Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
June 3, 1861

Richmond Enquirer
June 7, 1861



Baltimore papers of Tuesday came to hand last night. They contain the following details of a fight at Phillippi, Va., but as the report is by the way of Cincinnati, and has undergone the revision of the Federal authorities, it must be taken with many grains of allowance:

Cincinnati, June 3,--Two columns of troops, commanded by Col. Kelley, of the First Virginia Union Volunteers of Wheeling, and Col. Orittenden, of Indiana, left Grafton early last night, and after marching about twenty miles through a drenching rain, surprised a camp of 2,000 Confederate troops at Phillippi, Va.,a town in Barbour county, on the Tygart's Valley River. The surprise was complete, the Confederates fleeing and leaving fifteen dead bodies on the field.

The Union troops captured a large amount of arms, horses, ammunition, provisions and camp equipage. At the last advices the Federal troops were in hot pursuit of the Confederates, and there will probably be many of them taken prisoners.

Col. Kelley was mortally wounded, and has since died. Several other of the Federal troops were slightly wounded.

Confirmation of the Battle

Washington, June 3.:Gen. Scott received a dispatch to night from Gen. McClellan announcing that a part of the command of Gen. Morris last night advanced from Grafton during a heavy rain and surprised the Secession camp near Phillippi, about two thousand strong. They were effectually put to rout and a number of them killed. A large quantity of arms and munitions and a number of horses, which the Secessionists left in their alarm, fell into the hands of the Federal troops. They retreated further into Virginia. Col Kelley was mortally wounded.

[A gentleman just arrived from Washington informs us that the report of a battle is false. A skirmish, however, had taken place near the point named, in which Col Kelley was killed. Further evidence of the incorrectness of the report is, that there were no horses of any account in or near Phillippi. The probability is, that on the arrival of reliable information from our own forces, we shall have altogether another coloring to this affair.] --Eds. Enquirer

Richmond Daily Dispatch
June 7, 1861

The Latest News

The Recent Battle at Philippi.

Our Reporter conversed yesterday evening with Dr. J. A Hunter, of the Virginia army, who had just arrived from Staunton, where most of the circumstances attending the recent engagement between the Virginia and Washington forces at Phillippi were known, the news having been brought thither by special express. Mr. Bledsoe, of Staunton, arrived also in Richmond yesterday evening with dispatches concerning the battle, sent by General Harman to the Governor, the nature of which we were not permitted to find out.

Dr. Hunter entertains no doubt that the ground was most gallantly contested by the Virginians, who fought with the odds of 700 against from 1,500 to 3,000 of the Abolitionists, who were aided by certain traitorous "Union" men in that region. By the sheer force of numbers, the enemy were enabled to surround and get possession of the train. In the capons were unopened cases containing 500 muskets. A desperate attempt was made by the Virginians to recover the arms. Then arms were used with effect on the marauders but they could not be dislodged. They, in turn known our brave troops, who retreated in good order, and halting at a bridge, offered a most determined resistance. Many instances of individual bravery and acts of heroism are recorded in connection with the attack on the bridge. At this point, the Abolitionists go their field battery in operation, when a charge was made on them, in which Captain Archy Richards, of Bath; Thomas E. Simms, (for multi Ticket Agent on the Danville R. R. well known here;) and Dangerfield, of Bath, were killed, and several desperately wounded .

A brother of the Dangerfield who was killed, as above mentioned, (both of whom belonged to the Bath Cavalry,) had his leg carried off by a cannon shot. Mr. Turk, for High Sheriff of Augusta, together with those mentioned as slain, showed the most determined bravery. The Virginians were finally dislodged from the bridge and were driven back on a locality called the Willow where they repulsed a savage onslaught on their position, and besides were enabled to afflict much damage on their enemies, who defend from further offensive operations. The most reliable advices place the loss in killed on our side at 7--the wounded at from 15 to 25 Of the Abolitionists it is said from 50 to 75 are certainly known to be dead, and a large number wounded. One Kelly, a Yankeerens gade from Wheeling, who commanded a "Union" regiment of congenial cut throats was so lucky as to end his ignoble life in the union. Dispatches to Northern papers represent him as an errant coward, and seem to rejoice that the chances of battle have obviated the necessity of his future appearance on any active field.

