|Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm
of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 2/17/1927.
Calhoun County In The Civil War
Under the above heading the Chronicle will, from time to time, publish
a number of articles concerning the part played by Calhoun county in the
Civil war. The articles have been prepared by Mr. Louis E. Ayers,
of Grantsville, who is well known in all parts of Calhoun and Gilmer counties.
His business has taken him into nearly every home in this section, and
being an entertaining conversationalist with a fine memory he has probably
gathered more facts pertaining to the history of these counties than any
The Chronicle and its readers are indebted to Mr. Ayers for this attempt
to preserve a portion of local history that might otherwise be lost to
Mr. Ayers' first article follows:
Calhoun County, during the civil war, was the scene of a few keen engagements
between the contending forces. The following narrative of the sharp
action that occurred near Arnoldsburg is the recollection of the writer,
as he heard it described by his father, who participated in the fight on
the northern side. There are perhaps many details connected with
the affair that escaped the attention of the narrator. The following
account is his version of the engagement.
At the time of this action, Calhoun county was being occupied to a great
extend by irregular troops of both armies. To stamp out the guerrilla
warfare if possible was the intent in stationing Capt. James L. Simpson,
with eighty men of Company C 11th West Virginia Infantry, at a point on
the Hays farm, just below the present site of Arnoldsburg. Capt.
Simpson's camp was on the broad bottom, just below the large two story
log residence, occupied by the family of Col. Peregrine Hays. The
father and grandfather of the writer were members of Capt. Simpson's company.
My grandmother, accompanied by a Mrs. Barnes, the wife of Benjamin Barnes,
was visiting relatives at the camp. They had procured and set up
a cook stove on which they made coffee and assisted in the preparation
of meals for the troops. Arising one morning just at dawn, they discovered
the gray jackets of the Confederate Capt. Mitchell's command, defiling
down the hillsides on both sides of the West Fork and almost completely
surrounding the sleeping camp. These women each took a tent row and
ran the entire length of the camp shouting, "The Johnnies are coming."
The startled troopers, seized muskets and cartridge boxes and rushed from
their tents. The alarm became general and pandemonium reigned throughout
the camp. Officers shouted "Fall in! Fall in men! Fall
into line." But it was impossible to control the panic stricken men
who made a rush for the Hays mansion, which the bulk of them entered, knocking
out windows with their musket butts and opening fire on the advancing confederates.
Lieut. James Robinson, with a squad of ten men made a sortie up a wooded
point and on reaching the crest came face to face with a body of Confederates
under the direct command of Capt. Mitchell. A volley was exchanged
at close quarters and Capt. Mitchell, fell mortally wounded. His
men gave way. Lieut Robinson then deployed his men behind logs and
trees and engaged in sharpshooting during the remainder of the engagement.
The fire from the Hays house was steadily maintained, and after a time
the Confederates withdrew.
Many of the men composing the Federal company, were from Calhoun, Gilmer
and Ritchie counties. The late William Cunningham, of Sycamore, was
in Lieut. Robinsons squad and in the interchange of volleys on the hilltop,
received a musket ball in the right wrist which came out at the elbow.
Lieut. James F. McDonald, Jasper Ball, Peter Booher, Oscar Kelley, Wesley
Poling, Nicholas Poling and a number of others whom we cannot now recall,
participated in this engagement. And while these sterling old veterans
have long since answered the last roll call, many of their descendants
are embraced in Calhoun county's present population.
As the tourist or traveler motors over our splendid state road, past
this daisy strewn meadow, he little dreams that in the misty past, this
now peaceful valley reverberated with the roll of musketry, blended with
the shouts of charging squadrons, and that its green sward was dyed with
the blood of the victims of this fratricidal strife.