Action at Greenbrier River

The Action at Greenbrier River was fought on Wednesday, July 17, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Sgt. William D. Gault and an unknown Confederate irregular unit in present-day Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

Opposing Forces

Unknown irregular unitunkunk unk unk unk
H.W. Burdsall’s Ind. Company Ohio Cavalry
(Burdsall’s Dragoons)
Cpt. Henry W. Burdsall
Sgt. William D. Gault


Sgt. William D. GaultH.W. Burdsall’s Ind. Company Ohio CavalryX
Pvt. Seelay C. MinchH.W. Burdsall’s Ind. Company Ohio CavalryX
Pvt. William A. KennedyH.W. Burdsall’s Ind. Company Ohio CavalryX
Pvt. Bernard StraightH.W. Burdsall’s Ind. Company Ohio CavalryX
Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Vol. 1. Akron: The Werner Company, 1893.


  • July 11, 1861: Confederate Lt. Col. John Pegram surrenders his entire command when he finds himself cut off from the Army of the Northwest after the Battle of Rich Mountain.

  • July 13, 1861: Union forces score a decisive victory over the Confederate Army of the Northwest at the Battle of Corrick’s Ford in Tucker County and kill its commander, Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett. Several thousand Confederate soldiers are captured or scatter into the mountains.

  • July 16, 1861: Union forces begin establishing Fort Milroy at White Top on Cheat Mountain in Randolph County, astride the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike.

  • July 17, 1861: A seven-man patrol from Burdsall’s Dragoons is ambushed while scouting near the Greenbrier River.

Primary Sources

[Correspondence Cincinnati Commercial.]

A Scouting Party from Burdsall’s Cavalry Fired Upon–Several Killed and Wounded.

The following dispatch contains melancholy news:
Via Beverly, Va., July 20th
JAS. BURDSALL:–A scouting party of six of our men was, this morning, fired upon by a concealed foe, near Green river, and Sergeant Gault killed. Private Mench, of Hamilton, mortally wounded; Straight [son of S. S. Straight, of this city,] dangerously wounded; and Kennedy, badly wounded.

Daily Ohio Statesman (Columbus) 23 July 1861.

Seven men from Captain Burdsall’s cavalry, stationed at Cheat Mountain, went out yesterday scouting ten miles toward the Alleghenies. They were fired upon from an ambush by a party of citizens with disastrous effect. The loss is as follows:
Sergeant Galt, of Cincinnati, killed.
Private Mensch, from near Hamilton, mortally wounded.
Private Straight, son of the well-known grocer in Cincinnati, badly wounded.
W.R. Kennedy, of Oxford, shot in the arm.
The rest of the party, Woodward, Townsend, and Postell, escaped.
A company was detached and the wounded and killed brought in.
James Copper Butler, of the fourth regiment, from Marion, Marion county, was shot dead near Laurel Hill day before yesterday. He was supposed also to have been killed by secession citizens, and not by rebel soldiers.

The Courier-Journal (Louisville) 23 July 1861.


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