Kanawha Division

The Kanawha Division was a Union Army division which could trace its origins back to a brigade originally commanded by Jacob D. Cox. This division served in western Virginia and Maryland and was at times led by such famous personalities as George Crook and Rutherford B. Hayes.[1]

Kanawha Division
CountryUnited States of America
BranchUnited States Army
EngagementsAmerican Civil War
Jacob D. Cox
Eliakim P. Scammon
George Crook
Isaac H. Duval
Rutherford B. Hayes


Kanawha Brigade

On July 1, 1861 Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox took command of a brigade, composed of Ohio volunteer regiments. He titled his command "Kanawha Brigade" in reference to its duty in the Kanawha Valley in West Virginia. The brigade became part of the new District of the Kanawha, both of which were commanded by Cox. Cox and the brigade took part in the Battle of Princeton Court House in 1861.

Second Bull Run

By 1862 the unit grew to the size of a division. As early as June 1862 the name "Kanawha Division" was officially being used[2] for service in the Mountain Department. In preparation for the upcoming battle of Second Bull Run, Cox and the Kanawha Division were transferred to the Army of Virginia. Only one brigade under Col. Eliakim P. Scammon was involved in the engagement and that was only in the preliminary fighting near Bull Run Bridge on August 27. In the aftermath of Bull Run the Kanawha Division was transferred to the Washington Defenses which Cox also assumed command of upon his arrival in Washington.

Maryland Campaign

During the Maryland Campaign the Kanawha Division was removed from Washington and attached to the IX Corps.[3] The division was composed of two brigades commanded by colonels Eliakim P. Scammon and Augustus Moor. Cox remained in command and led the division at the Battle of South Mountain. Days before the Battle of Antietam an unusual change in command occurred. General Ambrose E. Burnside had recently commanded the IX Corps, but during the Maryland Campaign had been raised to that of a "Wing" commander, having under his command the IX Corps and I Corps. General Jesse L. Reno had been acting IX Corps commander, but upon his death at South Mountain, Jacob Cox being the next ranking general in the corps replaced Reno in command. Colonel Scammon, though only a colonel, was the next ranking officer and took command of the Kanawha Division. At Antietam, Burnside still held on to his title of Wing commander, even though the two corps in his wing were on complete opposite sides of the battlefield. Burnside remained with his old IX Corps but elected to keep Cox in corps command, creating an extra and unnecessary link in the chain of command. The Kanawha Division's two brigades were now commanded by Col. Hugh Ewing (succeeding Scammon) and Col. George Crook (replacing Moor, who had been captured Sept 13). Crook's brigade crossed Burnside Bridge in support of Samuel D. Sturgis's division while Ewing's brigade crossed Antietam Creek at Snavely's Ford in support of Isaac P. Rodman.[4]

West Virginia and Morgan's Raid

After Antietam, Cox was transferred to duty in the Department of the Ohio and the Kanawha Division returned to West Virginia. George Crook replaced Scammon in command of the division during the winter of 1862/1863 until he was also transferred further west, at which time Scammon returned to command. By the time Scammon returned to command the division lost its official designation as the "Kanawha Division" and was now designated the 3rd Division in the Department of West Virginia. This period also marked a time of relative inactivity for the division. Fighting devolved to guerrilla operations against Confederate partisans, particularly those under John S. Mosby. One noteworthy unit to come out of the division at this time was the so-called Blazer's Scouts created by Colonel Carr B. White. One of the division's brigade commanders, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, scorned Scammon for his cautious nature and the resulting inactivity.[1] When George Crook returned to command the division in 1864, Hayes welcomed the aggressive new commander.

Cloyd's Mountain

Crook took command of the Kanawha Division in February 1864.[1] At the time only a few regiments remained from the original Kanawha Division which had fought at South Mountain and the division was officially designated the 2nd Division in the Department of West Virginia. The division had three brigades commanded respectively by colonels Rutherford Hayes, Carr B. White and Horatio G. Sickel. West Virginia Union regiments were dispersed throughout the three brigades, the original Ohio regiments were divided between Hayes and White and two Pennsylvania regiments were added with the arrival of Colonel Sickel. Crook led the division into action at the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain and then joined David Hunter's army for the Battle of Lynchburg.

