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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: February 4, 1862

Go To Page : 1 | 2 |

-Page 01-

Description of Page: Various items of war news, including reports from the battlefield, military maneuvers and national political developments, columns 1-5; Local advertisements, markets, and notices, columns 6-7; list of letters remaining at Post Office, columns 7

Trial and Discharge of Henry J. Webster
(Column 1)
Summary: Reports the trial and acquittal of Henry Webster, the Tennessee soldier who killed John Snider in Staunton, in what was proven to the satisfaction of the Court to be an accident rather than a murder.
(Names in announcement: John B. Snider, John Beck, Capt. Henderson M. Bull, Col. William H. Harman, Hugh W. Sheffey, Hon. Alex H. Stuart, Thomas J. Michie)
Full Text of Article:

The County Court were engaged during last week in the examining trial of Mr. Henry J. Webster, of Columbia, Tenn., who, in November last, killed Mr. John B. Snider in the oyster saloon of Mr. John Beck, of this place. When this act was committed, and our citizens found that one of their number, who was highly esteemed, had been shot down by a soldier to whom he had offered no provocation, they were naturally indignant, and feeling that an inexcusable outrage and a horrible crime had been committed, were excited to an intense degree against the perpetrator of the act, and desired to have what they conceived to be merited punishment inflicted upon him.

Great interest was manifested in the trial, and the Court House was nearly filled with spectators from the beginning to the conclusion of it. As the testimony was being developed, showing that the act was the result of an unfortunate accident, instead of a malicious and murderous intent, the hearts of those most excited against the prisoner began to relent, and before it was concluded their feelings of vengeance were converted into emotions of lively sympathy for the unfortunate prisoner, and, instead of desiring to see him punished, hoped that he would be discharged and set at liberty. The cause was argued on the part of the Commonwealth by Capt. Henderson M. Bell and Col. Wm. H. Harman, and, on behalf of the prisoner, by Hugh W. Sheffey, Esq., Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuart, and Thos. J. Michie, Esq. The Commonwealth was well represented, and as strong a view as the testimony would justify was presented against the prisoner. The speeches on behalf the defence, having the advantage of testimony, were able and conclusive, and having the advantage of the strong feelings of sympathy which the character of the testimony had excited in behalf of the prisoner, were pathetic to an unusual degree, and many persons "unused to the melting mood" shed tears of sympathy profusely. The prisoner was proven to be a young man of pre-eminently good character, of a kind and humane disposition, of a mild and even temper, of good morals and pure integrity, honorable, high minded, brave and chivalrous; a dutiful son and a faithful and obedient soldier, who never disobeyed an order, and who was never absent from his post of duty; that he was Sergeant in the Company to which he belonged, and was exceedingly popular with the whole Company. When the Commonwealth had concluded the argument, and whilst the members of the Court were consulting as to the character of the decision they would announce, and when, to the Spectators, the fate of the prisoner seemed to be suspended in a doubtful balance; the profoundest silence prevailed, and the vast number of spectators seemed to be holding their breath, fearing that the next word which should break the silence would reconsign him to the prisoner's gloomy cell. When the Presiding Justice announced that the majority of the Court were in favor of discharging the prisoner, the pent up emotions of the sympathizers, unmindful of the impropriety and indecorum of the act, found expression in loud, repeated and heart felt cheers. An Atlaen load of oppressive dread was removed from their hearts, and, without taking time to think that they were in the presence of a Court still in session, they gave expression to their emotions of relief and pleasure by loud cheering and repeated ejaculations of gratification.

This decision of the Court will be gratifying to the friends of the worthy deceased, as it will satisfy them that their dear friend was consigned to his untimely grave by an accident and not by the fiendish act of a murderer--that the hand which slew him was innocent of guilt, and not stained with a crime which the waters of ocean could not efface. It must be a relief to them to know that his fate, though sad and untimely, was not caused by a murderer, but by a mere accident on the part of a worthy young man who meant not the slightest ill to him. It is to be hoped that this sad affair will have the effect of causing the unfortunate instrument of it to resolve never again to put that into his mouth which will steal away his brains.

It is hoped that he will firmly resolve
Never to lift the wine cup, though pleasure may swim
'Mid the bubbles that flash round its roseate brim;
For dark in the depths of the fountains below
Are the sirens that lurk by the vortex of woe!

They have torn the live wreath from the brow of the brave,
and changed his proud heart to the heart of the slave;
And e'en the fair fame of the good and the just,
With the gray hairs of age, the've trampled in dust.

Resignation of Gen. Thomas J. Jackson
(Column 1)
Summary: Announces the resignation of Gen. Jackson, allegedly because he disagreed with the War Department's order to evacuate Romney.
Militia Bill
(Column 2)
Summary: Outlines the provisions of the state militia bill regarding the conscription of soldiers. All men between 18 and 45 are eligible to be drafted. Men who are currently in the army are also liable to the draft. The Spectator worries that the bill will disband the present army and create a new one, which will temporarily leave the state without an army.
Incendiaries in Pocohantas
(Column 2)
Summary: Reports the burning of the stables of a Southern man in Pocohantas County and alleges it to be the work of Unionists.
North and South
(Column 2)
Summary: Claims that the North attempts to hide its defeats by lying about them while the South acknowledges its losses. The article claims that this difference results from the opposing characters of the two regions. The South, it claims is "open and above board, and more sensitive to the degradation of falsehood than the pain of disaster." The North, on the other hand, is "sly, secretive, and has little veneration for truth."
Origin of Article: Richmond Dispatch
Gen. Johnston's Official Report
(Column 3)
Summary: Quotes from the official report of Gen. Johnston's command from the time he went to Harper's Ferry until the conclusion of First Manassas. These excerpts highlight the key role played by the Stonewall Brigade.
Full Text of Article:

