Portrait of William Loring

On September 13, 1862, Major General William Wing Loring’s Confederate soldiers captured the Union garrison flag and the triumphant general rode into downtown Charleston. [Wikimedia Commons]

Battle of Charleston Facts

September 13, 1862

Key facts about the Battle of Charleston.

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Date and Location

  • September 13, 1862
  • Charleston, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia)

Campaign

Principal Union Commanders

  • Colonel Joseph A. J. Lightburn

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Department of the Ohio

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Department of Southwestern Virginia

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • 5,000

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • 5,000

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 310 (25 killed, 95 wounded, and 190 missing/captured) for the entire campaign

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 97 (eight killed and 89 wounded) for the entire campaign

Result

  • Confederate victory

Significance

  • On August 11, 1862, Union officials transferred Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox and roughly 5,000 soldiers from his Kanawha Division to eastern Virginia, leaving the Kanawha Valley dangerously under-defended.
  • On August 22, 1862, Confederate Major General William Wing Loring, commanding the Department of Southwestern Virginia, ordered Brigadier General Albert Jenkins to lead a cavalry raid into the Kanawha Valley, south of Charleston.
  • Upon returning from a cavalry raid in the Kanawha Valley in August 1862, Confederate Brigadier General Albert Jenkins confirmed reports that the Union garrison protecting the valley had recently been cut in half, from 10,000 to 5,000 soldiers, commanded by Colonel Joseph A. J. Lightburn.
  • Sensing an opportunity to restore Confederate control of the Kanawha Valley, Major General William Wing Loring led about 5,000 Confederate soldiers northwest from Narrows, Virginia, on September 6, 1862, toward the Kanawha River.
  • On September 10, 1862, Major General William Wing Loring’s troops engaged Union soldiers and drove them away from Fayetteville, Virginia.
  • Early on Saturday morning, September 13, 1862, Major General William Wing Loring’s troops established artillery batteries on high ground east of Charleston and began shelling Union forces near the site of the present state capitol building. The Federals countered with their own barrage, touching off a spirited artillery engagement that lasted most of the morning.
  • At roughly 11:30 a.m., September 13, 1862, Colonel Joseph A. J. Lightburn’s Union troops yielded their position and withdrew to the center of Charleston.
  • During the afternoon of September 13, 1862, Colonel Joseph A. J. Lightburn advised the civilian population of Charleston to evacuate, and then torched several buildings to keep them from falling into Confederate hands.
  • At about 3 p.m., Major General William Wing Loring’s men captured the Union garrison flag and the triumphant general rode into downtown Charleston.
  • During the afternoon of September 13, 1862, Colonel Joseph A. J. Lightburn’s men crossed the suspension bridge spanning the Elk River in Charleston and then destroyed it to delay the pursuing Rebels.
  • Following continued shelling and skirmishing during the evening of September 13, 1862, the Battle of Charleston ended at dark.
  • On September 16, 1862, Major General William Wing Loring’s soldiers forced Colonel Joseph A. J. Lightburn’s retreating Federals troops out of Virginia and across the Ohio River at Ravenswood, Virginia (now West Virginia).
  • Despite losing the Battle of Charleston, Union officials credited Colonel Joseph A. J. Lightburn with saving a huge supply train valued in excess of one million dollars.
  • On October 15, 1862, Confederate officials relieved Major General William Wing Loring from his command.
  • Major General William Wing Loring’s replacement, General John Echols, was unable to halt the reoccupation of the Kanawha Valley by an overwhelming Federal force led by Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox, who had returned to the area. By November, the Yankees regained control of the Kanawha Valley and western Virginia.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Battle of Charleston Facts
  • Coverage September 13, 1862
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of Charleston
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 8, 2021
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