The First Regiment West Virginia Infantry Volunteers History

Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Jo Ann Scott

The First Regiment West Virginia Infantry Volunteers was organized at Wheeling in May, 1861, from volunteer companies of Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties, which had been formed in April 1861 to resist aggressions from that portion of Virginia which had seceded from the Union; and under the call of the President for 75,000 men, it was mustered into the service of the United States for the period of three months, under command of Col. B. F. Kelley.

On the 5 day of May, 1861, it left Camp Carlile, at Wheeling, and proceeded to a bridge near Mannington, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which had been destroyed by the rebels. After remaining there two days it marched to Grafton, Taylor County, Va., where a body of State militia had been collected, under command of the rebel Col. Porterfield. Upon the approach of the Union force, Col. Porterfield retired to Phillippi, Barbour County, where, on the morning of the ---- of June, he was attacked and completely routed by Col. Kelley's command. During the action Col. Kelley was seriously wounded in the breast.

During the remainder of their three months service the regiment was separated. A detachment of five (5) companies served with General McClellan in the Rich Mountain campaign--another detachment was with Col. Tyler in the campaign against General Wise, who at that time had attempted an invasion of this portion of the State. The remainder of the regiment was stationed on the B.&O. R.R.

The three months organization was mustered out of service on the 28th day of August, 1861, and the regiment was reorganized under command of Col. Joseph Thoburn, who was Surgeon of the regiment in the three months service.

This organization was perfected on the 14th day of November, 1861. During the period of recruiting and reorganizing the regiment, four (4) companies were sent to Burning Springs, Va., and thence to Romney, Va., where they were joined by the remainder of the regiment on the 9th of November, 1861.

The regiment participated in the action at Blues Gap, Va., January 7th, 1862, and was with the command of General Lander at the evacuation of Romney, January 10th, and continued under his command until his death at Paw-Paw Tunnel, Va., in February, 1862. It then formed a part of the 3d brigade of General Shields division, and with it bore an active part in the battle of Winchester, Va., March 23d, 1862; served with Shields Division during the campaign in the Valley of Virginia in the months of April, May and June, during which time it creditably performed hard and laborious service. It was engaged at the battle of Port Republic, Va., June 8th and 9th, and lost heavily.

In July, 1862, the regiment was assigned to the 4th Brigade of Rickett's Division, of McDowell's Corps, of the Army of Virginia. During the month of August, whilst in this command, it participated in the actions at Cedar Mountain, Va., August 9th, Rappahannock Station, August --th, Thoroughfare Gap, August 28th, and in the second battle of Bull Run, August 29th and 30th, 1862.

In October, 1862, the 1st Virginia was sent to Wheeling to recruit, and on the 24th of November, 1862, was ordered to report to General Kelley, and was sent to North Mountain, Va., where it remained until March, 1863, when it was assigned to the 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 8th Army Corps, at Romney, Va., and remained there until June, 1863, when it joined General Kelley's command in the Maryland campaign of July, 1863. Col. Mulligan s Division, of which the 1st West Virginia formed a part, was sent to Petersburg, W. Va., on the 16th of August, 1863, whence a detachment of five (5) companies of the regiment were sent to Moorefield, W. Va.--This detachment was attacked on the 5th of September by General Imboden's Brigade, which was repulsed with small loss. Before daylight on the morning of the 11th of September, it was again attacked by surprise by a detachment of Imboden's Brigade, under command of McNiel, in which the camp and a large portion of the command was captured. On the 30th of January, 1864, the regiment, with the remainder of the forces at Petersburg, under command of Col. Thoburn, retreated to New Creek, W. Va., before a superior force of the enemy under command of General Early.

On the 25th of February, 1864, the regiment was sent to Wheeling on veteran furlough, and on the 1st of April joined General Sullivan's command at Webster, W. Va., where it was attached to the 2d Brigade, commanded by Col. Thoburn.

During the months of April and May, 1864, it was in General Sigel s campaign in the Shenandoah valley, and participated in the battle of New Market, May 14th and 15th, 1864; continued in the same organization during the campaign of General Hunter, being meritoriously engaged in the battles of Piedmont, June 5th, 1864, and at Lynchburg, June 17th and 18th, and was with General Hunter's army in its retreat from Lynchburg to the Kanawha River.

In July and August it participated in the campaign of General Crook against Early in the Shenandoah valley, and was engaged in the battles of Snicker's Ferry, July 18th, 1864, and at Winchester on the 24th day of July. In the months of August, September and October, it formed part of the Army of West Virginia, in General Sheridan's army, and was actively engaged at Cedar Creek, August 12th, 1864, at Berryville, September 3d, at Charlestown, August ----, and at Halltown, August 26th. At the battles of Opequan, September 19th, Fisher's Hill, September 23d, and of Cedar Creek, October 19th, 1864, the regiment was in the reserve. At the latter place, Col. Thoburn of the 1st W. Va. commanding the 1st Division, Army of West Virginia, was mortally wounded; an accomplished and talented gentleman, a brave and chivalrous soldier, a skillful and efficient officer: possessing those qualities in a high degree which fitted him for an exalted station. In his death West Virginia has suffered an irreparable loss.

On the 29th of October the regiment was sent to Cumberland, Md., whence the non-veterans were sent to Wheeling to be mustered out of service. The remainder of the regiment was then consolidated into a Battalion of four companies, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Weddle.

By order of the Secretary of War, dated December 10th, 1864, the battalion was consolidated with the 4th W. Va. Infantry, forming the Second Regiment West Virginia Veteran Volunteers, and is now stationed at Cumberland, Md.

The following list of soldiers who served in the First West Virginia Infantry was compiled from records kept by the Adutant General. These records include a descriptive roll for each company, individual muster cards, the final muster-out roll, and the Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of West Virginia for the Year Ending December 31, 1864. This list does not represent a verbatim transcription of any of the records used and payroll and other accounting information is not included. (The following brief regimental history of the First West Virginia Infantry is reprinted from the Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of West Virginia for the Year Ending December 31, 1864.)

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