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Saturday, December 2, 2023

The West Virginia Campaign – Rich Mountain Campaign

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The Western Virgins campaign, also known as Operation West Virginia, is the fighting that took place during the American civil war on the territory of modern West Virginia. The federal army under the command of George McClellan entered the western districts of Virginia and managed to oust confederation troops from there, relying on the generally loyal attitude of the local population. Subsequently, the southerners organized several raids into western Virginia, but were never able to return this territory.

In April 1861, the decision of the Congress of Representatives of the State of Virginia withdrew from the Union and went over to the side of the Confederation. However, this action had a large number of opponents. First of all, this was due to the fact that Virginia had major economic ties with the states of the Union – Pennsylvania and Ohio.

For the conduct of hostilities in these territories, the Union created the Ohio Department, which includes the lands of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, the western parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia. George B. McClellan was appointed to lead the troops of the northerners.

The armed forces of the Confederates in Virginia had several commanders, which prevented their normal coordination.

Main battles:

Battle of Philippi
Battle at Rich Mountain
Battle of Corrick’s Ford
Battle of Cross Lanes
Battle of Carnifex Ferry
Battle of Cheat Mountain
Battle at Greenbrier River
Battle of Camp Allegheny


The Union Army was able to hold the territory of western Virginia until the end of the war, despite the fact that the Confederate forces made several attempts to liberate these lands. Some time later, West Virginia separated from the Ohio department, forming the West Virginia department. In 1863, West Virginia became part of the United States , becoming the 35th state.

After victories in West Virginia, McClellan’s popularity grew rapidly in the north, where newspapers had already dubbed him Young Napoleon, and some time later he was appointed commander of the Army of the Potomac .

In turn, General Lee received a huge portion of criticism. For the defeat in the West Virginia campaign, he was transferred to South Carolina to monitor the construction of coastal fortifications. The remnants of the Southerners were organized into the Army of the North-West, which later became part of the Army of Northern Virginia .

Kennedy, Frances H. The Civil War Battlefield Guide
Newell, Clayton R. Lee Vs. McClellan: The First Campaign .
Mallinson, David “Confused First Fight

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