1st Regiment Virginia State Line, Abbs Valley, Ball Gap, Barboursville, Big Sandy River, Cabell County, civil war, Clint Lovette, Coal River, Confederate Army, G.W. Hackworth, Guyandotte, Guyandotte River, Hamlin, history, J.C. Reynolds, John B. Floyd, Kanawha River, Levisa Fork, Mud River, Mud River Bridge, Ohio, Proctorville, Thomas H. Perry, Tug Fork, Tylers Creek, Van Sanford, Virginia, West Virginia
About 1910, Rev. Thomas H. Perry reflected on his long life, most of which was spent in the vicinity of Tylers Creek in Cabell County, West Virginia. In this excerpt from his autobiography, Mr. Perry recalled the early years of the Civil War in his locale:
Immediately after our first defeat we began to plan for another exit to Dixie, as so few of our men made their escape to Dixie after being fired into at the falls of Guyan, for we knew now for a certainty that we must go south and be a soldier or go north a prisoner; for the Federals were going through the country picking up men and sending them away as far as they could. This last plan was for us to meet at Ball Gap, on Mud river, early in the morning, and a company of armed men would meet us there to guard us out to Dixie. Early that morning I met thirty or forty young men at the Ball Gap. We appointed G.W. Hackworth as our leader, and we moved on Mud river, and the young men came to us all along the way, and when we arrived six miles above Hamlin, we had from one to two hundred men in our company. From there we crossed the mountain to the Guyan valley, and then up the river and over the mountains and through the woods for ten days and nights, and we found ourselves in Aps [sic] valley, Virginia. Here we organized a military company* by electing G.W. Hackworth, captain; Van Sanford, J.C. Reynolds and Clint Lovette, lieutenants. No one knows but myself the feelings I had the day I took the oath to support the constitution of the Southern Confederate States of America and to discharge my duty as a soldier. As they swore me they handed me a bible. I remembered that this is the book that I had been preparing myself to preach, and it says: “Thou shalt not kill,” and it gave me trouble as long as I was a soldier.
We drilled at this place two or three weeks, and had eighty-four men in our company, and they generally used us as scouts, operating from the Kanawha river westward, down into Kentucky and eastern Tennessee. There would be times that we would not see our regiment for two months, and then again we would be with them every day for two months. The Federals were trying to make their way up Coal river, Guyan river, Tug river, and the Levisa fork of Big Sandy river, in Kentucky. Their idea was to destroy the New river bridge and the King salt works. General Floyd had a brigade of soldiers somewhere about the headwaters of these rivers; sometimes he would send large scouting parties down these rivers and drive out everything before them. Sometimes when we would be driving them down one river they would be moving up some other river. I have crossed the mountains between these rivers so many times and was shot at by men in the brush and suffered from hunger and cold so many times that it makes me think of war as the darkest days of my life. At one time I went three days and nights without one bite to eat; in many places we had to live on the country that we were in, and the soldiers in front would get all the citizens had to eat, and the rear guard suffered for food; we did not have battles like Lee and Grant, but to many of our poor boys the battle to them was as great as that of Gettysburg or Cold Harbor was to some of them.
At one time my company and some other company was ordered to Cabell county, and we came to Mud river bridge and went into camp for eight or ten days at this place. During our stay in this camp we had no trouble in getting food for our horses and soldiers for the Reeces and Morris and Guinns and Kilgores and others who lived in this neighborhood had an abundance of this world’s goods at that time. One morning our captain said he wanted eight volunteers who would go afoot for three or four days; he had no trouble in getting the eight men; I was one of that number; Lieutenant Lovette was in command, and at noon that day we ate dinner near Barboursville, and at night we were in Guyandotte. Several times the next day we would stand along the river front and see the Federal soldiers in Proctorville. In the middle of that afternoon we started back for Mud river bridge, and the next day our command broke camp, and we started for Dixie. Why these eight men were sent to Guyandotte I never knew, and why General Floyd sent such large scouting parties to Mason, Cabell and Wayne counties, as he did at this time, I never knew, unless it was to give protection to those who were desirous of going south with their families and chattels, which a great many did, and stayed until after the war.
Source: From Youth to Old Age by T.H. Perry, Chapter 6, p. 16-18. Note: As of 1862, Cabell County remained a part of Virginia and Lincoln County did not exist.
*Company F, 1st Regiment Virginia State Line