The Battle of Lewisburg, a Union victory, occurred as U.S. troops maneuvered from Western Virginia toward Tennessee in the spring of 1862. Gen. John C. Frémont, commander of the Mountain Department for the U.S. Army, planned to concentrate his forces in Monterey, Virginia, and then move southwest until he reached the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad near Christiansburg. There, Frémont was to connect with troops under the command of Gen. Jacob D. Cox.
Cox, unaware that Fremont’s command had been detained by fighting in the Shenandoah Valley, advanced as planned. While three of his four brigades occupied Princeton, a town that had been lost to Confederate forces earlier in May 1862, his fourth brigade, under the command of Col. George Crook, moved to Lewisburg. From his position Crook and his 1,600 men were within supporting distance of the troops located in Princeton, but also unknowingly vulnerable to attack from Confederate Brig. Gen. Henry Heth.
On the morning of May 23, 1862, 2,200 men under the command of General Heth attacked Crook’s position. Despite facing superior numbers, Crook and his men repelled the advance, killing 38, wounding 66, and reportedly capturing nearly 100 prisoners, while losing only 13 under his command. Although the victory was widely reported and a boost to waning Union morale, its importance was overshadowed by federal losses in the Shenandoah Valley on the same day.
This Article was written by Donald C. Simmons Jr.
Last Revised on October 07, 2010
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