Area commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War
Introduction: These historical accounts were originally presented in The Morgan Messenger’s 2009 “This is Morgan County.” They are primarily from the research of local Civil War historian and 5th Virginia Company K reenactor Robert Ambrose.
Historian Steve French contributed accounts of Cherry Run, Sleepy Creek and the Bath raids along with other Civil War events from his book “Imboden’s Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign.”
January, 1862 is the 150th anniversary of the Bath-Romney Campaign
and the bombardment of Hancock by Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson during the Civil War.
Morgan County and Hancock also saw skirmishes, raids, encampments, pickets, militia marches, troop movements, guerilla warfare and horse-stealing during the war.
Union troops guarded area railroad bridges, train depots, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and water towers. Confederate troops
ripped up train tracks and telegraph wires, attempting
to disrupt communications and supplies.
The Civil War pitted brother against brother as families chose opposite sides in the conflict. No one knew when the fighting would break out again or who could be trusted, said historian Robert Ambrose.
Soldiers endured harsh weather, blinding snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice, extreme cold and chilling winds during the Bath-Romney Campaign, Ambrose said.
General Stonewall Jackson and his army advanced on Bath from Winchester on January 1, 1862. His troops camped at Unger’s Store in southern Morgan County when a blizzard hit.
Washington Unger’s Oakleigh Manor home and land were used as Jackson’s headquarters and as a troop encampment site during the Bath-Romney Campaign. A field hospital was set up in a house on the property.
Ambrose Chapel on Winchester Grade Road was also used as a Confederate field hospital and also possibly as a Confederate encampment site.
Skirmishes took place as the Confederate army marched to Bath. At Oakland, Jackson split up his forces, with some heading west toward Warm Springs Ridge while the rest moved to Bath and Sir Johns Run.
Around 2,000 Confederate troops camped around town square, in homes, storefronts and in the Berkeley Springs Hotel. They burned hotel furniture to keep warm.
On January 4, 1862, there were skirmishes between Union and Confederate soldiers in Berkeley Springs. Jackson’s 8,500-man army captured Bath.
Union troops numbered about 1,200.
Confederate artillery batteries and reserve troops from the Stonewall Brigade dueled with Muhlenberg’s two guns from the Union artillery on Warm Springs Ridge during the battle for Bath.
The two-gun section retreated with the rest of the Union troops via Sir Johns Run and crossed the icy Potomac back to Maryland through the aqueduct/viaduct. Union troops retreated to Hancock and Sir Johns Run.
Troops also skirmished that day at Sir John’s Run, which was Union Headquarters on the Virginia side. Confederate troops forced Union troops from the run. Firing continued overnight.
Another skirmish occurred on January 4 at the Great Cacapon railroad bridge between the Confederates 37th Virginia and 3rd Arkansas and some of the Union 39th Illinois Infantry. The Confederates drove the Union troops across the Potomac River.
General Stonewall Jackson’s men bombarded Hancock from the night of January 4 through January 6, 1862 from Orrick’s Hill, which overlooks the Potomac River and Hancock from West Virginia. Jackson demanded Hancock’s surrender, but Union Brigadier General Frederick Lander refused to comply. On January 7, Confederate troops retreated and marched for Romney.
In October, 1862 near the Paw Paw Tunnel, Confederate troops captured most of the Company K 54th Pennsylvania Infantry regiment and made Company B surrender after a skirmish. Union cavalry captured the Rebels’ camp.
A blockhouse was built in 1863 by Union forces to protect the Great Cacapon railroad bridge from raids. A July 6, 1864 skirmish at the location was a Union victory.
Union and Confederate troops again skirmished at Sir Johns Run on July 5, 1864. Confederate troops retreated after an armored rail car arrived and fired a cannon at the Rebels. The Union army also built a blockhouse there to protect the railroad.
On July 7, 1864, Union troops repulsed an attack at Magnolia, which was named Water Station no. 12. The Confederate troops burned the water tower before being stopped.
Camp Hill/Cemetery Hill in Paw Paw was the site of a Union encampment of 16,000 soldiers that protected the river, canal and railroad. It was also headquarters for Union Brigadier General Frederick Lander, who died there.
Cherry Run, Sleepy Creek
Small companies of Union troops guarded the Cherry Run railroad bridge and the Sleepy Creek Bridge from the spring of 1862 until the end of the war.
The Cherry Run ford and the ferry near the Cherry Run train depot were important troop crossings sites. A shootout occurred at the train depot between McNeill’s Cavalry and a Yankee squad around June 17, 1863. Cherry Run was the site of at least two skirmishes during the Gettysburg Campaign.
According to historian Steve French, Brigadier General John Imboden’s Brigade crossed upstream from Sleepy Creek to start its raid into Pennsylvania in June, 1863. Period accounts also say that the Sleepy Creek Bridge was burned around June 17, 1863.
On September 7, 1863, the camp of the 19th Pennsylvania cavalry just south of Bath was attacked by Rebel raiders led by Captain John Blackford of Jefferson County, French said. A number of prisoners and horses were taken.
Major Charles “Trip” O’Ferrall led a raid on Bath on March 9, 1864 to punish local members of the Union League who were gathering at the local Odd Fellows Hall.
Five men, including a state senator, a legislator and an attorney, were taken prisoner and about 15 horses were captured. The Rebels eluded Union pursuit. O”Ferrall later became the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Alpine Station, Orrick farm
Alpine Station, a B & O Railroad depot on the West Virginia side of the river, was a supply depot and major encampment for Union troops.
Imboden’s Brigade and McNeill’s Cavalry encamped at the Johnson Orrick farm in Hancock, West Virginia in June, 1863. The Orricks were a pro-Confederate slave-holding family. Orrick was a Confederate Congressman and 33rd Virginia Infantry quartermaster.
Colonel T. O. Osborn and his 39th regiment made their camp at Alpine Station at the Orrick home and property. Union troops also used the C & O Canal Aqueduct/Viaduct when they crossed the Potomac River ford to return to Hancock. It was located directly across from the Orrick farm.
Private William Henry Harrison Lowe of the 1st Georgia Infantry Company H died on January 6, 1862. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery, the only known burial site related to the Bath-Romney Campaign. The Shockey family of Shockey’s Tavern in Oakland cared for Lowe before his death.
Ambrose said Lowe symbolized everyman, a soldier dying 500 miles from his Georgia home at age 19. He is honored annually during their commemorative Bath-Romney Campaign events, representing all veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Other article sources were Fred Newbraugh’s “Warm Springs Echoes, Volume 2,” the Morgan County Historical Society’s “Morgan County During the Civil War,” Thomas M. Rankin’s “Stonewall Jackson’s Romney Campaign,” The Morgan Messenger editor John Douglas and former Morgan County Commissioner Tommy Swaim.