|Southwestern Corner of Pennsylvania with Counties of Greene and Fayette|
Pennsylvania cities of Waynesburg and Union(town)
Northeastern Virginia with city of Morgantown LOC
|George Baylor, 12th VA Cavalry|
Member of Grumble Jones' Raiders
From Bull Run to Bull Run 1900
The previous post reviewed the Jones-Imboden Confederate Raid in (West) Virginia from the Shenandoah Valley to Morgantown near the Pennsylvania state border in 1863.
Once Confederate raiders had fought several battles and confiscated hundreds of valuable livestock to reach the brink of the Pennsylvania border, residents of the southwestern part of the Keystone State understandably became more and more alarmed.
Interestingly, Baylor states only that Jones' men "started in the direction" and "advance[d] into tthe enemy's country," indicating that some of Jones' men did indeed cross the state border into Pennsylvania.
Morgantown resident Anne Mathiot Dorsey (who was born in Fayette County) wrote to her brother shortly after the Confederates had left Morgantown. She wrote that her son, Henry, left Morgantown with four horses that he wished to hide from Jones' marauders. She said Jones' men chased Henry all the way to Smithfield, Pennsylvania, a few miles from Uniontown. When he got to Smithfield, he met many frightened townspeople who were moving their horses to presumed safety. Henry pushed on to Brownsville where he met more frenzied and frightened citizens. (Source: Anne Mathiot Dorsey, letter to Jacob D. Mathiot, May 8, 1863, Myron B. Sharp, ed. “The Confederate Raid at Morgantown,” Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania)
Some (West) Virginia refugees from the Monongahela River Valley fled all the way to Pittsburgh, prompting that city to hold a citizens’ meeting in early May during which it was determined each city borough and township should raise a company of volunteer militiamen.
|Philadelphia Inquirer April 30, 1863|
Speculation as to Jones’ and/or Imboden’s next move after Morgantown had southwestern Pennsylvania in an uproar for several days. Wrote a Pittsburgh newspaper,
“It is only certain that the enemy are still hovering about Morgantown and vicinity, but in what numbers it is impossible to determine. Neither is it possible to ascertain with any degree of certainty where they may next appear. Waynesburg, Uniontown, Brownsville, Washington (all Pennsylvania towns) and Wheeling are spoken of as within striking distance, and some even go so far as to express fears that an attempt may yet be made on Pittsburgh…We trust the people of the western counties of Pennsylvania and [West] Virginia will be found wide awake, and ready to embrace the opportunity
offered them, to meet the rebel
marauders and give them such a lesson as won’t need repetition.” (Pittsburgh Gazette, 2 May 1863, p.2)
Uniontown in Fayette County (where the 85th Pennsylvania had trained) was just
from Morgantown and was thought to be a possible destination by the raiders on their way to the industrial center of Pittsburgh if the rebels they set foot on Pennsylvania soil.
After defeating Jones at Rowlesburg, Union Major John H. Showalter was reinforced with a militia company from Wheeling and four howitzers. Showalter, however, felt he was low on provisions and vastly outnumbered, and so he departed from the area with his force of 450 men. He soon received orders to defend Wheeling, a city on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Showalter by the time of his new orders had entered Morgantown after Jones’ men had departed the city. A direct march to Wheeling would have covered
75 miles. Showalter
decided on an roundabout route through Pennsylvania. His 450 men would march to
Uniontown, ride by rail to Pittsburgh, and then travel on the Ohio River to
Wheeling. This trip would be about 150 miles, but Showalter felt he could arrive
more quickly for the defense of Wheeling.
|John H. Showalter|
A Philadelphia correspondent emphasized that Showalter’s arrival had an unsettling effect on the residents of Fayette County. “Major Showalter and his command went from Pittsburg to Wheeling and back to his old place (Rowlesburg) again, and after making an extensive circumbendibus and almost frightening the honest old farmers of the southern counties of Pennsylvania out of their propriety by the rumors of the ubiquitous ‘Stonewall’ [Jackson] was about to visit them to relieve them of their horses and produce.” (Philadelphia Enquirer, May 8, 1863, Reprinted in The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA, May 30, 1863, p.2)
Showalter was roundly criticized for abandoning Morgantown, but most of the residents of Uniontown seemed relieved by the brief appearance of him and his men. While in Uniontown, one of Showalter’s soldiers, George W. Weekly wrote,
“After breakfast [in Smithfield], we started for Uniontown, and before we had marched three miles the citizens came meeting us with their teams, and by the time we got to Uniontown there was not a corporal’s guard on foot. At Uniontown, we had a big dinner served in the machine shop, after which we had the usual dress parade, …We were then crowded into some hog cars and shipped to Pittsburgh…” (Clyde Cale, Preston County (WV) Journal, 24 July, 2013, p.5)
Meanwhile, knowing that Showalter’s stay in their city would be brief, Uniontown continued to organize their own defenses. Local citizens felled trees along Chestnut Ridge southeast of the city to create an obstruction for potential Confederate visitors. Defenses were also established on the Morgantown Road (present-day Route 119) three miles southwest the city and bank funds were sent to Pittsburgh. (Morning Herald, Uniontown, PA, December 31, 1945, p.4)
Uniontown residents formed a citizen militia, according to a Harrisburg newspaper account. “The Citizens of Uniontown had a most gratifying exhibition of the loyalty of one section of Fayette County. B.F. Hibbs, of the First Pennsylvania Cavalry, appeared in town on Wednesday afternoon at the head of forty farmers, all well mounted and each with his squirrel rifle upon his shoulder.” (Evening Telegraph, Harrisburg, PA, May 4, 1863, p.1)
A correspondent for a Philadelphia newspaper reported from Uniontown that, “Preparations have been made to defend Uniontown…At first the people were rather slow to seize the musket preferring to yield to what they considered an overwhelming force, but their enthusiasm being aroused, quite respectable forces was mustered.” (reprinted in the Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, May 1, 1863, p.3)
Alarm in Uniontown was also raised by the presence of an allegedly Confederate spy.
“Major Showalter…captured and brought with him to Uniontown David Lilly, the spy and traitor who piloted the rebel forces into Morgantown and pointed out to them the residences and property of the prominent Union men...Lilly had been in Uniontown only a few days before, doubtless for the purpose of taking observations with reference to the possibility of a raid through Fayette County.” [The Reporter and Tribune, Washington, PA, May 13, 1863]
|Colonel Joshua B. Howell|
Dickey's History of the 85th Pennsylvania Infantry
NEXT: Greene County Reacts