Archive for Steve French

Saturday, April 7, 2018:


Noon-12:50 ……. Registration – I.O.O.F. Hall
12:50-1:00 ……. Welcome and Overview of RMBF – Rick Wolfe
1:00-1:50 ………. Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital – Kevin Pawlak
1:50-2:40 ………. The McNeill Rangers in the Gettysburg Campaign – Steve French
3:00-3:50 ………. The Battle of Lewisburg – Richard Armstrong
3:50-4:40 ………. The Crooked Road to Freedom: Strange Tales of Slavery and Emancipation – Hunter Lesser

For more information, email: – phone: 304-637-7424


Categories : Events
Comments (0)

Phantoms of the South Fork: Captain McNeill and his Rangers, by Steve French

Now available from Kent State University Press

February 21, 1865 – 3 a.m. – Cumberland, Maryland: A band of approximately 65 horsemen slowly makes its way down Greene Street. Thinking the riders are disguised Union scouts, the few Union soldiers out that bitterly cold morning pay little attention to them. In the meantime, in and around the town, over 3,500 Yankees are peacefully asleep.

Within the next half-hour, however, the McNeill Rangers had kidnapped Generals George Crook and Benjamin Kelley from the hotel beds and spirited them out of town. Despite a determined effort by Union pursuers to intercept the raiders, by that evening they had reached safety deep in the South Fork River Valley, over fifty miles away. Not long afterward, the generals were guests at Richmond’s Libby Prison. Southern General John B. Gordon later called the mission “one of the most thrilling incidents of the war.”

In September 1862, John Hanson McNeill recruited a company of troopers for Colonel John D. Imboden’s 1st Virginia Partisan Rangers. In early 1863, Imboden took most his men into the regular army, but McNeill and his son Jesse offered their men an opportunity to continue in independent service-seventeen joined them. In the coming months, other young hotspurs enlisted in McNeill’s Rangers. Operating mostly in the Potomac Highlands of what is now eastern West Virginia, the Rangers bedeviled the Union troops guarding the B&O Railroad line. Favoring American Indian battle tactics, they ambushed patrols, attacked wagon trains, and, from time to time, heavily damaged railroad property and rolling stock.
This book is the result of the author’s long study of primary source material, including numerous diaries, memoirs, reminiscences, and period newspaper articles. He has also used the available secondary sources, conducted many interviews of McNeill Ranger aficionados, and traveled throughout West Virginia, western Maryland, southern Pennsylvania, and the Shenandoah Valley following the trail of Captain McNeill and his Phantoms of the South Fork.

Steve French is a former middle school teacher and graduate of Hedgesville High School and Shepherd College. His other works include the multiple-award winning Imboden’s Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, Rebel Chronicles: Raiders, Scouts and Train Robbers of the Upper Potomac, and Four Years Along the Tilhance: The Private Diary of Elisha Manor. He is also the author of over eighty historical articles that have appeared in numerous publications.

Click here to purchase via…

Contact the author [] for information on how to obtain a signed copy…

Categories : Books
Comments (0)

Rebel ChroniclesAuthor/historian Steve French has recently published his third book on Civil War action in the eastern panhandle and surrounding region.

The new title, Rebel Chronicles: Raiders, Scouts, and Train Robbers of the Upper Potomac, is divided into three parts, and includes a foreword by Edwin C. Bearrs.

Part 1:  8 chapters dealing with Potomac Scouts Captain Redmond Burke and Lieutenant Andrew Leopold, and 4 chapters covering the Valley Scout Captain John Corbin Blackford.

Part 2:  3 chapters on the Highland Raiders and the Raids on Little Cacapon, Paw Paw, Capon Bridge, South Fork and Saint George.

Part 3:  3 chapters of Train Robberies. The Winchester & Potomac Robbery, The Brown’s Shop Robbery and the Greenback Raid Robbery.

Read a book review by Gregg Clemmer at

Ted Alexander, Chief Historian, Antietam National Battlefield says: “Steve’s book is buttressed by a vast array of sources, many of them never before utilized in any other studies. The bibliography alone is worth the price of this book. Some scholars have thrown out the challenge that there is nothing new to write about on the Civil War. Let them read Rebel Chronicles. Steve French has provided us with a fresh look at an often ignored phase of Civil War History.”

Rebel Chronicles is available for purchase at Battlefields and Beyond, Butternut and Blue, Confederate Shop, or by contacting the author. [Send $22.95 + $3 s/h to 8604 Martinsburg Rd., Hedgesville, WV 25427]

About the author:  Steve French is the author of Imboden’s Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, winner of the 2008 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award and the 2009 Gettysburg Civil War Round Table Book Award, and The Jones-Imboden Raid Against the B&O Railroad at Rowlesburg, Virginia, April 1863. He is also the editor of Four Years Along the Tilhance: The Diary of Elisha Manor. His more than seventy Civil War and other historical articles have appeared in The Washington Times, Gettysburg Magazine, North &South Magazine, The Southern Cavalry Review, Maryland Cracker Barrel Magazine, The Morgan Messenger, and Crossfire: The Magazine of the American Civil War Round Table (UK).

Categories : Books
Comments (0)
Support our Featured Sponsor:

West Virginia Book Company