Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Battle of Allegheny Mountain

150 years ago today Union and Confederate forces met on Allegheny Mountain in West Virginia. Col. Edward Johnson of the 12th Georgia was stationed on Allegheny Mountain with 1200 men to defend a strategic road. They were attacked at dawn on the 13th by a force of 1300 men under Brigadier General Milroy.

Johnson was alerted to the advance of the Federals up the mountain by his pickets, and had time to form his men up. Along most of the front they had been able to construct field entrenchments. The fighting continued fiercely throughout the morning and early afternoon, with the Southerners getting the worst of it because their positions were more exposed. On the right the Confederates by hard fighting began to gain the upper hand. One officer reported:

By this time the extreme right had been forced back, but ... they ... moved upon the enemy, who, taking advantage of some fallen trees, brush, and timber, poured upon them a terrific fire. Our men were checked, but not driven back. They did not yield an inch, but steadily advanced, cheered and led by their officers. Many of the officers fought by the side of their men and led them on to the conflict. I never witnessed harder fighting. The enemy, behind trees, with their long-range arms, at first had decidedly the advantage, but our men soon came up to them and drove them from their cover. I cannot speak in terms too exaggerated of the unflinching courage and dashing gallantry of those 500 men who contended from 7.15 a.m. until 1.45 p.m. against an immensely superior force of the enemy, and finally drove them from their positions and pursued them a mile or more down the mountain.

One soldier remembered this sight he got of Johnson:

I had a splendid position in this battle and could see the whole fight without having to take any part in it, and I remember how I thought Colonel Johnson must be the most wonderful hero in the world, as I saw him at one point, where his men were hard pressed, snatch a musket in one hand and, swinging a big club in the other, he led his line right up among the enemy, driving them headlong down the mountain, killing and wounding many with the bayonet and capturing a large number of prisoners...

After the battle, the Union forces reported a victory over superior numbers, but the Confederates remained undefeated holding their same position on Allegheny Mountain. For this hard fight Johnson was promoted to Brigadier General and gained the nickname Allegheny Johnson. This was a very bloody fight for the lower number of forces engaged. The Northerners suffered 20 killed 107 wounded and 10 missing, while the Confederates had 20 killed, 98 wounded and 28 missing.


Dancing Eye Books said...

First sentence, I think you mean 150 years instead of 50 years? See my blog, A Matter of Perspective", which also deals with this battle: http://bit.ly/vlfbs0

Joshua Horn said...

Good catch. Thanks.

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