The Civil War in Virginia is known mainly for catastrophic set piece battles – Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor. Yet, the first land battle of the War was fought in the rugged mountains between Virginia and what would later become West Virginia. It was not for territory but for control of the Staunton-Parkersburg Pike and B&O Railroad both critical supply corridors for Federal and Confederate forces.
The Army of Ohio under General McClellan easily defeated the Confederates at Philippi, Barbour County, in June 1861 and pushed them south to a July surrender at Beverly in Randolph County. A month later General Lee arrived at Valley Mountain to shore up insecure defenses and reverse these setbacks. Foul cold weather, disease, lack of tents, clothing, food, ammunition and essential support from the east eventually forced a Confederate withdrawal leaving the supply corridors under Union control.
In subsequent years, because of intense split loyalties in West Virginia, few Confederate monuments were erected. This partisan sentinel, watching over a small patch of farmland near Mingo, speaks “TO THE MEMORY OF THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS OF RANDOLPH COUNTY AND VICINITY. THIS INCLUDES ALL SOLDIERS WHO DIED ON VALLEY MOUNTAIN IN 1861 WHILE GEN. LEE WAS ENCAMPED THERE”.
© d101116-002 Soldier
Mingo, West Virginia
Tuesday 16 November 2010