Records Related to Augusta County Regiments

From: S. G. LYNCH, Capt. and Asst. Quartermaster, Asst. Superintendent.
September 1, 1865.

Union Captain and Assistant Quartermaster S. G. Lynch reports to Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs on action in western Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley in late 1864 and 1865. Lynch details the action of U. S. Military Telegraph troops in the Valley, including the Staunton area.

Maj. Gen. M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-Gen. U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:


September 1, 1865.


I have the honor to submit to your department, through Col. A. Stager, chief, &c. (pursuant to General Orders, No. 39, Quartermaster-Gen.'s Department), my annual report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1865. My annual report for 1864 was rendered to your department through Col. A. Stager, chief of U. S. Military Telegraphs, in the letter part of October, 1864.

It has been my duty during the past year to act as assistant superintendent of U. S. Military Telegraphs within the Department of West Virginia and the State of Ohio, and to be chief purchasing officer for the supplies required by the different officers connected within this branch of the public service for the operations and construction of U. S. military telegraphs within the several departments. My headquarters have been at Cleveland, Ohio.

Military operations have not been extensively active within the Department of West Virginia during the last year, and, with the exception of two or three important movements, the operations have been confined to maintaining a line of military posts adjacent to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and along the Kanawha River.

Whenever our troops have been dispatched upon expeditions or raids within the enemy's lines cipher operators have generally been furnished to accompany such movements. The expedition of Maj.-Gen. Crook in May, 1864, was not referred to in my report for that year, and allusion to the same is therefore made herein. A portion of Gen. Crook's command, comprising three brigades of infantry and about 300 cavalry, left Fayetteville, W. Va., during the first week of May and proceeded to Lexington, where they destroyed the camp and garrison equipage of two rebel regiments which had been left in charge of rebel guards. On the evening of the 8th the expedition arrived at Shannon's Cross-Roads, ten miles from Dublin Depot. At Shannon's Cross-Roads a rebel telegraph line was intercepted by the cipher operator accompanying the expedition, but owing to the precaution of the rebel operators but little information of interest to our forces was obtained beyond the fact that a considerable rebel force was posted at Cloyd's Mountain, on our line of march. On the morning of the 9th our forces reached Cloyd's Mountain, five miles from Dublin Depot, and Gen. Crook at once made and attack upon the rebels, who were protected by earth-works; but after two hours; determined resistance the enemy fled in utter confusion, leaving their dead and wounded. During this engagement the telegraph operator acted as aide-de-camp to the general, and received a complimentary notice from that officer in his official report of the affair. Gen. Crook pushed on for Dublin Depot, and when within three miles of the town met a force of Morgan's men, numbering about 1,000, who had come from Saltville to re-enforce the rebels at Cloyd's Mountain, but were not in time to effect a junction. After a skirmish the rebels retreated, and our forces entered Dublin Depot, on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, about 3 p. m. on the 9th. The depot buildings, rebel government property, and telegraph office here were destroyed, and Gen. Crook pushed on to destroy the long railroad bridge ten miles from Dublin Depot, which, after an engagement of two hours, was accomplished. The object of the expedition having been attained, the command started upon its return via Salt Pond and Peter's Mountain, through Union, across Greenbrier River to Meadow Bluff, reaching there May 23, having marched about 300 miles. At Meadow Bluff we were in telegraphic communication, and cipher massagers detailing operations, &c., were forwarded to headquarters, Washington, D. C.

On the 1st of June following Gen. Crook started with him command for Staunton, Va., via Lewisburg, Hot and War Springs, through Panther Gap, into Augusta Valley. At Panther Gap a soldier in rebel uniform was captured, claiming to belong to Imboden's command, but upon being brought to headquarters was found to be the bearer of cipher messages from Gen. Hunter ordering Gen. Crook to join him at Charlottesville. The order, however, was afterward countermanded, and our forces joined the other command at Staunton. From Staunton the expedition moved via Lexington and Buckhannon, crossing the Blue Ridge at the foot of Peaks of Otter via Liberty, for Lynchburg. On arriving in the vicinity of Lynchburg we encountered the rebel force and whipped it during the first day's engagement. At night the rebels were re-enforced by troops under Gen. Early. After successfully resisting the rebel attack on the second day our forces fell back under cover of the night and started for the Shenandoah Valley; but finding that the rebels were pursuing actively, and that probably we could not get out in the direction taken, our column turned toward the Kanawha Valley and marched out via Salem, Sweet Springs, and Lewisburg to Gauley Bridge. At the latter place orders were received to move the troops on to Charleston, where they took transports for Parkersburg, and from thence by railroad to Martinsburg, Va. From Martinsburg the troops were ordered to Harper's Ferry and into Maryland after Gen. Early, who had come down the Shenandoah Valley and crossed the Potomac into Maryland. At Hillsborough it was ascertained that Early had fallen back, going toward Snicker's Gap and Winchester, Va. Near Hillsborough the Sixth Corps joined us and the command moved to Snicker's Gap. The Sixth Corps moved from here to Washington and Gen. Crook's forces from Winchester. At Kernstown, three miles from Winchester, Gen. Crook fought Gen. Early on the 24th of July. Crook was defeated and at night retreated to Bunker Hill. The cipher operator was employed all night in putting the general's official dispatches into cipher for transmission from the nearest telegraph station to Washington, through Shepherdstown to Pleasant Valley, and from there to Frederick, and thence to Harper's Ferry and up the Shenandoah Valley to Strasburg, but again fell back to Halltown. After remaining at Halltown five days the command again moved up the valley to Berryville, at which place the cipher operator received orders to return to the Department of West Virginia.

