“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Arnoldsburg in Calhoun County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

Engagement at Arnoldsburg

Divided Loyalties

Engagement at Arnoldsburg Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 13, 2014
1. Engagement at Arnoldsburg Marker
Inscription. Click to hear the inscription.  Early in 1862, the 11th West Virginia Infantry in Spencer established an outpost here in Arnoldsburg to suppress Confederate guerilla activity. Union Maj. George C. Trimble commanded four companies here at Camp McDonald, named for former county militia colonel Adonijah McDonald. Many of the soldiers were from Calhoun County.

The Moccasin Rangers, Confederate guerillas, also recruited county residents. Peregrine Hays and George Silcott, both of Arnoldsburg, organized the Rangers, the 19th Virginia Cavalry, and Capt. George Downs commanded them. From 1861 to mid-1862, they raided Union outposts, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and the Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike. They killed and captured Union sympathizers, recruited soldiers, and “acquired” supplies and equipment.

In May 1862, Downs led Co. A, fewer than 100 men, to attack Camp McDonald. Trimble marched two companies up the West Fork of the Little Kanawha River to confront the Confederates, but Downs divided his force and eluded Trimble, who returned to camp on May 5. That night, under cover of fog, Downs occupied the hills surrounding the camp. The Federals detected
Arnoldsburg, drawn by Maj. Michael Ayers image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 13, 2014
2. Arnoldsburg, drawn by Maj. Michael Ayers
Close up of the map in the lower left side of the marker
them the next morning and attacked with two detachments, while a third occupied Peregrine Hay’s house. After the fog lifted, each side directed heavy fire on the other. Almost four hours later, the Confederates retreated, but the clash was mistakenly reported as a Union defeat. Despite the expenditure of ammunition, casualties were light. One Federal was wounded, while Downs lost two killed and one wounded. The Confederate threat subsided, and Downs was captured in July near his home on the Little Kanawha River.

When Calhoun County was formed from Gilmer County in 1856, the county court first met on April 14 at the mouth of the Pine Creek on the Little Kanawha River in the house of Joseph W. Burson, a Moccasin Ranger who was killed in the Arnoldsburg engagement. In September 1856, the court began meeting here in Arnoldsburg, but in November the voters moved the seat to present-day Brooksville. In 1858, however, it returned to Arnoldsburg and during the war, alternated between this location and Grantsville. In 1869, it settled permanently in Grantsville.

(lower left) Arnoldsburg, drawn by Maj. Michael Ayers Courtesy Calhoun County Historical Society
(upper right) Capt. George Downs Courtesy Ken Connell, Peregrine Hays — Courtesy Calhoun County Historical Society
Erected by
Engagement at Arnoldsburg Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, April 13, 2014
3. Engagement at Arnoldsburg Marker
West Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 38° 47.643′ N, 81° 8.502′ W. Marker is in Arnoldsburg, West Virginia, in Calhoun County. Marker is at the intersection of Arnoldsburg Road (U.S. 33/119) and County Route 33/119, on the right when traveling west on Arnoldsburg Road. Touch for map. Marker is located in West Fork Park. Marker is in this post office area: Arnoldsburg WV 25234, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 17 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Arnoldsburg Skirmish (here, next to this marker); Gilmer County/Calhoun County (approx. 7.7 miles away); First County Court (approx. 11.3 miles away); Rathbone Well (approx. 16.7 miles away); Burning Springs Oil Field (approx. 16.7 miles away).
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 4, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 413 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 4, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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