January 27, 1927 edition
Continued from last week…
It is the intention of this article to relate how Cheat Mountain got the collective goat of an army in war time and changed the history of the country.
A few years ago as the wilderness of Cheat Mountain was being timbered off, the workmen would come upon old muskets, sabres, and bayonets lost in these uplands of Hell, by a lost army of demoralized men who had been sent into those tangled thickets to turn the position of a fortified camp at White’s Top. These men suffered peril and privation and no one ever knew how many of them left their bones to whiten in the forest.
At the beginning of the Civil War, which was to be ended in ninety days, the prophets all thought that it would be fought out in the mountains of West Virginia. When Virginia wrenched loose from the constitution, a part of the great cornerstone of the Republic adhered to the Union and both north and south rushed armies to hold the fragment.
McClellan swept everything before him for he had railroad transportation into the center of the state, while the Confederates were gathering from the cotton states and from Virginia by slow marching and wagon trains over the endless mountains. By the middle of the summer, McClellan had a large army in Tygarts Valley just below where the Elkwater creek comes in from the west. Here the valley had narrowed and that army dug one of the biggest trenches and bunkers of the war to hold the road. To keep the fort from being flanked and surprised from behind, another army had made a most elaborate fortified camp at White’s Top of Cheat on the Staunton to Parkersburg Turnpike. This place also lent itself to easy defense. The road here passes through a gap between two beautiful hills, and the soldiers fortified both sides of it. To capture the forts would require a charge up the steep hillsides, and to pass between them would invite a sudden and complete destruction to an army.
The Confederate forces took all of the Greenbrier Valley, the next valley east of Tygarts Valley. They had armies at Bartow, and at Huntersville, (Camp Northwest) and at Marlinton. These troops came from all over the south. They had been rushed there owing to the fact that it soon became apparent that West Virginia, west of the great divide, was not going to put many troops in the field to aid secession.
And as there was no one in command of the several armies, that is no commander in chief, enter the great Robert E. Lee, as fine a Virginian gentleman as ever broadened an a. Graduated in 1829, first in his class at West Point. Head of that institution later. A colonel in the army. Resident at Arlington on the Potomac. He resigned from the service of the Union, with regret, to cast his fortunes with Virginia. He was made major general of Virginia and commander in chief of Virginia’s troops in April, 1861, but on the formation of the Confederacy, his rank was fixed as brigadier general and he was ordered to the Greenbrier Valley to take command of the units here. At Camp Northwest, there was General Loring, a North Carolinian, who outranked Lee. At Marlinton, Col. Henry R. Jackson, of Georgia, was in command.
He was in charge of green troops in the wettest summer that this county ever saw.
We had thirteen inches of rain in August this year and seven inches in December with wet weather at other times, and it has been compared to the year 1861 for genuine wetness.
His troops were volunteers and amateurs in the art of war. They were destined to become seasoned troops later in the war, but there was a lot of sickness in the camps that summer.
To be continued…
Historical Sketches of Pocahontas County ~ 1901
By William T. Price
One of the sacred duties resting on the living is to preserve memories of worthy citizens now deceased, and heed the lessons illustrated, that may stimulate and encourage useful endeavors to have similar aims in our own lives…
The aim of this article is to perform such a service with reference to Squire Isaac Moore, whose name appears in the first records of our county, and was associated with its history for forty years.
He was born March 2, 1800, at the “Bridger place” four or five miles east of Edray. He grew up familiar with many of the privations of pioneer life, but was happily exempt from the risks and perils that were such features of the times a few years previously from Indian raids.
The surroundings of his home were picturesque: the river with its rapid waters of crystal purity, the overhanging hills that bordered the wooded valley where the log home stood, made a scene that would attract notice anywhere. It was only one place among hundreds to be found in a vast expansive region to which Homer’s famous line about Ithaca would apply: “A rough wild nurse land, whose crops were men.”
Isaac Moore married Miss Catherine Gilliland, daughter of Squire John Gilliland, whose residence was on top of the mountain overlooking Millpoint…
At the first term of the Pocahontas Court, Mr. Moore was appointed a captain of he 127th Regiment of Virginia Militia. He served as magistrate for many years, and was high Sheriff when his time came as senior member of the court. He was one of the main business agents of his neighborhood in drawing up wills, deeds, writings and articles of agreement, in all which he excelled. Important changes in the public roads suggested by him were made, and new roads were projected. At his request a largely attended meeting was held to consider reforms in the schools. So much was he interested in educational affairs that at this time the Board of Education was organized to supervise the schools in the Edray district, and have them taught by such teachers as were examined and approved by the Board. He led a spirited controversy in the effort to have silent schools in place of the noisy vocal schools. His point was carried and silent schools became the rule. This occurred about the year 1846.
In politics, Mr. Moore was a Henry Clay Whig. Among his last votes, perhaps his very last, he cast for the ordinance of secession. During the summer of 1861 Edray swarmed with soldiers on the march or in the camp. Mr. Moore contracted camp fever late in the season. About the time he had convalesced enough to move about, he was seized by measles of a malignant type, from which he died December 5, 1861, in the 62nd year of his age…