On the 26th of September, 1864, the military telegraph line from Clarksburg, Va., to Weston was intercepted at Weston by a rebel operator, who under the pretense of being the regular U. S. military telegraph operator stationed at that post, transmitted a telegram in the name of the commandant of that post, addressed to the commandant of the post at Clarksburg, stating that 3,000 rebels under Gen. Basil Duke were advancing on Weston, and asking how many troops were at Clarksburg and how many could be sent to Weston. The military operator at Clarksburg felt satisfied from the peculiarity of the manipulation of the telegraph key at Weston that the telegram was a fraud and that it had been transmitted by a rebel operator, and so informed Col. Wilkinson, then in command at Clarksburg. This suspicion, however, was kept from the rebel operator, and an answer regularly transmitted to Weston stating that 2,000 troops had just arrived by railroad and that more were expected during the night. Subsequent facts proved that the rebels were under command of Col. Witcher, 900 strong, who retreated after plundering Weston and its inhabitants, although the original intention of the rebels had been to capture Clarksburg and destroy the large amount of Government property at that depot, which they could very easily have accomplished, only two companies of troops being stationed at Clarksburg at that time. Whether the subterfuge resorted to on our part was the means of saving Clarksburg and its supplies or not is unknown.

On the morning of September 27, 1864, the rebels under Col. Witcher, about 900 strong, captured the town of Buckhannon, burned bridges and several dwellings, and plundered the inhabitants. Most of the small garrison stationed at this place eluded the capture.

On the morning of October 29, 1864, a force of rebel infantry, 300 strong, under Capt. Hill, attacked the Federal forces at Beverly, Va., but after a sharp contest were repulsed. After the rebels had retreated, the military telegraph repairer stationed at Beverly, having a thorough knowledge of the country, took the lead of our pursuing force, and, by taking a short by-road, got to the front of the rebels, when a charge was made, driving the rebels across a creek, taking 93 prisoners and recapturing about 40 of our own men taken in the attack on Beverly. The telegraph employee was complimented in the official report of the affair.

At about 11 a. m. November 28 the rebels, in U. S. uniform, under Gen. Rosser, surprised the Federal force at New Creek, Va., and took possession of the place. The rebel force consisted of a division of cavalry. Much Government property was destroyed. The military telegraph office was seized so quickly that the operator had not time to escape and was carried off by the retreating rebels. He was robbed of his valuables and clothing, compelled to march barefoot to Harrisonburg, given nothing to eat until the third day of his captivity, and then merely three-quarters of a pound of fresh beef, which had to suffice until the evening of the fifth day, was confined in Castle Thunder, Richmond, and by sharing the blanket of a prison camp was kept from freezing.

On the 11th of January, 1865, at about 5 o'clock in the morning, a rebel force of about 600, under command of Gen. Rosser, surprised and captured the picket-post at Beverly, Va.; passed quietly toward the Federal camp, surprised it, and captured the whole force, numbering some 800 men, under command of Col. Youart, Eighth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. A very humiliating affair.

Herewith will be found my property statement A, embracing all the property which has come into my possession during the year.

I have nothing to report on From B.

Herewith will also be found my statement of public moneys received, &c., during the year. Out of the total amount expended, $149,799.76 was applied to purchases, and $124,564.76 to service account.

Have nothing to report on Forms C, CC, nor D.

Herewith will be found Form E, showing the articles of property which the enemy had captured during the year while in my possession, and the estimated value thereof.

Have no use for Form F, nothing having been captured from the enemy and come into my possession.

The following U. S. military telegraph land and submarine lines were in operation July 1, 1864, under my supervision in the Department of West Virginia and the State of Ohio:

From Hamden, Ohio, to Fayette, Va................... 151

From Gallipolis, Ohio, to South Point, Ohio......... 45

From Clarksburg, Va., to Beverly, Va................ 58

From Clarksburg, Va., to Bulltown, Va............... 49

From Green Spring, Va., to Springfield, Va.......... 7


Submarine line from Point Pleasant to Ohio shore.... 1/3

Total.......................................... 310 1/3

The line from Green Spring to Springfield was
necessarily abandoned in July 7, 1864............ 7

Leaving........................................ 303 1/3

Number of lines in operation June 30, 1865, as follows:

From Hamden, Ohio, to Fayette, Va................... 151

From Gallipolis, Ohio, to South Point, Ohio......... 45

From Clarksburg, Va., to Beverly, Va................ 58

From Clarksburg, Va., to Bulltown, Va............... 49

Cable from Point Pleasant to the Ohio shore......... 1/3

Total.......................................... 303 1/3

I have nothing to report upon Form G.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Capt. and Asst. Quartermaster, Asst. Superintendent.

Bibliographic Information : Letter Reproduced from The War of The Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 3, Volume 5, Serial No. 126, Pages 375-378, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1997.

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