Engagement at Beverly

Tenth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment

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Excerpt From “Major General Thomas Maley Harris” by H.E. Matheny

“There was little time for celebration or rest for Colonel Harris and the 10th West Virginia Infantry, for on July 2, his scouts reported a large force of Confederates under the command of Colonel William Jackson driving in his direction and he was in immediate danger. The enemy was estimated to number 2,200 but the Official Records of the Rebellion state there were 1,700 men and two pieces of artillery. Although the 10th Regiment had 921 seasoned three year men, only 750 were on active duty. Harris still had command of Battery G, 1st West Virginia Artillery, better known as Ewing’s Battery, and two companies of cavalry.

When scouts reported Jackson’s advance to Harris, with an estimation of their strength, he telegraphed headquarters in Clarksburg he probably would not be able to hold Beverly against the superior Confederate Army. General Kelley ordered General Averell to go to Harris’ aid with the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment, the 3rd and the 8th West Virginia Mounted Infantry Regiments. The 28th Ohio Infantry and Keeper’s Battery were recalled from New Creek to Philippi to fill the vacancy left by Averell. To make matters worse, the telegraph to Beverly ceased to operate about noon on the 2nd, probably the work of advance Confederate scouts, and it was impossible to get information from headquarters on conditions there.

Colonel Jackson divided his command into several columns and advanced by the way of Clover Lick, Big Springs, Greenbank, Claven’s Cabin, and Cheat Mountain Pass. Major J. B. Lady proceeded with his two independent companies and parts of three others to the rear of Beverly, on the road leading to Buckhannon, to cut off the Union forces if they should try to retreat. He turned left two and one half miles beyond the Crouch fortifications and with the help of local guides found his place in line. He was ordered to advance when he heard the Confederate artillery.

Colonel Harris entrenched Ewing’s Battery, with their four pieces of artillery, in the rear of Beverly on Butcher’s Hill, near the Philippi Road. In order to feel out the enemy and determine its position, Colonel Harris ordered part of his forces to scout on Back Road, leading to Buckhannon, but they were driven back by Captain J. W. Marshall, assisted by Captain John S. Spriggs, who executed a flanking movement and nearly succeeded in cutting off their retreat. Captain John Righter captured Harris’ fourteen man detachment of pickets on the Huttonsville Road. Captain Jonathan Gould and Wilben Perry, who were on their way home on furlough were also taken prisoner.

Colonel Jackson placed his two pieces of artillery in position one mile from Ewing’s Battery on Butcher’s Hill and ordered it to start firing as a signal for the engagement to begin. The artillery kept up a duel but Colonel Harris had the better of the engagement, for only about one in fifteen of the Confederate shells exploded. Part of Jackson’s men had not come up to the battle line as ordered and that delayed his plans.

Jackson had previously dismounted most of his cavalry in preparation for the assault on Harris’ fortifications when his scouts reported Averell’s reinforcements coming at a gallop on the Philippi Road. At 2 p.m., seeing the hopelessness of his situation, he retreated and went into camp at the Crouch fortifications, posting his infantry, artillery, and part of the cavalry between there and Huttonsville.”

Tenth West Virginia Infantry
Engagement at Beverly
5 Killed, 3 Wounded, 3 Missing – Total Casualties 11

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Updated 28 March 2010