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" Battle of Philippi , 1861" Topic

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American Civil War

292 hits since 7 Nov 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0107 Nov 2018 4:21 p.m. PST

"The Battle of Philippi, fought June 3, 1861, in what is now West Virginia, is known as the "first land battle of the Civil War" or the "first inland battle of the Civil War." A minor affair that lasted less than 20 minutes and resulted in no fatalities, it would barely be a footnote of the American Civil War except that it marked the first inland clash between significant numbers of troops. It also was an important step on George B. McClellan's road to becoming commander of the Army of the Potomac, the largest Union army. Philippi, a town of less than 500, held little military significance. The real prize was Grafton, some 25 miles north. There, the Parkersburg-Grafton Railroad joined the Baltimore & Ohio, the only continuous east-west connector between the East Coast and the Ohio River and the states of the Old Northwest.

General Robert E. Lee, commanding all military forces in Virginia, sent Mexican War veteran Col. George Porterfield to organize the troops mustering at Grafton and hold the rail lines. Lee underestimated the level of longstanding resentment in that part of Western Virginia toward the government in Richmond, however, and Porterfield found only a handful of troops, with whatever weapons they had brought from home and little or no military training. He eventually received a few-very few- reinforcements from Shenandoah Valley and "about 1,000 rusty muskets," along with 1,500 percussion caps meant for shotguns. Unable to hold Grafton, primarily a Union town, he withdrew to secession supporting Philippi…."
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