On July 11, 1861, General George B. McClellan won a major battle in the ongoing struggle for western Virginia. The battle took place on Rich Mountain battlefield. Three hundred and forty-six men, 46 union and 300 confederates, lost their lives that day in a bloody battle that ensured the eventual creation of West Virginia.
The area of western Virginia was a pivotal battleground at the start of the war. Residents of the region were profoundly divided over the purposed succession. Also, Western Virginia was a crucial link for the Union because the B&O railroad rain through the mountains there.
In July of 1861, Confederate General Robert Garnett along with Colonel John Pegram set up their men on Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill to block the areas two main roads to keep McClellan from moving further east. However, McClellan, would not be denied. He set into motion a plan that simulated an attack against Garnett on Laurel Hill while he sent the majority of his men to Rich Mountain to wage war against Pegram’s forces. During this battle, each side lost 70 lives and Pegram was compelled to abandon his position. As Pegram and his remaining troops attempted to escape, they found their path blocked. Finally, Pegram surrendered his 555 men two days later.
Site Is A Registered Historical Treasure
This battle was one of the earliest battles of the Civil War and secured the succession of wild and wonderful West Virginia.
Today, the Rich Mountain Battlefield, located in Randolph County, has been preserved. The Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation worked diligently to get the mountain on the National Register of Historic Places. Many events are held on the battlefield to help keep the history of the 3,812- foot mountain alive.
War is in the Air
In July the foundation holds an event called West Virginia in 1863 in which they hold a reenactment of the battle. The reenactments take place on the actual battleground site. Two different battles are reenacted during this time, the Battle of Rich Mountain and the Skirmish Along The Pike.
Throughout the year you can visit the battle site as well as the historic town of Beverly. Take a stroll downtown and visit the Beverly Heritage Center, the Randolph County Museum, and the Jacob Stalnaker cabin, built in 1795. Finally, don’t forget to visit the graves of Civil War soldiers at the Mt. Iser Confederate Cemetery.