When the Civil War Broke Out

         Putnam County was actually a border county, in a border state. This meant that geographically the county was near the dividing line between the North and South. Neighbors, friends and even families were divided over the deep issues. The area became a scene of wild excitement and great confusion. Issues were argued, tempers flared and young men left home to enlist for the cause they held to. In 1861, little did any of them know that they were about to embark upon a horrible path of blood known as the American Civil War. At this date, both sides considered that the hostilities would soon be over, and some even considered it as nothing more than an adventure..

 

Battle of Scary Creek
- July 17, 1861 (compiled from articles written by: Elizabeth Allen and Ivan M. Hunter)

        At the first appearance of the enemy cavalry coming from the west and advancing across the ridge across from Scary Creek, the commander of the Confederate artillery, Capt. George S. Patton, gave the order for the battery to open fire. The two six pound field pieces unleashed their fiery venom, and the Union cavalry fell back to await the main force. Now it was the infantry’s turn to feel the might of the Confederate artillery. More young men were to die that day.
    Back and forth, the battle went with one side gaining an advantage and then losing it. Minnieballs flew through the air and both sides opened fire with their artillery. Back and forth across the creek, screams of wounded men and angry men could be heard. The Battle of Scary Creek, for the most part, was fought at long range with rifle and artillery fire from each side of the creek.
        However, at about 3:00 in the afternoon, the boys in blue tried to charge the bridge. Johnny Reb allowed them to get halfway across the bridge and then opened fire. The smoke along the river was oppressive in the heat of that July day and visibility was obscured. Regrouping on the other side of the creek, the men from Ohio once again charged the bridge and once again were driven back.
        It was now late afternoon and both Confederate artillery pieces were out of commission. Things looked bleak for the “rebs” until reinforcements arrived from Coal Mountain. More Confederate cavalry, infantry and one piece of artillery were to turn the tide in favor of the gray soldiers that day, and a Confederate victory was won.

 

The Blue & Gray Skirmish at Hurricane Bridge
- March 28, 1863 (by O. R. Miller)

        This skirmish on March 28, 1863 may not have impacted the outcome of the Civil War, but to the residents of the small village at Hurricane Bridge who could hear “minnie” balls whistling over their rooftops, it was their little piece of the big event. Federal loses were recorded as three, during this skirmish, which lasted some five hours of intense firing.
        The Federals at Point Pleasant, were accumulating a large quantity of stores and horses in preparation for the spring offensive and to supply their outposts.
        The senior officer of the Union detachment was Captain Johnson of Company A and their camp was on the west side of Hurricane Creek.
        General Albert G. Jenkins commanded a Cavalry brigade in winter quarters near Confederate forces in western Virginia on the New River at Dublin Depot. In January 1863, plans were begun to raid the Kanawha Valley in the spring. Jenkins was selected to lead the raid “on foot”, as their horses had been sent to North Carolina for winter forage.
        Jenkins selected his men from units that had formed in Wayne, Cabell, Mason and Putnam counties, so they would be familiar with the countryside. Six hundred rifles were forwarded from Richmond for the expedition.
        They broke camp in Hamlin on the 27th to march to Point Pleasant in hopes of capturing the supplies and horses at the Federal fort. Arriving at Hurricane Bridge about daylight on March 28th, Jenkins dispatched a major, under flag of truce requesting surrender. Captain Johnson, not knowing the strength of the gray troops, declined.
        After five hours, Jenkins recalled his troops and broke off the engagement. He reassembled his troops, then moved quietly behind the hill to the south proceeding on a route to reach the Kanawha via Hurricane Creek Road.