DARING INVASION OF MCNEILL'S RANGERS,
AND CAPTURE OF GENERALS CROOK AND KELLY

One of the boldest exploits of the Civil War was the capture by a party of Con- federates of two Major Generals of the Union Army, surrounded by about eight thousand Federal troops. This took place in Cumberland on the 21st of February, 1865, just before the collapse of the Confederate Government. Thirty years later, Mr. John B. Fey, who was one of the party, wrote an account of the affair, and which is here given as he wrote it:

Towards the close of the late war, about an hour before daybreak, on the cold, frosty morning of February 21, 1865, a troop of Confederate cavalry, sixty-five in number, under Lieutenant Jesse C. McNeill, having forded the Potomac, surprised and captured the pickets, rode into the heart of the city of Cumberland, Md., captured Major Generals Crook and Kelly, together with the latter's adjutant-general, Major Melvin, and, without the loss of a single man, carried their distinguished prisoners back into the Confederate lines. Six or eight thousand troops were encamped in and around the city, which had long been the headquarters of General Kelly, commander of the military district of West Virginia, and in consequence this exploit created great local sensation, but for obvious reasons made no marked impression upon the public mind.

Some time in February, 1865, Lieutenant McNeill consulted with me about the feasibility of getting into Cumberland and capturing Generals Kelly and Crook. He referred to a suggestion that I had made his father, in his lifetime, to capture Gen. Kelly, and informed me of his desire to secure both generals, if, on examination, it was found to be practicable. Cumberland was my native place. I had on several previous occasions entered it with ease--once remaining a week--and on my giving McNeill every assurance that his design could be successfully carried out, it was determined to make the attempt. I was commissioned to proceed at once to Cumberland or its vicinity, and prepare the way for our entry, by learning the number and position of the picket posts, the exact location of the sleeping apartments of the generals, and any other information deemed necessary. Selecting a comrade, C. B. Hallar, a lad from Missouri, not yet out of his 'teens, but of well tested courage and prudence, I started forthwith, and a few nights after our departure from Moorefield found us upon the north bank of the Potomac, a few miles west of Cumberland. At this point the required information was procured, and retracing our steps, by daylight we were twenty miles away, enjoying a welcome breakfast with a bachelor friend, Vanse Herriott, near Romney.

From here Hallar was dispatched to intercept Lieut. McNeill, who in our absence was to have twenty-five well mounted men prepared and move leisurely in the direction of Cumberland, ready to act on my report. Cumberland, which then had a population of 8,000, is situated on the north bank of the upper Potomac, at the confluence of that river and Will's creek, and on the site of old Fort Cumberland, the frontier post in colonial times, from which Gen. Braddock, in 1755, set out on his expedition across the Alleganies to Fort DuQuesne. It is just opposite a peninsular neck of land in Virginia, the elongation of the Knobly mountain range, which here presses so far north as to cause an abrupt bend in the river, and nearly to cut this portion of Maryland in two, the distance across to the Pennsylvania line being only six miles. At the time of which I write 6,000 or 8,000 troops occupied the city, and on the night of our entry, in addition to the resident commander, Maj. Gen. Kelly, and Gen. Crook, Brigadier Generals Hayes (since President of the United States), Lightburn and Duvall were temporarily in the city. A greater harvest of generals might have been reaped had we been aware of this latter fact. Sheridan's army lay at Winchester, and a considerable force of Federal troops were strongly entrenched at New Creek (now Keyser), an important station on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The first-named point is south-east of Cumberland and the second south-west, and both are nearer Moorefield than Cumberland--New Creek by 18 miles. These facts will show the hazard of a trip from our headquarters to Cumberland, and the liability of being cut off, to which any small force of Confederates discovered in the vicinity of the latter place would be exposed.

