Battle of Rich Mountain

The Battle of Rich Mountain was fought on Thursday, 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.

McClellan brought 5,000 men and eight cannon within two miles of Camp Garnett, where he permitted Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans and approximately 2,000 men to conduct a flanking attack, guided by a 22-year-old local unionist named David Hart. On the afternoon of July 11th, Rosecrans’ men surprised, assailed, and eventually overwhelmed the Confederate rearguard on Hart’s family farm.

Pegram realized he was nearly surrounded, so he ordered a quick retreat under cover of darkness. Pegram and Garnett were separated, and Pegram and his men surrendered. Three hundred Confederates were killed or wounded at Rich Mountain. In contrast, Union forces sustained 46 casualties at Rich Mountain and up to 53 at Corrick’s Ford. McClellan was widely praised for his victory and was given command of the Military Division of the Potomac on July 26, 1861.

Casualties

NameUnitKilledMortally
Wounded
WoundedMissing
Pvt. George Buettner9th Ohio, Co. KX
Pvt. Gustave Stoecker9th Ohio, Co. IX
1Sg. David A. WolcottBurdsall’s Ind. Company Ohio CavalryX
1SG William H. Keller8th Indiana, Co. AX
Cpl. Francis M. Stobaugh8th Indiana, Co. AX
Sgt. Frank Hall8th Indiana, Co. BX
Pvt. Samuel Devaughn8th Indiana, Co. BX
Pvt. Frederick Coppersmith8th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. Asbury L. Kirwood8th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. Collier M. Reid8th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. John H. Walker8th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. Joseph Beck8th Indiana, Co. EX
Pvt. Benjamin Curtis8th Indiana, Co. EX
Sgt. George Shane8th Indiana, Co. FX
Pvt. Henry L. Powell8th Indiana, Co. FX
Pvt. Philander Wiseheart8th Indiana, Co. FX
Sgt. Marion M. Stephenson8th Indiana, Co. GX
Pvt. James Buchanan8th Indiana, Co. GX
Pvt. Andrew Stutsman8th Indiana, Co. GX
Pvt. William Lamb8th Indiana, Co. HX
Pvt. Lemuel Cusick8th Indiana, Co. KX
Pvt. James H. Emmit8th Indiana, Co. KX
Pvt. Jacob Sailors8th Indiana, Co. KX
Cpt. Christian Miller10th Indiana, Co. AX
Sgt. James A. Taggart10th Indiana, Co. AX
Pvt. Frank M. Bryant10th Indiana, Co. AX
Pvt. John Cunningham10th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. James W. Gwin10th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. Henry Rank10th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. John L. Thomas10th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. Aaron Truwiger10th Indiana, Co. DX
Pvt. Rembt. R. Elenga10th Indiana, Co. EX
Pvt. Samuel Yocum10th Indiana, Co. EX
Pvt. James H. McGill10th Indiana, Co. HX
Pvt. Joseph Blesser13th Indiana, Co. AX
Cpl. John Powell13th Indiana, Co. BX
Cpl. John F. Warner13th Indiana, Co. BX
Pvt. Joseph Cook13th Indiana, Co. CX
Pvt. William Riffle13th Indiana, Co. EX
Pvt. John Fordyce13th Indiana, Co. GX
Pvt. James F. Thompson13th Indiana, Co. GX
Pvt. Patrick Welch13th Indiana, Co. GX
Pvt. Allen J. Thompson13th Indiana, Co. HX
145231
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; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Vol. 2. Cincinnati: Wilstach, Baldwin & Co., 1886; Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, 1861-1865, Vol. 2. Indianapolis: W.R. Holloway, State Printer, 1865; Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, 1861-1865, Vol. 4. Indianapolis: Samual M. Douglass, State Printer, 1866.

Timeline

  • June 15, 1861: Confederate Brig. Gen. Robert Seldon Garnett arrives in Huttonsville, Randolph County to take command of Confederate forces there.

  • June 16, 1861: Garnett assigns Col. Jonathan M. Heck to guard the Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike at Rich Mountain, while he fortifies Laurel Hill.

  • July 2, 1861: Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan occupies Buckhannon in Upshur County, approx. 23 miles from the Confederate encampment at Rich Mountain.

  • July 9, 1861: Union forces arrive in front of Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill.

Primary Sources

Sources

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