On Monday, the 6th of January, 1862, we received orders to
be in readiness to march with three days cooked rations and forty rounds
of ammunition. This looked like a fight and the men were jubilant. The
objective point was Blue's Gap, it having been determined to drive out the
Bushwhackers who had of late become very troublesome from that point. The
detachment was in command of Col. DUNNING, of the
Fifth Ohio, and consisted of the Fourth, Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Ohio
Regiments, DAUM'S Battery and KEYS
Cavalry. Soon after dark the detachment moved out; there was snow on the
ground and the night was clear and cold. We came in sight of the Gap at
daylight next morning, when the Fourth and Fifth Regiments were deployed
forward up the mountains and the Eighth ordered to charge through the Gap
which was done most spiritedly, with, Col. CARROLL
at our head. The skirmishers kept up a brisk fire which we supposed to be
a sharp fight and we expected hot work in passing the Gap. Through it we
went at double quick, bayonets fixed and guns cocked. No enemy confronted
us. One dead rebel lay by his gun, having lingered a little too long; his
comrades heard the alarm in time and were out of reach before our line was
within range. The Cavalry pursued for a time, but without discovering any
rebels. Two pieces of artillery, a few dozen of muskets and some beef were
the trophies of this affair, which was at the time, dignified with the
appellation of the battle of Blue's Gap. An artist was "on the spot" and
sketched the scene which was produced in some of the New York pictorials.
It was ascertained that no considerable number of troops had ever been
stationed there, but it had for a long time been the rendezvous of a gang
of Bushwhackers. There was a mill and other buildings here that furnished
them with quarters and provisions. These were burnt and our force returned
to Romney in the evening, tired, cold and hungry, but quite pleased to
have been in a battle and to have come through safely. A heavy mail went
out the next day, carrying curious and flaming accounts of the sanguinary
battle of Blue's Gap.
EVACUATION OF ROMNEY.
Our troops had recently been
furnished with the Sibley tent. They were pitched on lodge poles, and
afforded very comfortable quarters for the men. The officers had generally
the wall tent, or occupied buildings about town. Good stables had been
built for the animals, and we began to feel comfortably fixed up for the
winter. Our sojourn in Romney was of the most pleasant character. Our
tents were new and comfortable, rations abundant, and varied at times with
turkey and chickens that some how straggled into town with wagon-master "
Jonathan's" forage train. The people were civil to us, especially as Gen.
KELLEY issued an order that we should pay the master
for services of his slave. This was conceded to be good law, but we left
before the paymaster got round, and left in the night.
Gen. F, W. LANDER arrived on the
9th of January, 1862, with orders to take command and fall back to the
line of the rail road. Our trunks and extra baggage
were at once sent off to Cumberland, and all the teams about the country
taken possession of by the quartermaster, to aid in transporting the camp
equipage, much of which, including some tents had to be burnt.
On the evening of the 10th, everything was in
readiness, and the troops moved out about eleven o'clock, and marched some
twelve miles, when we halted, and although very cold, lay down on the snow
and slept soundly for three or four hours. The fact, that STONEWALL
JACKSON'S force was said to be in motion, somewhere
between us and Winchester, led to the belief that we might be attacked,
and this point had been selected by Gen. LANDER for
a fight, if it was offered. Scouts who had been sent out, however,
reported no force within reach, and our march was resumed. The Eighth
acted as skirmishers on right flank. Early in the day the weather began to
moderate, and by noon it began to rain. The roads were heavy and the
streams swollen, and the march consequently slow. We arrived at
Patterson's Creek, at' its confluence with the Potomac a little after
dark, and crossed it on the high rail road bridge. "Old Timothy," the
writer's horse, having to walk a plank, all the other horses having been
sent to a ford, some miles above this point. Our indefatigable "Jonathan"
had our tents up and our mess boys and strikers had prepared for our
hungry condition, with chickens and other good things, accumulated along
the wagon route.
A very sad accident occurred this evening. Our muskets
had been loaded and capped, during the march, as we were on the right
flank, where an attack was probable and the men coming into camp tired and
wet, laid down their arms wherever convenient, while arranging their
quarters. Some soldier carelessly took hold of a gun to remove it, when it
went off, killing JOHN SMITH
of Co. E, instantly,
The rain continued to fall in torrents for several
days, and the camp, which was on low hard ground, was consequently most
horribly muddy, and considerable sickness broke out among the men.
The picket duty was pretty severe, as our line extended
out on the rail road several miles, and round to the ford on Patterson's
Creek, four miles from camp, and thence to and along, the Knobelly
mountains to near Cumberland. On the 15th, the troops were brigaded. The
Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Ohio and Thirty-ninth Illinois composing the
Second brigade, under Col. DUNNING of the Fifth
Ohio; what was called a "straight regulation review," was had on the 17th.
All of us, who had them, came out with our epaulets and regulation hats,
and we believed ourselves to have come fully up to the standard of the
regular MCCLELLAN reviews, in
front of Washington.
On the 22d, a reconnaissance of the railroad as far as the Little Cacupon
was made, the writer commanding the detachment consisting of Co. A, Capt.
