrages were directed with distressing effect.
But this has become a part of the Yankee
To produce a famine in the South
is now the object.
Why he was not caught is a matter for military inquiry.
It seemed almost a miracle that he should escape.
I saw Gen. Sam. Jones
's impromptu breastwork and abattis on the crest of the Sweet Springs Mountain
It was a pretty trap, but one the bird had no idea of entering.
Indeed he saw the General
's camp fires and signal rockets, sent up to let our own people know where he was. He had two roads to escape by, notwithstanding Craig
's creek was impassable behind him, before he reached the General
's trap, viz: One up Barbour
's creek and the other down Potts
's creek, both leading north to Jackson
But when he reached that river he would still have been entrapped but for the unfortunate turning back towards Buchanan
by Gen. F. Lee
, misted by a false dispatch.
is a man of undoubted energy; and though he carried no fruits along with him of his raid save the eclat of his escape, he has desolated the country along his march, and seriously straitened the people for the means of subsistence.
His own army reached his headquarters in Randolph
in the most wretched plight imaginable.
His last two horse wagon was captured in Greenbrier
by our scouts, and he returned but to fill his hospitals with his sick and disabled followers.
Few tragedies are without their comic and grotesque interludes.
's devastating march had its farce.
On the very top of Price
's or Eleven Mile Mountain as it is sometimes called, dwells a widow woman with a considerable family including several grandchildren.
She seems to defy the elements of the most tempestuous height I know of. Up to this elevated position, where everything may be supposed to be pure and nice from its thorough ventilation a romantic justice of the peace had carried his affections and fixed them on a fair daughter of the widow.
His aspirations met with the highest favor, and on the very night of Averill
's advent their mound loves culminated in a wedding feast celebrated amidst the wild shrieking and bowlings of the tempest on the mountain.
The festivity had progressed to the fourth degree with uncommon energy.
The gentle sex were paying their respects to the supper table, and some of the more vigorous of the mountaineers were employing their time with a powerful jig. A famous Boniface
from the valley below had thrown off coat, jacket and shoes, and was spreading himself.
Indeed, the dance promised to rival that Tam O'Shanter beheld in Kirk Alloway
— the locality and surroundings, and the tempest, all favored a scene of no small dramatic effect.
But just then — oh. untimely event — the Yankees
obtruded upon the scene and dissipated all its joys, and terminated for the night all its physical recreations. --They are up all the supper — took some thirty horses, ridden up by the guests from the "valleys below"--and carried off as prisoners the mate portion of the guests, in including the hero of the dance, and, worst of all, the bridegroom besides!
To the inexpressible mortification of the prisoners they saw one of the ladies of the wedding party kiss a Yankee for a cupful of coffee, which he had offered to any one of them who would bestow such a mark of favor on him. The prisoners were marched off and detained for a day or two before they were permitted to return, on foot.
Thus ended the comedy of the terrible mountain raid of Averill
— a warning to wedding parties on the border to look out for Yankees.