Battle of Lewisburg

May 10, 2009 - 2 Comments

by Jim Barnes

Next weekend, May 15-17, 2009, the Reenactment of the Battle of Lewisburg will be held in that picturesque southern West Virginia town.  The reenactment will portray the engagement between Union forces commanded by Colonel George Crook and a larger Confederate force under Brigadier General Henry Heth on May 23, 1862.

Crook had been sent to sever Confederate railroad lines connecting Virginia and Tennessee. Heth intended to stop him. Things looked good for the Rebels at first. They outnumbered Crook’s command (2300 to 1400) and took up good postions on the heights overlooking the town. Heth opened the fight by shelling  the Federal camp. Crook formed up his Ohio Brigade for an assault on the Confederate left, while he sent the 2nd (West) Virginia cavalry on a charge directly at the Confederate Center. The Rebel left came apart and the line collapsed. The Confederates retreated across the Greenbrier River and burned the bridge behind them to prevent the Federals from pursuing.  This ended the action. The Confederates suffered 257 dead and wounded and the Union lost 73.*

Crook continued to command West Virginia troops throughout the rest of the war and had great success serving under Maj. General Phil Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley campaigns of 1864. After the war, he commanded troops in the Indian wars in the West and won notice for for his efforts against Geronimo . Crook respected his adversaries and was an outspoken advocate of fair treatment for the Native Americans. He spent much time during his final years speaking in their behalf.*

Heth is probably best known for his role in Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania the following year after Lewisburg. Heth sent his troops into a small sleepy Pennsylvania town (supposedly) to look for shoes. That town was Gettysburg. His command began a fight which ignited the bloodiest battle ever fought in North America. Ironically, after the war, he worked in the Department of Indian Affairs.**

A note for the tourists: Lewisburg is a beautiful little town, which still has a lot of the charm of the old South about it. A nice place to visit even when nothing else is going on. The reenactment is icing on the cake.

For more information on the Battle of Lewisburg, check out their website:

*Facts courtesy of Battle of Lewisburg website.

**Wikipedia: George Crook, and Henry Heth.

Comments (2)

Bill Donegan

May 11th, 2009 at 8:24 pm    

Mr. Barnes,

Linda and I will be attending and participating in the annual event in Lewisburg. On Friday May 14th Linda and I will be presenting a program of Civil War music for childrens day. We expect 950 children to be attending. We will be the guests of Richard and Lorraine Byrd at their beautiful home at 317 Church Street. There will be a bond fire (weather permitting) out back of their house on Friday and Saturday nights. If you are in the area please feel free to come and visit us there.

We will be meeting with our old friends Charles and Retha Stewart at their tent in the US Camp for the remainder of the event. We expect we will also consort again with Mr. Steve Allen, and be joining the ranks of the men in blue to protect the union.

We will attempt to obtain some photographic memorialization of the week end and will file a report.

Wishing you gute reise in your travel through time, I remain your friend and comrade in arms,

Bill Donegan, First West Virginia Infantry

Bill Donegan

May 21st, 2009 at 3:30 pm    


We were so busy at Lewisburg we didn’t take any photos. They say one picture is worth a thousand words, so I guess we will send you a wordy report. Look for it soon.

Bill Donegan

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