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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: December 2, 1862

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-Page 01-

Description of Page: Advertisements, columns 1-3; governor's proclamation regarding the procurement of salt, columns 4 and 5; public sale notices, column 5

Augusta Springs Nov. 20th, 1863
(Column 6)
Summary: Letter from Imboden's command giving more precise details of a previously reported engagement in the Allegheny Mountains.
(Names in announcement: Lieut. Col. Robert Doyle, Col. Imboden)
Full Text of Article:

Nov. 30th, 1862.

Mr. Editor:--I have observed in a valley paper an account of the attack upon the infantry part of our regiment (Partisan Rangers) and the retreat, "in good order," under command of Lieut. Col. Robt. L. Doyle during the absence of Col. Imboden with the cavalry of the regiment; but I have looked in vain for a detailed account of the adventures, sufferings and escapes of said cavalry during these eight days march in the Alleghenies. Believing that a true statement of the facts would be interesting to those who have friends in the command, I have concluded to furnish the materials which you can dispose of as you see proper. It is not necessary that I should state the grand object of the expedition. It is enough to say that if it had not been thwarted by circumstances over which our brave and indefatigable Colonel had no control, it would have resulted in as much advantage to our cause and inflicted a blow upon our enemies from which they would not have recovered for many months.

The cavalry of the regiment, 250 strong and commanded by Col. Imboden in person, left our camp on the South Fork, in Hardy county, on the evening of the 7th of Nov. in a violent snow storm; horses and men in good keeping and fine spirits, the latter carrying 2 day's rations of beef, bread and salt. At 8 o'clock in the evening we halted at Petersburg to feed our horses, carrying the unhusked corn covered with snow, from the field and preventing our feet from freezing by running up and down the pike. In an hour we were in the saddle and marching at a trot up the South Branch, the fall or snow ceasing and the weather becoming colder every moment. At 1 o'clock on the morning of the 8th we halted near the eastern base of the snow clad Alleghany [sic], regaling our tired horses with corn from a neighboring field, the property of one of those vile traitors, called "Union men," and throwing our wearied selves upon the snow slept soundly, if not sweetly, until the peep of day.--On arising, we found the snow storm had again resumed operations, and the prospect on every hand looking so gloomy, that our commander for a moment entertained the idea of relinquishing for the present the grand idea, and turning his attention to some other point. But all who know Colonel John D. Imboden are well aware that naught but impossibilities turn him from his purposes. Again we are in the saddle and making a short turn to the right are soon lost to view in the dense undergrowth that covers the eastern side of the Alleghany Mountain. Up, up stretches the long line of horses and men along the narrow path, some leading, some driving their unwilling stock, with an occasional heels-over-head performance by some unfortunate trooper in the cool refreshing (!) snow.

Some of our valley boys not knowing the magnitude of the mountain we were ascending concluded to "ride up," but after an hour's climbing in the slippery path, we heard one of this class remark that as it was turning out to be quite a large hill he would walk up the remainder. Two o'clock found us on the top of the mountain, in the region of the fir tree the beach and laurel, the snow hanging in clusters from every limb and falling over men and horses until they were drenched as by a day's travel in a hard rain.

And now commenced our difficulties in earnest. The path descending the mountain on the west side is the worst imaginable. Narrow, steep, rocky, with roots twining and intervening in every possible direction with frequent "jumping off" place from 2 to 4 feet high. It presented in that wretched snow storm, to our jaded horses an almost impossible barrier. But we rolled on, and near sundown stopped at a cabin in the hills where our Quarter Master succeeded in procuring some corn for our stock. There we learned, as the rear of the command came drudging in, that a part of the rear company had turned back, the path being rendered impassible [sic] by the passage of those in front of them.

After resting an hour we started about dark in the direction of the "Dry Fork of Cheat River," by a narrow path that winds around the side and end of a mountain, slippery, precipitous, and dangerous in the extreme. At 10 o'clock at night we reached the Dry Fork, and giving our horses a little hay (there was no grain) we laid down to rest for two hours.

