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The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley
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Battles and Battlefields of the
Shenandoah Valley

The Battles of 1861

Capture of Harpers Ferry by Virginia Forces, April, 1861
Stonewall Jackson's First Fight-Falling Waters
War Comes to the Mountains, Philippi

The Campaign for West Virginia

When Virginia seceded from the Union Apr. 17, 1861, the mountainous western counties of the state contained few slaves and many pro-Union men. On June 11, those counties defied the state government and seceded from Virginia in order to rejoin the Union. To support pro-Union counties, the new commander of the Department Of The Ohio, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, moved into western Virginia with 20,000 Federal soldiers. To hold off McClellan's advance, the Virginia state government sent Confederate Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett and 4,500 men to the vital turnpike crossroads at Beverly, 50 miles west of the Shenandoah Valley.

Unable to get reinforcements or recruits from the pro-Union population, Garnett was reduced to staging nuisance raids against Federal supply lines. Fighting by means of "marauding parties" angered McClellan, who moved on Beverly to wipe out Garnett's guerrilla war. When he arrived July 9, he found that Garnett had entrenched his troops on the heights of Rich Mountain, protecting Beverly on the west and north, respectively. Still McClellan decided to attack. On July 11, he sent Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans and a brigade scrambling up the steep sides of Rich Mountain in pouring rain. Fortunately for Rosecrans, Garnett had thought Rich Mountain too strong to be attacked and left only 1,300 Confederates to hold it. With few defenders, Rosecrans' men quickly overran the position.

Battle of Laurel Hill-June 8 1861

Battle of Rich Mountain-The Battle that made McClellan, July 11, 1861

The loss of Rich Mountain put the Federals squarely across Garnett's line of retreat from Laurel Mountain to Beverly. He tried to slip his men between Rosecrans and McClellan, but July 13, McClellan caught them at CARRICK's FORD on July 13, 1861, routing the Confederate troops and killing Garnett.

Battle of Carifex Ferry

While the Confederates were easily defeated in the northern part of present-day West Virginia, they mustered a better effort in the Kanahwa Valley. Former Virginia governor Henry S. Wise, now a general, had established his forces at the mouth of Scary Creek in Putnam County. On July 16, Wise pushed back an attack by forces under General Jacob D. Cox. After the arrival of reinforcements, Cox's men drove Wise up the valley to Gauley Bridge and eventually into Greenbrier County. The North suffered a setback in August as General Rosecrans' advance forces were defeated at Kessler’s Cross Lanes in Nicholas County while marching toward Gauley Bridge.
General R. E. Lee's Northwest Virginia Campaign
Cheat Mountain Campaign, September 11-15, 1861
The Tragic Fate of Guyandotte, November 10, 1861
Battle of Camp Allegheny, December 13, 1861

Back to Battles and Battlefields
Battles of 1862
Battles of 1863
Battles of 1864
Sheridans Valley Campaign
Battles of 1865

The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley

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