August 21, 1861: Confederate Troops Cross Gauley River at Carnifex Ferry

Aug 21, 2019

Map of the battle field of Carnifex Ferry
Credit United States Army Corps of Engineers / Library of Congress

On the night of August 21, 1861, more than 2,000 Confederate troops under General John B. Floyd crossed the Gauley River at Carnifex Ferry and entrenched at Keslers Cross Lanes in Nicholas County. Four days later, about 850 Union troops from the 7th Ohio Infantry, led by Colonel Erastus Tyler, advanced from Gauley Bridge and ended up three miles from Floyd’s camp at Keslers Cross Lanes. Tyler failed to scout the area properly or post sufficient pickets.

During breakfast on the morning of August 26, Floyd’s Confederates caught the Ohioans by surprise. At first, the men of the 7th Ohio fled for their lives, but several companies finally made a stand. During the battle, which lasted less than an hour, the Ohioans were completely routed from their position and lost two men killed, 29 wounded, and 110 missing. Meanwhile, the Confederates lost only a handful of men and a regimental flag. The Confederate victory at Keslers Cross Lanes temporarily severed Northern communications between the Kanawha Valley and Union headquarters in Wheeling. However, two weeks later, Floyd abandoned the area following the Battle of Carnifex Ferry.