Ogle; Co. B, Lieut. DELANEY; Co. G, Capt. HAYNES,
and Co. K, Capt. PIERCE. We had an engine and cars
sufficient for two companies, while the other two were deployed on the
front and right flank, the Potomac river covering the left flank to
prevent surprise. At French's store, we found a large quantity of rebel
corn, which was taken possession of and next day carried to camp and used
for forage. The railroad track was found but little disturbed, and on this
report Gen. LANDER had parties out repairing it the
next day, preparatory to moving further down the river.
On the 1st day of February, 1862, our camp having
become uninhabitable, the troops were moved to new camps, which were more
New troops were now constantly coming up, and
preparations were rapidly going forward for an advance on Winchester. The
Sixty-seventh and Twenty-ninth Ohio, and troops from other states had
joined us. Major WINSLOW had been taken severely ill
in camp, and was at this time still sick at Cumberland. Several of the men
were also on the sick list.
PAW PAW TUNNEL AND BLOOMEY GAP.
On the 9th of February, the
railroad having been completed, we broke up camp and moved by cars to Paw
Paw Tunnel. This is a point where the Ohio and Chesapeake Canal passes
through a tunnel under a spur of the Cacupon Mountains, and also the
railroad. The scenery was beautiful among the mountains, but our camps
were so wretched and the weather so inclement that we had but little
disposition to admire the grand scenery about us.
Frequent and extended reconnaissance's were made from
this point, and we looked for an early advance on Winchester. The Fourth
and Eighth Ohio were withdrawn from DUNNING'S
Brigade, and formed, with the artillery, into an artillery brigade, under
Col. MASON, of the Fourth Ohio. We had been
constantly harassed by bushwhackers, whose headquarters were said to be at
Bloomey Gap, some twenty miles distant, and it was determined to make a
descent upon the place. Accordingly, about noon of the 15th Gen. LANDER,.at
the head of some eight regiments of infantry, ANISANSEL'S
Cavalry and DAUM'S artillery started to raid the
Bloomey. We had the Little Cacupon river, then cold and swolen, and the
Cacupon Mountains to cross; When we arrived at the river the engineer
corps of the army was utterly puzzled as to any means of bridging the
turbulent stream, and reported the impossibility of so doing with the
materials provided. Lander stormed, swore and out-roared the roaring
flood, when our wagon master, " JONATHAN," informed
the General that he had been "engineer corps" for a circus for some years,
and thought the scientific principles applied to circus engineering would,
if followed out, put the army across in about an hour. LANDER
was, in ecstasy, and "Engineer FULLER "set to work.
He hitched a good stout span of mules to a wagon tongue with plenty of
ballast in the wagon, and drove through the river to the opposite bank and
then detaching the mules, another and another wagon hauled and left
tandem, until the river was spanned when boards were thrown on top and the
troops soon crossed. There was but a mountain path from this point, and
artillery, ambulances and supply wagons had to remain behind.
We marched rapidly all night, and arrived at the Gap
just at day light, when a search commenced for the enemy. LANDER
at the head of what cavalry he could get to follow him, dashed up a ravine
and into the headquarters of Col. BALDWIN, the
commandant of the post, whom he found, with his staff, snugly in bed in a
farm house, and who, minus uniform, were captured in their nightgowns.
The troops, about a regiment, with their wagons, were making good time
towards Winchester. The infantry could not, and the cavalry would not,
overtake them. Lander swore and the cavalry ran. Some of the more plucky
of them and several mounted officers and attaches of the Quartermaster's
foraging party dashed at the, wagons, Wagon Master FULLER—"JONATHAN,"
bringing away Col. BALDWIN'S saddle, portmanteau,
papers, blankets, muster rolls, &c, but the fire of the rebels, who were
skulking about the woods on the. hills, being rather hot, they soon came
back, and by the time the infantry came up the rascals had fled to the
mountains, and their train was too far away to warrant pursuit.
LANDER was in a great fury
at this failure, swearing worse than the army in Flanders, and ordering ANISANSEL
under arrest for cowardice in the face of the enemy. (He afterwards
tried him before a Court Martial, he was acquitted by the Court but soon
after left the service, probably to resume his more congenial profession
of music teacher and dancing master.) In this skirmish two of our cavalry
were killed, and one or two wounded, and several horses killed. Of
the rebels, seven officers, including Col. BALDWIN,
and about twenty men were captured, besides some stores and a few head of
We returned to camp during the afternoon and night a
good deal wearied and worn, but were soon amply compensated for our toil
by the glowing accounts in the papers of the spirited "battle of Bloomey
Gap", the description whereof reminded one of Napoleon at the bridge of
On the night of the 26th, Gen. LANDER,
having withdrawn all the troops from Patterson Creek, the rebel
bushwackers slipped in and burned the railroad bridge. Not knowing in what
force they might be, Col. Carroll with a detachment of the Eighth was sent
.back to catch and punish the offenders and rebuild the bridge. Some
stragglers were caught and examined, ropes were put about their necks, and
they were threatened with immediate execution, but no facts were elicited
as to the bridge burners.
The bridge was soon rebuilt and thenceforward left in
charge of a guard sufficient to protect it.