The Civil War in Wise County
Early in the morning
of June 3, 1861, the little village of Gladeville (now Wise) heard the
first call to arms in defense of the Southern Confederacy. Mustered and
under the command of Capt. Logan H. N. Salyers, 101 brave men, calling
themselves the "Yankee Catchers", marched away to the defense of their
South. They were soon to see action for, on August 20th they were in a
skirmish at Hamilton's near the Hawk's Nest; and on the 26th of the same
month, they were in the battle of Cross Lanes and, on September 10, 1861,
in the battle of Carnafax's Ferry. This company became Company H of the
50th Regiment of Virginia Infantry, Floyd's Brigade, and fought throughout
At the battle of
Chancellorsville, Colonel Salyers was wounded. He was carried into the
Chancellor Home and lay atop the piano all night before receiving attention.
After the war, he returned to Wise, lived there for a few
years, then moved to Whitesburg, Kentucky,
where he lived until his death.
The first attack
on the town of Gladeville came on June 1, 1862, when the Federal troops
made a raid on the town and captured both Morgan T. Lipps, County Clerk,
and Alexander Smith, Commonwealth's Attorney.
Mr. Smith was released immediately, but Elder
Morgan T. Lipps, a Primitive Baptist preacher, was taken to Pikeville and
later to Louisa, Kentucky, and remained a prisoner for three months before
his release. One day, while in prison at Louisa, he was asked by Col. Craner
of the Federal Army to preach. Elder Lipps, feeling that the Colonel's
request was not serious but antagonistic, replied, "I don't cast pearls
before swine." Three months later he was asked again by the Colonel to
preach and this time he accepted. While he preached, the Colonel sat on
the head of a barrel, his head bowed. The next day, Elder Lipps was released.
The Battle at Pound Gap - March
Marshall, who had his headquarters at Gladeville, led an army of Confederates
through the Pound Gap into Kentucky, occupying territory near Prestonsburg.
He was beset by many adverse circumstances. Many of his men became ill
with mumps and measles. He was attacked by Union forces and driven back
a few miles. Many of his troops deserted, some of them going over to the
In Pikeville, Kentucky,
on March 7, 1862, General James A. Garfield wrote to Assistant Adjutant
General J. B. Fry as follows:
"...There has been
a marked change in favor of the Union among the citizens of Wise, Buchanan,
and Scott Counties. At the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, within the
past few weeks several meetings have been held inviting me to come among
them and promising me their cordial support."
In view of the adverse
circumstances, General Marshall was ordered by General Samuel Cooper to
fall back to Pound Gap, which he did. Although General Marshall, now in
Wise County, was having his troubles, General Garfield intended to pursue
him just the same. No food was available to Marshall on either side of
Pound Gap, and he complained to General Cooper that food and supplies for
the rifle battalion at Pound Gap had been
hauled a distance of 55 miles.
on Pound Gap was written up in both the Cincinnati Gazette and the Louisville
Democrat. The former account is given here:
Piketon, March 19, 1862
For some time it
has been known to General Garfield that an irregularly organized body of
rebels, amounting to some 400 or 500 hundred were holding the pass through
the Cumberland Mountains, known as the Pound or Sounding Gap. Though, militarily
speaking, they were of little account, owing to their loose, imperfect
organization, and their harum-scarum guerilla character, yet this, under
the circumstances, rendered them even more troublesome as that a perfect
reign of terror prevailed throughout a large area, of which their rendevous
was the center.
Some fifteen days
ago a small accounting part of our troops were sent out, which penetrated
the waters of Elkhorn Creek, encountered their pickets, dispersed them
with a loss of one man on each side, and after making some valuable observations,
returned to camp.
A party was immediately
detailed from the 22nd Kentucky Regiment, the 40th and 42nd Ohio, besides
100 cavalry under the command of Major McLaughlin, amounting in all to
about 700, to make an assault upon the main body at the gap, and wipe out
the foul den of Miscreants at a blow. Sounding Gap "Pound Gap" is situated
about 40 miles southeast from Piketon, and is connected by a good turnpike
road with Gladeville and Abingdon, VA.
A road has been
cut through the gap, which is now entirely obstructed on the western slope
by large trees, fallen across it by the rebels. Being the only channel
of communication for wagons between Southeastern Kentucky and Southwestern
Virginia, it was of course an important point in the strategic policy of
Our march occupied
two entire days, and was attended with the serverest labor. The nature
of the roads, being merely paths, following the creeks and rivulets, the
constant rain and snow soaking both officers and men to the skin, and the
bottomless, endless mud formed a combination of untoward circumstances,
difficult to overcome.
two days of wading and splashing, the whole expedition arrived safely at
Elkhorn Creek, two miles below the Gap, about ten o'clock on Saturday night.
Several circumstances now modified General Garfield's preconceived plan
of attack, but without hesitation he sent the cavalry up the road, to appear
in front of the enemy's position, and by skirmishing attract their attention,
while himself, with the infantry, should climb the mountain at a point
a mile and a half below the gap, and thence filing along the summit of
attack the rebel camp by the flank.
At ten on the morning
of Sunday, the ascent commenced, and by twelve o'clock we had reached the
summit, two thousand feet above the valley. Turning to the right, our guide
led the column along the soaring crags, until when within a quarter of
a mile from their camp, a rebel picket was discovered only a few rods ahead
of our van. He started to run, when several of our boys fired upon him,
but with no other effect than to add a new impetus to his flight.