It seemed as though we had scarce begun to slumber when the loud notes of the bugle called again to horse, and in a few minutes we were threading that far famed dangerous path that winds around the mountain whose base is laved by the waters of the miss named [sic] Dry Fork of Cheat. On our right was the steep, abrupt mountain side within reach of our hands as we sat in our saddles. On our left a precipice 500 feet high, with the river rolling and dashing at the bottom. It was along this path that Colonel Imboden passed in August last, when one of the mules bearing a mountain howitzer on his back, made a miss-step and tumbled head long over the precipice, but fortunately was stopped I his rapid career about 75 feet from the starting point by a fallen tree, where he was found lying on his side, the cannon still strapped to his back and his imperturbable muleship cropping the leaves from the bushes within his reach. How he was conducted back into the path I never heard, nor have I the most distant idea unless they rafted him down the river.

Along this path we continued to feel our way for 8 miles when early dawn found us in a primative [sic] sort of a road leading to St. George, the county seat of Tucker county.

In arriving in the vicinity of the latter place, the Colonel immediately made such a disposition of his command as to surprise the town and capture the garrison of 40 or 50 men stationed there. Having ordered Capt. Beall's company down along the bank of the river to surprise, and, if possible, capture the enemies' pickets at that point, the Col. with the main body of the command surrounded the upper part of the town, when squads of the enemy were seen running towards the Court House, not however without receiving a few notes of recognition from Captain Beall's company as they passed. On receiving information from a citizen that they had securely barricaded themselves within the Court House and were determined not to surrender except to the last extremity, we prepared to storm their castle, when they very wisely, though somewhat to the regret of our boys, caved in and surrendered their precious carcases [sic] with all equipments and appurtenances into our hands. And here we regret to say it was decided in council, and wisely too, that the main object of the expedition had better be relinquished and we make our escape beyond the enemies' lines as soon as possible. Consequently, after paroling the prisoners, who by the way were nearly all Virginians, the Col. ordered a "right about" movement, and we took the road again on our return. The reason for this retrograde movement was found in the fact that we had been delayed by the bad weather and the condition of the roads in the mountains, some 18 hours beyond the time calculated for our arrival at the desired point, and in the mean time the enemy at Beverly had been apprised of the expedition, and a large force had moved in our rear across the mountain to the North Fork and Franklin, while it was evident large parties were on the [illegible] for us at different points. It now required cautious steps and a correct knowledge of the mountain paths, to extricate the command from their perilous position fifty miles within the enemy's lines and a wilderness of mountains intervening, while the enemy were watching every known pass to intercept our return. So after studying the Dry Fork some 16 miles the command crossed that stream on so dark a night as ever "came down" and struck into the mountains towards Beverly, threading a blind path through what appeared after the rising of the moon, to be the wildest and most ragged of mountain districts. About 11 o'clock we halted in a clearing on the mountain top and were fortunate to find corn enough for our now fast failing horses. This was on Sunday night and was the first grain our horses had tasted for 30 hours, though performing immense service all the time, and I regret o say it was the last they received until the following Thursday! After resting two hours we again started still in the direction of Beverly; and here the reader will observe that the Col. had relinquished, if indeed he ever entertained the idea of returning by the route we pursued on our outward trip. This day our horses showed evident signs of falling in the "path of duty," and after traveling some 8 or 10 miles we halted to feed our horses some hay, and ourselves some beef, having had no bread since the day before. It was the intention of Col. Imboden to encamp that night (Monday) at a well known place called the "Upper Sinks" in Pendleton county, but the difficulties of the path, which led through a dense and at all other points impenetrable forest, together with the jaded and worn out condition of our horses rendered the accomplishment of this object impossible and after performing a journey of 5 miles in 6 hours, we encamped in a small clearing in the forest, just in the edge of Highland county. There we rested all night being the first night's rest we had taken since leaving our now beloved camp in old Hardy. In the morning our guide, becoming by this time entirely rusticated, and disdaining all paths and signs of human existence, dashed into the thicket of the forest, and leading our horses through jungle and over cliffs, we struggled on sometimes belly deep to our horses in mire, sometimes climbing on hands and feet a steep acclivity, only to slide down the opposite side in an inverted position, and finally rested after our day's toil at the "Upper Sinks," having accomplished the distance of 8 miles in one day.

