Below are several dispatches relating to the Civil War and immediate post-war era in Wayne County, West Virginia. These dispatches appeared in pro-Union newspapers.
Wheeling Intelligencer, 21 January 1865
WEST VIRGINIA AS A PLACE TO LIVE. I could not conscientiously recommend any one to come here now to live, although investment in farms will surely be profitable. The trouble now, chiefly, is that the guerrillas have broken up their organization, if they ever had any, and scattered into small squads to rob and steal. A schoolmistress, passing along a lonely road not far from Ceredo, was robbed of all her money, the amount she had just received for three months’ teaching, by three ruffians. A few nights ago men went to the house of a quiet farmer, one mile from Ceredo, and robbed him of a few dollars, all he had, and boots and some clothing. Some of the citizens keep arms in their houses, and intend to use them if visited in that way. One of these shot one of a gang of six one night not long ago, but became frightened himself, and ran off, giving the robbers a chance to take their wounded companion away. He has not been troubled since. Geo. Crook, commanding the Department of West Virginia, has issued a circular notifying the people that they must organize for their own protection, and recommends them to hunt the bushwhackers and kill them. Governor Boreman offers to furnish arms and ammunition. It will be done, and the guerrillas will decrease every week, I hope.
The Weekly Register (Point Pleasant, WV), 26 January 1865
GIVING THEMSELVES UP. — We learn that Lieut. Samuels, brother of Judge Samuels, formerly Adjutant General of this State, recently came into Wayne county, accompanied by a dozen or fifteen other rebel soldiers, all of whom took the amnesty oath. They say they are tired of fighting for nothing and freezing to death.
Wheeling Intelligencer, 21 February 1865
A GUERRILLA MURDER. We learn from citizens of Wayne county, who arrived yesterday, that a few days ago a guerrilla murder was committed at Ceredo, on the Ohio river in that county. It appears that a gang of men, under command of the notorious Bill Smith, came down to Ceredo and entered the house of Jack Meadows, a citizen, shot him through the heart, drove his wife and children out of doors, and set fire to the premises. Mrs. Meadows who fortunately armed with a revolver, shot one of the guerrillas dead and seriously wounded another, but not until one of her legs had been broken by a blow with a gun in the hands of one of the rebels. The rebels having completely destroyed the house of Mr. Meadows, and with all its contents, fled to their hiding places, leaving their dead companion unburied. Mrs. Meadows and her children were taken to Catlettsburg, Ky., where she still remains.
Wheeling Intelligencer, 23 February 1865
GUERRILLAS. — During the debate yesterday in the House of Delegates, upon the bill to provide for the better organization of the State Guards, some horrible pictures were presented of the condition of the loyal people of the border counties. Mr. Ferguson said that every part of the county of Wayne on the Ohio river, was held by guerrillas. In the county of Cabell only one two, Guyandotte, was held by the Federal troops. The rebels have their headquarters up in Logan county, and they make forays down toward the Ohio river, stealing, murdering and devastating the country. They enter the houses of loyal people and steal household furniture and bed clothing, and frequently strip women and children of wearing apparel and leave them in an actual state of nudity. Mr. Wells, of Raleigh, and Mr. Gregory, who represents Webster and Pocahontas, gave similar accounts of the condition of things in their respective localities.
Gallipolis Journal, 2 March 1865
CEREDO, WEST VIRGINIA. — Since the breaking out of the rebellion, “I give bread” town has been subjected to many vicissitudes. Its prospects when projected, in 1854, and later, was that of a great manufacturing city. Early in 1862, many of the Yankee citizens anticipated the coming storm, and either disposed of their property or left it to the despoiler. At one time it had a regiment quartered in its midst, but of late no troops have been nearer than Guyandotte. Disloyalty has cropped out under drunkenness and personal hate, until one’s life is endangered at any moment. Guerrillas and rebel sympathizers occupy the principal houses vacated by the owners. Not a public building stands untouched. The window and door frames, flooring and every sleeper of the hotel have been torn out and burned up. The dismantling of the steam saw mill and Glass Factory have long since been accomplished. Night is made hideous by the continued debaucheries of certain desperate characters, such as Jack Meddows and Pete Jeffers. There is not a loyal family left in Ceredo.
The Weekly Register (Point Pleasant, WV), 9 March 1865
A correspondent of the Ironton Register, writing from Burlington, O., says: The murder of Jack Middaughs, at Ceredo, on the 13th inst., was attended with some circumstances that deserve mention. The guerrillas surrounded his house before he knew of their presence. Then with a single revolver he drove them a little, wounding two of them. His wife then seized the revolver and threatened them, while Jack made his motions for escape. It was then that the rebs pressed forward to get up the stairs, Mrs. Middaugh standing at the head. Jim Turner was in advance, and finding Mrs. Middaugh in his way, swung his gun and with a blow smashed her foot. She then shot him through the breast, and he fell. At this moment Jack sprang down the stairs knocking down all in his path. He got out and nearly reached the woods, when he was met by three or four mounted men, who surrounded and killed him. — There were thirty-five men in the gang, with Smith, and it would be safe to say that twenty of them were at the house. Through this crowd Jack heroically fought his way and would have escaped but for the guards near the woods. The treatment of Mrs. Middaugh was barbarous in the extreme. It has been equaled only by the cruelties practiced by the Indians in the early times in this country. After she was disabled they took her and her children out, and made her lie down upon the ground, half dressed, refusing to permit her to get a single article from the house, while they were setting fire to it. On that bitter cold night of the 13th of February, in her condition, she was compelled to remain until the savages left. The conduct of this heroic woman is duly appreciated by the citizens of Catlettsburg and they have generously provided for her and her little ones.
