History of the Fifth West Virginia Cavalry

This work has been written at the request of the Author's comrades of his old regiment, and he has endeavored to give in a plain way, without exaggeration, the facts, and some of the incidents, that made up the life of the regiment in its service of over three years. The basis of the work is the diary kept by the Author during most of his service, on which he has built from all the sources of information that could be reached. Dates, places, and facts, it is believed, can be relied upon, though there may be a few unimportant errors, which will in no wise affect the correctness or value of the history. No pains or expense have been spared, and no labor avoided, that would secure the facts needed; and whatever omissions may be found, are not the result of the want of care or labor, on the part of the Author.

He is indebted to many of the comrades, officers and men, for valuable information supplied, and help given, but the names are so many, that they cannot be given here. Much credit is due them for the completeness of the work, and for the valuable assistance given in doing justice to the brave men of our regiment.

It is well to state, perhaps, that these pages are not intended as a history in full of any of the battles or campaigns mentioned, or of the armies that took part in them, but rather of the part our own regiment took in them. Other commands, no doubt, did as good service as our own, and they are not given the prominence they would have in a more general history, because this is intended solely as a regimental history, in which other regiments and commands are incidentally mentioned.

The writing of the history was a labor of love, for which the Author has received no compensation, and would under no circumstances accept any, being glad of the opportunity to set forth the services of his noble, brave comrades, who were as brothers to .him in their long association together. The work is theirs, the cheerful gift of one who has a just appreciation of their patriotic services, and it is hoped that they will find in it a faithful portraiture of the work they did for their country.

October, 1916


Table of Contents

Loyal Western Virginia, 9

Organization of Regiment, 25

Company Histories, 40
Company A, 41
Company B, 49
Company C, 60
Company D, 65
Company E, 71
Company F, 81
Company G, 83
Company H, 91
Company I, 94
Company K, 100
The Quartermaster's Department, 108

The Chaplain and His Work, 124

In Camp at Beverly, 1861, 132

Relief of Cheat Mountain, 137

In Camp at Elkwater, 143

Camp on Cheat Mountain Summit, 152

Mountain Department, 160

The Army of Virginia, 173

Return to Western Virginia, 189

Fourth Separate Brigade, 197

Rocky Gap Expedition, 203

Droop Mountain, 213

The Salem Raid, 222

Campaigns of 1864, 238

Scouting Service, 248

Prison Life, 270

Escape from Prison, 283


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The determination of the loyal people of Western Virginia not to yield to the demands of the Secessionists of the State, created a great deal of enthusiasm in the bordering states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and did much to attract volunteers from those states, to the support of the brave loyalists of this section. The treason of Richmond furnished the occasion to the West to assert its dignity and independence. The triumph of secession on the James, led to the triumph of loyalty in the mountains; but it was a struggle such as few people have ever gone through, and fixed for all time the undaunted courage, the sublime devotion to principle, and the patient endurance, of the noble people of this western section. While Gov. Letcher was training the State militia for use against the government, the people of the western counties were holding Union meetings for the support of the government. The militia in the western part of the State were called into action, but largely refused, many of the officers and men becoming gallant officers in the regiments that were soon formed for the defense of the Nation. The sketches of many officers, and of companies, in the succeeding chapters, will show the work of some of them, and give a tolerably fair idea of the intense loyalty of these men. For a number of years, there had been a heated contest between the contending principles that were fully developed by the war, and there was no neutral ground upon which any persons could stand. This so completely de- fined the positions of the two, that when the war actually broke its dark and hideous cloud upon the rugged mountains and fair valleys of Western Virginia, the people were in line where they belonged, and the battle was on. The dominant party of the State being naturally for the principle of states rights, the Unionists suffered much at their hands, and it was no easy matter after all to be for the Union. Speakers were mobbed, meetings were broken up, rough and tumble fights were frequent, and neighbors were arrayed against neighbors, yet there was no yielding of the loyalty of the people.