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Battle of White Sulphur Springs also known as Battle of Dry Creek
General W. W. Averell announced moving from Virginia to Greenbrier County for the purpose of destroying bridges of the VA & TN Railroad, as well as destroying the salt works in Smythe County, VA. Confederate General William E. Jones commanded only a small force, so General Patton's brigade moved into the area from western Virginia. This force consisted of the 22nd and 45th Regiments of the 26th Battalion of Virginia Infantry commanded by Colonel George M. Edgar.
Union General Averell reached Randolph county with Confederate forces under General Jones harassing and slowing down his advance. Colonel Patton’s brigade was ordered to reinforce General Jones in Pocahontas County. As Patton’s brigade reached Pocahontas County, he found that Gen. Averell had already crossed the mountains coming from Warm Springs. Colonel Patton and General Jones agreed to work to stop General Averell's men near the White Sulphur Springs in hoped of preventing his men from reaching the VA & TN Railroad.
The Union troops traveled the James River and Kanawha Turnpike while the Confederate troops took Anthony’s Creek Road. (Anthony’s Creek Road and the James River and Kanawha Turnpike joined in the middle of a little valley). The forces met in this valley, which is home to a small frame house of rough sawed timber that still stands. The house is scarred with bullets from small arms, as well as the impact of a ten-pound solid shot.
As the two forces met near this location, the Confederate soldiers built a barricade with fence posts to defend a possible Union cavalry charge. The Union troops immediately ran up the valley and tried to break through the barrier. Colonel Patton’s troops were able to hold back he Union troops in battle which lasted from the first sight of the Union troops until the next day. The battle was brief, but the area was covered with dead and wounded soldiers. The Miller residence was set on fire by the Union after General Averell ordered its destruction to keep Confederates from using the home. The Dixon House, used by both sides as a field hospital, is still somewhat intact.
The skirmish descended into hand-to-hand combat and the fighting moved from this location to nearby Wade’s Creek. Confederates with musket and bayonets were able to defend against the Union offensive. Union soldiers tried to flank the Confederate position, but they were driven back by Confederate sharpshooters. As the battle raged, both sides found ammunition stores depleted. Union forces were unable to control the area in ways that prevented them from seeking possible supplies and reinforcements until both sides withdrew.
In the end, the Union soldiers retreated due to being low on ammunition and taking casualties without accomplishing their objectives. Both sides lost many men during this battle. The Union lost 218 of its 1,300 troops (26 killed, 125 wounded, and 67 captured). Confederates lost 167 of 2,000 troops (20 killed, 129 wounded, and 18 missing). Though the Union retreated, the Confederate force failed to capitalize on their superior force by pursuing the federals and taking captives.
SourcesEric J. Wittenberg, The Battle of White Sulphur Springs, Charleston SC, The History Press, 2011.
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986
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