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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
April 25, 1863


The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry Etc.
Frank Moore, ed. Vol. 6. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1863.

A fight took place at Greenland Gap, Va., between a detachment of Union troops, under the command of Captain Wallace, of the Twenty-third Illinois, and a numerically superior body of rebels, under General William E. Jones. The contest lasted nearly two hours, the rebels making three desperate charges, but were repulsed on each occasion with heavy Loss. The rebel killed and wounded outnumbered the whole Union force.

Doc. 176.

The Fight at Greeland Gap, Va.

General Kelley’s Despatch.

Greenland Gap, Harding [sic] County, Va., April 28, 1863.

To Lieutenant-Colonel Cheeseborough, A. A. G.

The affair at this place, on Saturday, was one of the most gallant since the opening of the war. Greenland Gap is a pass through the Knobley mountain, only wide enough for the road and a small mountain stream. This gap was guarded by Captain Wallace (Twenty-third Illinois) with a detachment of company G, Twenty-third Illinois regiment, and a small detachment of company H, Thirteenth Virginia infantry, Captain Smith, in all between seventy and eighty men.

Captain Wallace occupied a large church at the west end of and near the mouth of the gap, and Captain Smith held a log-house about a hundred yards distant, both positions commanding the gap. Jones was compelled to capture or dislodge the little band before he could pass. His troops made three gallant charges, but were each time repulsed with great loss, especially of officers. The fight commenced at five P. M., and lasted till after dark. The rebels, availing themselves of the darkness, approached and fired the church, but the gallant Irish boys would not even then surrender till the burning roof fell in. The killed and wounded of the rebels outnumbered our whole force engaged. Five of the officers out of the eight commanding the leading battalion which made the first charge, were either killed or wounded, among the latter Colonel Dulany, commanding. Captains Wallace and Smith had only two men killed and four wounded. I counted, to-day, eighteen dead horses with musket-range. I most earnestly request the Major-General Commanding to apply to the Secretary of War to have every officer, non-commissioned officer and private engaged in the fight presented with a medal, in recognition of the gallantry displayed.

B. F. Kelley,
Brigadier-General


Wheeling Intelligencer
May 4, 1863

A Gallant Stand by a Company of Illinois Troops.

The Cincinnati Commercial is allowed to print the following extract of a private letter from an officer in Baltimore, relating to an event in the late rebel raid in West Virginia:

Captain Wallace, with eighty men, occupied a church at the mouth of Greenland Gap, so advantageously placed as to command the whole pass, and compel the enemy to capture it before they could advance. From morning until dark they withstood a rebel force of fifteen hundred men. Three times the enemy charged up to the church and were repulsed. Five out of eight of the officers of their first battallion [sic] were killed or wounded in the first charge. The number of the enemy slain was more than the whole number opposed to them. “Bravely they fought – long and well,” but, sorrowful to relate, as night drew on, the enemy took advantage of its shade to fire the building. Even then the undaunted Irish boys refused to give up, and it was not until the blazing roof fell in that they surrendered. Glory to the fallen braves. The Secretary of War will be urged to give a medal to each of those who participated in the affair. Capt. Wallace, Company G, 23d Illinois, commanded the little force, which consisted of a detachment of his company and a detachment of Company A, 14th Virginia Infantry, commanded by Captain Smith. General Kelly pronounces it one of the most gallant affairs of the war.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: April 1863

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