May 25th Report of Colonel George A. Porterfield

Grafton, May 25, 1861.

Colonel R. S. GARNETT,
Adjutant-General Virginia Forces, Richmond, Va.:

COLONEL: I assembled two companies at Pruntytown, three miles from this place, on the 18th. The same night the State bridge across Tygart’s Valley River, one mile from this place and between these towns, was fired by some disaffected persons, and was near being destroyed. The next day I stationed the two companies, about 100 men upon the bridge, as it afforded good quarters. On the 22nd I was joined by Captain Turner’s company from Clarksburg. With these companies I went into Grafton without meeting the threatened resistance though some disorder was shown by the mob. On the night of the 22nd one of my sentinels was assaulted and fired upon by two armed persons, the ball cutting through his ear. The sentinel fired in return and killed one of his assailants. The other escaped, though fired upon by another sentinel. I have retained the arms found in the hands of the dead man and given up his body to his friends. Yesterday evening the train from Beverly and the escort arrived. To-day I have brought four infantry and one cavalry company into this town. The town is badly located and laid out to be occupied by a military force. It is also surrounded by eminences of such position and extent as to require several thousand men to hold it properly. Artillery on either of these hills would fully command the town. The force now here is undisciplined, and I am greatly in need of officers acquainted with their duties. I have but two or three officers at all acquainted with their duty, and these can effect but little upon a mass of militia. The quartermaster and commissaries are also inexperienced and this is the cause of confusion and injury to the service. Having little or no assistance, I cannot correct the numerous errors constantly arising. I am not satisfied with my position here. It is weak, untenable by such a force as this against a few pieces of artillery, and yet I cannot recommend the sending of artillery here without a sufficient infantry force to protect it, for I can assure you that if they choose the enemy can bring with them from these northern counties ten to one against us. I will do the best I can however, under all circumstances. The cavalry companies here require pistols or rifles. So far as the defense of this place is concerned, cavalry is useless. It can act effectively only in patrolling the county. There are two companies of this arm now here without arms. I must order them home or equip them as infantry. I am much in need of cartridge-boxes and cap-boxes, and instructions for the commissary and quartermaster’s departments. At the request of citizens of this county I send this by a special messenger, Lieutenant-Colonel Heck, who will give their views as to the state of affairs here.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel of Volunteers, Commanding.


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. LI, Part II. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897.