The Battle of Corrick's Ford, 1861

July 13, 1861

The Battle of Corrick's Ford was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America on July 13, 1861, during the Civil War. The outcome of the battle was a Union victory. The battle is most well-known for being part of the Western Virginia Campaign.

General Robert S Garnett, Civil War

Brigadier General Robert S. Garnett became the first general officer to die during the Civil War after Union soldiers mortally wounded him during the Battle of Corrick’s Ford. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Battle of Corrick’s Ford Quick Facts

  • Date — July 13, 1861
  • Location — Tucker County, Virginia (now West Virginia)
  • Opponents — United States of America (USA) and Confederate States of America (CSA)
  • USA Commanders — George McClellan, William Rosecrans, Thomas A. Morris
  • CSA Commanders — Robert S. Garnett, John Pegram
  • Winner — United States of America

Battle of Corrick’s Ford Summary

The Battle of Corrick’s Ford took place on July 13, 1861. General Robert S. Garnett, retreating with his men, ordered the 23rd Virginia to hold their ground at the Ford while he directed the main evacuation. As Garnett turned to order a retreat, he was fatally shot, becoming the first general officer to be killed in action during the Civil War. The Confederates continued their retreat, and the Union forces ceased pursuit. The Union victory at Corrick’s Ford helped secure Federal control of Western Virginia, paving the way for the formation of the State of West Virginia.

Battle of Corrick’s Ford History and Overview

During the summer of 1861, Union and Confederate forces struggled for control of western Virginia. The area was highly important because gaps in the Appalachian Mountains connected the East to the Midwest. The Virginia Militia acted quickly, disrupting traffic on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and taking control of turnpikes through the mountains.

The U. S. War Department countered by sending 20,000 troops into the area under the command of Major General George McClellan. McClellan’s forces pressed the Confederate troops in the area throughout the summer and fall, gradually driving the Confederates out of the region, paving the way for the creation of the State of West Virginia in October 1861, although the federal government did not formally recognize the new state until June 1863.

George B. McClellan, General, USA, Civil War, LOC
George B. McClellan. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Battle of Philippi

On June 3, 1861, Union troops commanded by Brigadier General Thomas A. Morris surprised a Confederate encampment at Philippi, Virginia, and scored a Union victory. Many historians consider the Battle of Philippi to be the first significant land engagement in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.

Battle of Rich Mountain

On July 11, 1861, approximately 2,000 of McClellan’s soldiers, commanded by Brigadier General William S. Rosecrans, used a remote mountain pass to flank Pegram’s fortifications at Rich Mountain. Upon learning of Rosecrans’ approach, Pegram dispatched a force to stop the Yankees. During the heated afternoon engagement that followed, the outnumbered Confederates held off the Bluecoats for two hours before being subdued at the Battle of Rich Mountain. With Rosecrans at his back, Pegram evacuated his defenses that night.

July 13, 1861 — Corrick’s Ford Battle

Upon learning of Pegram’s withdrawal, Robert S. Garnett abandoned Laurel Hill, marching his men across Cheat Mountain and into the Cheat River Valley. McClellan sent Morris’ Indiana Brigade in pursuit. Rugged mountain terrain, heavy rains, and muddy roads that bogged down his wagon trains slowed Garnett’s retreat. On July 13, around noon, Morris caught up with Garnett’s rear guard near Corrick’s Ford over Shaver’s Fork of the Cheat River.

In a desperate attempt to enable the bulk of his command to escape, Garnett ordered the 23rd Virginia to buy some time by making a stand at the ford. Garnett directed the main evacuation and then returned to oversee the removal of his rearguard. As he turned on his horse to order a retreat, a member of the 7th Indiana mortally wounded him with a gunshot in the back, making him the first general officer to die in action during the Civil War. However, another member of the 7th Indiana disputed the claim and believed Garnett was killed by friendly fire.

Battle of Corrick's Ford, Union Forces, Illustration
Union troops at the Battle of Corrick’s Ford. Image Source: The Soldier in our Civil War, 1893, Archive.org.

Battle of Corrick’s Ford Outcome

After Garnett’s death, the Confederates continued their retreat, and McClellan called off the pursuit. The remainder of Garnett’s force escaped to Monterey, Virginia two days later.

Casualties at the Battle of Corrick’s Ford were relatively minor by later Civil War standards. The Union suffered about thirteen soldiers killed and forty wounded. The Confederacy lost twenty soldiers killed, ten wounded, and fifty captured.

The Union victory at Corrick’s Ford helped to secure federal control of western Virginia and contributed to the establishment of the State of West Virginia. In the wake of a few more Union victories in the region that autumn, residents of thirty-nine counties in western Virginia approved the formation of the new state on October 24. On June 20, 1863, officials in Washington completed the formalities and admitted West Virginia to the Union.

Battle of Corrick’s Ford Significance

The Union victory at Corrick’s Ford helped to secure federal control of western Virginia and contributed to the establishment of the State of West Virginia.

Battle of Corrick’s Ford Facts

Campaign

Military Forces Engaged

  • USA — Department of the Ohio
  • CSA — Army of the Northwest

Number of Soldiers Engaged

  • USA — Roughly 20,000
  • CSA — Roughly 4,500

Estimated Casualties

  • USA — 50 (killed, wounded, captured/missing)
  • CSA — 53 (13 killed, 40 wounded)

Battle of Corrick’s Ford Timeline

These are the main events and battles of the Western Virginia Campaign that took place around the Battle of Corrick’s Ford.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title The Battle of Corrick's Ford, 1861
  • Date July 13, 1861
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of Corrick's Ford, Western Virginia Campaign, Civil War, When was the Battle of Corrick's Ford, Who won the Battle of Corrick's Ford
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 18, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 16, 2024

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