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Jenkin's Raid

Albert Gallatin Jenkins’ West Virginia home at Green Bottom, West Virginia, was only about five miles south of Gallia County’s Crown City. Jenkins was a Harvard Law School graduate and prior to the Civil War had been a member of Congress. He was subsequently elected as a delegate to the Confederate Congress, but resigned soon after to pursue a military career. In Nov. of 1861 he led a raid on a Union Army training camp in the Ohio River town of Guyandotte, West Virginia. Many of the Union soldiers involved were from Lawrence County, Ohio. The raid became locally known as the Massacre and Burning of Guyandotte. In 1862 Jenkins was given the task of harassing Union troops and supply lines in western Virginia (including what is now West Virginia) and destroying the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. To accomplish this he led his cavalry troops on raiding parties throughout the region and even briefly into Meigs County, Ohio. In August of 1862 he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. In April of 1863 he was responsible for the raid on Point Pleasant which is discussed below. He then left for the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and he led his troops from the Shenandoah Valley into Pennsylvania. He was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg, but by the following spring had recovered and again assumed command of his troops. He was given the task of defending the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad which was under attack by Union troops. The two armies met at Cloyd’s Mountain in Pulaski County, Virginia. The Union army under the command of General George Crook won the hard fought battle. Jenkins was mortally wounded and died about two weeks later. There were many Gallia County men in Crook's army. Interestingly two future presidents, Rutherford Hayes and William McKinley (23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry) also took part in that battle. General Crooks was later honored in Gallia County when GAR post 325 in Crown City was named after him. The newspaper articles below are contemporary accounts discussing the Raid on Point Pleasant.

Editorial from the Gallipolis Journal, Gallipolis, Ohio. April 2, 1863

On Monday at 12 M., word came to Gallipolis that the notorious Jenkins had attacked Point Pleasant—at the mouth of Kanawha. Our town was instantly in commotion, and in a very short time a large force of armed men left for that place. The steamboat Victor with three howitzers on board, and some soldiers under command of Capt. Baggs, soon hove in sight of the Point. The land forces with musketry and a rifled cannon arrived opposite the town about the same time. The ‘Trumbull Guards,” under command of Lieutenants Gilman and Freer, were amongst the first to cross the river, and conducted themselves like veterans. Their prompt action and bravery is worthy of the highest praise. The soldiers from the Hospital also turned out to the number of 100, armed and ready for fight, though many were really very ill.

The rebels up to that time had set on fire a large quantity of corn and some buildings containing commissary stores. One company of the 13th Va., had taken refuge in the Court House, and were successfully defending themselves against five times their number. On seeing the re-inforcements the guerrillas hastily skedaddled, leaving four or five dead, and taking several wounded with them, stealing at the same time about 25 mules belonging to the United States. Our men on searching the town, found thirteen of the rebels concealed in private houses all of whom were safely lodged in our jail. Among them are one Captain and three Lieutenants. On their way to this place on board the Victor, one of the scamps became very insolent to Capt. Ford, who by the way resides in the Point—and of course not in a humor to submit to anything of the kind. The Captain very soon taught him a lesson he will remember.

On the whole the rebels were completely defeated. Captain Carter of the 13th and his men fought like tigers. – They lost one man killed and three wounded. The rebel loss was 5 killed, several wounded and 13 taken prisoners. The cowardly knaves shot Col. Wagoner, a man nearly 80 years of age, then on his way home, and robbed him of his horse. He was one of the few staunch Union men in that quarter and deserved a better fate. They fired on defenseless women and children crossing the river in skiffs and in every way showed themselves brutal, cowardly assassins, ready to waylay and murder, merely for plunder. Up to the hour of writing we are unable to say whether they have got safely across Kanawha, or whether General Scammon, has been able to gobble them up.

The main body of the Union forces are concentrated about Gauley. We have hopes that General Scammon may be able to checkmate the scoundrel Jenkins and bag the whole crew. -- So long as he is suffered to run at large West Virginia must suffer, from his raids, and the sooner a cavalry force is provided to cope with him, the better for the Union cause.

Since the above was in type the steamboat B.C.Levi has arrived from Charleston with a detachment of the 23rd O.V. Capt. Regnier reports the rebels in sight near Maupin’s landing. – He had a full view of their camp. – They fired several shots at the Levi but all fell short or passed over. The sight of a number of bales of hay on board used as breast works, for the 23d induced them to keep out of range.

Capt. Ford of the Victor reports 21 rebels found dead in and near the Point, and two more prisoners captured. – Thus the robbers have paid pretty well for their plunder. The federal loss, 2 killed three wounded.

If proper efforts be made the whole gang may yet be captured.

Later. – The rebels admit to a loss of 70 killed, wounded and missing.