On the following (Wednesday) morning after our usual repast of hay and beef (our horses eat the former) we again took the forest regardless of roads, and after toiling until high noon we made two remarkable discoveries: one, that we had traveled 4 miles into the wilderness where no human foot had ever preceded us, and the other, that we had reached a very large jumping off place from which there was no possible exit but by the way we came. Hence the command, right about, was passed along the line, and we returned to our old camp in time to prepare our usual supper of hay and beef, with the glorious addition of two potatoes for each man, which was unanimously voted quite a treat.

On Thursday we travelled [sic] as rapidly as our crippled horses would go, and as quietly as possible for we were getting near the enemy's lines, and, as it proved, near their camp also, and arrived on the North Fork about noon, where we procured corn for our horses, being the first they had received since the previous Sunday. Toward evening we started down the Fork and passing within one and a half miles of a camp of 400 Yankee and Union villains who were posted there to catch us, we turned by a path into the hills and crossing over to the South Branch 10 miles above Franklin came upon some cap fires that 1300 of the enemy had just left. Following down the river a few miles we crossed it five miles above Franklin, and striking again into the mountains that divide the waters of the South Branch from those of the South Fork, bade farewell to danger and bad roads, and encamped at 4 o'clock on Friday morning near the head of the Fork almost exhausted with incessant marching, and weak for want of food. There the command rested until 12 o'clock to give the men an opportunity to buy bread of the inhabitants, which they took advantage of with a will. On Friday night we reached a point half way between this place and Mount Solon, and the next morning landed safely at this point with the whole command except some 10 or 12 horses that gave out by the way, during the toilsome march of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

And now let me state that considering the length of the march, the character of the country traveled over, and the fact that not less than 5,000 of the enemy were on the watch at different points to intercept us--our escape was remarkable, wonderful! After pitying our poor horses (the word poor is applicable in every sense) that are rendered unfit for service for the next 3 months, too much praise cannot be awarded to the men who endured the labor, fatigue, deprivation and almost starvation, of this long and dangerous march through a country of alternate mountain and swamp, uninhabited and entirely destitute of roads.

I wish I had time to describe the winter scenery of these interminable forests, with their giant growth of firs 4 and 5 feet through and eight or ninety feet without a limb; wild cherry 3 and 4 feet through at the base, the most magnificent beaches, and the broad leaved laurel 30 feet in height and their stems 18 or 20 inches in circumference. But most remarkable and beautiful of all is the growth of mosses which cover the ground, the rocks, the trees and every other object for more than a foot in depth, spreading the earth with a rich carpet, over laying fallen trees, clinging fondly to the smooth bark of the gigantic monarchs of the forest, and hanging in beautiful festoons from their spreading branches, ornamenting Nature in her wildest form, may I not say, in her native beauty!

It was a sight to fill the soul with emotions of love for the works of Nature in their original purity, and I look back upon it with a desire to return again to these solitary wilds, but unfortunately for the poetic feeling, I glance over my shoulder at a once fine black charger, vainly endeavoring on three legs to crop the surrounding herbage and with a feeling akin to anger I curse the mountains and the "cavalry trip" which has been anything but a profitable one to


-Page 02-

Description of Page: Recipe for salting pork, list of dates on which states passed the Acts of Secession, column 2; article on mismanagement of military affairs in Pendleton County, column 3; minor news reports, columns 1-3; advertisements and notices, columns 5-7

Owe no Man Anything
(Column 1)
Summary: Urges readers to pay for their subscriptions, offering the paper at past rates for the new year if subscribers pay their debt in full and their subscription for the coming year. Conversely, those who do not pay will have their names published in the paper warning others not to extend them credit.
Election for the House of Delegates
(Column 1)
Summary: Article reports William Tate's resignation from the House of Delegates and announces an election to replace him that will take place on the 11th of December.
(Names in announcement: William M. Tate)
The Absence of News
(Column 1)
Summary: Article reports that little new news has been received from the battlefield in the past week.
(Names in announcement: Col. Imboden)
A Goliant Exploit
(Column 2)
Summary: Item describes an engagement with eleven Northern soldiers involving five men under Colonel Imboden's command.
(Names in announcement: Col. Imboden)
A Man Murdered by Yankees
(Column 2)
Summary: Article asserts that a man was robbed and murdered in Berkeley County by a Yankee Lieutenant from Virginia on his way to Lynchburg.
What Virginia Has Suffered
(Column 3)
Summary: Reprints part of the speech made by Georgia Congressman A. B. Kenan in favor of conscription in his home state. Kenan argued that the people of Virginia have sacrificed more than their fair share for the Confederate cause and that Georgians should therefore do their part in helping fight the war.
Full Text of Article:

