This Civil War battle was crucial to ending Confederate influence in western Virginia and securing its independence as a new state.
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The Battle of Carnifex Ferry was fought on September 10, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. William Rosecrans and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd in Nicholas County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Union victory and resulted in approximately 188 total casualties.
After defeating an isolated Union regiment at the Battle of Kessler’s Cross Lanes on August 26, 1861, Confederate Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd and his 2,000-man brigade withdrew a few miles south and fortified their camp at Carnifex Ferry. Meanwhile, Union Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, camped at Clarksburg, Virginia (today, West Virginia) sought to end this Confederate threat in the Kanawha Valley.
Nearly two weeks after the defeat at Kessler’s Cross Lanes, Rosecrans marched three brigades, totaling approximately 5,000 men, to Carnifex Ferry. Despite being at a numerical disadvantage, Floyd, a former Governor of Virginia and former U.S. Secretary of War, repulsed numerous attempts to storm the defensive works for over four hours. At around 7pm, Rosecrans called off the assault, but his cannon still menaced the defenders. Floyd decided he couldn’t hold the ferry without reinforcements, so he withdrew the next morning.
A scenic drive will take you to often-forgotten sites of Civil War drama along the Rappahannock River.
The First Battle of Rappahannock Station (White Sulphur Springs/Freeman’s Ford) was a series of skirmishes fought from August 22-25, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. John Pope and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet around Rappahannock Station, Virginia during the American Civil War. This inconclusive battle allowed the Confederate army to outflank Union forces and win the Second Battle of Bull Run three days later. It resulted in 225 total casualties.
In July 1862, Maj. Gen. John Pope’s newly formed 51,000-man Union Army of Virginia began to consolidate across northern Virginia. After a bruising at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9th, Pope withdrew his army behind the Rappahannock River, where he skirmished with Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s 48,500-man Army of Northern Virginia and waited for reinforcements. Between August 22 and 25, the two armies fought minor skirmishes at Waterloo Bridge, White Sulphur Springs, Freeman’s Ford, and Beverly Ford.
On August 22nd, Union Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel directed Big. Gen. Carl Schurz to cross the river at Freeman’s Ford and ascertain or disrupt the movement of Jackson’s corps. Schurz sent the 74th Pennsylvania Regiment, which captured some supplies and sent for reinforcements. That came in the form of two regiments from Brig. Gen. Henry Bohlen’s brigade. They quickly ran into Isaac Trimble’s brigade, who with help from John Bell Hood, overwhelmed Bohlen’s men and sent them fleeing. Bohlen himself was shot in the chest and killed while directing his men back across the ford.
Detail from the North Carolina Monument at Fox’s Gap in South Mountain, Maryland. The Battle of South Mountain was fought on September 14, 1862 during the American Civil War and resulted in 5,000 casualties. This monument was designed by sculptor Gary Casteel for the Living History association of Mecklinburg, North Carolina and installed on October 18, 2003. The detail work is superb.
This small and obscure battle was a rare Confederate victory in what was then western Virginia during the American Civil War.
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The Battle of Kessler’s Cross Lanes was fought on August 26, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Col. Erastus B. Tyler and Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd in Nicholas County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The inconsequential battle, in which all Union forces were routed from the field, was a rare Confederate victory in western Virginia.
In late summer 1861, after the disastrous defeats at the battles of Rich Mountain and Corrick’s Ford, Confederate forces in western Virginia attempted to reorganize and regain the initiative. One 2,100-man brigade in the Kanawha Valley, commanded by Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd, crossed the Gauley River at Carnifex Ferry and made camp.
A lone Union regiment, the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry commanded by Col. Erastus B. Tyler, numbering some 850 men, advanced to Kessler’s Cross Lanes, approximately three miles to the north. The 7th OH was part of Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox’s brigade, which had been ordered to secure local river crossings.
This near-bloodless skirmish on the Long Island coast was one of many raids and counter-raids during the Revolutionary War.
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The Battle of Setauket was fought on August 22, 1777 between American patriot forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons and British loyalist forces commanded by Lt. Col. Richard Hewlett in Setauket on Long Island, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle ended in British victory when Americans withdrew after realizing they couldn’t capture British fortifications without significant casualties.
In early August 1777, British loyalist Lt. Col. Richard Hewlett’s 3rd Battalion of DeLancey’s Brigade, consisting of approximately 260 men, fortified a Presbyterian church in Setauket with breastworks and four swivel guns in anticipation of an attack. In fact, Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam had ordered Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons to take his 500-man force and raid Loyalist outposts on Long Island.
On the night of August 21, Parsons and his force crossed Long Island Sound with several small cannon. The next day, he sent a flag of truce to Richard Hewlett and demanded his surrender. Hewlett refused. The two sides traded fire for three hours, but the Patriot’s small cannon failed to make a dent in Loyalist fortifications. During the fighting, Parsons’ men took cover behind a large boulder now known as Patriot Rock.
Visit a Civil War site in the Monongahela National Forest with breathtaking views of Allegheny Mountain vistas.
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The Battle of Camp Allegheny (Allegheny Mountain) was fought on December 13, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Robert H. Milroy and Confederate forces commanded by Col. Edward Johnson in Pocahontas County, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a Confederate victory, although the Confederates abandoned their position a few months later. It resulted in 283 total casualties.
As 1861 came to a close after a string of defeats, the Confederate position in western Virginia was precarious. Since mid-July, Union and Confederate forces had stared at each other from camps at opposite mountaintops: the Federals at Cheat Mountain and Confederates at Allegheny Mountain.
Both sides sought to control the strategic Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike (an early toll road) and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which linked Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley with the Ohio River. They had fought two skirmishes at Greenbrier Ford earlier that fall, and by December, Brig. Gen. Robert H. Milroy was determined to push his foe off Allegheny Mountain and secure the turnpike for the Union once and for all.
A chance to inflict a devastating blow on their opponent turned into a disaster for Confederates at this Northern Virginia historic site.
The Battle of Bristoe Station was fought on October 14, 1863 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren and Confederate forces commanded by Lt. Gen. A. P. Hill in Prince William County, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle resulted in approximately 1,920 total casualties and was a tactical Union victory, although Union forces ultimately withdrew and the Confederates destroyed the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.
Bristoe Station was a stop on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, an important rail line running north-south from Alexandria, Virginia to Gordonsville. It formed the northern half of the only rail link between the Union and Confederate capitals at Washington, D.C. and Richmond. During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate armies sought to either control this railroad for themselves or deny its use to the enemy.
In October 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee tried to catch Union Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac off guard and get around his flank. If successful, he potentially could have destroyed a large portion of the Union army and prolonged the war. Meade smartly withdrew, and Lee’s pursuit resulted in the culminating Battle of Bristoe Station, after which the little-remembered Bristoe Campaign was named.
Efforts are underway to preserve the scene of an early Confederate defeat along the Cheat River.
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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.