Historic Hampshire County, WV

Romney at the End of the War  

    Exerpts from the diary of Samuel Clarke Farrar, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania Archives, MFF# 4844. This diary transcript was created by Debbie Day, intern at HSWP Archives in November 2006. We thank Mr. J. Bracken Burns for having brought this poignant description of life in our county at the end of the Civil War to our attention.

    After an earlier experience in the army, Samuel Clarke Farrar enlisted on September 21, 1864 at New Brighton, Pennsylvania. He served much of his time around New Creek with excursions to Moorefield and Cumberland and Martinsburg. He also made a brief trip to Romney after the war had officially ended and President Lincoln had been assasinated.  

Beginning at page 52 - May 1865

[May] 5th Friday The band took a holiday. Scott went to Greenland Gap: Wise, McCune, Foster and Myself in company with six others from the Reg't went to Romney: Romney probably has been a smart aristocratic town of 5 or 600 inhabitants. At the present it is in a deplorable condition, nearly one half the houses vacant, the glass having been taken out of these to repair others: The public buildings are badly used up. The jail is burned down: The Court House badly defaced.

The town was entirely dead to business, excepting a single cabinet maker, whose pounding alone disturbed the silence of the town. Not a store of any kind in the place, which they say has been the case for over two years.

The citizens are very shabbily dressed in old worn out old fashioned garb. The blacksmith, told me, he couldn't work on acc't of having no coal which prior to the war came from the B and O. R.R. The citizens have no currency but trade the necessaries of life for what they buy; Not a vehicle in town. The streets are almost deserted. A few paroled prisoners were lounging around: These were rather sulky & quiet: There is no law of any kind and robbery and horse stealing are common: The farmers were busy planting corn.

As we were coming home we met Maj Troxel some four miles from camp with 2 or 300 men going to Romney, having been sent on a fools errand under the impression that a Rebel force was there; McNeil and fourteen of his men came in and surrendered and were paroled at New Creek.

[May] 6 Sat  McNeil left this morning. Shortly afterward a dispatch came to detain him, but he was gone.

The diary contains several entries dealing with the surrender of McNeil's Rangers and other local men. They include the following:
5th april 1865 Wedy  A scout of 100 men under Capt Chissom went towards Romney and came almost up with McNeil who was laying in camp some 15 miles out ~ Chissom sent in for reinforcements and all the mounted men were sent out ~
Apr 20 Thursday A commissioner came under flag Of truce, from the Reb. McNeils command and was negotiating at "Hed Qrs" for the surrender of that body.
[April] 21 Friday Just seven months since I enlisted. A flag of truce went out to Petersburg with it Gen Hays and several other officials: The object was to secure the surrender and parole of rebel troops in that Valley: A Reb officer arrested on the night train, he being suspicioned as a conspirator. Great excitement almost a mob:
[April] 24 Monday  Several Rebel officers Lieut McNeil et.al. and their orderlies in all about a dozen come down to the lines to confer with the authorities regarding a surrender: The Gen wouldn't let them in, but went out to the picket post to see them. They are going to stay all night.
[April] 25 Tuesday  The Rebs went away this morning
[April] 28 Beautiful weather fruit trees out in full bloom. Scout ret'd bringing in of the rebs, two Capts. Scott and Harness also two Lieuts, a Qr Master and several privates with some horses.
[April] 29 Saturday A Lieut of Scotts guerillas, came in under flag of truce to come to terms of surrender for his company.
[April] 30th Sabbath Reg't mustered for pay: a party of 29 Rebs came in under flag of truce. Surrendered and were paroled: They had no arms. They turned nothing over to the Govt. Their horses were private and they kept them. Their saddles were Govt. (Reb and U.S) Strange but they were allowed to keep them. They were Harness' Scott's and some of McNeils men. Among them were several Lieuts. They were rather good looking men. Rather saucy looking. They purchased a pretty good load of clothing shoes &c and scattered to their homes. May 1 Monday Five more Rebs came in and surrendered.
See entry for May 5th above
[May] 9 Five Rebs came in and were paroled.
 [May] 27 The scout which went to Moorefield last week ret'd today, bringing with them the notorious horse thief and bushwack Carlisle: They brought him up through camp to the Smith shop to have the ball and chain riveted on him. A great many men followed after the guards shouting. "Shoot him" "Hang him" &c. 


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