Archibald Harrison, B.C. Levi, Barboursville, Chambersburg, civil war, Garland Matthews, history, Hurston Spurlock, John McCausland, Mary Harrison, Matt Adkins, Milton J. Ferguson, Monocacy Junction, Murder Hollow, Stephen Lewis, Sylvester Brooks Crockett, Virginia, Wayne, Wayne County, West Virginia, Winfield, writing
In January of 1864, Colonel Milton J. Ferguson’s 16th Regiment, which included Lt. Archibald Harrison, was back in southwestern West Virginia to visit family and restock supplies. On January 1, they crossed a frozen Big Sandy River into Kentucky and attacked a Union force at Buchanan. Eight days later, Ferguson and 150 of his men successfully engaged 75 members of the 39th Kentucky Mounted Infantry at Turman’s Ferry (near Catlettsburg), Kentucky, then made their way to East Lynn in Wayne County, West Virginia, and on to nearby Laurel Creek.
On January 16, a detachment of Union troops arrived in Trout’s Hill (Wayne) to quell the Confederate uprising in the area. Ferguson and the 16th, however, continued to wreak havoc on local Yankees from their base at Murder Hollow. On January 27, Spurlock’s Company (including Harrison) robbed Cabell County’s sheriff. The rebels suffered a mild setback shortly after the robbery: Captain Hurston Spurlock was apprehended by a detachment of the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry at Lavalette in Wayne County.
Early in February, members of the 16th destroyed a Union cargo ship called the B.C. Levi on the Kanawha River near Winfield. They captured General E.P. Scammon, who was sent to Richmond, Virginia, and Captain Pinckard, who was sent to Wayne. (Harrison later claimed to have been present at this event, although history records Company H — not Company E — as being the actual force there.) Colonel Ferguson tried unsuccessfully to exchange Pinckard for Captain Spurlock, who was held at Barboursville.
On February 15, at daybreak, a Union force consisting of the 14th Kentucky Infantry and the 39th Kentucky surprised the 16th Regiment at their camp in Murder Hollow. Historian Stephen Lewis of Wayne records one account of this skirmish: “Garland Matthews told me that when he was a boy an old man by the name of Milt Adkins told him that he, though not a soldier, camped in the hollow with some friends who were Confederate soldiers, and that there were many soldiers camped there. They were attacked at dawn by Federal troops, and four or five Confederates were killed. Many were captured, but some got away. Garland Matthews confirmed that the battle was in winter; bodies froze to the ground and the spring ran red with blood. He also said they carted a number of the bodies away, but some were buried in Murder Hollow.” Colonel Ferguson was one of 42 men taken prisoner at Murder Hollow. Harrison managed to escape.
In July 1864, Lt. Harrison was captured by Union troops at Monocacy Junction, Maryland. Benjamin Dean, a Wayne Countian, wrote of the incident in a letter to his wife dated July 19. “We are under General McCaslin. We have been on a raid ever since the 11th of May. We started at Lynchburgh, from there back to the Valley of Virginia to Winchester, from there to Maryland to Frederick City. We fought 25,000 there. Lt. Harris was wounded and captured. We went near the city of Washington. We came back through East Virginia. I am near Winchester today. We marched all last night. I haven’t had a clean shirt for over five weeks. We manage to get enough to eat. We hook the Yanks at every point we can. We have been commanded by Colonel Graham. He does nothing but drink and curse and if Colonel Ferguson isn’t exchanged by next season I never expect to make another raid in this war.”
Three days after his capture, Harrison escaped and participated in a final engagement at Chambersburg on July 30, when Confederates burned the town.
In 1864, he returned home to Wayne County, at which time he and his wife, Mary Spurlock, were divorced. The former Mrs. Harrison soon remarried to Sylvester Brooks Crockett, who was eleven years her junior, and had several more kids before dying in 1883 on Wilson’s Creek in Wayne County.