Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
July 7, 1861

Richmond Enquirer
July 16, 1861

The Skirmish at Laurel Hill.

The "Examiner" makes the following extract from a letter written by a gentleman, an officer in the Richmond Sharp Shooters to his wife in this city. It is written from Laurel Hill, in Barbour county, under the date of the 7th inst., and gives some interesting details of the skirmish at that place. The writer says:

"On last night we heard firing all round our camp, and our men were kept constantly under arms. This morning our Regiment was ordered to the front, about 3 o'clock. Our company, which was in front, commenced firing, and kept up the fighting until night. Our men fought bravely, and have received the praise of every officer in the Regiment. Our loss was one killed:private Charles Goff. I was in fifteen yards of Goff when shot. He was shot through the head and died without a groan. He was an apprentice to Mr. R. H. Bosher, corner of 9th and Main streets. Capt. Harrison and private Bosher, of the Goochland Greys, were slightly wounded. Robert Jarvis came near being shot, a bullet passing through his haversack. The loss of the enemy is variously estimated, some saying that as many as twenty were killed and wounded.:The enemy left three dead on the field, and one of their captains and seven privates were captured by our men. The Georgia regiment was in the fight, and did their part in killing the Yankees.

We are looking for a general engagement every moment, though it may be delayed several days. Our men have every confidence in their leaders, and are in the best of spirits.


In the Lynchburg "Republican" we find the following account of the same engagement:

Barbour Co., July 7, 1861

DEAR REPUBLICAN: Just at the close of a most exciting day, I take advantage of a few leisure moments to inform you of the events which have made it important. This morning at 6 o'clock, we were informed that the enemy had advanced in full force up the road from Phillippi, and were then only two miles from our camp. Citizens who came in reported that their trains, wagons, artillery and men filled the road for a distance of nearly two miles.

The Georgia Regiment, Col. Ramsey, was sent out one mile in advance to meet them and about 8 o'clock three companies of the Regiment encountered about the same number of the enemy, who were deployed in the woods. An irregular fire was kept up until 11 o'clock, at which time the Georgia boys succeeded in driving he enemy back to the main body of the army. But one man was wounded on our side, and that a flesh wound in the leg. The enemy shot very badly. Our men report eleven of the enemy killed and a number wounded.

A young boy in the Georgia Regiment killed one of the enemy, who was in advance and separated from the rest, and he immediately ran up and took his gun (Minnie musket) and accoutrements.

This evening, the Twenty-third Virginia Regiment was sent out to relieve the Georgians. Firing commenced at 2 o'clock and continued until 8, P.M. I was present during the whole time, on the ground. About ten steps from me, one of Captain Harrison's men was shot through the shoulder. The ball passed entirely through and entered the coat of Captain H., who was a little in the rear. One of the Richmond Sharp Shooters was shot through the head and instantly killed. The enemy lost in the evening about fifteen men and some wounded. I saw a good many of them fall.

The enemy were very near:just at the edge of the woods in which our men were deployed, and we could hear them talking distinctly; they kept up a continual yell, using all kinds of profane language. One man I saw mount upon the fence, wave his hat, with three cheers for Lincoln and groans for Jefferson Davis, but before he had given them, a ball from one of the Sharp Shooters ended him.

To night our men will rest in the trenches, and we expect to be attacked at daylight by the whole force of the enemy. They are 10,000 strong with artillery. McClellen is supposed to be in command. We can maintain our position.

Our men acted with great coolness and bravery, and are anxious for the enemy to show themselves again.

Gen. Garnett directed all the movements of the day, and every one has perfect confidence in his judgment and military skill.

This evening our men buried one of the enemy, whose body was left in the field in the morning. He was from Indiana. They were in the midst of the enemy's bullets while putting him in his grave.

Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 15, 1861

The fight at Laurel Hill.

an authentic account.

A Sharp day's work.

[special correspondence of the Dispatch.]

Laurel Hill. Barbour county, July 7.

