July 10, 1861
FROM THE KANAWHA VALLEY—We make the following
interesting extracts from the Charleston (Va.) correspondence of
the Richmond Dispatch, under date of July 1st. The electric force of Wise’s nature would
seem to be already producing the results which were anticipated when he should
place himself en rapport with the Western Virginians.
Gen. Henry A. Wise reached this town on Wednesday last,
escorted by a fine cavalry company and attended by his staff.
The state of public sentiment in this immediate region
is sound, and public spirit aroused, and active for defence [sic]. A few months longer of apathy on the part of
the people, deception on the part of partisans, and neglect on the part of
public authorities, and this beautiful valley would have been in the hands of
the enemy. Its importance to them, in a
strategic point of view, is very great, but, apart from this, it contains the
great Salt Works on the banks of the Kanawha, which, in view of the continuance
of the blockade, are of incalculable value; it contains, in addition, a cannon
foundry, now an experiment, but destined to succeed. But more important than all, is the reaction
and reinvigoration of public sentiment by the presence of an army, and a leader
among the divided and hesitating population.
We shall reclaim the most of this region, and ultimately repossess it.
General Wise is pursuing no equivocal policy towards
traitors. He has proclaimed, from the
moment he entered upon his mission, that no snakes would lurk in the grass of
the soil which he came to defend, to sting him when his back is turned, or his
head is up and toward the enemy.
Accordingly, many have been arrested and subjected to examination as to
their loyalty and intentions. One of
their leaders from Clay county, apparently honest, though mislead and woefully
ignorant, was arrested by Capt. Caskie.
Gen. Wise examined him, with a view to release or to hand him over to
the civil authorities, as the evidence might dictate. He was a Baptist preacher, a magistrate, and
a member of a “Home Guard” disloyal to the State. He was released upon his voluntary statement
and the evidence, but not until our leader had given him a talk. Such a talk has seldom been my fortune to
hear—never, except from the same source.
Tears stood in the Old Tory’s eyes, and mists of doubt
and misapprehension as to his duty seemed clearing up in his countenance. No oath, no promise was extracted from him;
but, volunteering his profession of loyalty in future to Virginia and the Confederate
States, he shook Gov. Wise warmly by the hand, and left for his home in
Clay. Since then we have heard fine
accounts from him, the latest being that his “Home Guard” intended to join the
State service! Similar instances have
occurred, and but one man has been retained and handed over to the civil
authorities to be tried for treason, and he was a native of Ohio, though long a resident of the Valley.
As to the movement of the enemy I give you the following
as authentic: Civil war is certainly raging
in Gilmer county; the Federal forces, united with Tories, are estimated at 600,
while the loyal troops, composed of organized companies from Calhoun and
Gilmer, are only put at 200. The enemy
have given over administrating oaths and releasing, in that section, and now
imprison or force into the hostile army.
On Friday night, company F, of the 17th Ohio
Regiment, numbering about 100, came to Ripley, about 40 miles from here, on the
Parkersburg road, and remained sometime, refreshing themselves and horses on
the quiet citizens. Some Virginia officers who
were there, recruiting, I presume, escaped by doffing the uniform. The enemy left, it was said, for Ravenswood,
a considerable distance further on towards Parkersburg.
Whether they came from the force at Parkersburg or not, I did not learn. Doubtless you will soon see in the Northern
papers a brilliant victory announced at Ripley.
Since writing the above, three more traitors have been
brought in to Gen. Wise. They are from
Roane county, and one (Col. S. A. Roberts) was a member of the Wheeling
Convention. They will be handed over to
the civil authorities, and indicted for treason, with a count under the new
ordinance of the 15th June last.
[Transcribed by Sharon Strout]