When McNeill and party arrived at the rendezvous, in addition to those of our own command, was a number, probably a dozen, belonging to Company F of the Seventh and D of the Eleventh Virginia cavalry, of Rosser's Brigade. The men and horses were fed and rested here, and the shades of the evening saw us upon our ride. Our route lay over Middle Ridge and across the valley of Patterson's Creek, through the ridges beyond to the base of the Knobly mountain, where, taking a north-easterly course, we came to a narrow gap, leading up to open fields on the mountain top. Passing up this gap, over an icy road, we found the fields above covered with snow drifts of uncertain depth, which forced us to dismount and lead our struggling horses. Having reached the road through a lower gap to the Seymour farm, we quickly descended the mountain into the valley and crossed the Potomac into Maryland.

At this juncture Lieut. McNeil led the troop into a neighboring field and, calling a number of us together, rode to the residence of a prominent. citizen close by, where he held a little council of war. In this participated Sergeants Vandiver, Dailey and Cunningham, Privates R. G. Lobb, Chas. Nichols, Lieut. Isaac Parsons and J. W. Kuykendall, the two latter of Rosser's brigade, myself and probably some others whom I cannot now recall. After saying that there was not then sufficient time to enable us to reach Cumberland before daylight by the route laid down by me, the Lieutenant proposed that that part of the expedition be abandoned, but to prevent the trip from being an entire failure, he suggested that we should surprise and capture the pickets at the railroad station near by, at Brady's Mill. The prizes for which we had come so far were estimated by quality, not quantity, and a company of infantry was not esteemed a fair exchange for two major-generals, so his proposition met with emphatic and almost unanimous dissent. It is proper here to say that my route contemplated flanking the neighboring village of Cresaptown, moving on to the well-known National Road, and taking that thoroughfare, which was not picketed, to enter Cumberland from the north-west, by way of the Narrows, a famous pass through Will's Mountain. This would have doubled the distance to be traveled from the point at which we passed the river, but it was the only prudent and reasonably safe route, and but for several unnecessary delays already made, for which Lieut. McNeil himself was responsible, ample time had been left to pursue it.

The fact remained, however, as McNeill had declared, that we could not then get to Cumberland by that route in the required time, and if we were to proceed further on our expedition, we must at once take the shorter route, the New Creek road, and try our chances, by surprising and capturing the pickets on that road, to get into the city without raising an alarm. The attempt to pass quietly through two lines of pickets promised but doubtful results, but this being the only satisfactory alternative, we determined to try it. Lieutenant McNeill and Sergeant Vandiver, followed by Kuykendall and myself, rode ahead as an advance guard, the rest of the troop, under Lieutenant I. S. Welton, keeping close behind. A layer of thin, crusty snow was on the ground, and although it was an hour and a half before dawn we could see very well for a short distance. The New Creek road skirts the base of Will's Mountain, running almost parallel with the railroad and river, and all three come close together at the mouth of a deep ravine, about two miles from Cumberland. Here the road deflects to the left and winds up through the ravine and over the hill to the city. A cavalry picket was stationed at the mouth of the ravine and as we neared this point a solitary vidette was observed standing on the roadside, who upon noticing our approach gave the challenge, "Halt! who comes there?"

"Friends from New Creek," was the response.

He then said, "Dismount one, come forward and give the countersign," when, without a word Lieut. McNeill, putting spurs to his horse, dashed towards the picket and as he passed, unable to check his speed, fired his pistol in the man's face. We followed rapidly and secured the picket, whom we found terribly startled at the peculiar conduct of his alleged "friends." Two comrades, acting as a reserve, had been making themselves cosy before a few embers, under a temporary shelter in a fence corner about a hundred yards in the rear, and these, hearing the commotion in front, hastily decamped towards the river. They got no further than the railroad, however, for we were close upon them and in response to our threats of shooting, both halted and surrendered. They belonged to Co. B, Third Ohio, and from one of them, the desired countersign for the night, "Bull's Gap," was extorted under menace of instant annihilation at the end of a halter. Mounting these men upon their horses, which we found hitched near the roadside, we took them into Cumberland and out again, when one was turned loose by his weary guard minus horse and equipments, plus a very remarkable experience.

