Appalachia, Barboursville, Bear Creek, Cabell County, civil war, Confederate Army, Enon Church, Falls of Guyan, genealogy, George Rogers, Guyandotte River, history, Lincoln County, Mud River, Salt Rock, South Carolina, Thomas H. Perry, Tylers Creek, Union Army, Virginia, West Virginia, William R. Brumfield
About 1910, Rev. Thomas H. Perry reflected on his long life, most of which was spent in the vicinity of Tylers Creek in Cabell County, West Virginia. In this excerpt from his autobiography, Mr. Perry recalled the early years of the Civil War in his locale:
In November, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union. That was more than a sign of war; it was a declaration of war. Soon afterwards six other southern states seceded, and a little later three other states followed suit, and last of all, in May, 1861, Virginia seceded.
My father said he had worked, prayed, voted for the Union, but he thought he owed his allegiance first to the state and then to the general government. However, he advised us boys to stay at home, as there are many things involved in this war and its hard to say what the outcome will be. One Sunday, in 1861, many of our young people were at Enon church, and at that time the union army was at Barboursville, ten miles away. While we were at church a man came on horseback in great speed with his hat off, and when he got to the church he cried out: “Get to the mountains; the Federals are on their way to Tyler’s creek, and are destroying everything before them.”
We all ran to the woods in great haste, and remained there until the next day, except the women and the children, who returned home that evening; the old men advised the women and children to stay at home, as they did not believe the soldiers would do them any harm. But several young men from this first scare, joined the Confederate army, but I stayed at home and dodged the soldiers until the spring of 1862. During this time I thought of going north and going to school, and then I would think if I went north they would force me to join the army and I would have to fight my own people, and I could not do that. I thought if I was in the south I could not go to school; they would force me in the army and I knew I could not stay at home. So I decided as there was no neutral ground for me I would go to Dixie. At this time the Federals were scouting the country in every direction which made it difficult to go, but we set a time to meet in a low gap east of Joseph Johnson’s, a half-way place between Guyan and Mud rivers. That night we filled that gap more than full of men and horses. It was a dark night and we never knew how many men we had present, but think there were two or three hundred. We were suspicious of traitors among us that night. We did our work quickly, appointed a captain and mapped out our way for that night’s march. The way was down Tyler’s creek to the Salt Rock and then up the Guyan river. About midnight our captain said: “Gentlemen, follow me,” and as we slowly moved out of that gap it was whispered, “we do not know whose hands we are in , as there are so many more here tonight than we expected, and so many strangers.”
When we came to where my father lived on Tyler’s creek, I asked George Rogers, a man of our company to wait with me until I could go to the barn and get my horse, for I had left my horse in the barn until we were ready to march. This delayed me about twenty minutes. Mr. Rogers and I thought we would soon overtake our men, but when we came to a bridle path that led to the mouth of Bear Creek, much nearer than by way of Salt Rock, it was so dark we could not see the track of a horse, and as we did not know which way our men had gone we were much perplexed and lost some time at this point, but decided to go the nearer way, and when we came within one mile and a-half of the falls of Guyan, we heard considerable shooting in our direction, and as our men were twenty-five or thirty minutes in the advance of us, the shooting must have been at our men, and as our men were not armed the shooting was all from one side and it may be that half of our men are killed. we stopped and decided that we would wait for daylight. We hitched our horses about fifty yards from the road and lay down under a beech tree that stood about twenty-five yards from the road, and we went into a doze. Suddenly, in front of us, there was a moving army and we could not tell whether they were going up or down the road until the rear guard passed, and then we knew they were going down the road. While they were passing, I said: “George, these are our men.” George said: “Be still, say nothing.”
When morning came, Mr. Lucas, a man living in that neighborhood, said to us: “The men that have just passed down the road killed Mr. Brumfield and had fired into a body of unarmed men at the falls just before day, this morning.” We understood the rest and at noon that day we were back again at my father’s house.
Source: From Youth to Old Age by T.H. Perry, Chapter 5, p. 14-16. Note: As of 1862, Cabell County remained a part of Virginia and Lincoln County did not exist.