December 13, 1861: Battle of Allegheny Mountain
On December 13, 1861, the Battle of Allegheny Mountain was fought in Pocahontas County. Following the Battle of Greenbrier River at Camp Bartow on October 3, the Confederate army had withdrawn to winter quarters atop Allegheny Mountain. Union General Robert Milroy likely believed the Confederates were demoralized and launched an attack on the cold mountain summit. Milroy’s force of about 1,900 went up against the Confederate’s 1,200 troops.
After a brief skirmish, Milroy divided his troops to attack both flanks of the Confederate camp simultaneously. The first column marched up the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike and arrived near daybreak. A battle raged for several hours before Milroy was forced to withdraw. Shortly after, the second Union column attacked the Confederate left but also failed. Union casualties in the battle were 140 killed or wounded and two missing, compared to Confederate casualties of 128 killed or wounded and 34 captured or missing.
Ironically, a few days before Milroy’s attack, the Confederate brigade had received orders to withdraw from Allegheny Mountain, which would have prevented one of the bloodiest conflicts of the first year of the Civil War.