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7 Series I Volume XLIII-I Serial 90 - Shenandoah Valley Campaign Part I

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Page 7 Chapter LV. ACTION AT NEW CREEK AND MOOREFIELD, W. VA.

He had command of McNeill's company, a numerous and well-mounted body of scouts, well acquainted with the country, and through them he ought to have had full knowledge of the proximity of the enemy. If they were not accessible to him it was his duty to order scouts to ascertain his whereabouts and not mine. If he did know Averell was near and expected an attack, he gave me no notice of it whatever, the mere order to saddle up being preparatory to a move, or a march, and not a commanding officer's order to his subordinates to prepare for battle. The only intimation or order of any kind whatever that I ever received from General McCausland on the subject was the verbal one by a courier. But he did not expect an attack. In proof of this I refer to the fact that when the attack was made Brigadier-General McCausland was asleep in the house of Mr. McMechen, three miles from his camps or any of his command, and further, that some portion of his own brigade was unsaddled and utterly unprepared. He never reached the scene of action until after a portion of my command had passed the river. I suppose he was not there when his own brigade became separated, one part taking the Moorefield road and the other the winchester grade. If he had been on the ground anticipating an attack he would doubtless have had his command formed and made fight, neither of which he did, for besides one charge by a light squadron near the ford and a line of dismounted men above it I saw no fighting done by him near the river. From these facts I infer that Brigadier-General McCausland, first, was unprepared for an attack himself, and therefore could not expect me, his subordinate, to be prepared; or, second, that anticipating attack he neglected to give me due and timely notice, and neglected to put his troops in position to repel it.

It is due to myself and the cause I serve to remark on the outrageous conduct of the troops on this expedition. This duty I informed General McCausland I should perform during the expedition itself. Every crime in the catalogue of infamy has been committed, I believe, except murder and rape. Highway robbery of watches and pocket-books was of ordinary occurrence; the taking of breast-pins, finger-rings, and earrings frequently happened. Pillage and sack of private dwellings took place hourly. A soldier of an advance guard robbed of his gold watch the Catholic clergyman of Hancock on his way from church on Sunday, July 31, in the publish steeds. Another of a rear guard nearly brained a private of Company B, First Maryland Cavalry, for trying to prevent his sacking a woman's trunk and stealing her clothes and jewels. A lieutenant at Hancock exacted and received $1,000 in greenbacks of a citizen; a soldier packed up a woman's and a child's clothing, which he had stolen in the presence of the highest official, unrebuked. At Chambersburg, while the town was in flames, a quartermaster, aided and directed by a field officer, exacted ransom of individuals for their houses, holding the torch in terror over the house until it was paid. These ransoms varied from $750 to $150, according to the size of the habitation. Thus the grand spectacle of a national retaliation was reduced to a miserable huckstering for greenbacks. After the order was given to burn the town of Chambersburg and before, drunken soldiers paraded the streets in every possible disguise and paraphernalia, pillaging and plundering and drunk. as the natural consequence, lawlessness in Pennsylvania and Maryland reproduced itself in Virginia, and in Hardy County, near Moorefield, a lieutenant knocked down and kicked an aged woman who has two sons in the Confederate army, and after choking the sister locked her in a stable and set fire to it. This was because the two women would not give up horses he and his fellow


Page 7 Chapter LV. ACTION AT NEW CREEK AND MOOREFIELD, W. VA.

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