Confederate General John McCausland (September 13, 1836-January 22, 1927) was born in St. Louis. When his parents died in 1843, he came to live with relatives in Henderson, (West) Virginia, near Point Pleasant. He later attended Virginia Military Institute and graduated first in his class in 1857. He returned a year later as an assistant professor of mathematics, serving on the VMI faculty as a colleague of Thomas J. Jackson, later known as Stonewall.
When Virginia seceded in 1861, McCausland organized and took command of the 36th Virginia Infantry. After the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain in May 1864, he assumed command of a cavalry brigade and was soon commissioned as a brigadier.
In July 1864, he was ordered to conduct a raid into Pennsylvania in retaliation for federal depredations in the Shenandoah Valley. His forces occupied Chambersburg and demanded $100,000 in gold from the citizens. When they refused, McCausland, following orders, evacuated the town and burned the business district. A pursuing federal force surprised his brigade while camping near Moorefield, and defeated it. McCausland and a portion of his men managed to escape.
After the fall of the Confederacy, McCausland fled the country, fearing that he might be tried for his actions at Chambersburg. He returned in 1867 and spent the remainder of his life on his large farm in Mason County. He remained an unrepentant rebel to the end, bitter about the failure of the ‘‘Lost Cause.’’ He was the next-to-last Confederate general to die. He is buried at Henderson.
McCausland’s house, Grape Hill, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Read the Historic Register nomination.
This Article was written by Jim Barnes
Last Revised on December 07, 2015
Stutler, Boyd. West Virginia in the Civil War. Charleston: Education Foundation, 1966.
Pauley, Michael J. Unreconstructed Rebel: The Life of General John McCausland CSA. Charleston: Pictorial Histories Pub.lishing Company, 1993.
Robertson, James I. "John McCausland," in Patricia L. Faust, ed, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
Cite This Article
Barnes, Jim "John McCausland." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 07 December 2015. Web. 30 March 2017.