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Rosser's Moorefield, W.VA. Raid

  • Time Period: January 29, 1864
  • Area: Moorefield, West Virginia

On the 28th, a Confederate raiding force, composed of Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Rosser's cavalry infantry brigade, and a battery of artillery, abandoned its camp near New Market, Virginia, angling westward toward the Allegheny Mountains. Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early, commanding the Valley District, accompanied the column of raiders on a foraging and cattle-stealing operation.

Rosser's Laurel Brigade, leading the advance, entered Moorefield, West Virginia on the 29th. Early and the cavalry officer learned from scouts that a Union wagon train was moving south towards Petersburg, West Virginia. Early ordered Rosser to cross the Branch Mountain and intercept the train.

The Confederate horsemen left Moorefield the next morning. Snaking up the mountainside, they entered the gap, where a Union infantry regiment blocked the road. Rosser rapidly charged with the 12th Virginia Cavalry, routing the Union troops, who fell back to Medley. The Confederates found the wagon train at the latter town, guarded by 4 infantry regiments and a detachment of cavalry. Rosser deployed his 400 troopers for an attack, directing the 12th to move beyond the Union flank toward its rear.

The Confederate officer hurled his 3 regiments, dismounted, against the Federals. The initial charge faltered bfore the fire of the Federals. Supported by an artillery piece, the Confederates renewed the attack. The 35th Battalion of Virginia Cavalry drove in a mounted charge toward the Union front while the 2 dimounted regiments stormed the Union's left flank. The federals broke under the assault, fleeing in disorder and abandoning 95 wagons loaded with supplies.

The next day, Rosser and Thomas marched to Petersburg, where they found additional stores of ammunition and commisary supplies. Leaving Thomas at Petersburg, Rosser moved northward down Patterson's Creek, his troopers searching for cattle and sheep. Learning of the approach of Union reinforcements, Rosser returned to Moorefield, rejoined Thomas, and marched eastward toward the Shenandoah Valley. At a cost of 25 casualties, the Confederates had captured 80 Federals, 95 wgons, 1,200 cattle, and 500 sheep. The jubilant members of the Larual Brigade all reenlisted after the raid, an endorsement of Rosser's admiriable performance.

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