Calhoun County in the Civil War from 1927
Part III
By Louis E. Ayers

(06/07/2001)

Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 3/10/1927.

Engagement at Bulltown

The Federals had established a Post of Bulltown, in Braxton county, which occupied the top of high hill on the north side of the Little Kanawha River.  A block house was erected on the extreme crest of the hill, which lower down was encircled by rifle pits, all combining to create a practically impregnable position, which commanded the Turn Pike road from Jacksonville to Sutton, both north and south.  The south side of the hill, toward the river and town, is practically unscalable owing to the fact that it rises almost perpendicularly from the river's edge to within a short distance of the summit.  The works were garrisoned by Captain Letzinger, with his Company of Ohio troops and Captain James L. Simpson's Company C of the 11th West Virginia Infantry, among whom were many men from Calhoun county.

General William L. Jackson, with a strong force of Confederate troops, including two pieces of artillery, enveloped the works, capturing the Federal pickets, by a ruse, dressing Confederate soldiers in Federal uniform, and believing, the pickets, all of whom were made prisoners.  Jackson at an early hour in the morning formed a storming column and advanced to the assault of the Federal works.  An assault that apparently would have proved successful had not an officer in the charging column discharged his pistol and shouted "Charge" when only about half way up the hill side.  This alarmed the Union forces, who quickly manned the intrenchments and opened a withering fire on the advancing Confederates, checking their advance, and in a few moments causing them to fall back from their advanced position.  A lull in the action now ensued.  Captain Letzinger, the senior officer in command of the Federals, having been severely wounded during the first assault, the command devolved upon Captain Simpson.  General Jackson sent forward an officer with a flag of truce, demanding the surrender of the works.  Captain Simpson's reply to the summons to surrender was that "he would hold that knob till h__l froze over."  On the withdrawal of the flag of truce, General Jackson attempted to reduce the works by artillery fire, supported by musketry, but owing to the fact that he had only solid shot for the use of his guns, they made but slight impression on the Federal works, and he finally drew off his forces.

During the summer of 1898 the writer in company with Major Cunningham, who at that time resided on the old Cunningham farm on which this engagement was fought, visited the site of the Federal entrenchments.  The rifle pits at that time were in a fair state of preservation, but not a vestige of the old block house remained.  The old Cunningham mansion still showed the scars of the bullets fired into it during the action, the front door having been pierced by an ounce ball.  Among the relics of the fight preserved in the Cunningham home, were conical solid shot fired by the Confederate artillery, and a block of lead fourteen pounds in weight which had been melted from the bullets picked up around the entrenchments occupied by the Federal troops.


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