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by Terry Lowry
The Battle of Charleston (West Virginia), fought September 13, 1862, between the Confederate forces of Gen. William Wing Loring and the Federal command of Col. Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn, pales in comparison to many of the more well-known and documented engagements of the American Civil War. Yet the battle and the activities comprising the 1862 Kanawha Valley Campaign, particularly Lightburn’s subsequent retreat, beginning at Fayetteville and ending at Point Pleasant, were of much more strategic importance than readily meets the eye and held special meaning for many of its participants.
One such individual was Sgt. Joseph Pearson, Company F, 44th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who wrote about the battle of Charleston in his journal, “We had several killed and wounded in this affair, but it was only a skirmish to what we afterwards learned of war. Yet I was more impressed with the dread[ful] feeling of that little action than all the others I was in to the finish.”
The 1862 Kanawha Valley Campaign has long been neglected by scholars, probably due to the great national attention placed on the Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign, which took place during this same time period. Owing to the meticulous work of author/historian Terry Lowry, it has finally been given its due.
487 pages, 8.5×11 trim size, hard cover, 332 photos and images (many never before published), 11 maps
To honor his many contributions to preserving and interpreting the Droop Mountain Battlefield, West Virginia historians honored Mike with a surprise lunch party on his last day at the park.
The Hagerstown Civil War Round Table presented Steven C. French with its 2016 Henry Kyd Douglas Award. French, a former middle-school teacher, is the author of “Imboden’s Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign” (2008), which was recognized with three prestigious awards; “Rebel Chronicles: Raiders, Scouts, and Train Robbers of the Upper Potomac” (2012); and a monograph, “The Jones-Imboden Raid against the B&O Railroad at Rowlesburg, Virginia” (2001).
We need your help. We have been advised that in order for Senator Manchin to sponsor legislation to expand the boundaries of the Antietam National Park to include the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown, his office needs to hear from many WV residents. If you reside in WV please send an email to Senator Manchin urging him to introduce the necessary legislation at: http://www.manchin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form
Also, cc his representative in the eastern panhandle at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, if you are a resident of Jefferson County, it would help our cause by contacting the Jefferson County Commissioners urging them to support the legislation by contacting Senator Manchin’s office. Their email addresses are: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org , Vinemont@frontiernet.net , email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org .
This is important; please make every effort to email our elected officials.
In early July, The Department of Interior released the final study documents of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Special Resource Study (SRS) of the Shepherdstown Battlefield. The Battle of Shepherdstown occurred on September 19 and 20, 1862 involving approximately 8,000 to 10,000 troops and resulted in 677 casualties.
The SRS concluded that the 510 acre site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown would be preferably included within the Antietam National Battlefield Park. The SRS studied various options and possible boundary adjustments including an assessment of including the Shepherdstown site within the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. “As such, each of these boundary adjustment options is included in the study alternatives, with Antietam National Battlefield being the preferable option due to its historical and geographical connections to the Battle of Shepherdstown.”
The 1862 Maryland Campaign of the Army of Northern Virginia included battles of South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, Antietam and a battle ending near Shepherdstown in what is now West Virginia. The SRS concluded that: “The inclusion of the Shepherdstown battlefield into Antietam National Battlefield would provide visitors the opportunity to have an expanded understanding of the events directly following the Battle of Antietam and the culmination of the Maryland Campaign. The SRS further concludes it “would propose to adjust the existing boundary of Antietam National Battlefield to include areas of the Shepherdstown battlefield that contribute to an understanding of the significance of the Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign.”
In early 2012, the NPS held two scoping meetings seeking public comments regarding the proposed SRS. “In total, approximately 136 people attended the scoping meetings. … Public response received by the National Park Service was predominately supportive of the study and enthusiastic concerning the interpretation and protection of the Shepherdstown battlefield.” The preliminary SRS was released in August 2014 and a public review period was conducted for two months. During this period, 334 individuals corresponded with the NPS. Two public meetings were held in September attended by approximately 93 individuals. “ Commenters expressed overwhelming support for” … the management option that the…“Antietam National Boundary Adjustment as the most effective and efficient way to preserve the Shepherdstown battlefield.”
“If Congress were to authorize a legislative boundary that would encompass the Shepherdstown battlefield as part of … Antietam National Battlefield, there would be no change to existing landownership…” “Any change to land ownership or use would be in the future as the National Park Service is able to acquire battlefield land from willing sellers and donors.”
The effort to involve the Federal government in helping to save and preserve the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown has been the result of the work of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc (SBPA) and its individual members. SBPA is a non-profit corporation, organized in 2004 dedicated to saving and preserving the core of the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown. Approximately 105 acres have been saved through conservation easements and land purchases. Aproximately $1.1 million has been raised to save battlefield land through grants and membership contributions during the last ten years. If you would like to help save more of the battlefield and learn more about SBPA, please go to: www.battleofshepherdstown.org.
Clio not only directs users to historical sites using global positioning system on smartphones, it also provides a brief explanation and includes photos, links and other artifacts to expand knowledge of each site.
by Rick Steelhammer, for the Charleston Gazette
How do you motivate 300 battle-weary cavalrymen to voluntarily leave their encampment in the dead of winter, ride more than 75 miles across snow-covered mountains, and then attack an enemy garrison force more than three times larger?