The official report of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, giving a clear and detailed account of the operations of the forces under his command from the time he went to Harper's Ferry to the conclusion of the great battle of Manassas, has been published. We have room only for a few brief extracts. In reference to the fight at Falling Waters, better known as the fight at Hainesville, in which a battalion of Col. Harper's Regiment, (the 5th) with Pendleton's Battery engaged the enemy, the report says:

On the 2nd of July, General Patterson again crossed the Potomac. Col. Jackson, pursuant to instructions, fell back before him. In retiring he gave him a severe lesson in the affair at Falling Waters. With a battalion of the 5th Virginia Regiment (Harper's) and Pendleton's Battery of Field Artillery, he engaged the enemy's advance, skillfully taking a position where the smallness of his force was concealed, he engaged them for a considerable time, inflicted a heavy loss and retired when about to be outflanked, scarcely losing a man, but bringing off forty-five prisoners.

In speaking of the gallant manner in which our troops conducted themselves in the battle of Manassas, Gen. Johnston says:

The admirable character of our troops is incontestably proved by the result of this battle; especially when it is remembered that little more than six thousand men of the army of the Shenandoah, with sixteen guns, and less than two thousand of that of the Potomac, with six guns, for full five hours successfully resisted thirty-five thousand United States troops, with a powerful artillery and a superior force of regular cavalry.

It will thus be seen that 8,000 Southern troops successfully withstood, defeated, and routed 85,000 of the enemy. The importance of the junction of Gen. Johnston's forces with that of Gen. Beauregard will be appreciated when it is observed that there were three times as many of his men engaged as there were of Beauregard's. The following will show the respective losses in these commands--the army of the Potomac being that of Beauregard, and the army of the Shenandoah, that of Johnston:

The loss of the army of the Potomac was 108 killed, 510 wounded, 12 missing. That of the army of the Shenandoah was 270 killed, 979 wounded, 18 missing.

Total killed 878

Total wounded 1,489

Total missing 80

That of the enemy could not be ascertained.--It must have been between 4,000 and 5,000.--Twenty eight pieces of artillery, about 5,000 muskets, and nearly 500,000 cartridges; a garrison flag and 10 colors were captured on the field or in the pursuit. Besides these we captured 64 artillery horses, with their harness, 26 wagons, and much camp equipage, clothing, and other property abandoned in their flight. * * * * * * * * *

It will be remarked that the three Brigadier-Generals of the Army of the Shenandoah were all wounded. I have already mentioned the wound of General Smith. General Jackson, though painfully wounded early in the day, commanded his brigade to the close of the action. General Bee, after great exposure at the commencement of the engagement, was mortally wounded just as our reinforcements were coming up.

Gen. Johnston concludes his report by assigning the following satisfactory reasons for not pushing on to Washington:

The apparent firmness of the United States troops at Centreville who had not been engaged which checked our pursuit, the strong forces occupying the works near Georgetown, Arlington and Alexandria, the certainty, too, that General Patterson, if needed, would reach Washington, with his army of thirty thousand men sooner than we could, and the condition and inadequate means of the army in ammunition, provisions, and transportation, prevented any serious thoughts of advancing against the Capital. It is certain that the fresh troops within the works were, in number, quite sufficient for their defence; if not, Gen. Patterson's army would certainly reinforce them soon enough.

The Yankee Vandals
(Column 3)
Summary: Alleges wanton Yankee destruction of private property on their retreat from Romney. Also alleged are random shootings of farm animals and citizens.
Latest News
(Column 5)
Summary: Reports the possibility of a coalition between England and France to intervene in the war between the U.S. and the Confederacy. England particularly objects to the U.S. naval blockade.
Death Preferable to Disgrace
(Column 5)
Summary: Tells the story of a young Georgia soldier who was found guilty of falling asleep during picket duty in a mock trail and was sentenced to death. His Colonel commuted his sentence and ordered that he be sent home in disgrace. The young soldier refused and stated that he would rather be shot.
[No Title]
(Column 5)
Summary: Claims that no reconciliation between North and South is possible, especially after the destruction the Union army has wreaked upon the South
Origin of Article: Richmond Whig
Tribute of Respect
(Column 6)
Summary: Resolutions adopted by Co. A, 52nd Va. on the death of Lieut. Cochran.
(Names in announcement: Lieut. John Lyan Cochran)
(Column 6)
Summary: Married in Middlebrook on January 23.
(Names in announcement: Rev. J.H. Crawford, John Smiley, Sarah Ann Farmer)
[No Title]
(Column 6)
Summary: Notice of a civil case in Augusta Circuit Court.
(Names in announcement: Michael M. Clark, Robert M. White, James Clark)
[No Title]
(Column 6)
Summary: Notice of civil case pending in Augusta Circuit Court.
(Names in announcement: Alexander C. Mellon, Patrick Mellon, David Mellon)
To the Tax-payers of the County Districts of Augusta County
(Column 7)
Summary: Instructions for tax-payers.
(Names in announcement: Jacob Baylor, Alex Cochran)

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Description of Page: Advertisements

Operations of Capt. George Downs in Western Virginia
(Column 1)
Summary: Details skirmishes in western Virginia between Col. Downs' men and Union supporters.
Origin of Article: Richmond Whig