McClellan's Buckhannon Camp

McClellan's Buckhannon Camp (HM13UZ)

Location: Buckhannon, WV 26201 Upshur County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 59.166', W 80° 13.788'

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Prelude to Rich Mountain

— The First Campaign —

(Preface): In the spring of 1861, Union forces rushed into northwestern Virginia to secure the vital Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, protect important turnpikes, and support Unionists against Confederates. The two sides fought numerous engagements between June and December. They included Philippi (the war's first land battle), Rich Mountain, Corricks Ford, Cheat Summit Fort, Carnifex Ferry, and Camp Allegheny. The many Union victories made Gen. George B. McClellan's reputation and damaged that of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee - a situation reversed in 1862. Despite later Confederate raids, today's West Virginia remained largely under Federal control for the rest of the war.

In one of the first important Union victories of the Civil War, on July 11, 1861, Union Gen. George B. McClellan's forces defeated part of Confederate Gen. Robert S Garnett's command east of here at Rich Mountain. McClellan's column camped here early in July before the battle.

On July 2, McClellan wrote to his wife, Mary Ellen McClellan, that his column was marching to Buckhannon after a series of hard rains and that the local people rejoiced to see his troops. The next day he wrote to her about how cold it was the night before, the first night of camp in Buckhannon. McClellan also sent numerous telegrams to Washington, D.C., complaining about the lack of supplies and describing his intention to defeat Garnett by maneuvers rather than by direct attack.

McClellan's subordinate, Gen. William S. Rosecrans, arrived here with his command earlier than anticipated. It earned him McClellan's wrath for fear the Rosecrans's early march had alerted the Confederates. McClellan's column eventually marched out of town along the Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike (Main Street in Buckhannon) to Rich Mountain. Ironically, it was Rosecrans's direct attack there that secured McClellan's reputation and the appointment to command the Army of the Potomac.

Buckhannon and Upshur County remained largely Unionist during the war. While southern sympathizers were active here, many moved south early in the conflict. Overt signs of support for one side or the other depended on whether Confederate or Federal troops were in the area. Brothers in several local families joined opposite sides in the conflict.

(Sidebar): After Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1844, wires soon were strung all along the East Coast. During the Civil War, 15,000 miles of telegraph cable was laid purely for military purposes. Mobile telegraph wagons reported and received communications from just behind the front lines. McClellan, who relied heavily on the telegraph during the Civil War, extended wires to Rich Mountain. This was one of the earliest uses of the telegraph in the field.
HM NumberHM13UZ
Series This marker is part of the West Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByWest Virginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 8:45am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 566706 N 4315516
Decimal Degrees38.98610000, -80.22980000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 59.166', W 80° 13.788'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 59' 9.96" N, 80° 13' 47.28" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)304
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 19-31 Park St, Buckhannon WV 26201, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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