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This day in history: Sutton burned to the ground by Confederates

Editors Note: The end of the year not only marked the conclusion of 2023 but also marked an important anniversary in the history of the county seat of Braxton, Sutton. On December 29, 1861 the Confederate Army distroyed much of the city including the Courthouse. This account was contributed by a reader. It originally appeared as a product of Lootpress and is authored by Austin Simms. As we embark on a new year we felt is only fit to look in our “rearview mirror.”

In a harrowing episode during the Civil War on December 29, 1861, Sutton found itself thrust into the chaos of conflict as it became the target of a Confederate raid led by Captain John S. Sprigg.

Lieutenant Dawson, commanding around sixty of Roan’s cavalry, valiantly defended the town but ultimately retreated. The Confederates, under Capt. Sprigg swiftly seized control.

Disturbingly, during Sprigg’s absence, the Tunings allegedly set fire to the town, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

Eyewitness Hanley Humphreys recounted soldiers defying orders not to burn more structures, claiming it was Captain Tuning’s directive. Pembrook B. Berry emerged as a hero, actively combating the flames and salvaging valuable property from the devastation.

The onslaught continued as Charles Rodgers and a small group of soldiers attacked, igniting the Camden Hotel and other buildings. The Racket Store’s location saw a Federal hospital consumed by flames, with Dr. Lafayette Woodruff narrowly escaping captivity.

Sutton’s significance in the war was highlighted by General Rosecrans’ departure on September 7, 1861, leading a formidable army of ten thousand troops. This marked the largest assembly of forces ever witnessed in central West Virginia.

As Clinebell’s Confederates retreated, Daniel J. Stout, a musician, added a surreal touch to the scene by playing a spirited tune on his fife.

The lyrics, “If you have any good thing, save it – if you have any good things, give them to me,” resonated amid the disarray, injecting an unexpected air of cheer into Sutton’s tumultuous streets.

The Burning of Sutton remains etched in history, a poignant chapter that unfolded within the broader tapestry of the Civil War, leaving scars and stories that endure to this day.