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The Preston County Journal
Kingwood, West Virginia
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June 22, 2011     The Preston County Journal
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4-PRESTON COUNTY JOURNAL-Wednesday, June 22, 2011-Kingwood, WV Reliving Lives: Prestonians I and the Civil War ,o 1865 by Dorothy B. Snyder FAMILY OF JACOB AND ELIZABETH BLANEY LAWRENCE $. BLANEY COMPANY I, 14TH WEST VIRGINIA INFANTRY According to the census of 1860 taken in District 2, Monon- galia County, Virginia with post office at Morgantown the fam- ily was Jacob M. Blaney, age 48, Elizabeth Blaney 47, John E. Blaney 22, Samuel Blaney, 21, and Lawrence Blarley 20. We can also document the fact that John E., Samuel and Law- rence were brothers by the affi- davit of John E. and Lawrence Blaney which was submitted to the pension office on May 25, 1886. Samuel J. Blaney&apos;s two brothers, Lawrence S, and John E. Blaney made this affidav R on which they stated they were res- idents of near Reedsville, Pres- ton County and that, "We are well acquainted with Samuel J. Blaney having known him all our lives." Lawrence S. Blaney enlisted August 12, 1862, and was dis- charged June 27, 1865, with chronic diarrhea and disease of the lung, which resulted in dis- ease of the head and which was caused in service. Lawrence Blaney was on the muster roll to October 3, 1862 as a private, absent with leave, "at home be- ing sick." From December 3, 1862 to April 30, 1863, he was carried as present. During those months there was very little contact with any enemy forces as they were primarily protect- ing wagon trains and the rail- road in eastern West Virginia. It is fairly easy to document Lawrence Blaney's history as a soldier. When asked which battles he was in, he named Lexington and Lynchburg. Also William M. Merrifield, late a prixate of Company H 14th West Virginia Infantry volun- teers stated he was acquainted with Lavrence S. Blaney of Company I, 14th WV Inf. say- ing: "I knew and believe that said Blaney was a stout, able bodied man at the time of the Hunter Raid of Lynchburg in the summer of 1864 and that from the fatigue, and exhaus- tion to which he was subjected on that raid he was very much disabled, resulting in what, I thought at that time, consump- tion." On April 18, 1881 Lawrence Blaney submitted an affidavit when applying lor his invalid pension in which he claimed disability from chronic diar- rhea and disease of lungs con- tracted on the Lynchburg Raid, in July 1864. He was treated as follows: in the hospitals at Clarksburg, (West) Virginia in August 1862 and in the hospital at New Creek in January 1863. He was also treated in the hos'- pital at Clarysville in Febru- ary 1863. He was admitted to G.H. Cumberland/ Clarysville May 11, 1863, with inflamma- tion of lungs and the diagnosis also stated' as consumption and returned to duty, December 8, 1863. In July 1864 he was in the General Hospital, Cumberland. He was also in the hospital dur- ing September and October 1864 and then transferred to the hospital at Grafton, West Vir- ginia in October 1864. The 14th West Virginia Infan- try saw duty in eastern (West) Virginia and rarely saw a Rebel soldier from the time the regi- ment was mustered in during the fall of 1862 until drastic changes in the late spring of 1864. That was when Union General U. S. Grant ordered Brig. Gen. George Crook on a raid toward southwestern Vir- ginia to destroy the vital Vir- ginia and Tennessee Railroad. Crook had an army of three bri- gades, one of which was com- manded by future United States President, Rutherford B. Hayes. This army marched from Camp Piatt, West Virginia on the 30th day of April with the mis- sion of destroying the railroad. For over a week the Federals, drenched by rain and snow- storms, slipped and slithered through the difficult, forbidding terrain. The unimproved roads turned into oozing troughs of mud, but General Crook pushed his men. It was a tough battle at Cloyd's Mountain on May 9 when the Union command encountered a patchwork line of Confeder- ate troops under the command of Gen. Albert G. Jenkins. They fought well in what was the first major confrontation with the enemy for many of the men and the Confederate line collapsed. But, it was a near tragedy for their sister company, Company B of the 14th, which lost, one killed, nine wounded and 18 prisoners (most of who ended up at Andersonville.) Many of them were from Preston Coian- ty. The rest of the army movec on and burned the New River Bridge, another major objective of the raid. Nineteen days after they left camp, they returned to West Virginia. Crook's army had marched a distance of 254 miles in 19 days. After returning from their devastating foray south they were sent to the Shenan- doah Valley where they joined the Army which had been under General Siegel's command and badly defeated at the Battle of New Market. That command was now under General David Hinter. Needless to say, General Crook and General Hunter did nora see eye to eye on many is- sues. Hunter's intent was to cut the Southern supply lines, com- munication lines and