West Virginia State Museum Education

A War Within a State

A War Within a State

Jones-Imboden Raid

civil war

Between April 24 and May 22, 1863, Confederate cavalry under Generals William E. "Grumble" Jones and John D. Imboden carried the Civil War into north central West Virginia. Their goals were to disrupt the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at Oakland, Maryland, and cut telegraph communication, and weaken federal control in Grafton.

The Confedearts made a two-prong attack, with Imboden riding from Staunton through Beverly to Buckhannon with 3,365 men. Jones led 2,100 men through Petersburg and Moorefiled, skirmished at Greenland Gap in Hardy County, then was pushed back at Rowlesburg. He fell upon Morgantown, on April 28, capturing supplies and many horses, including those of curiosity-seekers who came to town to learn what the excitement was. One of the Confederate raiders, future Postmaster General William Lyne Wilson, later returned to Morgantown as president of West Virginia University.

On April 29, at Fairmont, Jones waged the largest battle ever fought in that part of the state against a force of 500 regulars, home guards and volunteers. There was some civilian involvement on both sides of the fight. The Confederates prevailed, burning the personal library of Francis Pierpont, governor of the Restored Governement of Virignia, and exploding an iron railraod bridge across the Monongahela River. Jones linked up with Imboden at Buckhannon, skirmishing along the way, and together they mvoed to Weston.

Jones continued west to Burning Springs, where he set fire to an estimated 150,000 barrels of oil and the producing wells, sending a sheet of flame floating down the Little Kanawha River. Imboden, later associated with this brother, George, in the development of West Virginia coal mining, said in his report that the raiders covered 700 miles, fought two battles and several skirmishes, and captured nearly 700 prisoners, 1,000 cattle and 1,200 horses. In addition to the oil, they burned 16 railroad bridges and one tunnel, two train cars and several boats. However, the damages were short-lived and the Confederates never seriously threatened the area again.

Source: Swick, Gerald D. "Jones Imboden Raid." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopdia. 25 March 2014.

Helpful Links

e-West Virginia Jones-Imboden Raid

e-West Virginia The Story of Statehood Lesson Plan

e-West Virginia Civil War Battles in Western Virginia Lesson Plan

e-West Virginia Civil War

West Virginia Archives and History Civil War Sources