They Called Her Moses

A humble gravestone marks the final resting place of abolitionist, wartime spy, and social activist Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) in Fort Hill Cemetery, 19 Fort Street in Auburn, New York. Born Araminta Ross, a slave in Maryland, Harriet escaped to the free states in 1849, where she helped hundreds more escape slavery through the Underground Railroad. During the American Civil War, she served as a scout and spy for the Union Army. After the war, she advocated for women’s suffrage. She died of pneumonia in 1913 at the age of 90 or 91.

Corrick’s Ford Battlefield in Tucker County, West Virginia

Efforts are underway to preserve the scene of an early Confederate defeat along the Cheat River.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Corrick’s Ford was fought on July 13, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Morris and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett in Tucker County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Union victory, routing Confederate forces in western Virginia and resulting in approximately 670 total casualties, mostly Confederate.

Soon after Virginia seceded from the Unites States in May 1861 and joined the Confederacy, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, as commander of the Department of the Ohio, invaded western Virginia. On June 3, he sent Confederate militia fleeing from the town of Philippi, and in July, he smashed a Confederate force at Rich Mountain.

Following defeat at the Battle of Rich Mountain, Confederate Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett attempted to retreat from his camp on Laurel Hill to Beverly, but was misinformed about a Union presence there and fled northeast toward the Cheat River. “They have not given me an adequate force,” Garnett lamented. “I can do nothing. They have sent me to my death.” His words would be prophetic.

Continue reading “Corrick’s Ford Battlefield in Tucker County, West Virginia”

Belington’s Golden Rule Co.

Golden Rule
Old brick ad for The Golden Rule Department Store, 122 Crim Avenue in Belington, West Virginia. The Shinn family built a grocery store at this location 117 years ago during the height of West Virignia’s coal boom. The Golden Rule Department Store opened in 1939 but has stood abandoned for many years. Revitalization efforts have raised hope for the building’s future.

The Battle of Young’s House, Feb. 1780

A roadside marker, quietly removed from its original location, is all that remains to mark the location of this Revolutionary War skirmish.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Young’s House was fought on February 3, 1780 between American patriot forces commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph Thompson and British and Hessian forces commanded by Lt. Col. Chapple Norton in Westchester County, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a disaster for the Americans: their outpost was destroyed and nearly every combatant was killed, wounded, or captured.

This area of New York was considered a “no man’s land” between British occupied New York City and Long Island and Patriot forces in Upstate New York. Joseph Young’s stone house and barn became a fortified camp for the opposing sides. It was occupied by Continental Army forces in 1776, the British in 1778, and the Continental Army again in 1779. The winter of 1779-1780 was brutally cold, and frozen waterways left New York City vulnerable to attack. The British decided to harass Patriot outposts to deter any offensive.

Lt. Col. Joseph Thompson and a contingent of 250 men from Massachusetts regiments garrisoned Young’s property, waiting in the harsh snow to be relieved by another unit. Unfortunately, a mixed British force of approximately 550 men, including 100 cavalry, led by Lt. Col. Chapple Norton marched north to seize their outpost.

Continue reading “The Battle of Young’s House, Feb. 1780”

Yorktown Battlefield in Colonial National Historical Park

In this decisive Revolutionary War battle, George Washington triumphed over British General Charles Cornwallis, effectively ending the war in North America.

The Siege of Yorktown was fought from September 28 to October 19, 1781 between American and French forces commanded by General George Washington and Marshal Comte de Rochambeau, and British forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a complete American and French victory, with Cornwallis and his army surrendering. Approximately 1,200 soldiers from either side were killed or wounded.

In July 1781, American forces commanded by George Washington met French forces commanded by Comte de Rochambeau north of New York City, where they faced a decision. They could either use their combined force to besiege British controlled New York City, or move south to confront a British army under Charles Cornwallis, which had won a costly victory in North Carolina at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse before marching north into Virginia. They chose to move south.

Cornwallis, commanding approximately 7,000 British and 3,000 Hessian troops, had been ordered to build a deep water port at Yorktown on the Virginia Peninsula. On September 26, Washington and De Rochambeau consolidated a force of 18,900 men in nearby Williamsburg. With help from François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse’s fleet, they bottled up Cornwallis’ men and settled in for a siege.

Continue reading “Yorktown Battlefield in Colonial National Historical Park”

Rich Mountain Battlefield in Randolph County, West Virginia

Explore scenic views and the scene of an early Confederate defeat at this rustic mountaintop battlefield.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Rich Mountain was fought on July 11, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. William Rosecrans and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett in Randolph County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Union victory, routing Confederate forces in western Virginia and resulting in approximately 340 total casualties, mostly Confederate.

Soon after Virginia seceded from the Unites States in May 1861 and joined the Confederacy, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, as commander of the Department of the Ohio, invaded western Virginia under the pretext of protecting unionists there. These western counties would later vote to secede from Virginia and form the state of West Virginia.

Following an ignominious Confederate defeat at the Battle of Philippi in early June, Confederate Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett fortified two key mountain passes: one through Laurel Mountain leading to Leadsville and the other through Rich Mountain to Beverly. The smaller force, consisting of 1,300 men and four cannon at Camp Garnett in Rich Mountain, was commanded by Lt. Col. John Pegram.

Continue reading “Rich Mountain Battlefield in Randolph County, West Virginia”

Glory Denied

Monument to Maj. Gen. George Edward Pickett in Hollywood Cemetery, 412 S. Cherry Street in Richmond, Virginia. George E. Pickett (1825-1875) was a US Army officer who joined the Confederate Army at the outbreak of the American Civil War. Pickett was wounded at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill in 1862 but is mainly known for leading an ill-fated attack at the Battle of Gettysburg popularly known as Pickett’s Charge.

His career ended ignominiously when he lost the Battle of Five Forks in 1865, just eight days before General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Pickett was married three times. His third wife, LaSalle Corbell Pickett, was 18 years his junior.

George E. Pickett (1825-1875)

Crampton’s Gap Battlefield at South Mountain, Maryland

Overly cautious leadership led to a missed opportunity for Union forces in this often-overlooked Civil War battle.

Click to expand photos

The Battle for Crampton’s Gap (aka Battle of Burkittsville), part of the larger Battle of South Mountain, was fought on September 14, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin and Confederate forces commanded by Col. William A. Parham and Brig. Gen. Howell Cobb in Frederick and Washington counties, Maryland during the American Civil War. The battle was a tactical Union victory, with Union troops seizing the gap but failing to relieve the besieged Union garrison at Harpers Ferry.

After General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia destroyed the Union Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Manassas, Lee saw an opportunity to invade Maryland, threaten Washington, DC, and possibly influence European powers to recognize Confederate independence. Lee divided his army and sent one wing to capture Harper’s Ferry, Virginia and the other into Maryland. A copy of his orders fell into enemy hands, however, and for once Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan acted swiftly to catch Lee off guard.

McClellan sent elements of his reconstituted Army of the Potomac to capture three strategic gaps in South Mountain, hoping to sever Lee’s army and destroy it in detail. The mountain passes were known as Turner’s Gap, Fox’s Gap, and Crampton’s Gap. Because of the difficult terrain and distance between them, the Battle of South Mountain was actually three separate engagements, though they all took place in a single day.

Continue reading “Crampton’s Gap Battlefield at South Mountain, Maryland”