Incidents at Shelton-Laurel, N.C.
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January 21, 1863, Knoxville, TN
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF EAST TENNESSEE,
His Excellency Gov. ZEBULON B. VANCE:
GOVERNOR: Inclosed please find an extract from a letter received this morning from Brig. Gen. W. G. M. Davis. From his statement I think the outbreak in Madison has been greatly exaggerated, and, as telegraphed you this morning, I think there is no present need of the State force called out by you. The outbreak has, I think, been suppressed, but an adequate force will be kept in the mountains as long as necessary for the protection of loyal citizens and their property.
I am, Governor, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GENERAL: As I informed you by telegraph on yesterday, Captain Nelson has returned and reports that his company went into Laurel Valley, N.C., and had a brush with the tories, in which he killed 12 and subsequently captured 20. From information I have received from all quarters from men of intelligence and reliable character, I am satisfied there is no organization in the mountains of armed men banded together for the purpose of making efforts to destroy bridges or to burn towns or property of Confederate officers and soldiers. I think the attack on Marshall was gotten up to obtain salt, for want of which there is great suffering in the mountains. Plunder of other property followed as a matter of course. Col. [L. M.] Allen's Sixty-fourth North Carolina Regiment and the men of his command are said to have been hostile to the Laurel men and they to the former for a long time--a kind of feud existing between them. Of the men killed by Nelson's cavalry all but one or two were deserters from Colonel Allen's regiment. They formed part of the expedition against Marshall and no doubt plundered Allen's house There has been no [attack] made on parties traveling on the Asheville road; the stage has not been destroyed and no acts of hostility committed that I can hear of but the plunder of Marshall and of Allen's house. The whole force that went to Marshall did not exceed 50 men. All the reports stating the existence of organized bands of armed men numbering 300 or 400 are false beyond a doubt. The attack on Marshall has given rise to wild rumors of organizations of armed tories throughout the mountains, bent on sacking towns and the plunder of loyal men. The reports, greatly magnified as they went to Raleigh, have no doubt led the Governor of North Carolina to call on the Confederate Government for a protecting force. I think you can safely assure him that the militia are not needed.
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Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. G. M. DAVIS,
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