Another fight and success so far with the Confederate troops. Before daybreak this morning (Sunday,) the troops at this camp were aroused by the firing of the picket guard, and in a short time our men were in line and ready for service. About light another volley was fired, apparently about a mile from our camp and the excitement was increased by the rapid movement of the Georgia Regiment and the cavalry. Finally orders came for us to take proper positions, that the enemy was advancing upon us, and that the Georgia Regiment had fired upon them and held them in check. This regiment kept up a fire upon them until about 3 o'clock, killing four or five of the enemy, and receiving in turn only one men wounded, slightly.

At 3 o'clock, the Georgians were marched off and the 23D Regiment took its place, on the brow of a hill to a very short distance of the Yankees. The 23D remained on the ground until dark, when they were relieved by the 27.

The 23d under the command of its brave and able commander, Colonel Taliaferro, behaved with coolness and courage worthy of veterans. The Sharpshooters, Capt. Tompkins, of Richmond, were selected as the advance corps, and took up their position within two hundred yards of the enemy, and acting as skirmishers, took to the woods and done their duty faithfully and well. In fact, they being the only company armed with this, they had to bear the brunt of the fighting.

This company, as soon as they were stationed, commenced a rapid fire on the enemy, which was as promptly returned; but fortunately with little execution to us. The fire was kept up until 7 o'clock, at which time we were relieved I cannot particularize any one who performed the most service, where all done so well, not only in this corps, but in the whole regiment. Our loss is Chas. W. Goff a citizen of Richmond, who was shot through the head, and was killed instantly; Captain Tompkins received a slight scratch on the nose, which, by the way, is a very prominent feature,) caused by a splinter; Corporal Ro. H. Jarvia received a ball through his haversack, cutting through his "grub," and the same ball struck against the leg of Sergeant J. W. L Jones, without, however, doing any injury; Sergeant Bosher, of the Goochland Greys, received a flesh wound in the arm, and the same ball made a mark on the breast of Captain Harrison, of the same corps. The enemy's loss is estimated at 25 killed. How many wounded could not be ascertained.

The firing is still carried on by the 27th Regiment, our men now being in the trenches, sleeping on their arms, expecting to go at it again to-morrow.

The enemy commenced their work with yells and cheers, swearing and using all kinds of vulgar language, which our troops replied to by well aimed bullets and a determination to rather than yield. I have not time to write any more to-night, but will give you particulars when the battle is ended. Ned P. S.--It has been reported in Richmond by an enemy of two of the members of the Sharp Shooters that they were to be shot for sleeping on their posts. The report is false, and I take pleasure in correcting it, to relieve the minds of the parents of the two individuals alluded to. Ned. July 15

Fight near Laurel Hill.

Additional Particulars.

[special correspondence of the Dispatch.]

We continue the intelligence from our special correspondent, commenced on the first page.

Laurel Hill, Barbour co., July 9th, 1861.

I wrote you a short account of the engagement the command of Gen. Garnett and the enemy had a few days since, and have since learned additional particulars.

The force of the enemy is estimated at between 7,000 and 8,000, and advanced from Phillippi on Saturday and took up a position on a hill about a mile and a half from our post, which, however, is obstructed from the view of our troops by a still higher hill directly between them and ourselves. On learning of their advance, our General checked their advance by taking possession of a hill to the left of them, and on Sundaymorning about daybreak the two commenced operations, our force consisting of only one company of Georgians and theirs' of a larger number, constituting the advance guard. This company held their own until about 2 o'clock, when they were relieved by the 23d Regiment, (Col Taliaferro.) The Georgians succeeded in killing five or six of the enemy, but received from them not even a scratch, although the Yankees kept up a severe fire upon them.

On the arrival of Col. Taliaferro's command, the Richmond Sharp-Shooters, being armed with superior arms, were placed in advance, and took up a position closer than that occupied by the Georgia company. The company had no sooner taken their proper place, when they opened briskly on the foe, which was returned as briskly; but few of the return shots did any execution, save to nerve us to extra exertion. We continued our fire until relieved by Col. Fulkerson's Washington County Regiment, at 7 o'clock. The Sharp-Shooters succeeded in killing between 25 and 30 of the enemy. Our loss was private Charles H. Goff, of Richmond city, killed instantly, and Captain Harrison and Sergeant Thad. Bosher, of the Goochland Grays, slightly wounded.