The Lynchburg "Virginian" says it is known that Georgia, through her Governor, has interposed some obstacles to the enforcement of the Conscription act. A controversy upon this subject was carried on for some time between the Governor of Georgia and the President, whilst the former in his message to the Legislature argued the unconstitutionality of the act. The Supreme Court of that State has, however, decided against the scruples of the Governor, and there is no appeal from that decision, we presume, so far as Georgia is concerned. Pending the decision upon the subject, the Hon. A. B. Kenan member of Congress from Georgia, delivered a patriotic address in Milledgeville, in which he thus referred to the greater sacrifices endured by Virginia. We hope that such considerations will serve to repress the disposition that has been far too prevalent amongst our malcontented brethren South, who in their moments of querulousness, complain of "having to fight the battles of Virginia."

Mr. Kenan said:

Georgia is the last State that ought to complain and resist this law. Georgia has not yet been invaded. We have not yet suffered at our doors and in our estates from the presence of a hostile foe. The battles in our defence have been fought hundreds of miles away from us.--The people of Virginia have lost their property, their negroes, their food, their all. Their houses, their barns and fences have been burnt before their eyes, their wives and children insulted and driven from home and themselves carried away captives, and still they are true. You know nothing of the ravages of war. When your own wives and children are driven from home without food and clothing, to hide in the mountains and caves, your negroes stolen and the torch applied to your premises, then your patriotism will be tested.--Can you endure that? Had you not better do all you can to keep the war away from your borders? Is it well for your to be squabbling about State Rights and who shall appoint captains and colonels when the enemy is thundering at your doors? We have had brilliant victories, and our arms have performed such deeds as history has nowhere recorded. Conscription has done it for us. If this war goes on, we have to whip 500,000 of the best men the enemy has got, before next Spring, or they will whip us. If we whip them, Conscription will have done it--without it we will fail.

[No Title]
(Column 3)
Summary: Item reports that John Reese, a deaf man educated at the Deaf and Dumb Institution in Staunton, was robbed and beaten in Lynchburg the previous week and died of his wounds.
(Names in announcement: John H. Reese)
For the Spectator
(Column 4)
Summary: Recounts the experiences of a division of Jackson's corps who have just departed from the lower Shenandoah Valley. Reports on the desolate condition of the Valley that they have recently left and the condition of the soldiers themselves.
Full Text of Article:

Madison Court House.

November 27th, 1862.

Editor of Spectator--This portion of Jackson's corps having "changed base" recently, finds itself allowed a day's rest at this place, awaiting orders, and ready to "descend like a wolf on the fold," whenever and wherever "Mr. Burnside" may give the opportunity.

The lower Valley which we have just left will long have cause to remember our friendly visit. It was doubtless the policy of our Generals to leave that unfortunate section utterly unavailable to the enemy for occupation for any purpose.--Hence all the railroads leading into it--the Baltimore and Ohio--the Winchester and Potomac, and the Manassas Gap, have been effectually destroyed. All the surplus forage and provender for man and beast have been consumed by our army, which literally spread itself by brigades and regiments all over the region, and subsisted off it entirely. So the enemy will now find it a section hard to get in, hard to stay in, and hard to get out of. The people deprived of everything else, will have the only consolation of enumerating the Yankees among their deprivations.

The abomination of desolation seems to have swept it; fencing is almost entirely destroyed--except the stonewall--which is invariably a staunch institution; houses are closed and deserted; forests and even orchards are demolished for fuel, or in wantonness by the enemy; bridges burnt; the once beautifully cultivated fields are scarred all over with the marks of encampments, and all so changed from the fair and fruitful appearance it presented when we first marched into it, as to recall the wail of the song,

"Not a rose of the wilderness left on its stalk,
To mark where the garden had been."