The imprudent action of Lieutenant McNeill in firing, as he did, a shot which might have caused a general alarm and forced us to abandon our designs, created some displeasure among the men, and sharing in this feeling I insisted that Kuykendall and myself should take the advance in the approach to the next inner post. This was assented to, and we moved on with the determination that no more unnecessary firing should be indulged in on our part. The second post was fully a mile away, over the high intervening hill, and located at the junction of the road we were on with the old Frostburg pike. This post consisted of five men belonging to the First West Virginia Infantry, who were comfortably ensconced in a shed-like structure, behind a blazing log fire, and all busily engaged at cards. As we drew near the circle of light, one of the number was observed to get up, reach for a musket, and advance in front of the fire to halt us. To his formal challenge Kuykendall answered, "Friends, with the countersign." We kept moving up in the meantime, and when the demand was made for one of us to dismount and give the countersign, noticing an impatient movement among our men in the rear, to mislead the picket and enable us to get as near as possible before our intended dash was made, I shouted, back in a loud voice, "Don't crowd up, men. Wait until we give the countersign." We did not find it necessary to give it, however; there was an open space around the picket post, which allowed no chance of escape, and we were close upon them; the next instant a swift forward dash was made, and without a single shot; they were surrounded and captured. Their guns and ammunition were taken and destroyed, and the men were left unguarded at their post with strict instructions to remain until our return.

On its face this would appear to have been a very unwise thing, but it was the best we could do. We had no intention of returning that way, but we rightly trusted that before the men would realize the situation, and get to where an alarm could be given, our work in the city would have been done. We were now inside the picket lines and before us lay the slumbering city. The troop was halted here for a short time, while Lieutenant McNeill hastily detailed two squads of ten men each, who were directly charged with the capture of the generals. Sergeant Joseph W. Kuykendall, of Company F, 7th, Virginia Cavalry, a special scout for General Early and a soldier of great courage, coolness and daring, who had once been a prisoner in Kelly's hands and had a personal acquaintance with him, was placed in command of the men detailed to secure that general. To Sergeant Joseph L. Vandiver, a man of imposing figure and style, was given charge of the capture of General Crook.

An interesting fact in connection with this latter is that among the number were Jacob Gassman, a former clerk in the hotel which Gen. Crook occupied, and whose uncle then owned the building; and Sergeant Charles James Dailey, whose father was landlord at the time, and whose sister, Mary, is now Mrs. General Crook, and was probably then his fiancÚ. The duty of destroying the telegraph lines was imposed on me, and Hallar and others detailed as my assistants. These preliminaries being arranged, we moved on down the pike, rode into Green street and around the Court House Hill; then over the Chain bridge across Will's Creek and up Baltimore streets, the principal thoroughfare of the City. Taking in the situation as they rode along, the men occupied themselves in whistling such Yankee tunes as they knew, and bandying words with isolated patrols and guards occasionally passed. Some of our men were disguised in federal overcoats, but in the dim light no difference could be noticed in the shades of light blue and gray. Part of the men were halted in front of the Barnum House, now the Windsor Hotel, where General Kelly slept, and the others rode on to the Revere House, where Gen. Crook reposed in fancied security. A sentry paced up and down in front of the respective headquarters, but took little notice of our movements, evidently taking us for a scouting party coming in to report.

Sprigg Lynn, of Kuykendall's squad, was about the first to reach the pavement, where he captured and disarmed the sentry, who directed the party to the sleeping apartment of General Kelly. Entering the hotel, the party first invaded a room on the second floor which proved to be that of the adjutant general. Arousing him they asked where Gen. Kelly was and were told that he was in the adjoining apartment, a communicating room, the door of which was open and which they entered at once. When Gen. Kelly was awakened, he was informed that he was a prisoner, and was requested to make his toilet as speedily as possible. With some degree of nervousness, the old General complied, inquiring as he did so to whom he was, surrendering. Kuykendall replied "To Captain McNeill, by order of General Rosser." He had little more to say after this, and in a very short space of time both he and Melvin were taken down into the street and mounted upon horses, the owners of which courteously gave the prisoners the saddle, and rode behind. In this manner they were taken out of Cumberland, but as soon after as separate horses could be procured, they were given them.