In alluding to this company, I do not wish, nor is it my desire to detract from the remainder of the regiment, for a braver set of men can scarcely be found; but in the engagement of Sunday, they could not, with the arms they have, have reached the enemy, being too far off, nor could they have gotten a closer position. In fact, the whole regiment done its duty faithfully and well, and I believe will ever continue to do so. It is composed of the following companies and officers: The Amelia Grays, Capt. Perkinson; Brooklyn (Halifax) Grays, Capt. Hames; Louisa Grays, Capt. Sergeant; Frederick Hall Grays, Capt. Coleman; Goochland Grays, Captain Harrison; Central (Prince Edward) Guard, Capt. Hughes; Keysville (Charlotte) Guard, Capt. Walton; Amelia Rifles, Capt. Scott; Louisa Rifles, Capt. Walton, and the Richmond Sharp-Shooters, Captain R A. Tompkins, all under the command of Col. Wm. B. Taliaferro, with the following assistants: James R. Crenshaw, of Richmond, Lieutenant Colonel; Jos. Pendleton, Maj.; W. B. Pendleton, of Louisa, Adjutant; Dr. Wm. A. Carrington, of Charlotte, Surgeon; Dr. Jacob M. Deems, of the same county, Assistant Surgeon; Dr. Winston, of Louisa, Quartermaster : all good and true men, who have the confidence and respect of all the command. The Surgeons are attentive and well skilled, and do all in their power to relieve those who suffer from sickness, and have been fortunate, so far in their restoration of a number of patients.--The Hospital Steward, Dr. Angle, also deserves credit for the manner in which he performs his laborious duty.

The firing was continued all night by the regiment of Col. Fulkerson, with but little execution, however, as the night was very dark Certainly none of our troops were injured.

This regiment in turn was relieved by the gallant Georgians, under Col. Ramsey, at daybreak Mondaymorning, who, until a late hour in the day, kept up a continual fire upon them, and succeeded in killing six of the Yankees and taking a Lieutenant prisoner. The number of them wounded of course cannot be ascertained. The Georgians left the ground in the afternoon, with not a man killed or even a scratch.

During the latter part of the day the enemy fired a number of bomb shells, grape-shots and balls in the direction of our troops, playing havoc with the trees and shrubbery, not in the least damaging any of our men, but with a loss to them of a large amount of powder. In consequence of the rapid discharge of artillery, our General sent out two regiments (the 23d and 20th) to sustain the Georgians, but they did not succeed in getting a chance at the enemy, and during the night retired from the field, with the hope of inducing the foe to follow them, so as to get them in the range of our artillery. It is supposed that our infantry and rifles had done such execution among them that the enemy got his "bile" up a little and let loose his big dogs of war, which, however, proved as harmless as his leaden pups.

The firing is still going on, (12 o'clock, Tuesday,) but I have not heard what damage has been done. How long we are to continue this brush fighting it is hard to tell, but our troops are getting weary of it and are exceedingly anxious to get them in a face to face battle, and thus decide the contest. I should have stated that the Yankees keep behind fences, brush, stumps, and have taken a log house, from which they have good shots at us. But for this, we would give you a larger number of their dead to record.

The Danville Artillery, as fine a body of men as can be seen anywhere, under the command of the gallant Captain Shoemaker, has not, as yet, had an opportunity of showing its hand; but when it gets a chance, the enemy may well look out, as the men are restless and eager for the fray.

A member of the Georgia Regiment was accidentally killed in camp, by the discharge of his piece, on Sundaymorning. His name I could not learn. His remains, and those of private Goff, were interred yesterday with military honors.

The commander of the Yankee troops, I have not yet learned. Their troops are poorly clad, and appear to be of the lowest class of humanity, who, it seems, it would be doing the world a blessing to relieve of.

I shall give you farther accounts as they transpire. The Dispatch is so much sought after that the Postmasters on the route take particular pains that they never reach their destination. Soldiers suffer enough without being deprived of the pleasure of hearing from home : so give them a "talk" in your columns. Ned.

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

West Virginia Archives and History