William Shillingburg Family Genealogy


Uncle Billy and the Confederates

story told by Hannah Streets, his daughter.


A story is told of William (known around the country side as Uncle Billy) and his encounter with a portion of the Confederate Army. In 1862 Major Jones, in charge of a number of Confederate, of near battalion strength, was encamped on Alleghney Mountain, east of the South Branch of the Potomac River. Badly in need of horses and cattle the Major decided on a raid into the fertile farm lands west of the river. Swimming their mounts across the river which was at flood stage, they marched toward Mt. Storm by way of Greenland Gap. At the Gap they encountered a small party of Union soldiers, under Capt. Wallace, barricaded in an old log Church which had loopholes for shooting purposes. The Union boys used the loopholes to such good advantage the Confederates become quite discouraged at the rain of bullets and awaited nightfall to burn the Church and force the captain to surrender. This they did and next morning marched on to Mt. Storm.

Now Uncle Billy had some mightly fine horses, among them a young bay mare- Uncle Billy's special pride and joy. Well some time in the morning hours three of the Confederates entered his barn and took there from the mare. Now if they had taken the barn and left the mare Uncle Billy would have been a little peeved, but would probably have laughed it off as a good joke on Jeff Davis. Taking the mare was different. He was Òriled upÓ so to speak. By the great horn spoon this was going to far. He would recover that mare if he had to bust the whole Confederacy to do it. Elizabeth (known as Aunt Betsy) porbably tried to argue him out of it. Women always try no matter how many times they fail. Yet their faith in the invincibility of their mates reigns supreme. So, more than likely, she said, ÒNow look Billy, no use for you to wipe out the Southern Army today, the war has just got a good start. And besides, you might be late for supper. Think it over.Ó So Uncle Billy thought it over. He was inclined to agree with Betsy on one point, it might not be wise (at least from a historical standpoint) for him to wade in and kick a whole battalion single handed. But he was determined to deprive Jeff Davis of the mare even if Jeff suffered from corns the rest of his life. This line of thinking quickly led to strategy. He was a very energetic, active and supple old gent at 63, but, on this occasion he would be very old and very feeble. So, grabbing his cane, he tottered down the road after the raiders. When he finally arrived at Mt. Storm, it was noon and the soldiers were at mess. There was one man guarding the horses at the moment. Uncle Billy staggered around among the equine steeds and soon located his lost love. The bridle rein was looped over a high post aud he began poking at it feebly with his cane. Every time he got it near the top of the post he could reach no farther in his, apparently, senile, and rheumatic condition, and it would slip back. Then the poking would start all over again. To the guard it seemed the old boy was trying to do the impossible and he became very much amused at the cane and bridle post game. When he figured the guard had been sufficiently entertained, lulled and relaxed, Uncle Billy suddenly became a young tronado. In a flash the rain was loose and he was astride the mare and away like a shot before the astounded guard could make a move. In a matter of minutes horse and rider were in the deep forest, safe from the whole Confederate Army. One bay horse was taken also but not recovered.

Copied from the Elsworth Bosley papers loaned to me by Max Kitzmiller - 1974 - Alberta Taylor

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