At the Revere House an almost identical scene took place. The sentry having been taken and disarmed, the capturing party ascended the stone steps of the hotel and found the outside door locked. The door was opened by a small colored boy and the party entered. The boy was greatly alarmed at the brusque manner of the unexpected guests, whom he evidently suspected of improper intentions. When asked if Gen. Crook was in the hotel, he said, "Yes sah, but don't tell 'em I told you," and he afterward make the inquiry, "What kind o' men is you all, anyhow?" While Vandiver and Dailey were getting a light in the office below, Gassman went up to No. 46. Gen. Crook's apartment, and thinking the door was locked, knocked at it several times. A voice within asked, "Who's there?" Gassman replied, "A friend," and was then told to "Come in." Vandiver, Dailey and Tucker arrived by this time and all entered the room. Approaching the bed where the General lay, Vandiver said in a pompous manner, "General Crook, you are my prisoner." "What authority have you for this?" inquired Crook, "The authority of General Rosser, of Fitzhugh Lee's division of cavalry," said Vandiver, in response. Crook then rose up in bed and said, "Is General Rosser here?" "Yes," replied Vandiver, "I am General Rosser; I have 2,500 men with me, and we have surprised and captured the town." That settled the matter as far as the bonafide General was concerned; he was intensely surprised at the bold announcement, but knowing nothing to the contrary, accepted Vandiver's assertion as the truth, and submitted to his fate with as much grace and cheerfulness as he could muster.

Speaking to me afterwards of his sensations at the time, the General said, "Vandiver was just such a looking person as I supposed General Rosser to be, and I had no reason to doubt the truth of his statement. I was very much relieved, however, when I found out the real situation, and that the city and garrison had not been taken." General Kelly and his adjutant were taken some time before Crook was brought out and mounted, but when this was finally done, and the headquarters and other flags were secured, in a quiet and orderly manner the entire party rode down Baltimore street to the Chain bridge. A large stable was located here, and from this several fine horses were taken, among them Philippi, General Kelly's charger. The taking of these horses caused some delay, which greatly excited Lieutenant McNeill, who calling for me, ordered that I should lead them out of the city at once. Turning the column to the left, I led it down Canal street and on to the canal bank, where a few hundred yards below, at the locks, we came unexpectedly upon a dozen or more guards whom we surrounded and captured. We destroyed their guns and ammunition, but did not encumber ourselves with more prisoners. From this point the column went at a gallop down the towpath, until halted by the picket posted at the canal bridge, a mile below town, on the road to Wiley's ford. The column not halting as ordered, one of the pickets was heard to say, "Sergeant shall I fire?" when Vandiver, who was in front, shouted, "If you do I'll place you under arrest. This is General Crook's body guard, and we have no time to waste. The rebels are coming and we are going out to meet them." This explanation seemed satisfactory; we passed under the bridge, beyond the picket post the enemies' outmost guard--and across the Potomac.

We were four or five miles away before the boom of a cannon was heard giving the alarm. Sixty rough and rugged miles intervened between us and safety, but I doubt if there was a man in the troop but now felt at his ease. Elated, proud and happy, all rode back that cold winter morning over the snow-clad Virginia hills. Our expedition had been a grand success and our every wish was realized. A mounted force from Cumberland in pursuit came in sight on Patterson's Creek, but kept at a respectful distance in the rear until after we had passed Romney, when they pressed upon our guard, but on the exchange of a few shots, retired. On reaching the Moorefield valley a battalion of the Ringgold Cavalry, sent from New Creek to intercept us, came in sight. We were on opposite sides of the river, in full view of each other, and soon our tired horses were being urged to their utmost speed; the Federals endeavoring to reach Moorefield and cut off our retreat; while our great desire was to pass through the town with our prisoners and captured flags and exhibit to our friends and sweethearts there the fruits of our expedition and the trophies of our success.