Army of the Kanawha and Army of West Virginia

On July 2, 1864 George Crook took command of what he called the Army of the Kanawha. At the same time Crook also personally commanded the 1st and 2nd "Kanawha" Divisions of his army. By the end of July Joseph Thoburn assumed command of the 1st Division and Isaac H. Duval of the 2nd Division. A third division of infantry and two divisions of cavalry were also added. Crook led his short-lived army into the Second Battle of Kernstown. On August 8, Crook renamed his forces the Army of West Virginia. Crook's "army" joined Philip H. Sheridan's forces outside Winchester, Virginia under the banner of the VIII Corps. Colonel Duval continued in command of the Kanawha Division at the battle of Opequon and was initially held in reserve. At a critical point in the fighting the division was called forward and the brigade of Colonel Hayes made a charge against the Confederate flank. During the fighting Colonel Duval was wounded and Hayes assumed command of the Kanawha Division. At Opequon the division had two brigades initially commanded by colonels Hayes and Daniel Johnson. Colonel Hiram Devol succeeded Hayes in command of the 1st Brigade command and Lt. Col. Benjamin F. Coates replaced the wounded Johnson in command of the 2nd Brigade during the fighting.

Despite the inquiries of several brigadier generals for command of the Kanawha Division, Crook decided to keep Hayes in command, much to the Ohio politician's delight.[1] Hayes and Crook helped coordinate the successful flank attack at the battle of Fisher's Hill carried out by Hayes' division. At the battle of Cedar Creek the entire Union army was caught off guard by the Confederate surprise attack and Crook's entire command bore the weight of the initial assault. Hayes was wounded and narrowly escaped capture. Despite this poor showing of Hayes and the Kanawha Division, earlier successes in the campaign assured their reputations would escape any permanent blemish.[1] Hayes remained in command of the Kanawha Division until December 1864. Cedar Creek would be its last major fight of the war.

Command History

Commander Date Official Designation Major Battles
BG Jacob D. Cox 1–25 July 1861 Kanawha Brigade, Dept of Ohio
BG Jacob D. Cox 25 July-11 Oct 1861 Kanawha Brigade, Army of Occupation
BG Jacob D. Cox 11 Oct 1861-26 June 1862 Kanawha Brigade, Dist. of Kanawha Battle of Princeton Court House
BG Jacob D. Cox 26 June-30 Aug 1862 Kanawha Division, Army of Virginia Second Battle of Bull Run
BG Jacob D. Cox 30 Aug-7 Sept 1862 Kanawha Division, Defenses of Washington
BG Jacob D. Cox 7-14 Sept 1862 Kanawha Division, IX Corps Battle of South Mountain
Col Eliakim Scammon 14 Sept-Oct 1862 Kanawha Division, IX Corps Battle of Antietam
BG George Crook Oct 1862-21 Jan 1863 Kanawha Division, Dept of the Ohio
21 Jan-27 Mar 1863 Kanawha Division, Dept of the Ohio
BG Eliakim Scammon 27 Mar 1863-3 Feb 1864 3rd Division, Dept of West Virginia Morgan's Raid
BG George Crook 3 Feb-28 Apr 1864 3rd Division, Dept of West Virginia
BG George Crook 28 Apr-2 July 1864 2nd Division, Dept of West Virginia Battle of Cloyd's Mountain
BG George Crook 2–22 July 1864 2nd Division, Army of the Kanawha
Col Isaac H. Duval 22 July-8 Aug 1864 2nd Division, Army of the Kanawha Second Battle of Kernstown
Col Isaac H. Duval 8 Aug-19 Sept 1864 2nd Division, Army of West Virginia Battle of Opequon
Col Rutherford Hayes 19 Sept-24 Dec 1864 2nd Division, Army of West Virginia Battle of Fisher's Hill, Battle of Cedar Creek
Col Isaac H. Duval 24 Dec 1864-Jan 1865 2nd Division, Army of West Virginia
BG Joseph A. J. Lightburn Jan 1865-22 May 1865 2nd Division, Army of West Virginia
BG William P. Carlin 22 May–July 1865 2nd Division, Army of West Virginia units mustered out


These regiments fought in the Kanawha Division from South Mountain to Cedar Creek


  1. ^ a b c d e George Crook and Rutherford B. Hayes Archived 2007-02-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Eicher p.471
  3. ^ Eicher p.187
  4. ^ Antietam on the Web: Kanawha Division Archived 2007-10-27 at the Wayback Machine.

