Sometimes, when cataloging historical records, there are unexpected discoveries that enrich our understanding of historical events.
Recently, for example, staff at the West Virginia and Regional History Center uncovered records documenting court actions for purpose of taking into custody “traitors” to the United States of America. These public arrest records, dating from 1861-1862, identify individuals deemed armed supporters of the Confederate government, and mirror the unfolding of events at the beginning of the war in western Virginia.
When southern forces were forming in Randolph County in June 1861, for example, warrants were issued on July 1st for the arrest of John Pegram, a lieutenant colonel, and Granville Shreves, a private in the 25th Virginia Infantry — both of these men were combatants at the Battle of Rich Mountain on July 11th. In the Confederate defeat, Pegram surrendered his regiment and Shreve retreated to Camp Allegheny with his unit. Pegram’s younger brother William, incidentally, served as an artillery officer during the war, seeing battle at Gettysburg, among numerous other engagements.
The collection also includes an 1862 warrant for the arrest of Peregrine Hays, a childhood playmate of Stonewall Jackson and later a rebel soldier, serving with the ill-famed “Moccasin Rangers.” He was captured and held prisoner at Camp Chase, Ohio, returning to Gilmer County after the war.
These examples are only a sample of the numerous treason case files to found in the records of the Court for the Western Judicial District of Virginia, A&M 3951, at the West Virginia and Regional History Center.
Blog post written by Michael Ridderbusch.