It soon became evident, however, that the fresher horses of the other side would win the race, and convinced that the town could not be reached and safely passed, McNeill suddenly led his men into the woods skirting the road, and taking a well known trail passed through the ridges east of Moorefield to a point of security seven miles above, where we encamped for the night. In the previous twenty-four hours we had ridden ninety miles, over hill and mountain, valley and stream, with very little rest or food for men or horses, and as may be readily imagined, heartily enjoyed the night's repose. Our prisoners received the best possible care and attention, and early next morning pursued their enforced march "On to Richmond" by way of General Early's headquarters at Staunton. The following are verbatim copies of the only official reports of the affair on record in the War Department at Washington, and have probably never before been published:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
February, 24, [1865.]

Hon. Jno. C. Breckinridge,
Secretary of War:

General Early reports that Lieutenant McNeill, with thirty men, on the morning of the 21st, entered Cumberland, captured and brought out Generals Crook and Kelly, the adjutant general of the department, two privates and the headquarters' flags, without firing a gun, though a considerable force is stationed in vicinity. Lieutenant McNeill and party deserve much credit for this bold exploit. Their prisoners will reach Staunton today.

R. E. LEE.

 

CUMBERLAND, Md.,
Feb. 21, 1865.

Major-General Sheridan,
Winchester, Va.:

This morning about 3 o'clock a party of rebel horsemen came up on the New Creek road, about sixty in number. They captured the picket and quietly rode into town, went directly to the headquarters of Generals Crook and Kelly, sending a couple of men to each place to overpower the headquarters guard, when they went directly to the room of General Crook and, without disturbing anybody else in the house, ordered him to dress, and took him down stairs and placed him upon a horse ready saddled and waiting. The same was done to General Kelly. Captain Melvin, A.A.G. to General Kelly, was also taken. While this was being done a few of them, without creating any disturbance, opened one or two stores, but they left without waiting to take anything. It was done so quietly that others of us who were sleeping in adjoining rooms to General Crook were not disturbed. The alarm was given within ten minutes by a [black] watchman at the hotel, who escaped from them, an hour we had a party of fifty cavalry after them. They tore up the telegraph lines and it required almost an hour to get them in working order. As soon as New Creek could be called I ordered a force to be sent to Romney, and it started without any unnecessary delay. A second force had gone from New Creek to Moorefield, and a regiment of infantry had gone to New Creek to supply the place of the cavalry. They rode good horses and left at a very rapid rate, evidently fearful of being overtaken. They did not remain in Cumberland over ten minutes. From all information I am inclined to believe that instead of Rosser it is McNeill's company. Most of the men from that company are from this place. I will telegraph you fully any further information.

ROBERT P. KENNEDY,
Major and A.A.C.

 

But little remains to be added. Lieutenant McNeill secured at last his long deferred captain's commission but did not long enjoy it, the war ending soon after. Sometime in May, 1865 in accordance with the stipulations of Lee at Appomattox, McNeill surrendered his command for parole. Since the war he has married and returned to the West, and for many years has been a citizen of Illinois. Many of his troops have since passed from time into eternity, and the survivors are scattered far and wide.

Although a major general of volunteers and also by brevet, General Crook's lineal rank in the Regular Army at the end of the war was Captain in the Fourth Infantry. Since then he has risen to the grade of major general, and was by three removes from full command of the Army of the United States when he died at Chicago in 1890, in command of the military department of Missouri.

General Kelly, after long enjoying a sinecure post in the civil service and a modest pension, died on his farm in the Alleganies in 1891.

Major Melvin is a distinguished member of the bar of West Virginia, who, since his creditable career in the army closed, has had the honor of presiding on the bench, over one of the most important circuit courts in that young and prosperous State. J. B. FAY.

Major General B. F. Kelly died in July 1891, and was buried at Arlington on the 19th of that month. The remains were brought over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on a special train from Oakland, Md., where they had been lying in state, and funeral ceremonies had been held. Accompanying the remains were Mrs. Kelly and her daughter, Mrs. McIlvaine, Capt. McIlvaine, and Wm. Bruce, son of General Bruce of Maryland, a large number of relatives and friends, and a committee from the Loyal Legion, and the Washington Kit Carson Post, G. A. R., of which the General was a member.

