Civil War’s Upshur unit recognized

A stretch of highway between Rock Cave and the Webster County line will honor a long-forgotten Civil War unit, one which refused to join the Confederacy as a means to escape prison.

West Virginia Route 20 became known as the “Upshur Civil War Company C Militia Memorial Highway” after a dedication ceremony Saturday at the intersection of West Virginia Route 20 and Route 4.

State Del. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, read the House of Delegates Resolution announcing the name. He was joined at the ceremony by members of the American Legion Post 7 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3663, along with the West Virginia chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, the Upshur County Honor Guard and period re-enactors.

Company C formed in September 1862 with about 70 men. After their initial training, the men were only required to muster once per week in Centerville, which is now known as Rock Cave. The unit was under the command of Daniel Gould.

One person deserted the ranks, J.C. Eagle, according to the historical marker at the Rock Cave site, and he fled south to join the Confederacy as a scout. In the summer of 1863, Confederate forces commanded by Major J.K. Kesler had marched to Bulltown to attack Union troops, but found those soldiers had moved to Clarksburg.

Using the scout’s information about the Upshur County unit, Kesler moved his troops along the Little Kanawha River through Fidler’s Mill and on to Centerville. William Fidler, who was rounding up cattle, saw the rebel raiders crossing his farm, and he is said to have recognized many of the Confederate soldiers.

The Confederate troops arrived near the Upshur unit’s drill site early on Sept. 12, 1863, using the cover of the dense woods to conceal its whereabouts. As Company C prepared to drill in front of family and friends on what started out to be more of a social gathering, it was noticed that George and Henry Eagle, the father and brother of J.C. Eagle, did not answer at the morning’s roll call.

Company C took to the open field with empty rifles, leaving themselves vulnerable when the raiders stormed out of the hills.

The first casualty, according to the historical marker, was a man named Amos Samples, who was wounded in the leg.

When others tried to get to the fort for ammunition, the Confederate soldiers set fire to the structure.

The captured soldiers were allowed to say good-bye to their loved ones before being marched to the southern prisons in Virginia. The historical marker stated that of the 70 men who were captured, seven were able to escape, 25 received paroles and 43 died in prison.