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Spy Rock is a natural landmark with historical significance. It is located on U.S. 60, the old James River & Kanawha Turnpike, 18 miles east of Hawks Nest and about midway between Charleston and Lewisburg. The large rock ledge provided a lookout along the turnpike toward Sewell Mountain. In the early 19th century the rock was used by both Indians and whites.

During the Civil War as both Union and Confederate forces marched along the turnpike, Spy Rock was again used for observation. On September 15, 1861, in the aftermath of the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Union forces under the command of Gen. Jacob Cox who were pursuing the defeated Confederates occupied the area of Spy Rock. During September and October, Union and Confederate forces skirmished along the turnpike as they moved into position for a battle at Sewell Mountain. Cox established his headquarters at Spy Rock and called for reinforcements from Gen. William Rosecrans to face Gen. Robert E. Lee, who had occupied Sewell Mountain.

Record rainfall in late October turned the turnpike into a sea of mud, and nothing could move. Misery, sickness, and hunger began to pile up more casualties than any fighting. At Spy Rock, Cox with more than 500 sick decided to fall back to Gauley Bridge, while Lee retreated eastward to Meadow Bluff.

This Article was written by David Bard

Last Revised on October 29, 2010


Cite This Article

Bard, David "Spy Rock." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 29 October 2010. Web. 24 April 2017.

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