The pall-bearers were Generals Rosecrans and Reynolds, Hon. J. S. Mason, Colonels Frey, Hawkes and Lynn, Majors Gaines and Myers, and Captains McKee and Hunt, all of whom had served under General Kelley. The Grand Army, visiting delegations, and the District militia, acted as the escort. The services at the grave were conducted by the Kit Carson Post. The remains were interred in a lot adjoining General Sheridan.

General Crook was born near Dayton, Ohio, September 8, 1828. He was graduated at the United States Military Academy in 1852, and served in the California Infantry in 1852-61. He participated in the Rouge river expedition in 1856, and commanded the Pitt river expedition in 1857, where he was engaged in several actions, in which he was wounded by an arrow. He had risen to a captaincy when, at the beginning of the Civil War he was returned to the east and became Colonel of the 36th Ohio Infantry. He afterwards served in the West Virginia campaigns, in command of the 3rd provisional brigade from May 1st to August 15, 1862 and was wounded in the action at Louisburg.

He entered the command of the Kannawha district in West Virginia in February, 1864, made constant raids and was in numerous actions. He took part in Sheridan's Shenandoah campaign in the autumn of that year, and received the brevets of Brigadier-General and Major-General in the United States army March 13, 1865. During the latter part of February of this year, General Crook, with General Kelly, were captured by Confederates in this city and taken to Richmond, where they were shortly afterwards exchanged. General Crook had command of the cavalry of the Potomac from March 26 till April 9, 1865. Was afterwards transferred to the command of Wilmington, N. C., where he remained until January, 1886, when he was mustered out of the volunteer service. In 1872 General Crook was assigned to the Arizona district to quell the Indian disturbances. Since that time he has been engaged on the frontier.

Through General Crook, the Indians of the far west were put to work on their farms, the system of trading and paying in goods and store orders indulged in by contractors was abolished, and the tribes became self-supporting in three years from 1883.

General Crook married Miss Mary T. D. Dailey, daughter of the late John Dailey, for many years proprietor of the Glades Hotel in Oakland, and during the war proprietor of the Revere House in this city. It was during this latter time that General Crook met his wife. General George Crook died in Chicago on the 25th of March, 1890, aged 62 years. The body of General Crook was accompanied from Chicago by Ex-President Hayes, and was interred in the cemetery at Oakland Garrett county, Maryland, the former home of his wife.

SEQUEL TO THE CAPTURE OF KELLY AND CROOK

The above account of the capture of the Union Generals, Kelly and Crook, suggests a sequel to that most daring Civil War event, no less interesting than Mr. Fay's account.

The following sequel is furnished by Mr. Glissan T. Porter, of Cumberland, culled from the notes of Mr. William H. Maloney, who was one of the capturing party, and was one of the squad that took General Kelly from the Barnum Hotel, now the Windsor Hotel, on the morning of February 21, 1865, while another squad took General Crook from the Revere Hotel, now The Kenneweg Company's wholesale grocery, just a few hundred feet east of the Barnum Hotel. The notes were written a few hours after the capture.

Mr. Fay's and Mr. Maloney's accounts agree in the major parts, but the following telegrams, in the possession of Mr. John G. Lynn, Jr., president of the Kenneweg Company, and here published for the first time, will lend additional interest to one of the most daring episodes of the Civil War, and because of this fact the telegrams are made to precede reference and quotation from Mr. Maloney's notes. There are many telegrams bearing on military matters in this section, but the three used here bear personally and directly upon Generals Kelly and Crook, then in command of the Union forces at Cumberland. Coincident with the capture of these Union Generals, it would appear from these dispatches that the removal from Cumberland of these Generals had already been contemplated by their superior officers. The telegrams follow:

CITY POINT, VA.,
Feb. 21, 1865, 2 p.m.
Received 5 p.m.

Maj. Gen. P. H. Sheridan,
Winchester, Va.