The column was now
pressed rapidly forward, until, emerging from the woods the rebels were
observed forming on the opposite hill, between which and the one we occupied
lay the camp of the rebels, in a deep gorge
or ravine, through which the road is built.
Conceiving the rebels
about to make a permanent stand, General Garfield drew up his line in front
of them, with his right resting on the summit of the mountain, and the
left stretched away down the eastern slope.
About this time, the rebel line seemed to
be melting away, as though they were gradually falling back into the woods.
Fearing the results of a loss of time, General Garfield immediately ordered
his men forward to scale the
hill, and, if necessary, carry it at the
point of the bayonet.
A loud echoing shout
burst from the long line, as with fixed bayonets it swept down through
the ravine and up the hill. There was no backbone for us to contend with,
however, for as our bayonets appeared over the hill, scarce an enemy was
in sight. A few straggling ones could be seen tearing through the laurel
underbrush, and we sent a ringing volley after them, killing one and wounding
We were ordered
back to camp, as the nature of the country precluded any possibility of
our ever overtaking them. It being suspected, however, that a large proportion
had retreated before our arrival, by the road toward Abingdon, our cavalry
was brought up the hill and sent in pursuit.
We now turned in
to ransack their camp. It comprised 60 log huts, or barracks, capable of
accommodating about a dozen men each - besides 10 commissary buildings,
and one large house, occupied as headquarters by the commandant of the
post. The huts were well provided with bedding, blankets, cooking utensils,
and rude furniture, and contained besides a large quantity of clothing,
arms, and promiscuous articles of personal property. There being no means
at General Garfield's disposal, by which any part of this vast quantity
of effects could be transported to camp, the men were allowed to take whatever
they chose, and the remainder, together with the buildings, were burned.
Late in the afternoon,
laden with trophies, our troops descended the mountain to the camp of the
previous night, and on the morning following began our long, weary return
march. Two days of floundering through mud and water, and we are again
Though the expedition
lacks the eclat of a brilliant and bloody engagement, it was admirably
planned and ably executed, and will, it is hoped, be permanent in its effect.
The Raid on Gladeville - July
In the Vagabond
Gazette, published by the late James Taylor Adams at Big Laurel, an article
by P. M. Redding, who then (in July, 1930) was the last surviving member
of the McLaughlin Squadron of Ohio, wrote this story:
On the night of
July 5, 1863, we marched almost continuously, passing through Pound Gap,
and reaching a point a few miles north of Gladeville where we awaited daylight.
While waiting for
daylight our Chaplain spoke to us and offered prayer, expecting that some
of us might be killed, which naturally made us think of Ohio and our friends
Finally dawn came
and with it the order to charge, and charge we did, right into the village
and the Confederate camp, capturing everything in sight. It was all over
in a few minutes. We counted eleven of our men slightly wounded, but none
was killed. Of the other side's loss I do not know.
When we rushed into
the Confederate camp we captured some of them still in bed. Some of them
barricaded themselves in the Courthouse and offered resistance, but our
men were ready to set fire to the courthouse and before they would lose
the building, the men inside surrendered and the building was left unmolested.
After the skirmish
was over, we got our prisoners together. We found that we had 123, and
of the number about 20 were commissioned officers.
We were told that
on the night before there had been a ball in the village and the officers
had all attended, staying all night in the homes of the people where our
boys found them and rounded them up. This accounted for our taking so many
With the fight over
we rounded up our wounded, placed them in spring wagons and started back
for Louisa. Hauling them back to Pikeville was almost like murdering them,
but on and on we went until we reached Pikeville where we put them on a
boat and sent them down to Catlettsburg and thence over to Ashland to the
On the trip back
we took our prisoners. Just through Pound Gap on the Kentucky side we pitched
camp and intended to stay for the night. We built a pen about ten feet
high to keep the Confederates in. Guards were planted around it to keep
the prisoners from escaping.
After the pen was
finished I settled down in an old log cabin which sheep had used and was
no more than asleep when the bugle sounded and the command to fall in was
given. I learned that a report had come that a regiment of Confederate
Cavalry was on the way from Saltville to try to overtake us.
We placed the prisoners
on horses and we walked by their sides to prevent their getting away. This
way we marched all night. Next day when we could keep out eyes on them
we took the saddles and made them walk. Eventually we got our prisoners
to Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio.
In the raid on Gladeville
one of our men, a blacksmith, carried the courthouse bell away. It was
a very small bell and had been made by a local smithy of the village. Our
blacksmith wanted it as a memento of the skirmish. I understand that this
little bell is still in the possession of this man's family somewhere in
were under the command of Colonel Benjamin Caudill, a resident of Letcher
County, Kentucky. Back in his home neighborhood he was a Primitive Baptist
Last Raid on Gladeville - Courthouse
The last skirmish
took place in Gladeville between August 23rd and October 25th, 1864. Colonel
Dills was in command of the Union forces. There was no command of Confederate
troops in the village at the time - only a few members of the home guard
and a few members of the Militia stood in defense of the attack. These
were quickly overcome.
The invaders destroyed
a cannon belonging to the home guard and a store of ammunition. They burned
the Courthouse, the home of Bill Davis, J. W. Vermillion, Tom Bohannon
When the Courthouse
was fired some of the citizens gathered about and ventured to save most
of the records. John Gilliam, a local soldier of the Union Army, was instrumental
in helping to save the records. This was done because he owned property
near Gladeville and knew his records were there. The only record book lost
was Will Book No. 1.
Sketches of Southwest Virginia, Publication 15 - 1982, Page 9 to 14