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1st West Virginia Infantry (3 months service)

The history of the First Regiment of Virginia Union Volunteer Infantry antedated the organization and formation of the new State. It was a part of the old Virginia military establishment, Governor Peirpoint having been appointed Provisional Governor of the State of Virginia by President Lincoln, the State government being established at Wheeling, by reason of that portion of the State east of the Alleghanies having joined its fortunes with the Confederacy through the operation of secession.

This regiment of Loyal Virginia Infantry was the first regiment organized on Southern soil for the defense of the nation under the call of President Lincoln. The regiment was organized at Wheeling, the first company being mustered into the service of the United States on May 10, 1861. On May 23, the organization of the regiment was complete, Colonel Benjamin F. Kelley being assigned to the command by the then Provisional Governor of Virginia, Francis H. Peirpoint.

The condition of the public mind in and about the city of Wheeling at the time this regiment was organized was such that grave fears were entertained by very many loyal people that it would be unsafe to send arms and equipments of war with which to equip this regiment, to the city of Wheeling. Several patriotic gentlemen whose loyalty never was questioned, residents of Wellsburg, the county seat of Brooke, the adjoining county on the north, made application to the Secretary of War, and through the kind offices of Governor Andrews, of Massachusetts, arms were secured for this regiment. They were sent to Wellsburg in the care of Messrs. W. H. Carothers and Cambell Tarr.  Louis Applegate and Adam Kuhn were associated with them in the receiving and transferring of these arms by steamboat to Wheeling, where they were turned over to the regiment. On May 27, the regiment was placed under marching orders.

The good people of Wheeling had furnished them with a supply of blankets and clothing, but they were without knapsacks, haversacks, cartridge-boxes or any other of the habiliments of regularly organized troops, save that in their hands they clasped an old United States Springfield musket.

Colonel Kelley applied for transportation to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which was refused upon the grounds that the railroad company proposed to remain neutral in the question of war as between the sections, the agent stating that an order had been issued that the road would not carry either troops or munition of war for either side. Colonel Kelley emphasized the following language in reply to the agent: “This is war. Railroad companies cannot be their own masters. They are to serve the government that guarantees to them possession and protection for their property. You have a train of cars in the depot to-morrow morning at four o’clock or I will place you in prison and take possession of your railroad by military authority.” No further argument was needed. The agent communicated with the company and the cars were accordingly furnished and afterwards, throughout the entire war, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad continued to perform any service necessary for the successful transaction of the war.

The regiment left Wheeling May 27th on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. They were joined at Benwood by some Ohio troops under Colonel Irvin, and two days afterwards, at Camp Buffalo, the 15th Ohio joined the command. On the 31st, Grafton was occupied by our troops, while the Confederates under Colonel Porterfield retired. On the morning of June 3, the first battle was fought at Philippi, West Virginia, in which the First Virginia participated, Colonel Kelley being wounded in the affray. Here is a notable incident in the history of the regiment. It was not only to bear in history the record of having been the first loyal regiment formed on Southern soil, but the additional historic incident is now given to it by reason of Colonel Kelley being the first officer wounded in the great War of the Rebellion.

It would be impossible to trace out the meanderings of this regiment through the three months’ service that followed. Suffice it to say they participated in all the historic campaigns of the early war in the mountains of West Virginia. The regiment completed its service and returned to Wheeling, where it was mustered out of service on the 28th day of August.

Of the three months’ organization it is sufficient to say that Henry B. Hubbard, of Wheeling, was lieutenant-colonel; Isaac H. Duval, of Wellsburg, was major; John B. Lukens, of Wheeling, was adjutant; Isaac M. Pumphrey was quartermaster; Dr. Joseph Thoburn was surgeon, and Dr. J. D. M. Carr, assistant-surgeon.

[Source: Loyal West Virginia 1861-1865, by Theodore Lang]

Organized and mustered in for three months as follows: Company “A” at Wheeling May 10; Company “B” at Wheeling May 11; Company “C” at Wheeling May 15; Company “D” at Steubenville, Ohio, May 15; Company “E” at Wheeling May 16; Company “F” at Wellsburg May 17; Company “G” at Wellsburg May 18; Company “H” in Marshall County May 21; Company “I” in Hancock County May 21, and Company “K” at Wheeling May 23, 1861. Left Wheeling May 27. Occupation of Grafton May 30. Action at Philippi June 3. Duty at Rowlesburg, Grafton and Philippi till July. Bowman’s Place June 29. Occupation of Beverly and Sutton and guarding Baltimore & Ohio Railroad till August 19. Moved to Wheeling August 19-21. Mustered out August 27, 1861.

[Source: Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer]

The 1st West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment suffered no fatalities in battle during its enlistment. However, a member of Company G was killed in camp on May 29, 1861, from the accidental discharge of a gun.

Source: Rawling, C. J. (1887). History of the First Regiment Virginia Infantry. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company.

Rawling, C. J. (1887). History of the First Regiment Virginia Infantry. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company.

1st West Virginia Infantry (3 months service) from Wikipedia