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The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


Arnoldsburg Skirmish

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Site of Arnoldsburg Skirmish
Arnoldsburg Skirmish Interpretive Marker

On May 6, 1862, Confederate guerillas under the command of Captain George Downs attacked a Union outpost under the command of Major George C. Trimble here in a pasture in Calhoun County one half mile west of Arnoldsburg, WV. According to records, the outpost, known as Camp McDonald, had been established by the 11th West Virginia Infantry in nearby Spencer, WV, to help suppress guerilla activity, which was being perpetrated famously by the Moccasin Rangers, who were organized under Arnoldsburg residents Peregrine Hays and George Silcott. From 1861 to mid-1862, the Moccasins raided the region, killing and capturing Union sympathizers and attacking the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Weston & Gauley Bridge Turnpike.

On May 4, Downs led a group of fewer than 100 guerillas to attack the camp, while Trimble led two similarly manned companies up the fork to meet them. Downs divided his forces and so eluded Trimble, who returned to camp on May 5. That night, under the cover of fog, the guerillas surrounded the camp. The Federals detected them the next morning and attacked with two detachments while a third was sent to occupy Peregrine Hays's house. After the fog lifted, both sides directed heavy fire. Four hours later, the rebels retreated. One Federal soldier was killed, while two rebels were killed and one was wounded.


Map: Camp McDonald Site