By August of 1862, the country was in a state of chaos. Even our little Mason County, far removed from the front lines of the Civil War, was facing threats of destruction. As soon as Virginia’s secession was announced, Confederate Captain O. Jennings Wise threatened an attack on the Union-supporting Bend Area. Luckily, he never showed. However, one general was brave enough to march directly into Union territory with only 500 men behind him.
On August 11th, 1862, President Lincoln called for 5,000 troops from the Kanawha Valley to reinforce Washington, D.C. Such a drastic drop in defenses wouldn’t go unnoticed for long, and sure enough, CSA General William Loring ordered a raid through western Virginia. Leading the raid was tasked to General Albert Gallatin Jenkins, a native of Cabell County. He and 500 cavalrymen set out on August 20th with one goal in mind: terrorize the Unionists in western Virginia.
He began his ride in Monroe County, but quickly headed north. They fought their way through the state, capturing Buckhannon, Weston, Glenville, Spencer, and Ripley. At Ravenswood, a hotbed of Confederate support, he met little resistance, and defiantly marched into Ohio. During his short time there, he became the first to raise the Confederate flag on Union soil.
Continuing his march, he arrived in Racine on September 4th. Jenkins wrote that multiple Confederate sympathizers came out to greet him upon his arrival in Racine, though there is no other evidence to support this. He enlisted the help of a local riverboat pilot to help him cross back into Virginia, but the man tried to trick Jenkins into crossing in an area where his entire army would’ve drowned. Upon realizing this, Jenkins sent the man home and found another pilot who was more than willing to help. He crossed the Ohio using Wolf’s Bar, roughly where Mountaineer Power Plant is today.
From here, Jenkins needed the fastest route to Point Pleasant, which was through the Dutch Flats. Once he crossed into Broad Run’s valley, he led his army along the creek. Near the Broad Run “Barn” Church, he came across a bizarre sight. A woman, one of the countless Roushes, was trying to hide her feather bed in a tree. Approaching her, he asked, “Ma’am, may I ask what you’re doing?” Almost as if the answer was obvious, she replied, “General Jenkins is coming, and burning everything in his path! I need to hide my bed!” Jenkins immediately burst into laughter. “Ma’am, I am General Jenkins, and I can assure you that I am not here to burn your belongings.” He helped get her bed down, and I’m sure she must’ve been very embarrassed. However, she was also grateful, as she lent him one of her horses. Jenkins left and continued his march. Soon after, the woman’s husband arrived home, and determined to retrieve his horse, he chased after Jenkins. He caught up with the Confederate army somewhere near White Church, and Jenkins was more than happy to return the horse.
As I previously wrote, Jenkins also lost five of his soldiers along Broad Run. It is not known how they died, only that they received a “Christian burial to the right of Broad Run Church.” This could only have been Zion Lutheran, the “Barn Church.” Their burial would have been conducted by the pastor at the time, Rev. John W. Miller. Their graves were left unmarked.
Continuing on, Jenkins followed Robinson and Oldtown Creek through what is now the TNT Area, coming out just north of Point Pleasant. He advanced into town, where the Federal troops had barricaded themselves in the courthouse. Rather than try and take the building, Jenkins distracted them with some cannon fire while his army crossed the Kanawha River.
To finish his raid, Jenkins traveled through Milton, Barboursville, Guyandotte, Logan, Pineville, and Beckley. On September 12th, he reported back to General Loring and participated in the Battle of Charleston.
Information from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, History of the Roush Family in America, and the Preservation Alliance of WV.
Chris Rizer directs the Mason County Historic Preservation Society which can be found on Facebook.