Gallipolis Journal, Gallipolis, Ohio. April 2, 1863.

The rebels have again made their appearance in the Kanawha Valley in considerable force. On last Saturday a detachment of Jenkins’ cavalry, under command of that renowned freebooter and robber in person, attacked a detachment of the 13th Virginia, in camp at Hurricane Bridge, and were whipped out, but the force was too small to follow up the marauders.

On Sunday they fired into our Government steamboats Victor No. 2 and Gen’l Meigs, on their way down the Kanawha. The attack was quite unexpected on part of the officers of the boats, and for about one and a half miles they were obliged to run the gauntlet of an incessant fire from behind every tree, stump, fence, or shield of any kind. The boats were entirely unprotected, and unarmed, and the numerous bullet holes to the number of 200 in each, show the fierceness of the attack. The pilots on board of each deserve the highest praise of the noble manner in which they stood to the wheel. The pilot-house of the Gen’l Meigs is completely riddled with balls. We noticed one spoke of the wheel nearly severed by a ball, and from its position the handle must have been held by the pilot at the very instant. His name is Edward Johnson. A braver fellow than he is does not live, nor a better Union man. Capt. Summers, in command of the Meigs, stood to his post like a man, and by his coolness and daring provided himself the ‘right man in the right place.’ On board the Meigs no one was injured.

The Victor was the first boat to pass through the fire. Capt. Ford, though his boat was crowded with passengers, evinced the coolest daring, firmness, and courage possible for any man under like circumstances. The pilots, Harry Bays and Stape Wright, never flinched for an instant, but without any protection, regardless of the crashing of the Minnie [sic - minié] balls through every portion of the boat, and especially the pilot house, brought off the boat in safety, with the loss of one man killed, Frank Stote, teamster, and one mortally wounded.—How scores escaped being killed or wounded on this boat, is a mystery.—Drawn into ambuscade without the slightest warning, and without any protection other than the frail siding of the cabin, crowded as it was with women and children, their escape was truly miraculous. Too much praise cannot be awarded the pilots and officers of these boats, and we trust their courageous conduct will receive proper encouragement from Head-quarters.—They deserve honorable mention in all papers in this District. Such true bravery is too rare in this day to go unrewarded. Let us see if the commanding officers appreciate it. We are sure the passengers on board did.

Gallipolis Journal, Gallipolis, Ohio. April 2, 1863.

George Harrison is the name of the man wounded on the Victor, Sunday last. The ball struck him in the hip, causing a frightful wound. He was taken to the Hospital, where he will receive every attention.

April 16, 1863 The Weekly Register Point Pleasant, [W]Va.

Point Pleasant Battle
Letter from Capt. Carter, Commanding Post.
Point Pleasant Va., April 6, 1863

Editor Gallipolis Dispatch – Sir

In your issue of April [ill.] you say: The same gang that [ill.] the steamers Victor No. 2 and General Meigs, attacked Point Pleasant under command of Major Samuels, and that there were only some 30 men of the 13th Va V.I. at Point Pleasant. I wish to correct these statements [ill]. The rebels were under the command of the ‘invincible A.G. Jenkins, and of Major Samuels, as you [ill]. You say there was no resistance [ill] to their entering the town, except at the Court-house; this is untrue. There was resistance shown in the street before we entered the Court-house. [ill] There was enough soldiers in Pt. Pleasant to whip the rebels, which [ill] before help arrived. It is true [ill] ordinance came up on the [ill] the river; and it is also true [ill] can be believed that the [ill] to range heir course for the Court-house and was only prevented from firing upon us by the earnest entreaty of some of the citizens of Point Pleasant who happened to be on that side of the river.—While I admire the courage of the artillerymen, I think they exhibited devilish poor judgement [sic], in their first attempt.

You say that when re-enforcements arrived on the Virginia side of the river there were only thirty of the enemy in sight: that is true. As to the shells from the artillery which caused so much consternation among the enemy it was not owing to the destruction they caused, for they fell short, (as some of our citizens can testify;) the noise may have scared the Rebs some.

That they burned some core belonging to the government is true. That they burned some buildings near the Court-house is not true. They burned the cornpens, a shed that was used as a bakery, and one secesh stable. This was the extent, and all of their burning.

I award great credit to the Trumbell [sic] Guards, and citizens, who did cross to our assistance, notwithstanding the enemy had retreated, for they crossed as soon as they could. The steamer was detained for a reason that I will not now explain, but which I will, if any are curious to know, at a future time. And I will take this occasion to thank the soldiers and citizens of Gallipolis who did come to our relief. I thank you gentlemen, soldiers and citizens in the name of Company E, 13th Va. V.I., and will say, also, if ever you get into trouble we will not be slow to your rescue. We know that your will was good to come to our assistance sooner; but we know you had no means to cross the river, unless you had swam it.