railroad lines as he moved through the valley. He didn't limit himself to the objectives, but terrorized civilians in his path. He was victorious at the Battle of Pied- mont, but stories of his ruthless devastation in the past begin to reach the average soldier and they were apprehensive of what their role under him might be. The Battle of Piedmont was fought on June 5, 1864. The battle is named after a little vil- lage north of Waynesboro and southwest of Port Republic. It was significant in that it was the battle for control of Staunton, an important Confederate store- house and railroad hub. The Confederate forces, under William E. "Grumble" Jones were badly outnumbered (by 30% to up to over 100%, de- pending on the source) by the United States forces under Da- vid Hunter. Short on men, Jones called in the Home Guard units, including Augusta County's 3rd Battalion Valley Reserves, to protect Staunton. (The 3rd Battalion at this point was a six-week old assemblage of 17 and 18 year-old boys and 45-50 year-old farmers.) The battle front shifted back and forth but ultimately ended in a rout of the Confederates, with General "Grumble" Jones dead with a bullet through his forehead and General Hunter preparing to move on to Staunton. By this time, Hunter acquired the nick- name of "Butcher" June 10, Hunter's army marched through Lexington where the Virginia Military Institute was located and it was there that General Hunter showed his true colors. The armies laid over at Lexington for a day to wait for 200 wag- ons of supplies. The men of the 14th who were in their first.real month of brutal warfare were beginning to learn what real war was about. A letter written by Governor Letcher describes the burn- ing of his home. It wasn't only his house that was torched but nearly every building on the campus of the Virginia Military Institute. Not in the 14th, but in other regiments were many soldiers, including my great grandfather, Henry Bolyard, who were at the Battle of New Market in May. At that time they were essentially smitten by cadets from the VMI. Hunter claimed he torched the house in reprisal for bush- whackers burning the home of Governor Pierpoint of West Virginia. I have no direct evi- dence that the men of the 14th were involved in the burning of Gov. Letcher's residence, but Lawrence Blaney stated he was at the battles of Lexington and Lynchhurg. I found a reprint of an article from a newspaper at the time that tells better than can I part of what happened in Lexington. The Vindicator, July 22, 1864, p.l,c. 6 The Residence Burning of Gov. Letcher's Home We print below a document destined to become historic. The calm, dispassionate and truthful recital it gives of one of the most wanton and barbaric acts of the war needs no com- ment to awaken the indignation of every manly bosom. Our soldiers in Maryland, who are reported to have had in ash- es the residence of the Yankee governor of that State, by way of retaliation, have given prac- tical expression to the feeling of our people, and anticipated the judgment of mankind and the verdict of history. It is due to Gov. Letcher to say that this letter was written with no view to publication, and in response to a private commuriication ad- dressed him by the Mayor of this city. The passages omitted relate to personal matters--Whig: LEXINGTON, VA., JULY 5TH, 1864. Finding the Yan- kees would take the town on Saturday (June 1 lth) I left home near midnight Friday night and went to Big Island, in Bedford, where I remained until Wednes- day morning following, when, hearing the vandals had left, I returned. I had previously heard that my house had burned, with all its contents. The threats made by the Yankees against me, for the past two years, satis- fied me that they would destroy my house when they came to Lexington; but I always sup- posed they would allow the fur- niture and my family's clothing to be removed. In this. however. I was disappointed. When the Yankees took pos- session of the town. Dr. Pat- ton, medical director for Hunt- er's army, and who hails from Marion County, Va.. went to my house, told my wife he was unwell, and said he must have a room in the house. He took the room, supped and breakfasted. and, when breakfast was nearl) over, remarked, in a manner half-jocular, half-earnest, to .Lizzie, that it was the last meal she would take in the house. Shortly after, he left, without taking leave of any of the fam- ily, nor was he again seen by any of them. (To be continued next week) Copyright: Dorothy B. Snyder 9 Douglas Court, Dover DE 19901 Email: DBonafield@aol.com Phone 302-697-3797 Call Center I NOW I HIRING I Apply in Person | or Call Today! | 304-296-9122 | 2209 Industrial Park Rd. | Morgantown, WV | We are an EOE. I FITNESS CENTERS June 24 June 25 June 29 July I lull=mini EARLY DEADLINES: Classifeds for the June 22 Preston County Journal 10:00 AM Monday, June 20 Penny Saver 10 AM -uesday, June 21 Preston County News 10 AM -hursday, June 23 Preston County Journal 10 AM -hursday, June 23 Penny Saver 10 AM Vednesday, June 22 An Androidt<powered phone that's designed to make you happy. 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