Battle of Princeton Court House
By early May 1862, Union forces were positioned to invade Virginia at two places. Brig. Gen. Robert H. Milroy's columnn, its axis of march the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, advanced from Cheat Mountain and occupied in succession Camp Allegheny, Monterey, McDowell, and Shenandoah Mountain. Retreating before the oncoming Federals, Confederate Brig. Gen. Edward "Allegheny" Johnson pulled back to Westview, six miles west of Staunton. Union soldiers of Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox's District of Kanawha threatened the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad. By mid-May, the Federals, although ousted from Pearisburg, held Mercer County and braced for a lunge at the railroad. Confederate Brig. Gen. Humphrey Marshall arrived from Abingdon, Virginia, with the Army of East Kentucky. Seizing the initiative, Marshall bested Cox's two brigades during three days of fighting, May 15 to May 17, in Mercer County, centering on Princeton Courthouse. There were 129 casualties in total.
Backstory and Context
Breaking contact with the Confederates on the night of the 17-18, Cox withdrew 20 miles to Camp Flat Top. Col. George Crook, commanding Cox’s 3rd brigade, marched via the James and Kanawha Turnpike and occupied Lewisburg, where on May 23 he defeated Brig. Gen. Henry Heth’s brigade. Upon learning that Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s army had routed Maj. Gen. N.P. Banks’ division at Winchester (March 25) and driven it across the Potomac, Crook evacuated Lewisburg and pulled back to Meadow Bluff.
Dr. Robert McNutt House is located at 1522 North Walker Street, Princeton, WV. It is the only house left standing in Princeton after the town was burned during the Civil War. The House is on the National Register of Historic Places. The McNutt House was used as headquarters during the war for Lt. Col. Rutherford B. Hayes and Sgt. William McKinley (both past U. S. Presidents). The McNutt House was also used as a hospital during May 1862. Located along the West Virginia Civil War Trail. Hours: Monday-Friday 9-4. No admission charge. Visitors welcome.