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

(06/11/2001)

Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 5/5/1927.

The following recollections of the late Rev. Barnes Newton Smith, who was well known in Grantsville and vicinity, were dictated to his son, Joshua D. Smith, of Index, a short time before the elder Mr. Smith's death, and were furnished to the Chronicle through Louis E. Ayers, who for the past several weeks has been contributing interesting articles to the Chronicle concerning the activities of Calhoun county people in the civil war.

Mr. Smith's memories make very interesting reading and the Chronicle is grateful for the opportunity to publish them.

I was born June 8, 1847, on Sleith Fork of Hughes River, Ritchie county, then Lewis county.  I was the son of Joshua Smith, who was the son of Barnes Smith, who owned and lived upon a farm where Smithville is now located.  He moved there from either Lewis or Harrison county.  Many of the Smiths of those two counties were relatives of his.  My grandfather had four sons, Isaac, Joshua, Barnes, and Levi.  Isaac remained on the home farm; Barnes near the same place; Levi went to Iowa; and my father to the Little Kanawha when I was about (illegible) months old.  They were all farmers.  My father reared his family in a large hewed log house, at the foot of the hill, near a fine spring of water, on the opposite side of the river from the upper end of the bottom upon which the Cabot Compressing Station is situated.  Here I whiled away the years in the same manner that most pioneer boys did.  We cleared out the forest, killed deer and fish, but had little to do with books and schools.

On the 20th of August 1863, I enlisted in the Union Army, Company C, 11th Regiment, W. Va. Volunteer Infantry, under Capt. Jas. L. Simpson, on the back porch of Henry Barr's house, the same house, a large two story, hewed log house yet standing at the foot of the hill a short distance above, and in sight of the Calhoun County High School building, now occupied by Miss (illegible) Harris and Mrs. Dora Plant, her sister who are nieces of mine, their mother having been my sister, who upon the death of her first husband, Henry Barr, had married Wm. Harris.  I was but a little past 16 years of age when I enlisted, which was considered below the minimum of eligibility (illegible) which was 18.  But the Captain judged my fitness more by my physique and moral than by the number of winters I had skated on the Little Kanawha.  I didn't fib to the captain about my age, but if we both made an inaccurate report I hope it has been forgiven us long since.  I was enlisted as(illegible) so was put to immediate service without any training whatever.

A few companies from Parkersburg, including ours, marched from Jirkland, now Grantsville, to Glenville then (illegible) Cedar Creek, where we had a little skirmish and took a few prisoners, to _utton.  After camping there for a short time, we moved on to Bull Town.  Here, on the 13th of October '63, Bill Jackson's squad of about 400 men surrounded us, under a flag of truce, Jackson told Simpson that he had 950 men and demanded unconditional surrender.  Simpson replied, "I shall fight you till hell freezes over and retreat on the ice before I shall surrender on any terms."  I heard this parley, myself, I was kiddish enough to tag out at all such opportunities.  Fighting was resumed and Capt. Matingly was seriously wounded.  Jackson hoisted a flag of truce and borrowed Dr. Bland who dressed his wound, and was returned to his comrades.  After another spell of fighting, Jackson stuck up a flag of truce and requested that their dead, who had fallen near us, be carried over to them, and, also, tools to bury them with.  After the so called burial, the picks and shovels were returned and fighting resumed.  About 5 p.m., Jackson's men retreated.

From Bull Town we went to Glenville, where we remained till mid winter.  From there we went to Weston, Beverly, Buckhannon, Rich Mountain, and came back to Weston.  Several of us contracted measles while on this trip.  They moved me from Weston to Parkersburg.  I took cold.  The measles went in.  I lay in hospital, unconscious three weeks under the care of Dr. De Voe.  The physicians said I would die in less than three house after I should have regained consciousness.  I am living but have had a defective lung, a bad cough, ever since.

From Parkersburg we went by train to Cherry Run.  From there we went afoot to Martinsburg as the track had been torn up.  From there I and three others were sent to Harpers Ferry on a hand car with a field dispatch.  A very dangerous trip.  We were detained there three or four days.  We went with the Harpers Ferry army until we interceted our own army near Winchester, where we were returned to our own command which was there under General Harris who had been our family physician.  He honored me with private dispatches and little jobs of that sort, which I appreciated very much.

We did quite a lot of moving about, one way and another, and fighting a little in the vicinity of Winchester.  Finally we went into battle at Kernstown where we were badly defeated and driven out of the valley.  Al Barr and I were on lookout the night before.  We stood under a leafy oak tree and watched them form lines.  We were so close to them that Barr whispered to me that he could shoot the buttons off their blouses.  But we were commanded not to shoot.  We reported early next morning to Capt. Jas. McDonald.  He reported to Gen Crooks, who refused to recognize the magnitude of it.  We were driven back by Winchester to Martinsburg.  Barr and I were in the heat of this battle from first to last.

I don't remember definitely the exact course we took from Martinsburg.  But I do remember vividly that we waded all day through water ankle deep on a macadamized road, and drank the water that the men, horses and cattle had waded in all day.  There had been a hard rain.  We crossed the Potomac at Williamsport into Maryland.  The Confederates followed us to the river but did not cross.

(to be concluded next week)


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