The number of surprises in West Virginia indicate negligence on the part of officers and troops in that department. Hereafter, when these disasters occur, cause an investigation to be made by one of your officers, of the circumstances, and when there has been neglect, punish it. I have recommended Warren or Humphrys as Crook's successor, and Carroll to take the place of Kelly. If you want any change from this, telegraph me at once before arrangements are made. U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant General.

 

WINCHESTER, VA.,
Feb. 21, 1865.
Received 22nd

Lieut. General Grant:

I would prefer Gibbon or either Humphrys to Warren. There is and has been an unexcusable carelessness on the part of the officers and troops in the Department of West Virginia. I have dismissed, subject to the approval of the President, in all cases. There is on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, or conveying in from Martinsburg to Parkersburg, 14,000 effective troops, and there was at Cumberland of this force, between 3,500 and 4,000 men; still they have been asking for more. I hope to get off from here about Saturday, if possible. I have a canvas platoon train enroute from Washington which I would like to take.

P. H. SHERIDAN,
Maj. General.

 

WINCHNSTER, VA.,
Feb. 21, 1865, 9 p.m.
Received 10.30 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. Hallack,
Chief Staff:

A party of from 50 to 60 rebel cavalry surprised Gen. Crook's pickets at Cumberland at 3 o'clock this morning, entered the city and captured Generals Crook and Kelly, and carried them off. I ordered the cavalry at New Creek to Moorefield, and sent from here to same place, via Wardensville, but have but little hopes of recapture, as the party is going very rapidly. I think the party belongs to McNeill's band.

P. H. SHERIDAN,
Maj. General.

 

After reciting the incidents of the capture, the departure of the Confederates with Generals Crook and Kelly from Cumberland, their arrival at Moorefield, from where the Union Generals were sent under a strong guard to Richmond, Va., Mr. Maloney concludes his interesting narrative by stating that just before leaving Moorefield for Richmond, General Crook made a speech, thanking the command for the kindness shown him since he was captured. My recollection is that we had only sixty-five men, rank and file, engaged in the capture, and from information learned since the war there were from 8,000 to 10,000 soldiers in and around Cumberland; and without discrediting anyone, or wishing to take from any, it was my understanding that John B. Fay, of Cumberland, was prime mover and the originator of the raid.

ROSTER OF MCNEILL'S PARTISAN RANGERS

The following is the roster of McNeill's Rangers, preserved by Mr. Maloney, of which he was a member:

Officers:-McNeill, J. C., 1st Lieut.; Welton, I. S., 2nd Lieut.; Dolen, J. B., 3rd Lieut.; Taylor, Harrison, 1st Sergt.; Vanderver, J. L., 2nd Sergt.; Daily, James, 3rd Sergt.; Seymour, Able, 4th Sergt.; Hopkins, David, 1st Corp.; Judy, I., 2nd Corp.; Oats, I., 3rd Corp., Parsons, D. M., 4th Corp.

