“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pound Gap in Wise County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Pound Gap Engagement

Southwest Virginia Gateway

Pound Gap Engagement Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 17, 2015
1. Pound Gap Engagement Marker
Inscription. Kentucky Unionists considered Pound Gap second in importance only to Cumberland Gap as a strategic gateway to southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee. On the frigid morning of March 16, 1862, Union Gen. James A. Garfield, the future president, arrived here with 700 Ohio and Kentucky infantry and cavalry to kick that gate open. Garfield had learned that Confederate militiamen were mustering here and at Cumberland Gap.

About 500 Confederates occupied Pound Gap and the vicinity. Confederate Maj. John P Thompson held the forward location with 175 men, the rest scattered on detached duty or guarding “the cabins, at the foot of the mountain.” In swirling snow, 100 of Union Maj. William McLaughlin’s cavalrymen approached the gap along the road out of Kentucky, while Col. Jonathan Cranor of the 40th Ohio Infantry advanced along one flank. Garfield led another force personally along the other flank to envelop the defenders and cut off their retreat. The Federals converged and after a sharp, brief firefight, the Confederates withdrew south toward Gladeville (Wise).

The Confederates lost one man killed and several wounded; the Federals reported no casualties. Through the evening Garfield's men destroyed “60 log huts and two large buildings for quartermaster and commissary stores,“
Pound Gap Engagement Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 17, 2015
2. Pound Gap Engagement Marker
as well as “a half dozen army wagons,” before abandoning the gap and returning to Kentucky. Although the engagement had little effect beyond the geographical limits of the region, it proved the difficulty of defending Pound Gap.

“A loud echoing shout burst from the long line, as with fixed bayonets it swept down through the ravine and up the hill.” —Union participant, March 16, 1862

“It is now certain that the enemy, ... under the guidance of the most expert and well informed citizens and scouts, the most of them from Kentucky and a part of them from Virginia, had made a night march, and had marched a strong column on south side of the mountain, so as to attack me in front and rear and cut off my retreat.” —Confederate Maj. John P. Thompson
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Location. 37° 9.318′ N, 82° 37.422′ W. Marker is in Pound Gap, Virginia, in Wise County. Marker is at the intersection of Orby Cantrell Highway (U.S. 23) and Potter Town Road (County Route 667), on the left when traveling north on Orby Cantrell Highway. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pound VA 24279, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking
Gen. James Garfield, U.S.A. (1831–1881) image. Click for full size.
Mathew Brady via Wikipedia Commons, circa 1860
3. Gen. James Garfield, U.S.A. (1831–1881)
distance of this marker. The Crooked Road (within shouting distance of this marker); Daniel Webster Dotson (within shouting distance of this marker); Pound Gap (approx. 0.4 miles away); Wise County / Kentucky (approx. half a mile away); Caudill’s Army (approx. half a mile away in Kentucky); Brothers Once More (approx. half a mile away in Kentucky); Pound Gap Massacre (approx. 0.6 miles away in Kentucky); a different marker also named Pound Gap (approx. ¾ mile away in Kentucky). Click for a list of all markers in Pound Gap.
Regarding Pound Gap Engagement. On the left on the marker is a map titled “Pound Gap Engagement, 1862” and to the left two portraits, one of “Gen. James A. Garfield” and the other of “Col. Jonathan Cranor.”
Also see . . .  The Battle at Pound Gap - March 16, 1862. 1982 article in Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia. “Conceiving the rebels about to make a permanent stand, General Garfield drew up his line in front of them, with his right resting on the summit of the mountain, and the left stretched away down the eastern slope. About this time, the rebel line seemed to be melting away, as though they were gradually falling back into the woods. Fearing the results of a loss of time, General Garfield immediately ordered his men forward to scale the hill, and, if necessary, carry it at the point of the bayonet.” (Submitted on November 20, 2015.) 
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 120 times since then and 67 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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