Thurmond’s Partisan Rangers were raised for the Confederate service primarily from Fayette, Greenbrier, and Monroe counties during the spring and summer of 1862. The two companies were commanded by brothers William D. and Philip J. Thurmond of Fayette County. As other companies of rangers formed in southern West Virginia and western Virginia, these companies joined and became a battalion variously known as Thurmond’s, Morris’s, and Houndshell’s. An estimated 650 men served with this larger unit during the war, which in late 1863 became 44th Virginia Cavalry Battalion and part of the regular army.
The mountaineers who comprised Thurmond’s Rangers knew that this type of semi-independent service would allow them to remain near their homes and families. Considered by some to be nothing more than bushwhackers, partisan rangers assisted the Confederacy as scouts, spies, and raiders. They were feared and respected in this capacity. On October 26, 1864, Capt. Philip Thurmond was killed in action at Winfield, Putnam County. A postwar surveyor, coal operator, and land agent, Capt. William D. Thurmond founded the New River Gorge town of Thurmond in the 1880s. He died at age 89 on May 14, 1910.
This Article was written by Tim McKinney
Last Revised on November 05, 2010
Witschey, Walter R. T. The Thurmonds of Virginia. Richmond: Gatewood Co., 1978.
Weaver, Jeffrey C. Thurmond's Partisan Rangers. Lynchburg: H. E. Howard, 1993.