Pocahontas County, WV | Dec 13, 1861
Early in the war, Confederate military planners were forced to assume a strategic defensive strategy in areas where they could not bring superior numbers of forces to bear against their Union foe. They found it critical to control or at least monitor all possible avenues of approach by Union forces into the Confederate interior. These included the overland routes through the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia. In December 1861, a Confederate force under Col. Edward Johnson was assigned to occupy the summit of Allegheny Mountain near the town of Bartow to defend the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, which connected the upper Shenandoah River valley with the Ohio River. Union victories that summer at Rich Mountain and Corrick's Ford had solidified Federal control over the mountain ranges in the western Virginia counties. To protect the turnpike and the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, Union forces sought to defeat Confederates nearby. On December 13th, a Union brigade under Brig. Gen. Robert Milroy attacked Johnson atop Allegheny Mountain. Fighting continued on the rough slopes for much of the morning as each side maneuvered to gain the advantage. Finally, Milroy’s troops were repulsed, and he retreated to his camps near Cheat Mountain. At year’s end, Johnson remained at Camp Allegheny with five regiments. After the winter, Johnson abandoned the camp a moved east to eventually meet up with Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson to defeat the Union army at the Battle of McDowell.