Clio Logo

This Civil War battlefield is located in Princeton, West Virginia. On May 17, 1862, Confederate forces fought Union troops while they were on a mission to destroy the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.


The Battle of Pigeon’s Roost was a Civil War battle that occurred in Princeton, West Virginia and was led by the Union General Jacob Cox, whose unit was trying to destroy the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. Defending the railroad were Confederates under the lead of General Humphrey Marshall. The battle of Pigeon’s Roost was on May 17, 1862 after a month of smaller conflicts that led to Union forces marching to Princeton.

After Union troops left Fayetteville in the middle of April 1862 they passed through Beckley and  Mercer County by going over Flat Top Mountain. Near Campbell’s Creek on April 30 an advance guard was attacked, but the Confederates were pushed back to Princeton after the Union’s main army arrived to the scene. The following day, on May 1, Confederates burned the town of Princeton. For the next nine days Union troops marched 25 miles through the burned town until they were stopped at Pearisburg, Virginia ,on May 10. Eventually the Union army had to retreat back to Princeton on May 16, and by that evening the Confederates were able to push the Union army out of the city and by doing so they spread out to areas such as Pigeon’s Roost. The next morning, May 17, Union troops tried to retake Princeton, but failed to as Confederate troops were being reinforced on the ridge known as Pigeon’s Roost.

Overall, the fighting involved the 51st Virginia Regiment (Confederate) and the 37th Ohio Regiment (Union). Union troops suffered 18 killed and 38 wounded by ambush.  This battle spelled the end for Union efforts to destroy the railroad at Dublin, as Northern troops were retreating by the end of the day on May 17.

Meador, Michael M. "Battle of Pigeon Roost." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 22 October 2010. Web. 01 May 2015.