Maj. K. V. Whaley, member of Congress from Wayne County, Va., was captured at Guyandotte by H. Clay Pate, at the time of the massacre in that town, and carried to the vicinity of Chapmansville, two days’ journey distant. The prisoner and his captors stopped at a house near Chapmansville. Night coming on, Maj. Whaley, after hanging up his coat and hat by the fire to dry, went to bed with Capt. Wicher. In this room there were eight men, one of whom acted as a guard. About three o’clock in the morning Maj. Whaley awoke, and finding the guard nodding in front of the fire, and all the rest in deep slumber, determined to effect an escape. Leaving his bed as quietly as possible, he approached the guard, and, ascertaining that he was asleep, took Capt. Wicher’s hat, picked up his own shoes, raised the latch of the door, and, seeing all clear outside, ran with all his might about two hundred yards down the Guyandotte River. Here he put on his shoes, and looked about for some drift wood upon which to cross the stream; but, finding none, concluded to swim the river, which he did with considerable ease. He then proceeded down the river about a mile and a half, and commences to ascend a mountain, the summit of which he reached just at daybreak, and just as Wicher was firing his guns as a signal of the escape. The firing was answered from all directions. Maj. Whaley, knowing it would be fatal to attempt to travel in daylight, sought a thicket of red oak brush, in which he found a sort of path. To and fro over this path he walked all day. A bleak wind was blowing; and being wet through, and having no coat, he was compelled to walk rapidly in order to save his life. When night came on he started down the Guyandotte Valley, tracing the foot of the hills, a distance of two miles, when he came upon a camp of about one hundred cavalry; and, knowing it would be folly to attempt to pass, retreated again to the mountains. The next day he took a circuit upon the top of the hill, to try and trace the valley and keep off the river, which he supposed would be guarded.
At last he came upon Hart’s Creek, and supposed himself to be in the vicinity of a Union settlement, at the head of Twelve Pole. He went up Hart’s Creek, and inquired of an old lady named Adkins, who, with her son and son-in-law, were in the house, asking her to direct him to Kyer’s Creek, which he knew to be one of the branches of Twelve Pole. Young Adkins finally agreed to show him the creek for two dollars; and when they started, the Major observed that the son-in-law, Thompson, started in another direction. The Major suspected that Thompson knew him, and feared pursuit; so he hurried young Adkins along a good deal faster than that young gentleman desired to move. Arriving at the creek, the Major, having been robbed of all his money at Guyandotte on the night of the fight, could not comply with his contract with Adkins, but gave him twenty-five cents, all the money he had, and a new pair of soldier’s shoes, taking in exchange the guide’s old moccassons. The Major struck down the creek, along a very narrow road, passing two houses, at one of which he saw a little girl, but had not gone a great distance before he heard the tramp of the cavalry coming in pursuit. The Major was about turning a bend in the road, and had barely time to jump over a fence, and lie flat upon his belly, when along dashed a company, led by the fellow Thompson, before mentioned. The Major was lying not six feet from where his pursuers passed, and could see their eyes peering anxiously forward in search of him.
After the pursuers passed, he crawled up a ravine, and spent another twelve hours, exposed to the hardest kind of a rain, accompanied by the fiercest lightning and the loudest thunder.
(“The Major afterwards learned that the little girl whom he had seen had informed his pursuers that he had just gone around the bend in the road; and in their anxiety to gain the bend and capture him, they never thought of looking to the right nor to the left.)
Being exceedingly weak and feeble, in consequence of having gone three days without food, the Major determined to approach a house a short distance ahead, and ask for something to eat. He was answered by the man of the house, a Union man, who recognized the Major almost at once, and warned him not to remain a minute if he wanted to escape, as the cavalry had been there hunting for him. The Major offered the man five hundred dollars to conduct him to the Queen Settlement, and to the house of Absalom Queen. The man, although avowing himself a good Union man, refused the offer, stating that he would be killed by his cannibal neighbors if discovered. He, however, gave the Major a blanket to throw over his shivering shoulders, and directed him to the house of Queen.
The Major plodded on, and at last reached the house of Queen, where he found a Home Guard of twenty-five men, who had assembled to keep the rebels from driving off the cattle from the Union settlement. Here was the first place he got anything to eat after making his escape. Queen and eleven of his men accompanied the Major, travelling only at night.
The party reached the mouth of Big Sandy on Sunday at twelve o’clock, and there was great rejoicing all along the Ohio River, firing of cannon, &c.
Absalom Queen was a brave soldier in the war of 1812, and as true and loyal a man as lives. There were about two hundred Union men in the settlement in which he resided, one hundred of whom, through his individual influence, joined Col. Zeigler’s Fifth Virginia regiment.