Wheeling Register, 6 June 1865
The following resolutions were passed at a meeting of the citizens of Wayne county, West Virginia, held at the Court House on the 18th ult.:
WHEREAS, Our country is just emerging from civil war, which has laid waste our fields and drenched the land in fraternal blood; and
WHEREAS, It is to the interest of all to restore permanent peace and harmonize the elements necessary to a well regulated society; therefore, we, the people of Wayne county, in Mass Meeting assembled, do Resolve:
1st. That in the preservation and perpetuity of the principles set forth in the Constitution and Government of our fathers, we most sincerely and devoutly acknowledge an all wise Providence, who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and the common Father of us all; and we will, in time to come, rely implicitly upon Him for His protection and guidance.
2d. That it is the duty of every individual to lend his active aid and energy to the establishment of civil law, both State and National, and to its enforcement for the protection of life, liberty and property.
3d. That we justify and approve the Amnesty of President Lincoln. Its results have been beneficial, and the croakers and fault finders of the policy are morally arrayed against the Government and its best interest, and are not found among those who have fought its battles and borne it through the ordeal of war with success.
4th. That we concur in the convention called by the citizens of Greenbrier and Monroe, to meet at Charleston on the third day of June next, for the purpose of suppressing the lawless persons, and the restoration of order throughout the State, and do appoint and constitute Messrs. Abel Segur, John B. Bowen, R. Banton, and Isaac Bloss as delegates to represent Wayne county in said convention.
W.W. Brumfield, President
J.W. Merricks, Secretary
Wheeling Intelligencer, 25 April 1866
AFFAIRS IN WAYNE COUNTY. Cassville, Wayne Co., W.Va., March 23d, 1866. To the Governor of the State of West Virginia: Dear Sir: — After respects, I wish to call your immediate attention to some facts, as follows: Sometime last Spring you commissioned me as a notary public, and I was sworn and gave bond as the law directs. I am also assessor of the 2d district of Wayne county. I live and keep my office in Cassville; and it is with extreme difficulty and under great danger and hard threats that I am getting along. My entire neighborhood is rebel with the exception of old Squire Bartram and his boys, one of whom is our high Sheriff and another Capt. David Bartram our deputy Sheriff. I have forborne for a long time calling for men and arms, thinking the rebels would quiet down; but sir, we cannot execute the civil law unless something is done. We have been beaten by mobs and shot at on the streets and dared to help ourselves. They say they can’t have power, and we shan’t have it. Now, Governor, I suggest and absolutely insist that a company of one hundred volunteer militia be raised for our protection. The rebels say if you call out the militia, they will be in the majority but we do not want more than one hundred men. Our county is mostly quiet except around Cassville. A commander and company is not necessary for the enforcement of civil law in the lower end of the county. If in your judgment you see fit to commission and arm men, I would suggest that William Shannon be commissioned Captain. He is an honorable and upright man and knows something of both civil and military matters. Further, that David Frasher be commissioned as Lieutenant, to be stationed at Cassville. We must have from 25 to 50 men here in Cassville, or else we must get out of here. This is the landing place for all lumber that comes down Tug river. Those big buck rebels come down in time of high water sometimes by dozens from Logan county and from Pike county, Ky., with their navies [revolvers] buckled around them, hurrahing “for Jeff Davis,” cursing the Government, cursing Union men, and then we have to get out. Sir, I frequently see men come in here who are indicted for murder in Kentucky, defying everybody. Not more than eight miles from here, as some of the Home Guards were on their way home from being paid off a company of rebels fell on them and beat and abused them severely, calling the party “damned abolitionists,” and swore they would not submit to our laws. A few days ago they gathered in here and raised a riot with our Sheriff, and fell on him with clubs and weights and tried to kill him and his brother. His brother ran into my house for protection. They stoned my window out, knocked two panels out of my door and nearly killed my little child. If you see fit to protect us send the commissions immediately. The men can be raised in a few days. Send full instructions and special orders. You may send arms if you think proper, for there will be no doubt about recruiting the men immediately. We have plenty of guns here which belong to the State that can be gathered up. This company should be armed with revolvers instead of guns. I refer you to Major Brown [Col. G.W. Brown, Q.M. General], the man who came here and paid the home guards. He formed some acquaintance with me when he was here, also with Shannon and Lieut. Frasher. Yours, with respect, John W. Holt.