May 23, 1862: The Battle of Lewisburg Fought in Greenbrier County

May 23, 2016

Credit e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 23, 1862, the Battle of Lewisburg was fought in Greenbrier County. It occurred as Union troops were moving from Western Virginia toward Tennessee in the spring of 1862. Union General John C. Frémont planned to move his forces southwest from Monterey, Virginia, to the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad near Christiansburg. There, Frémont was to connect with troops under General Jacob Cox.

Fremont, however, got detained by fighting in the Shenandoah Valley. Cox, not realizing the plan had fallen apart, transferred one his four brigades to Lewisburg. The 1,600-man brigade, under General George Crook, was unknowingly vulnerable to attack from Confederate General Henry Heth.

On the morning of May 23, Heth’s 2,200 Confederate troops attacked Crook’s position at Lewisburg. Despite facing superior numbers, Crook and his men repelled the advance, killing 38, wounding 66, and reportedly capturing nearly 100. Crook lost only 13 of his own men. Although the Union victory at Lewisburg was widely reported and a boost to waning Northern morale, its importance was overshadowed by Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s legendary Shenandoah Valley Campaign, which was occurring at the same time.