Mason County memories: War comes to Point Pleasant (again)

War comes to Point Pleasant (again)

By Chris Rizer - Special to the Register

It’s March 30, 1863, and the Victor No. 2 just arrived in Point Pleasant riddled with bullet holes. To everyone’s horror, Cpt. Ford reports that this damage was caused by Confederate cavalry under the command of General Albert Jenkins, and that one of his crew has been killed. To make matters worse, those Confederate soldiers, 400 strong, are now advancing towards town. Rather than stay in town and get caught in the crossfire, many citizens cross to Gallipolis for protection. Defending the town would be left to Company E. of the 13th W.V. Infantry, numbering 60 men and commanded by Cpt. J.D. Carter.

The next morning, Cpt. Carter found his camp nearly surrounded, and quickly ordered his men to barricade themselves within the courthouse. Fire was exchanged in the street as the Union retreated, and remaining Unionists began to flee across the river. Jenkins, in true fashion, allowed his men to fire on the unarmed women and children. Luckily, no bullets found their mark.

Soon realizing that he could not force his way into the courthouse, Jenkins attempted to negotiate with Carter. Finding that there were still a few Confederate sympathizers in the town, he sent them to the courthouse with an ultimatum: surrender, or the town will burn. Three times, Carter sent them away and continued to fight.

By 3 p.m., the Confederates had set a bakery, a stable, and some corncribs ablaze. On the other side of the river, the Trumbull Guards and 100 soldiers from the Gallipolis Hospital Camp had taken up arms and were preparing to join the fight. If not for the reluctance of a Government Quartermaster on board the Victor No. 2, they may have arrived in time for the battle. As the record stands, they arrived just as Jenkins began his retreat.

In a later editorial to The Weekly Register, Carter writes, “And I will take this occasion to thank the soldiers and citizens of Gallipolis who did come to our relief. I thank you gentlemen, soldiers and citizens in the name of Company E, 13th Va. V.I., and will say, also, if ever you get into trouble we will not be slow to your rescue. We know that your will was good to come to our assistance sooner; but we know you had no means to cross the river, unless you had swam it.”

By the time the battle was over, the Confederates faced 20 killed, 25 wounded, and 27 captured. In sharp contrast, the Union soldiers had only 2 killed, 1 wounded, and 13 captured. However, there was one additional death.

Major Andrew Chapman Waggener, a veteran of the War of 1812, owned a farm on the outskirts of Point Pleasant. Upon hearing of the Confederate army’s approach, he rode towards town on horseback to speak with the Union soldiers. Satisfied with their defense, he began his ride home. During his trip, he came upon some rebels, one of which tried to take hold of his horse. The old veteran, rather than part with his beloved horse, hit the young soldier with his cane. He was then mercilessly shot and his horse taken.

In an editorial to the Wheeling Intelligencer titled “Albert G. Jenkins,” an anonymous Kanawha Valley citizen writes, “If anything had been wanting to render the name heading this article perfectly odious and disgusting to mankind, that lack has been fully supplied by the inhuman and diabolical murder of the venerable and heroic Andrew Waggoner, of Mason County, on Monday last.”

This is not the only article which refers to Jenkins in such a malicious manner. Others refer to him as a coward, horse thief, murderer, and in the Gallipolis Journal, a “renowned freebooter and robber.” It seems that very few in our region had a high opinion of General Jenkins, especially after the murder of Major Waggener.

Information for this article taken from the Official Reports of the Union and Confederate Armies, The Weekly Register, the Gallipolis Journal, and the Wheeling Intelligencer.

War comes to Point Pleasant (again)

By Chris Rizer

Special to the Register

Chris Rizer directs the Mason County Historic Preservation Society which can be found on Facebook.

Chris Rizer directs the Mason County Historic Preservation Society which can be found on Facebook.