Advance Upon Grafton May 1861
Grafton (Taylor County) 39.341667, -80.019722 Chartered in 1856, Grafton was a significant transportation center because of the B&O Railroad connections and proximity to the Northwestern Turnpike.
General Lee vowed to protect the railroad and sent Major Francis Boykin and Col George Porterfield to Grafton to recruit soldiers. At this time, the community was mostly inhabited by immigrants who came in to work on the railroad and many sided with the Union so recruiting efforts were minimal.
Backstory and Context
On May 22, 1861 there was a scuffle that resulted in the death of Thornsberry Bailey Brown a member of the Grafton Guards. This was the first reported death of a Union soldier by a Confederate soldier. On May 25th the confederate soldiers under orders from Col. George Porterfield burned two tressels on the B&O Railroad, setting into action an invasion into Western Virginia by Ohio and Indiana troops. Troops from Wheeling, under the command of Col Benjamin Kelley were ordered by Major Gen George McClellen through Brig Gen Thomas Morris to protect the supply line. They headed towards Grafton, repaired the tressels, and forced the outnumbered confederate soldiers on to Philippi.
The confederate soldiers continued to raid Grafton throughout the civil war in an effort to disrupt the supply lines.
Each year, Grafton hosts “The Spirit of Grafton Festival” to honor and remember those who served during the Civil War.
Accessed December 15th 2021. https://www.graftonwv.org/our-history/.
Accessed December 15th 2021. https://thehistoryjunkie.com/battle-of-philippi-facts-and-outcome/.