Another account received differs somewhat from the above. It says that the Virginia forces were under Col.Porterfield, and contained of 300 men) that they were attacked by 1100 or 1500) of the enemy, and repulsed them three times, our men remaining masters of the ground Eight of our men were killed, among others Col. Porterfield himself, and Mr. Thos E. Simms, of the Commissary Department. There were between fifty and sixty of the enemy killed.

While we regret the loss of valuable men in an encounter with so ignoble and depraved an enemy as they had to contend against in this instance, we must enter our decided protest against the easy manner in which it appears the whole force were at first surprised. In peace at times "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," in war it is the price of liberty and success. If we are surprised by our enemies asleep on our post, we deserve defeat.

The following account of the affair has also been furnished us:

"The Virginia forces at Phillippi allowed themselves to be surprised. They were awakened early in the morning by the cry that the enemy was upon them, and by the firing of a cannon the enemy had brought along. They immediately beat a retreat, the enemy in pursuit. About four or five miles out of town a part of them made a stand, and were attacked by the enemy. They repulsed him; the attack was twice repeated and the enemy as often repulsed. The enemy then desisted from the pursuit and our forces came off, sustaining a loss of six men : among them Mr. Simms of this city. In the hurry of leaving the town our men left 500 stand of arms which had not yet been unboxed. They brought away all their own arms. The loss of the enemy was some fifty or sixty. Our force was about 900 strong, the enemy supposed to be 1,500. It is thought Colonel Porterfield, the officer in command of our forces, was killed; also a Mr. Dangerfield, of Bath county. The town might have been easily defended if our men had not slept on their posts."

Richmond Daily Dispatch
June 8, 1861

The fight at Philippi.

Correct and Reliable Details

Col. J. W. Spalding, of this city, who was a participator in the recent fight at Philippi, gives us the following particulars of that affair. Our forces were posted in the town of Philippi, and numbered in all about 700 effective fighting men. The commanding officer, Col. Porterfield, having been informed on Sunday, by a courageous lady, who rode from Fairmont, in Marion county, through the lines of the enemy at Gralton, and thence to Philippi, a distance of 26 miles, that it was the purpose of the enemy to attack us, and knowing his superior force, determined upon retiring to Beverley, which is distant 30 miles. Not having at hand the proper mode of conveyance, horses and wagons were impressed, with the view of leaving at midnight.

It is stated that an order was issued for the pickets, outposts and scouts to be in at 11 o'clock on Sundaynight, and this order was obeyed. The baggage of the respective companies was placed upon the wagons, but for some reason best known to the commanding officer, the horses were not attached, and they were left standing in the street.

It was in this position of affairs that on the morning of Monday, about daylight, the enemy opened fire upon us from a two-gun battery of 6-pounders, posted upon a crowned point upon the opposite shore of the Tygarts' Valley River, which successfully commanded the camps of the Churchville Cavalry, of Augusta, and the Cavalry of Rockbridge, numbering altogether about 180 men, who were situated on the opposite side of the river.

The horses of these corps being unaccustomed to the fire of artillery broke from the picket ropes, by which they were tied to the fence, and stampeded in the wildest confusion, dashing in among the half-formed infantry and filling the streets.

It was some time before the confusion produced by both the fire and stampede was overcome. Meanwhile the enemy upon the opposite side of the river endeavored to force the passage of the bridge with one piece of artillery, which he had held in reserve; but in this movement he was checked by a bold charge of Capt. Richards, of the Bath Cavalry, who was stationed on the opposite side of the road. A running fire then ensued which continued up the main street of the town, the enemy having finally succeeded in crossing the bridge, and the successive discharges from the troops brought him to a stand during every few rods of his progress.

On reaching the curve of the road leading towards Beverley, the foot troops having been formed by their respective officers, the main engagement took place and terminated in the final fight at Sturn's house, a mile and a half from the village. Here the enemy received a check, gave up the chase, and Col. Porterfield made good his retreat to the village of Beverley. Colonel Willy, of Morgantown, was taken prisoner in his quarters, opposite to Capott's Hotel. When last seen he was near the window, having been an invalid for some days.

A Mr. Martin, of Northwestern Virginia, is also believed to have been captured by the enemy.

The corps of Capt. Moorman, of Pendleton county, were particularly effective, as was also that of Capt. Hall, of Monterey.

