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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.
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For a brief period of time in the 1880s, Archibald Harrison, a veteran officer of the Civil War, made his home in the Harts Creek District of Lincoln County, West Virginia, where he labored as a farmer and timberman.
Archibald was born in January of 1837 to Guy P. and Cleme (Harmon) Harrison in Tazewell County, Virginia. In 1850 census records for Tazewell County, he was listed with his father and stepmother, Nancy Jane Bruster, as well as his brothers and sisters.
By 1860, Harrison had made his way to Wayne County, where he was listed in the census with his older brother, Thomas, aged 35. Later in the year, he married Mary Spurlock, a daughter of Burwell and Nancy Spurlock. Mary’s father was a preacher who, among other things, established a Methodist Episcopal (South) Church at Trout’s Hill (Wayne) in 1846 with 36 charter members.
Archibald and Mary had three children: Laura P., born August 8, 1861, who died in 1879; Nancy C. “Nannie,” born February 1, 1863; and Lemuel, born September 18, 1865, died 1942. Daughters Laura and Nannie apparently spent their lives in Wayne County, while son Lem is probably the same person of that name who shows up in Logan County census records on Mud Fork and at Cherry Tree in 1910 and 1920.
During the Civil War, Harrison served in the Confederate Army and was a participant in many important events: namely General Albert Gallatin Jenkins’ famous march to Ohio in 1862, where his companions became the first Confederates to invade the Buckeye State; at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania under General J.E.B. Stuart in 1863; and at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania under John McCausland in 1864.
In 1861, the first year of the war, Harrison enlisted with the Fairview Rifles, an unorganized Confederate detachment under the command of Captain Milton J. Ferguson of Wayne County. He fought with them at Barboursville (July 14, 1861), at Scary Creek in Putnam County (July 17, 1861) at Carnifex Ferry in Nicholas County (September 10, 1861) and at Lewisburg in Greenbrier County (May 23, 1862). Most of these engagements were Confederate losses.
In August 1862 Harrison and the Fairview Rifles got a huge morale boost when they marched with Colonel Jenkins’s force from Monroe County to the Ohio River, occupying the towns of Buckhannon, Weston, Glenville, Spencer, Ripley, and Ravenswood along the way. At the Ohio, Jenkins and about half of his troops crossed the river and captured Racine (they were the first Confederates to enter Ohio) before re-entering (West) Virginia and heading to Point Pleasant.
On September 15, 1862, the Fairview Rifles were renamed Ferguson’s Battalion and officially mustered into service at Wayne Courthouse. Harrison, who was only 24 years old, was made second lieutenant of Captain Hurston Spurlock’s Company. (Spurlock was probably an in-law.)
On January 15, 1863, the 16th Regiment of Virginia Cavalry was formed when five companies from Ferguson’s Battalion merged with four companies of Major Otis Caldwell’s Battalion. Captain Ferguson was promoted to colonel and placed in command of the 16th, while Lt. Harrison and a majority of Spurlock’s Company were designated as Company E.
In the early summer of 1863, the 16th was attached to General Jenkins’ Brigade and sent north as part of General Robert E. Lee’s invasion force. In June, they moved through the Shenandoah Valley toward Pennsylvania where they fought at 2nd Winchester, Virginia, between June 14-15. They also saw action at Gettysburg on June 26, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on June 28-29 and at East Cavalry Battlefield near Gettysburg on July 3.
In the fall of 1863, on November 6, Harrison and the 16th fought at Droop Mountain in Pocahontas County, where the Confederates were defeated by a Union force that helped ensure Union control of the new state. Later in the month, the 16th participated in a siege of Knoxville, Tennessee, until December, 1863.