Confederate Gen. Thomas L. Rosser faced just such a challenge 150 years ago this week at his brigade’s winter quarters near McDowell, Virginia, where food and warm clothing were in short supply following a successful Union sweep through the Shenandoah Valley the previous fall. Rosser began honing his leadership skills while a cadet at West Point, where his roommate was George Armstrong Custer, before dropping out two weeks before graduation, at the outset of the Civil War, to accept a commission in the Confederate Army, in which he rapidly advanced through the ranks. But on this occasion, hunger and discomfort likely trumped charisma in raising volunteers for the planned raid.
On Jan. 9, 1865, Rosser and 300 volunteers drawn from 9 Virginia regiments rode westward on the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike toward the Union supply depot at Beverly, guarded by two regiments of Ohioans — a force totaling nearly 1,100 troops. After spending the first night in a church and a scattering of houses atop Allegheny Mountain, Rosser’s force rode on, crossing the Greenbrier River and Cheat Mountain, where rain changed to snow, causing the Confederates’ overcoats to freeze solid and “rattle like boards,” according to Thomas J. Arnold’s “A Battle Fought in the Streets: Rosser’s Beverly Raid of 1865.”
As the Confederates approached Beverly at the end of the second day of their trek, they stopped at the family home of one of Rosser’s volunteers to rest and gather information about the Union garrison, including the fact that the federal officers had spent much of the night at a dance in Beverly’s Leonard Hotel and should be fast asleep at the time of the raid, planned to take place just before dawn. The enlisted troops, Rosser was told, were housed in a series of log huts, and were also expected to be sleeping through the subfreezing night.
When the attack began on Jan.11, 1865, the federal troops were taken completely by surprise.
“The Federals, such as were not captured, retreated, fighting through the streets of Beverly and across the bridge on the road to Buckhannon,” Arnold wrote. After about 30 minutes of fighting, 6 Union troops were dead, 23 were wounded and nearly 800 were captured. About 150 Union troops managed to escape to safety in Buckhannon. Confederate losses were one dead and several more wounded. The Confederates helped themselves to nearly 10,000 rations from the Union supply depot, along with 600 rifles and 100 horses.
By the time the Confederate raiders returned to Staunton, about 250 of their prisoners had escaped, including the garrison’s commander, Lt. Col. Robert Youart, who was later relieved of duty for his role in the debacle.
After learning of Rosser’s success, Union Army Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan wrote that he had advised Gen. George C. Crook, commander of federal forces in West Virginia, “some time ago to break up the post at Beverly; it is of no use, and is bait for the enemy, both from position and gross carelessness, and want of discipline on the part of the troops.”
The raid was the last significant action to take place in Randolph County during the Civil War.
Despite leading his cavalry against his former college roommate’s cavalry force on several occasions during the war, Rosser and Custer remained friends. In June 1864, Rosser captured Custer’s entire supply train, including the flamboyant general’s personal wardrobe, during the Battle of Trevilian Station. Custer returned the favor a few months later during the Battle of Tom’s Brook, when Rosser’s supply train, including his personal wardrobe, was seized by his classmate’s troops.
“Please accept my good wishes and this little gift — a pair of your draws (sic) captured at Trevilian Station,” Rosser wrote his friend.
“Thanks for setting me up in so many new things,” Custer replied after capturing Rosser’s headquarters wagon. “But would you please tell your tailor to make the coat tails of your next uniform a trifle shorter?”
by Rick Steelhammer, The Charleston Gazette
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Towering over rows of neatly arranged headstones at Columbus Confederate Cemetery, a tarnished bronze statue of a Southern soldier stands watch atop a granite archway on which the word “Americans” has been engraved.
An inscription on a round, three-foot-high boulder at the base of the arch informs visitors that 2,260 Confederate Soldiers, most of them prisoners of war who died of diseases that swept through Columbus’s Camp Chase, located adjacent to the cemetery during the Civil War, are buried within the grounds.
But according to a Columbus man who has been researching biographies of the cemetery’s occupants, at least seven of the graves may actually contain the remains of Union soldiers — including Pvt. Benjamin F. Fettro, of Clarksburg, and Pvt. John E. Clark, of Morgantown, — who were mistakenly interred with their former foes.
On Sunday afternoon, November 16, a sign was erected and dedicated to commemorate the purchase and preservation of two properties totaling 2.2 acres on the site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown. The properties are contiguous to the historic Cement Mill property which was saved and preserved in 2011.
In late 2011, the Civil War Trust (CWT) purchased 18 acres of the Cement Mill property and in late 2013, another small parcel, contiguous to the Cement Mill property, was purchased. Early this year the CWT purchased another property contiguous to the Cement Mill property. All the properties were deeded to the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC). Ultimately, the HLC intends to donate the parcels to the National Park Service (NPS). A conservation easement has been placed on the properties and they have been included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The total cost of all the land purchases was $536,000. The funds to complete the recent purchases came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund administered by the NPS, Save Historic Antietam Foundation Inc., and the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. Importantly, all the properties purchased by the CWT are contiguous to 59 acres already saved through the use of conservation easements. In total, 104 acres of the core of site of the Battle of Shepherdstown have been saved and preserved.
This effort has been the result of the work of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc (SBPA) and its individual members. SBPA is a non-profit corporation, organized in 2004 dedicated to saving and preserving the core of the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown. Almost $1.2 million has been raised through grants and membership contributions during the last ten years.
If you would like to help save more of the battlefield and learn more about SBPA, please go to: www.battleofshepherdstown.org.