On the third day out, we crossed the Blue Ridge at Milan's (?) Gap, where the turnpike scales tee [sic] mountain by a serpentine grade of seven miles to obtain a distance of only one as the crow flies. The army was marching by brigades, each brigade followed by its own artillery and wagon train; they stretching for miles and miles along the turnpike, up the mountain side, and far across the Page Valley to the Massanutten range. The troops and trains winding the turns of the grade up the mountain were at times all in sight and seemed moving in every possible direction

"In wondering mazes lost."

The soldiers were often in speaking distance of each other, though really far apart, and going in opposite directions. The jests and taunts that passed thus at safe distances from crag to crag served to cheer them on their toilsome tramp--The lucky wearers of high shoes were urged to "come out of them shoes! I know you're in thar! I see your head stickin' out." Men in big overcoats were assailed with--"Overcoat, let that man out! I know you've got him in thar, I see his fingers and toes workin'." Many witty and contemptuous comparisons were made of this mountain passage with Hannibal's and Bonaparte's boasted crossing of the Alps!"

Many of the men are yet without shoes in some of the regiments, and it is most piteous to see them painfully picking their way along through frost and ice. Many are without blankets, and how they stand it, is more than can be imagined by those of us who are so fortunate as barely to escape freezing under two blankets by lying our in these frosty nights. But "white folks" don't know what they can stand until they try it.

Flour beef and salt constitute the daily diet of the troops--provided it "gets up in time," but in practice it generally arrives after dark, so that the men spend the night in cooking, and therefore don't need blankets to sleep in--sharp practice in "Mr. Jeff Davis!" As to the eating, however, the men get many luxuries from the patriotic people along the line--by paying for them, e. g. honey at $1.50 per pound, butter at $1 and $1.25 per pound, chickens $1 each, apples 50 cts to $1.25 per dozen, and "Apple-Jack," per pint, $2.50 to $5, and scarce in demand at that. Some of the "citizens" have volunteered to bring in such things, at such prices to camp; but when their enterprise is found out by the Generals, they are themselves generally brought up at the guard-house.

The soldiers, however, are wonderfully cheerful. They live, too, in hopes of seeing an end of the war, when they will return home with renewed zest for the pleasures of peace. A party near by was indulging itself to-day with a "supposin peace was declared, what would you do? One said, "I'd get up right here, and go across that field, over that stone fence, straight home." Another said, "I could not leave immediately, as I would go through a lot of ground and lofty tumbling preparatory to starting," &c., &c.,

Yours &c., &c.

For the Spectator
(Column 4)
Summary: Writer criticizes the Northern war effort as unjust and condemns the actions of Northern soldiers against the South as barbarous. The author vows that the South will never reunite with the United States, making the Northern cause a vain one.
Trailer: Veritas
The Old Drummer of Chalmette
(Column 4)
Summary: Item reports that Jordan, the old black man who gained fame as Jackson's drummer at the battle of New Orleans, has handed in a list of his property to be confiscated by the Federals and declared himself an enemy of the United States.
(Column 5)
Summary: Mr. Charles C. Benn and Miss Martha E. S. Long were married on November 25. Miss Long was the daughter of Emanuel Long, deceased.
(Names in announcement: Serg't. Chas. C. Benn, Miss Martha E. S. Long, Emanuel Long)
(Column 5)
Summary: Mr. John West and Miss Caroline Maybush, both of Augusta County, were married on November 27.
(Names in announcement: Mr. John West, Miss Caroline Maybush)
(Column 5)
Summary: Mr. John McAllister, of Pittsylvania, and Miss Hattie R. Henry were married at Roseland in Pittsylvania County on November 28. She was the daughter of Dr. R. H. Henry, deceased, of Waynesboro'.
(Names in announcement: Miss Hattie B. Henry, Dr. R. H. Henry)
(Column 5)
Summary: Mrs. Sallie Morris, aged 62 years, died in Staunton on November 19.
(Names in announcement: Mrs. Sallie Morris)