November 6, 1863: Battle of Droop Mountain
On November 6, 1863, one of the most important Civil War battles in West Virginia occurred in Pocahontas County. In August of that year, Union General William W. Averell had launched a series of raids to disrupt the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad in southwestern Virginia.
During his second raid, Averell hatched a scheme to trap Confederate troops around Lewisburg. His overall plan failed. But, he was able to attack some 1,700 Confederates under General John Echols at Droop Mountain, just south of Hillsboro. The battle opened with nearly six hours of artillery fire, musketry, and hand-to-hand combat. Averell’s infantry finally broke through the Confederate left. The Rebels retreated, and the battle turned into a Union rout.
At first glance, the battle might not have seemed that significant because Echols’s forces managed to escape. Plus, Averell failed to achieve his ultimate objective. However, Droop Mountain marked the last large-scale battle of the war fought on West Virginia soil. It was also the last time the Confederacy made a push to control the new state. The site of the battle is now preserved as a state park.