Filed under: Timeline Events
Tagged as: 1st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, B & O railroad, George B. McClellan, Mason-Dixon line, railroads, Virginia.
On May 9th, 1861 Union General George B. McClellan moved troops from Ohio into western Virginia to secure the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad after Union northwestern Virginian soldiers became concerned by the increased Confederate military presence and activity on the tracks and stations of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, a railroad line near the Mason-Dixon line. On May 25th, fearing a Union invasion, Colonel Porterfield ordered the destruction of B & O railroad bridges. McClellan ordered a rebuilding of damaged lines and posted guards to protect important bridges. Over the next couple of months Confederate soldiers were concerned with destroying the B & O, while Union soldiers were occupied with rebuilding and keeping the B & O operable to the extent of removing railroad employees, fearing their disloyalty, and replacing them with soldiers.
On July 7th McClellan finally made an offensive strike on the Confederates located near Rich Mountain. Soon the other Confederate encampments heard of the attack and began to retreat. McClellan wanting to intercept the retreating Confederates but was losing time to gaps in communication and attempts to hastily load and move trains. By July 14th Confederate troops halted at Greenland. When Union forces arrived the next day the found that the Confederates already decamped. McClellan ordered a halt to the pursuit of the retreating Confederates.
McClellan was able to gain control of the B & O and “settled summarily the political destiny of northwest Virginia.” Though Confederates periodically reoccupied some of the lost B & O territory they were unable to secure it for long.
First Regiment Ohio Volunteers fired into by a Masked Battery near Vienna, Va., from Frank Leslie’s The Soldiers in Our Civil War, 1893. Webb Garrison Gallery.
Summers, Festus P. The Baltimore and Ohio in the Civil War. Stan Clark Military Books, Gettysburg: Pennsylvania, 1993