The Battle of Greenbrier River, also known as the Battle of Camp Bartow, took place on October 3, 1861 in Pocahontas County, Virginia (now West Virginia) as part of the Operations in Western Virginia Campaign during the American Civil War.
In mid-September 1861 Confederate troops established Camp Bartow in the Cheat Mountain Area. The Confederates, under the command of General William B. Taliaferro, had the advantage of knowing the land but their numbers were greatly reduced due to sickness. Taliaferro had reported that his army had been reduced to one-third strength.
Controlling the Union forces in Cheat Mountain and Tygart’s Valley was General Joseph J. Reynolds. Reynolds’ army’s spirits had been heartened due to their success in repelling General William W. Loring’s troops. Reynolds believed that he would be able to defeat Taliaferro and clear the mountain for a quick route to Virginia. For two days it rained non-stop and due to the cold weather both troops lost men.
Reynolds troops began to move at midnight on October 2, 1861 and by daylight they entered Greenbrier, roughly four miles from the Confederate camp.
At 8 o’clock in the morning the Confederate soldiers guarding the camp left their posts and the Union soldiers entered the Confederate camp. Upon opening fire, the Confederate Army was having trouble working their weapons and while they were trying to fix them they were forced to move out into the open due to the Union army’s significant firepower.
When Colonel John B. Baldwin, who was in charge of the 52nd Virginia Infantry, heard the gunshots he immediately left camp with all of his men and went to help the Confederates. By the time they reached the battlefield they thought it was too late, but when the Union army saw more men coming they continued to fire and the battle continued for approximately five more hours. Reynolds ordered his troops to return to Cheat Mountain breaking off the battle.
After the battle was finished both sides realized the losses were not great. In an attempt to appear superior, both the Union and the Confederates increased the enemy’s losses and both reported that they had lost around three-hundred men. When the results were calculated, the Union had eight men killed and thirty-five men wounded. The Confederates had lost six men, had thirty-three wounded, and thirteen men missing. The result of the Battle of Greeenbrier River was inconclusive.