Lawyer George Smith Patton, a Richmond native and 1852 graduate of Virginia Military Institute, organized the Kanawha Riflemen, a Virginia militia company, after moving to Charleston in 1856.
As the Civil War approached, the group and its comrades were unabashedly pro-Southern. In 1861, the worst fears of the Kanawha Riflemen were realized as federal troops headed up the Kanawha River for Charleston. Led by Patton, their 24-year-old major, the Riflemen met the Yankees at Scary Creek, a tributary of the Kanawha, on July 17, 1861. During the brief but bloody skirmish which also involved other Confederate units, the federals lost 15 killed, 11 wounded, and seven captured.
The Kanawha Riflemen were soon incorporated into the regular army of the Confederacy as Company H of the 22nd Virginia Volunteer Infantry, where they left a heroic record. Patton suffered a severe shoulder wound at Scary Creek but went on to lead the 22nd Virginia Regiment until his death in the Battle of Winchester, September 25, 1864. He was the grandfather of Gen. George S. Patton of World War II.
The 1861 Kanawha Riflemen had a strength of from 75 to 100, of whom 20 were lawyers. The unit comprised the manhood of many of Charleston’s wealthy families. Many of the Kanawha Riflemen rest in Charleston’s Spring Hill Cemetery.
This Article was written by Richard A. Andre
Last Revised on October 07, 2010
Cohen, Stan & Richard Andre. Kanawha County Images. Charleston: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company & Kanawha County Bicentennial, 1987.
Cohen, Stan, Richard Andre & William D. Wintz. Bullets and Steel. Charleston: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1995.
Lowry, Terry. The Battle of Scary Creek. Charleston: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1982.