Randolph County, WV | Jul 11, 1861
Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan assumed command of Union forces in western Virginia in June 1861. After their defeat by McClellan at Philippi, Confederate troops under the command of Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett had fortified two key mountain passes. The one furthest south, Camp Garnett, consisted of earth and log entrenchments overlooking the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike at Rich Mountain, just west of Beverly. On June 27th, McClellan moved his brigades of Ohio and Indiana soldiers from Clarksburg south against Lt. Col. John Pegram’s Confederates, reaching the vicinity of Rich Mountain on July 9th. Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Morris’s Union brigade marched from Philippi to confront Garnett’s command at Laurel Hill. On July 11th, Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans led a reinforced brigade by a mountain path to seize the turnpike in Pegram’s rear. A sharp two-hour fight ensued in which the Confederates were split in two. Half escaped to Beverly, but Pegram and the others surrendered on July 13. Hearing of Pegram’s defeat, Garnett abandoned Laurel Hill. The Federals pursued, and, during fighting at Corrick’s Ford on July 13, Garnett was killed. On July 22, McClellan was ordered to Washington, and Rosecrans assumed command of Union forces in western Virginia. The Union victory at Rich Mountain was instrumental in propelling McClellan to command of the Army of the Potomac.