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1861 July 11-13: Battles of Rich Mountain and Corrick’s Ford

July 17, 2011

With the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas, as the Southerns called it) just ten days away, things are starting to happen in Virginia. The Union wins its first victories at the Battle of Rich Mountain (July 11) and the Battle of Corrick’s Ford (July 13) in western Virginia. The first local newspaper to publish after the battles is The Prescott Journal on July 17. Here is the news they printed.

 T H E   W A R.

L A T E S T    N E W S !


The Rebels Routed.


Death to the Traitor. General Garnett.

200 Rebels Killed and 1,000 Taken Prisoers.

BUCKHANNON, Va., July 11.

Late intelligence from Gen. McClellan to 2 o’clock, says he had commenced erecting his batteries on the hill sides, when the rebels opened fire, but without damage. When the courier left Gen. Morris1 still held the rebels in check at Laurel Hill, awaiting orders to advance. Skirmishing had been brisk and frequent for the past 24 hours. Three of the 7th and 9th Indiana regiments were killed, and one of the Ohio 14th, and seven wounded of the 3d regiment.

An occasional shell was sent into camp, a mile and a half distant, to keep them in position.

CLEVELAND, Ohio, July 12.

A private dispath [sic] to Col. Stager, from Western Virginia, says that Gen. McClellan gained a decided victory at Laurel Hill. He captured the enemy’s entirey [sic] camp, guns, tents, wagons, &c. Many prisoners were taken, amongst whom were several officers.

The enemy’s loss is severe—ours very small.

No officers were lost on our side.

McClellan turned the enemy’s position.

ROARING RUN, Va., July 12

A battle was fought yesterday afternoon at Rich Mountain, two miles east of this place, where the enemy numbering about 2,000 under command of Colonel Pegram2 were strongly entrenched.—About 3 o’clock in the morning Gen. Roscrans,3 with a portion of the 8th, 10th, and 13th Indiana, and the 19th Ohio Regiments left this place, and after a very difficult march of seven or eight miles, cutting a road through the woods, succeeded in sarrounding [sic] the enemy about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

A desperate fight immediately ensued, lasting about an hour and a half, resulting [in] the loss of 60 of the enemy killed, and a large number wounded. Many prisoners were taken, some of the latter are officers. They retreated precipitately, leaving 5 wagons, and a large number of horses, camp eqquipage [sic] &c. The loss on our side was about 20 killed and 40 wounded—among the latter is Capt. Chris. Miller of the tenth Indiana Regiment.


An official dispatch has been received at headquarters from Gen. McClellan, from

Robert S. Garnett

Huttonsville, Va., 15th, giving an account of the routing of the forces and death of Gen. Garnett.4 This confirms previous accounts. He says he has completely annihlated [sic] the enemy in Western Virginia. Our loss is but 13 killed and about 40 wounded. The enemy’s loss is 200 killed and 1000 taken prisoners.—We captured seven guns. A portion of Garnett’s force retreated, but I look for their copture [sic] by Gen. Hill, who is in hot pursuit. It is said Garnett’s troops are the crack regiments of Eastern Virginia, added by Georgians, Tennesseeans and Carolinians. Our success is complete, and I firmly believe that secession is killed in this section of the country.

GRAFTON, Va., July 16.

A train arrived here this morning bringing the body of Gen. Garnett, late commander of the rebel forces in Western Virginia. The rebels were pursued from Laurel Hill by Gen. Morris’ command, consisting of the 14th Ohio and 7th and 9th Indiana regiments. At Carrick’s Ford, eight miles south of the town of St. George, Gen. Garnett attempted to rally his forces, when a sharp skirmish ensued, in which Garnett was killed and twenty of his men left dead on the ground, besides many bodies being carried off. The rebels were completely routed and scattered in all directions. 40 loaded wagons and all their horses and camp equipage fell into our hands.—Garnett’s remains will be embalmed and placed at the disposal of his friends.

Two men were killed and two mortally wounded of the Ohio 14th. No other loss on our side. Our troops took more prisoners than they could take care of.


A train arrived at Grafton, Virginia, this forenoon, with the body of General Garnett the rebel commander at Laure[l] Hill, who was killed while attempting to rally his forces at St. George, yesterday. The enemy was routed and a large quantity of munitions and valuables taken. The rebels lost 50 killed and many prisoners. We lost four killed and few wounded. No rebel force is now within McClellan’s District.

NEW YORK, July 16.

Commercial’s special. ]—A private letter from one of the 12th New York regiments, dated Martinsburg, July 11th, says the regiments were under marching orders, and expected to leave that evening, as all the tents had been struck.—36,000 men were in the vicinity and encamped within sight of each other. The 12th have had the right of the line given to them.

A flag of truce came into camp on the 10th, with request from the rebels for an amistice [sic] of ten days to make up their minds whether to fight or retreat.

Gen. Patterson5 replied, “no, not a day!” Enemy have since retreated 15 miles toward Richmond.

The Charleston Mercury tells its country subscribers to save their goose quills, as the stock of steel pens will soon run out.

1. Thomas A. Morris (1811-1904) was a railroad executive and civil engineer from Indiana. On April 27, 1861, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Indiana State Militia and he led his newly raised brigade into western Virginia. He was the overall Union commander at the Battle of Philippi (June 3). On July 13th, he attacked the rear guard of the retreating Confederate forces at Corrick’s Ford and pursued them for several miles before routing them. General Garnett is killed in this action. 
2. John Pegram (1832-1865) was a career soldier. He had just accepted a commission as a lieutenant colonel in July as was assigned to command the 20th Virginia Infantry, which was part of General Garnett’s brigade. During the Battle of Rich Mountain, Pegram, cut off from the rest of the briagde, surrendered his entire regiment.  He was the first former U.S. Army officer to be captured in Confederate service in 1861.
3. William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898) was a graduate of West Point where he returned to teach engineering. He received the rank of brigadier general in the regular Union Army on May 16, 1861. While McClellan received the credit for the Union’s victories at Rich Mountain and Corrick’s Ford, Rosecrans’ plans and decisions proved extremely effective.
4. Robert S. Garnett (1819-1861) was a career military man who had fought in the Mexican War. Garnett was the first Confederate general to die during the Civil War when he was killed on July 13 while retreating after the Battle of Rich Mountain.
5. Robert Patterson (1782-1881) served in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, and was influential in Pennsylvania politics. He was appointed a major general of Pennsylvania volunteers at the beginning of the Civil War and commanded the Army of the Shenandoah in 1861. Patterson’s inactivity after the July 2 Battle of Hoke’s Run allows Brigadier General Johnston to march to support Brigadier General Beauregard at Manassas Junction, which will contribute to the Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21.

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