J.D. Carter, Capt.

Co. E 13th Va. V. I.

April 15, 1863    Gallipolis Dispatch

The little fight at Point Pleasant has occasioned more talk and discussion in these parts than any battle fought during the war. Whole pages of newspapers have been taken up in its discussion, or rather in the discussion as to who was the most deserving of praise. Each disputant has his favorite, and sticks as tenacious to him as a hungry bull dog would to his bone. The Capt. Commanding Post has rushed into the midst of the scene and claims for his brave boys the exclusive victory. They did well, nobly, and will ever stand honored for their bravery in the hearts of a greatful [sic] people. The Captain in his eagerness to set us right in our statement, in his letter published in our columns last week, exhibited the animal pretty largely. His efforts to detract from others the credit and praise due them, is ungreatful [sic] to say the least. His letter we knew to be untrue in many particulars, and debated in our mind the propriety of its publication, but believing it due to the soldiers and citizens here who went to the rescue of our sister town, that they should know the manner in which their promptness of action, and the result of that promptness, was viewed by those they rescued, we gave it to the public. We need call attention to but one or two points in Capt. Carter’s letter to show up the inconsistency of the whole of it. We quote from his letter: “There was shown in the streets before we entered the Court house.” If he will take his own town paper he will find it there stated, if not in the exact words, that which amounts to the same, that immediately upon the alarm Capt. Carter ran to the camp and collected his men into the Court-house, which arrangement had been previously agreed upon, and there maintained the contest.” Again, we quote from his letter: “There were enough soldiers in Pt. Pleasant to whip the rebels; which they did, before help arrived.” If such be the case, we cannot understand why Capt. Carter was beleaguered in the Court-house. If the rebels were whipped before reinforcements arrived from Gallipolis, why did he not have his company out of the Court-house picking up the rebel stragglers? How did it happen that they were mostly captured by the Trumbull Guards, soldiers from the Gallipolis Hospital, and the armed citizens of Ohio? Again we quote from his letter: “I award great credit to the Trumbull Guards, and citizens, who did cross to our assistance, notwithstanding the enemy had retreated.” And what caused the enemy to retreat? They had possession of the town and the Federal soldiers under Capt. Carter were beleaguered in the Court-house. Does any one besides Capt. Carter say that under such circumstances the rebels retreated because they were whipped by the Federal soldiers then in Pt. Pleasant, and the retreat was not made in consequence of the arrival of the reinforcements from Ohio? Again we quote: “The first act which the men in command of the artillery did was to range their course for the Court-house, and was prevented from firing upon us by the earnest entreaty of some of the citizens of Pt. Pleasant who happened to be on that side of the river.” The artillerymen as well as citizens tell us this statement is unqualifiedly false. But we have called attention to enough of the Captain’s publication to show the absurdity of it.

April 23, 1863    The Gallipolis Journal

U. S. Steamer Victor No. 2, April 14, 1863

     Officers Victor No. 2: I deem it my duty as commander of the Victor, to return you my sincere thanks for your praiseworthy, yea noble, conduct, during the trying scenes through which you have recently passed. We left Charleston, March 29th, with Paymaster Cowin, with considerable government funds in his possession; also Capt. E. P. Fitch and E. C. Rickenbaugh, Quartermasters; two families, consisting of fathers, mothers, and children, fourteen in number; also a number of others who had been up to the army to visit their friends.
     At 12 o'clock, when opposite Robert Hall's house and landing, Jenkins, with his murderers, let off a streaming blaze of fire at you, from five houses, behind fences, trees and logs, but you bravely stood at your post and rode through the torrent of bullets, as indifferent to danger as though you had belonged to the naval service. During the space of one entire mile, you thus nobly defied death and Jenkins, and notified the citizens of Pt. Pleasant and Gallipolis of their danger, for which, I doubt not, they feel under many obligations, and will award you due credit.
     After arriving at Gallipolis on the 29th, Capt. H. H. Boggess ordered you back to Pt. Pleasant to secure the government wharf boat, which then contained $86,000 worth of property; and you cheerfully obeyed the order without a moment's hesitation, and laid [sic] by the wharf boat during the night, waiting at a moment's notice to tow her out of danger. The next morning about 10 A.M. Jenkins attempted again to capture or murder you, but you did your duty and assisted in saving the wharf boat from capture and destruction, and amidst a shower of balls you towed her safely to Gallipolis, and reported yourselves ready immediately to return to the Point with reinforcements, which after some detention you did.
     You, gentlemen, virtually won two great victories over the invincible Jenkins, and that, too, without arms. Gentlemen you could not have done nobler; receive each and all the heartfelt thanks of
     Your ob't servant,
     F. Ford, Com'dg U.S. Steamer Victor No. 2