The battle occurred four months after the beginning of the war and days before the first major battle at Manassas (Bull Run). Union forces under General Jacob Cox began a push up the Kanawha Valley from Ohio.
Confederate General Henry A. Wise commanded a few thousand troops stationed near present day St. Albans, WV.
The battle occurred when Colonel John W. Lowe and several Union regiments advanced toward the Confederate camp. Captain George S. Patton, the grandfather of the famous George S. Patton of World War II, commanded the Confederate line behind Scary Creek, several miles from the main Confederate camp. A heated firefight took place in which Captain Patton was wounded, with Captain Albert Gallatin Jenkins taking command. After several Union attempts to charge across the bridge near the mouth of the creek were repulsed, the Federal forces withdrew.
After the Federal forces began falling back, for some reason, the Confederates thought that fresh Union reinforcements were arriving and the result was a retreat by both sides. The Confederates realized their mistake, however, and returned to the battlefield to claim victory.
Despite tactical victory, General Wise, in a highly criticized move, decided to withdraw back up the Kanawha Valley toward the Confederate supply bases in Fayette and Greenbrier Counties. Thus, the victory was hollow for the South. Wise’s retreat resulted in most of the Kanawha Valley falling into Union hands.