Rich Mountain

On July 11, 1861, in one of the first battles of the Civil War a relatively small fight took place in what is today West Virginia.

According to the rather clinical report from the NPS:

Estimated Casualties: 346 total (US 46; CS 300)

Description:Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan assumed command of Union forces in western Virginia in June 1861. On June 27, he moved his divisions from Clarksburg south against Lt. Col. John Pegram’s Confederates, reaching the vicinity of Rich Mountain on July 9. Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. T.A. Morris’s Union brigade marched from Philippi to confront Brig. Gen. R.S. Garnett’s command at Laurel Hill. On July 11, Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans led a reinforced brigade by a mountain path to seize the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike in Pegram’s rear. A sharp two-hour fight ensued in which the Confederates were split in two. Half escaped to Beverly, but Pegram and the others surrendered on July 13.  Hearing of Pegram’s defeat, Garnett abandoned Laurel Hill. The Federals pursued, and, during fighting at Corrick’s Ford on July 13, Garnett was killed. On July 22, McClellan was ordered to Washington, and Rosecrans assumed command of Union forces in western Virginia. Union victory at Rich Mountain was instrumental in propelling McClellan to command of the Army of the Potomac.

Compared to the battles in the war yet to come, 346 casualties and a paragraph description of the battle is not much to talk about.

I was able to walk a good portion of the battlefield by myself, however, and I can tell you that the battlefield has many more stories to tell.  Similar to other places like this that I have been, if you get quiet and listen, you can hear the trees whisper to you about what transpired under their watch.



~ by Derrick Birdsall on June 20, 2011.

6 Responses to “Rich Mountain”

  1. I REALLY like these battlefield images you’ve been putting together, Mr. B…
    there’s something hauntingly powerful about them… even after all these years.

    If I remember correctly McClellan became a bit of a thorn in Lincoln’s side (that’s how he seemed to be portrayed by Ken Burns, anyway). Often ‘stalling’ and refusing to move at ‘opportune times’. People have told me they suspect the war would have been over MUCH sooner if the Union had a few of the famous Southern Generals on their side…

    • Thanks Inky! The old battlefields are very special places. Places where you can really sit back and listen to the soul of the place. I particularly like the places that are off the beaten path, and well away from modern distractions…. And Rich Mountain fit that description quite well!

  2. Such a tragic war.. This is very moving, Derrick. The testimony of the trees…


    • Indeed! At the time of this battle, I’m sure the guys were still full of piss and vinegar, God and Country and that sort of thing. That early on, the massive battles that would kill thousands of men at a time hadn’t happened yet and the war was still a bit of an adventurous jaunt for some, I’m sure.

      There’s a bit of new growth around the battlefield, but I suspect that there are plenty of trees that could tell a story or two.

  3. It’s great that you pursue the hobbies and history you are interested in and are able to make fine photographs like the one above in the process.

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