One day Capt. George Stump came to our camp and said that Col. Angus McDonald wished to find out as near as possible what number of troops were at New Creek and that he was going on a scout that evening and wanted me to go with him. This I agreed to do, provided he got permission of Col. Ed. McDonald. He said that it was alright as he had already seen the Col. After dinner we started on the northwestern grade until we arrived at Burlington. Here we halted until night and then started after dark.This information comes from the fine book,Hanging Rock Rebel by Dan Oates of Romney, West Virginia.
We quietly left the village leaving the impression that we would return to Romney at once. But instead of returning to Romney we turned down Patterson's Creek pike which we followed some distance. We soon came to a road leading off to our left in the direction of New Creek Station. This we followed for a mile or more and again turned to our left; all the while Stump was the pilot. I was altogether at sea without a compass. Soon we left the road or the road left us. We ran against a high fence and came to a halt, I asked the Captain if he had any idea where he was at and he replied in very emphatic language that all he knew was that we were somewhere between Patterson's Creek and New Creek, but just where he did not know and that he had lost his bearings and really did not know if we were going east or west. We opened a fence and passed through and in a short time found ourselves in a field near a house, which Captain Stump said belonged to Mr. Welch, and said, we are all right now, I know exactly where we are. After riding for some time we came to another house, which the Captain said was where Mr. Parris lived. Not long after we came to a halt in a pine thicket the Captain said we had better tie up here and take foot as he thought we were near the point we were aiming for. We dismounted, tied our horses and laid down on the leaves and one of us at least was soon asleep. When day began to streak in the east, the Captain awoke me and said, we must be moving.
We soon found ourselves on the top of a ridge east and nearly opposite New Creek station. Here I climbed a tall pine and made a blind by bending the limbs together to shield me from observation, for it really seemed to me that I was so close that the yanks would surely see me. It was now light enough to see the camp guards walking their beats or hear their challenge distinctly. Capt. Stump lay on the ground beneath, not long after daylight each company was in line ready for roll call. I could hear each name distinctly called, I think my estimate of cavalry, infantry and artillery, all told, was about one thousand. The question with me was how to get down without being seen, for it really seemed to me that any one looking in that direction could see me and an expert marksman could easily have picked me off. They were soon busily engaged in preparing and eating breakfast. This Capt. Stump said was my opportunity to get down, which I did as speedily as possible. We were soon mounted and after a short consultation, we determined to call on Mr. Parris and get breakfast and have our horses fed, as he was a Union man he would not likely be molested for feeding rebels. We rode up to the house, the old gentleman was in the yard and he knew Capt. Stump but did not know me.
The Capt. told him, in answer to his many inquiries as to where we came from and where we were going, that we were trying to get information as to the number of troops at New Creek, and the location of the fortifications, if any. The Capt. said, I know you are a good southern man at heart but situated as you are of course you have to keep quiet. Now, said the Capt., we have been riding all night, wanting to get to your house before day and get a good view of New Creek station, but that we had lost our way and been delayed but now we know we were among friends who would like to get our horses fed and get something to eat ourselves". oh yes, he said get down and the boys will take your horses to the stable and feed them. No said the Capt. we are in a hurry, bring them about a dozen ears a piece and we will feed them here in that trough, pointing to one nearby. The corn was brought and in a few minutes we were called to breakfast.
The Captain kept the old man engaged in conservation to keep him from sending news of our whereabouts to the yankees at New Creek Station. When we were through with our meal and Capt. called the old man to one side and asked him to direct us to some suitable place where we could get a good view of the yankee camp and of course New Creek Station, also a good place to tie our horses, as we expected to remain all day and learn all we could and would be at his house again about dark and if there should happen to be any yankees about or should be any danger he was to have a candle in the east window. This he promised to do. Also he said his wife wished that he take some butter to the store and get some coffee that evening and that he would get what news he could for us by the time we got back.
By this time our horses were done eating, the old man said he would walk up in the field with us and direct us where to go. When some distance from the house, he directed us to a thicket at the lower side of the field where he thought we could get a good view of the yankee camp. Where he directed us to leave our horses was the place we had them tied and had taken them from, little more than an hour before. Capt. Stump said, I will bet two to one that old scamp will have the yanks here inside of two hours. Let us ride through this thicket over against that ridge where we can see his house, and I bet we will see either the old man or his boy go toward New Creek inside of ten minutes.
We rode over and sure enough we saw the old man mounted and start in a fast trot toward New Creek station. Now said Capt. Stump the sooner we get out of here, the better that old scamp will have the yankees on our trail inside of an hour so we took the back track and arrived at Romney about 4 p.m., without an accident.
We afterward learned through A. J. Parker, who was at New Creek at that time, that Capt. Stump's surmise was correct in regard to old Mr. Parris. He was at New Creek within an hour after leaving us and the yankees made a thorough search, but the game eluded them for that time.
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