Jones-Imboden Raid of 1863
The Jones-Imboden Raid of 1863 was first conceived by Confederate Captain John McNeill, a native of what is now Hardy County, West Virginia, in the winter of 1862 as a lightning fast attack against the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad bridge in Rowlesburg, Preston County. By the beginning of the next year, however, rebel General John D. Imboden had expanded plans for the campaign to include a general offensive against the entire B&O Railroad infrastructure in the counties of Unionist Virginia. His Confederate superiors also hoped the raid might disrupt plans for the secession of that region and its formation into a new state, a movement that succeeded on June 20 of the same year despite the raid’s best efforts. By the spring Confederate General William E. Jones had claimed control of the raid by dint of his superior rank, and a two-pronged invasion of what became West Virginia was born. While Jones marched to the north from Lacey Springs, Virginia through Grant, Preston, Monongalia, Marion, and Harrison Counties from April 21 to the beginning of May, Imboden set out from Staunton, Virginia on April 20 toward Buckhannon, where the two reunited on May 2. From there, they moved to occupy Weston before splitting once more. After May 6, Jones proceeded to an attack against the oilfields in Burning Springs while Imboden secured their avenue of retreat back into secessionist Virginia by occupying Summersville in Nicholas County. By the end of May, the raid was over, the Confederates having marched 700 miles, burned sixteen railroad bridges, and captured 1,000 head of cattle. Its strategic achievements are debatable: the pro-Union government of western Virginia continued to function and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was soon back up and running.