External links

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Battle of Antietam

The Battle of Antietam , also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the Southern United States, was a battle of the American Civil War, fought on September 17, 1862, between Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and Union General George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac, near Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam Creek. Part of the Maryland Campaign, it was the first field army–level engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It was the bloodiest day in United States history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing.After pursuing the Confederate general Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan of the Union Army launched attacks against Lee's army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's Cornfield, and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.Despite having superiority of numbers, McClellan's attacks failed to achieve force concentration, which allowed Lee to counter by shifting forces and moving along interior lines to meet each challenge. Therefore, despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed to exploit localized successes, McClellan failed to destroy Lee's army. McClellan's persistent but erroneous belief that he was outnumbered contributed to his cautiousness throughout the campaign.

McClellan had halted Lee's invasion of Maryland, but Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. McClellan's refusal to pursue Lee's army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield, and abandoned their invasion, making it a Union strategic victory. It was a sufficiently significant victory to give Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from pursuing any potential plans to recognize the Confederacy.

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Carr B. White

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White was born in Mason County, Kentucky, but moved to Ohio at a young age. where he attended Jefferson Medical College. During the Mexican War he enlisted as a private in the 1st Ohio Infantry. On February 1, 1847 he was promoted to captain in his regiment, and was mustered out of the volunteer service on June 14, 1847. When White was promoted to captain, it enraged 1st Lieutenant James P. Fyffe, who was passed over. Fyffe challenged White to a duel. Since General Zachary Taylor frowned upon dueling, they waited until the regiment was mustered out. White chose Ferdinand Van Derveer as his second. White and Fyffe met on an island while their transport refueled and fought with pistols. Both missed and the matter was then settled peacefully. White returned home to serve as a physician.

When the Civil War began, White enlisted in the 12th Ohio Infantry, being chosen its lieutenant colonel. The regiment saw action its first at the battle of Carnifex Ferry in western Virginia. The colonel, John W. Lowe, was killed, and on June 28, 1861 White was made its colonel. The 12th Ohio was attached to Jacob D. Cox's Kanawha Division at the Second Battle of Bull Run and during the Maryland Campaign. The regiment saw heavy fighting at Fox's Gap and fought again in the vicinity of Burnside's Bridge during the Battle of Antietam.

White and the Kanawha Division then returned to western Virginia, and the following spring White was given command of a brigade in the VIII Corps. From June to December, 1863 he commanded a brigade under Eliakim P. Scammon in the Department of West Virginia. During this time White helped organize a unit known as "Spencer's Scouts", after its first commander. White and Spencer's Scouts operated against Confederate partisan and guerrilla leaders in western Virginia, especially those under John S. Mosby.

In April 1864, White took command of the 2nd Brigade in George Crook's division of the Department of West Virginia. He fought at the battle of Cloyd's Mountain. White's brigade was made up of green regiments and sustained heavy casualties in their first and only battle. White led the brigade during the following Lynchburg Campaign, though they saw no combat.

White was mustered on July 11, 1864 and received a brevet promotion to Brigadier General of U.S. Volunteers for his services at Cloyd's Mountain, dated March 13, 1865.White returned to Ohio, settling in Georgetown. He died there in 1871 at the age of 48.

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Following a wide-ranging flanking march, Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson captured the Union supply depot at Manassas Junction, threatening Pope's line of communications with Washington, D.C. Withdrawing a few miles to the northwest, Jackson took up strong concealed defensive positions on Stony Ridge and awaited the arrival of the wing of Lee's army commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet. On August 28, 1862, Jackson attacked a Union column just east of Gainesville, at Brawner's Farm, resulting in a stalemate but successfully getting Pope's attention. On that same day, Longstreet broke through light Union resistance in the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap and approached the battlefield.

Pope became convinced that he had trapped Jackson and concentrated the bulk of his army against him. On August 29, Pope launched a series of assaults against Jackson's position along an unfinished railroad grade. The attacks were repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. At noon, Longstreet arrived on the field from Thoroughfare Gap and took position on Jackson's right flank. On August 30, Pope renewed his attacks, seemingly unaware that Longstreet was on the field. When massed Confederate artillery devastated a Union assault by Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter's V Corps, Longstreet's wing of 25,000 men in five divisions counterattacked in the largest simultaneous mass assault of the war. The Union left flank was crushed and the army was driven back to Bull Run. Only an effective Union rear guard action prevented a replay of the First Manassas defeat. Pope's retreat to Centreville was nonetheless precipitous.Success in this battle emboldened Lee to initiate the ensuing Maryland Campaign.

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