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5th West Virginia Voluntary Infantry

     [According to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors government web site, there were only two Union soldiers with the name Grotius, and in both instances it was a first name and neither one was from this regiment. So this appears to be a pseudonym, most likely after Hugo Grotius (1583 - 1645) also known as Hugo Van Groot. He was a Dutch lawyer and author of numerous essays, his most famous being about law of nature and the justification for war.
     The second letter below was written after the 5th Virginia had left the area and so the writer appears to be a resident of this area, and not a soldier. The 5th Virginia would have become the 5th West Virginia after statehood in June of 1863. Ceredo is only about 10 miles downstream from Huntington. Although the 5th was here not located in a focal spot of the war, later in 1863 and in 1864 they were in northern Virginia and were in the Battle of Cedar Mountain (where there were 2,500 Union casualties) and in the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain. N. Elvick]

Fort Pierpont, Ceredo, Wayne County, Va., Jan. 11, '63

Editor Journal:
      Although the Fifth Va. has no particular friends in the bounds of your circulation, I trust they have no particular enemies. And as most of your subscribers are, I believe, friends of the Union and of the good cause in which we are engaged, I propose to let them hear from this very little thought of but very important Department of our Army. Though there is nothing particularly interesting or important going on at present, it will, perhaps, be gratifying to know even this much. That we are in no immediate danger of attack is also gratifying, at least to us. Since the 5th has been here, their time has been principally employed in scouting the hills of Big Sandy, picketing and foraging. Several prisoners have been captured and sent to Wheeling. On Friday night last, twelve prisoners were shipped for Headquarters on board the Ohio No. 3, in charge of our Adjutant. They belonged to Gens. Jenkins and Floyd's army. Though the people have heard but little of the doings of our army in this section, we have not been altogether idle. We are continually picking up stragglers and men who have ventured home on furlough. The 39th Ky., still maintains its position at Peach Orchard, on Big Sandy river, near its head, not withstanding their serious reverse long since. The 40th Ohio and 84th Ind., are at the forks of Big Sandy, but I am not advised as to their operations. The 5th is recruiting slowly, and, if luck favors us, by spring, we will be able to make a pretty respectable appearance again.
     When we left our camp at this place in November, 1862, we had 940 men rank and file, now we can muster about—ugh, mum is the word. As there is a great deal of talk through the country about the firing into the steamer St. Patrick on Christmas morning last, and as the 5th has been slightly misrepresented, I propose to set the matter before the people in its proper light. That the St. Patrick was fired into, no one here pretends to deny; that it was the 5th who did it, is also true, but that they did it to make her land is most assuredly a mistake.—My informant, who is an officer in the 5th, says that it was an accident of one of the men. The man who did the firing was not drunk as has been erroneously stated, and although he was as "sober as a judge," is now under arrest awaiting his trial by court-martial. I have perhaps written enough for the present. Should anything transpire that would interest the public, you shall be duly informed thereof.
     Respectfully, &c.,

The Gallipolis Journal
January 22, 1863

Catlettsburg, Ky., May 12, '63

Dear Friend Harper:
     Saturday morning last, our town was thrown into considerable excitement by the arrival of the news that the steamer "Transfer" had been captured. The circumstances, as near as I have been able to collect them, are as follows: Thursday last, about five hundred horses were left at this post, intended for Gen. White's army, up Sandy.—Friday morning the Transfer was loaded with horses and started up the Sandy River; Saturday morning it was concluded to send her up and to bring down two hundred men to ride the horses up as it was rather a slow process to send them up by fifties on the boat. She had proceeded but about seven miles when the notorious Bill Smith made his appearance on the Virginia side and ordered Capt. Hi Davis to land his boat; the captain's response was to "go to h--l." Again he was peremptorially [sic] ordered to "round in" when a similar reply was made [by] him. Thereupon the squad commenced firing. Capt. Davis turned and went into the pilot house, and told his pilot he intended to run her through. Placing his mouth on the engineer's trumpet, [he] told him to put on all the steam, when just as he removed his lips, the trumpet was shot away close to his mouth. The rebels perceiving their intention to run her through, started at full gallop (a part of them being mounted) to gain the bend, so as to continue their firing. Seeing there was no use in trying to get away from them, the Capt. landed his boat, but took good care to land her on the Kentucky side. The crew got off, and the fireman and the captain's son came down and gave the alarm as soon as they could. The steamer Swann was manned and sent up immediately, but upon arriving at the scene of action, they found nothing but the smouldering ruins of the Transfer. As the river was very high, the rebs could not ford it, but they were not required to wait long until two citizens came along in a skiff and ferried two of them across, who fired the boat. As soon as they found that they had effectually fired her, they "skedaddled," which gave the Captain (who had concealed himself on the hillside and watched all their movements) a chance to do something. Gathering a few neighboring women and children, he hurried to the boat and by almost superhuman efforts, succeeded in doing some good; had it not been for their efforts, the boat would have been a total loss, as it is, her hull is not much injured and some parts of her engine may be made of some use. She has gone to Cincinnati to rebuild.
     Capt. Davis says he counted their number three times as he lay concealed, while they stood on the opposite bank, and made out forty. Word was sent to Headquarters as soon as possible, and a large party sent in pursuit; they followed all that night and the next day, but found none of them. They conversed with men who saw them, and say there were only nine rebels; only nine could be heard of anywhere, either before or after the capture, so anybody can see that we have rebels among us. They must have been joined by some of our neighbors along the Sandy River. Steps are being taken to ferret out these rebel allies.
     The 5th Va. has again pulled up stakes and gone, I believe, to Charleston. This leaves the people in the lower part of Virginia without any protection. May-be this is right. I hope so at least. This embraces all the news of interest I believe at present. Yours, &c. Grotius

The Gallipolis Journal
May 21, 1863

The 5th VA Vol. Infantry Camp at Barboursville, VA., June 25th, 1863

Dear Friend Harper:
     Sergeant Fuller, of Company H, with a detachment of thirty men, has just returned from a very successful scout into Logan county, a district of country where the rebels have been in the habit of conducting affairs pretty much in their own way. The Sergeant left Camp on Saturday morning, last; his instructions were to scout the country as far as he went. Captain Walker, of the Confederate States army, was also on a scout, and had stolen several horses and saddles, and had taken some prisoners, belonging to the home guards of Logan county. The rebels had started to return, when the Sergeant was informed that they were in the neighborhood, and immediately rallied his men and started in pursuit. Marching all night, they overtook the rebels snugly ensconced at the house of a "warm friend," quietly sleeping. Their picket, at the advance of our boys, threw down his gun and started on the double quick to Camp, but there were some among our boys who could run too, and arrived at the quarters as soon as the reb did; the boys, knowing that their enemies were greatly superior in numbers, would not risk a "general engagement," but rushed upon them with a yell which aroused them from their peaceful slumber, and put them all to flight. The Sergeant demanded them to surrender, upon which, Capt. Walker called out: "I surrender, by G-d." The boys marched off with their spoils, consisting of the rebel Captain, his Lieutenant, and a number of privates, fifteen stand of small arms, five horses and saddles, and had the satisfaction of relieving the home guards, besides capturing a deserter who left our Regiment last winter. Nobody was hurt on our side, and but two rebels, both killed. Besides this, the Sergeant sent into Camp at different times, eighteen prisoners. This is but one of a number of scouts sent out since our return to this place. Not a day passes but more or less prisoners are sent into Camp by our scouts.—"Success to the sang [sic] trade."
     Respectfully yours, &c.,

The Gallipolis Journal
July 9, 1863

Transcribed by Eva Swain Hughes

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