Lieut. Thompson, of the Fairmont Rifles, bore himself well during the action, closing up his ranks with the coolness of an old soldier. So did Captain Higginbotham, of Upshur's corps.

The successful termination of the fight, and the warmth of the contest, may be attributed to the wonderful gallantry of the men, rather than to the superintendence of any general officer, and numerous instances might be related of the most determined bravery on the part of individuals. The majority of our men showed admirable pluck.

The U. S. soldiers fired at random, though armed with Minnie rifles, which accounts for our small loss. The enemy were about 8,000 strong, though from the character of the country they were unable to bring the entire body into action. Through a lady, who has since arrived at Beverley, it appears they acknowledge to 25 killed; but the presumption is, that there were many more, to say nothing of sixty or seventy wounded, who were rapidly removed from the field.

Our own loss, so far as is ascertained, are Mr. Hanger, of the Augusta Cavalry, who was killed near the bridge; Mr. Martin, of Rockbridge, and Mr. Thomas E. Sims, of Richmond. The latter individual, when last seen was bravely defending himself, near the wagon of the Quartermaster, to whom be was an assistant. The first wound he received was from a man who was mounted, but who afterwards met his deserts at the mouth of a musket.--His last and mortal wound Mr. S. received while between his wagon and the fence, when he was endeavoring to mount a horse which was near by. He had been up during the entire night, preparing the vouchers for the horses which had been pressed into service and were to be paid for. These vouchers were upon his person, and, with his body are presumed to have been taken by the enemy.

Capt. Richards, of the Bath Cavalry, who was reported to be killed, escaped unhurt, and reached Beverley with his corps on Monday.

Private L. B. Dangerfield, from the Warm Springs, was not killed, as reported. He received a severe and painful wound on the left leg just above the ancle, both bones being crushed. He was taken to Beverley in a wagon, where his leg was removed on Tuesdaymorning, just below the knee. Nearly at the same time Mr. Dangerfield was struck; Mr. Hogshead received a flesh wound in the arm, and a number of others were struck, but not dangerously injured.

One of the most frightened individuals of the entire party was a negro, who was knocked down by the wind of a six-pound ball. He immediately sprang to his feet, jumped upon a horse and reached Beverley two hours in advance of any one else.

Such was the suddenness of the attack that some of the men had not time to dress.

Col. Porterfield is now at Beverley, where it is expected he can successfully maintain his position until reinforced. No doubt is entertained that the information of the absence of artillery in the command of Porterfield was communicated to Gen. McClelland at Grafton, together with the fact that our forces intended to move that night, by resident traitors.

As an illustration of the bravery of Virginia women, we have above given one instance.-- Here is another; When the firing commenced, and while Mr. Sims was trying to get the Quartermaster's baggage upon a wagon, a lady, seeing his difficulty, boldly came forward, notwithstanding bullets were flying around her, took one end of the trunk and assisted him in his work. The chest of the Adams Express Company was captured by the enemy, but fortunately Quartermaster Jordan had taken the precaution to remove the money it contained, and the funds are now safe at Beverley.

A number of defective rifles from Harper's Ferry were no doubt also taken from the jail, but the number of arms heretofore reported as captured is greatly exaggerated.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
June 20, 1861

Who shot Col. Kelley ?

--Col. Kelley, the commandant of a portion of Lincoln's forces at Phillippi, was shot by Archey McClintic. of the Bath Cavalry, Capt. Richards. Leroy and Foxall Dangerfield (brothers), and Archey McClintic, soldiers of the Bath Cavalry, were at the bridge when a horse belonging to their company dashed through the bridge without its rider, whereupon these soldiers attempted to cross the bridge for the purpose of seeing what had been the fate of the owner of the riderless horse, when they were met by a portion of the enemy, led on by Col. Kelley. As they met, Archey McClintic shot Kelly with a pistol. Seeing that they would be overcome by the number of the enemy, this gallant trio wheeled and retreated through the bridge. As they were retreating, they heard the enemy exclaim; "Shoot the c : d rascal on the white horse?" meaning McClintic, who had shot Kelly. They fired, and broke the leg of Leroy P. Dangerfield. As McClintic was able to unhorse the Colonel of a regiment with an old pistol, we hope that no soldier will disdain to use the old-fashioned pistol. They are as good as any, if in proper hands.--Staunton Spectator.

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: June 1861

West Virginia Archives and History