Privates:-Acker, John; Alexander, M. S.; Allen, Geo. M.; Allen, Herman; Anderson, Nathan;, Athey, William; Allen, I.; Albright, James; Bobo, Jackson; Bear, Fred; Bierkaup, William; Brathwaite, Newton; Blackmore, William; Bowman, Jack; Barnum James; Bare, William; Baldwin, H.; Blakemore, George; Branson, William; Bernett, Henry;'Browning, E. R.; Boggs, Guss; Crawford, James; Conley, Jack; Carson, John; Cleaver, William; Clutter, J. W.; Cain, Thomas; Cowger, David; Cokley, John; Cokley, George; Cooper, I.; Clary, Lloyd; Clary, Thad; Clary, Richard; Crisholm, Walter; Cresap, Van; Cosner, Wayne; Carl, George; Coffman, James; Cunningham, John; Daugherty, Sam; Davis, R. C.; Duffy, J. W.; Duval, R. H.; Davis, Frank; Dyer, Robin; Dyce, Sam; Devertman, P.; Eagright, E. C.; Fay, John B.; Fisher, J. G.; Frederick, Lewis; Gray, S.; Grady, Geo.; Harness, G. S.; Hatterman, J.; Harvey, J.; Havener, J.; Harness, W. W.; Hill, I.; Huck, William; Houseworth, J.; Hess, James; Hunter, John; Hulter, C. R.; High, J. W.; Hoard, H.; Hack, A. C.; Hutten, John; Hopkins, Wm.; Harper, John; Judy, G.; Jones, H. C.; Johnson, Chas.; Jacobs, Geo.; Johnson, Fisher; Jomes, Sam; Johnson, John; Kiracroft, Nelson; Ketterman, H.; Lobb, Robert; Lynn, John G.; Lynn, Sprigg S.; Long, J. R.; Luke, Wm.; Logan, Lloyd; Liggett, Robert; Mason, J. H.; Markwood, John; Martin, Taylor; Maloney, William; Maginnis, J.; Mountz, J. D.; Markwood, Geo.; Michael, J.; Magalis, William; McKaig, John; Moore, Sam; Miller, Simon; Miller, Chas.; Martin, Wm.; Miller, Rader; Miller, James; Miller, James; Miles, Ruben; Miles, Wm.; Michael, Isaic; McNeill, James; Neville, Thorton; Norris, William; O'Haver, Martin; Overman, John; O'Ruke, John; Parker, Jas. A.; Poole, William; Painter, N. B.; Pannybaker, J. C.; Reed, John; Ritter, Henry; Richardson, John; Rinker, Wm.; Rogers, John; Rhodes, 0. L.; Richards, B. F.; Robison,,I. N.; Rosser, Robert; Shaffer, Sam; Smith, John; Showalters, John; Seman, Wm.; Stewart, F.; Seymour, Henry; Seymour, Wm.; Stickley, S.; Steele, John; Showalters, D. H.; Shipman, J.; Saunders, James; Scott, T.; Shoemate, Wm.; Shyock, J.; Spaldings, Wm.; Shore, H. W.; Shitagger, Wm.; Temple, J. M.; Tabb, P.; Trumbo, M. G.; Tucker, E.; Tucker, Sam; Truehart, H. M.; Triplett, John; Taylor, G. R.; Tavebaugh, I.; Vandiver, George; Van Pelt, John; Vallandingham, J. L.; Whitmore, John; Watring, Ben; Welch, James; Welton, S.; Westmoreland, M.; White, Chas.; Williamson, J. B.; Watkins, Chas.; Williams, 0. U.; Wilson, J.

A rather amusing and entirely authentic incident occurred during the courtship of General Kelly and Miss Bruce. It seems that Captain Jesse C. McNeill, who took command of McNeill's Company after the death of his father, was also in love with Miss Bruce. The matter was talked over among the members of McNeill's Company, among these being Sprigg S. Lynn, John G. Lynn, Sr., Thad. Clary, Lloyd Clary, John B. Fay, all of whom were from Cumberland and vicinity. The matter became a concern of the whole Company, and it was finally decided that it would be a good thing to capture Kelly, and give young McNeill full sweep in his love affair. Upon learning that General Crook was also at Cumberland, it was decided to capture them both. The capture was made as detailed above, but General Kelly married Miss Bruce, nevertheless.

Another amusing incident in this affair is related, in which Miss Bruce figured. It was the night after the capture of Kelly and Crook, when a play was being given as a charity benefit at the old Belvedere Hall, the only theatre Cumberland had at that time, in which Miss Bruce took part. She was a sweet singer, and at the conclusion of her song, entitled, "I Kissed Him Just Before He Left," some fellow back in the audience shouted "No, I'll be damned if you did, you didn't have time!" It was hard to tell whether the applause that followed was meant as an encore for Miss Bruce or approval of the wag's sarcasm.

John G. Lynn, Sr., and William Maloney are the only two members of McNeill's Company living at Cumberland now.


Source:

History of Allegany County Maryland, Vol 1, by James W Thomas and Judge T J C Williams, L R Tittsworth & Company, 1923, pp 389-398.

Pictures of Baltimore Street