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A Battle For Calhoun
Part 11; Rathbone's Truce-Continued
by Maricia Mlynek

Updated on Wednesday*:

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Rathbone’s Truce (continued)

It seems that Col. J.C. Rathbone of the 11th Va. Infantry was struggling in his position. It is apparent that Rathbone was a millionaire. Some of my research suggested that Rathbone’s home at Burning Springs was probably more of a concern for him than anything else. He most likely purchased the weapons, paid the salaries, and mustered the entire group to be his own personal militia, but the patience of his commanders had to be running thin.

Despite the lucrative standings of Rathbone, he had two strikes against him. First, there was the incorrect report of the Union defeat at Camp McDonald. This report had to be corrected with superiors in Washington by Gen. B.F. Kelley. Secondly, Rathbone had agreed to an illegal truce with the enemy.

History says that when Kelley received the news of the truce on May 19, 1862, he exploded with anger. Luckily for Rathbone, Kelley was too far away to do anything but spew words of disgust. Kelley immediately dispatched a message that said to dissolve the truce at once and to proceed under the orders to disperse, kill, or capture the Ranger band.

The truce was revoked and hostilities resumed. This led to a few skirmishes throughout the area. Peregrine Hays and George Silcott were captured and sent to Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio. Captain George Downs was also captured on July 2 in a fight at Big Bend. He was sent to join his comrades at Camp Chase.

Downs would later return to Calhoun and reorganize the old Moccasin Rangers into the regular Confederate Army as Co. A, 19th Virginia Cavalry. He would also be promoted to major and serve until the end of the war with his regiment.

As for Rathbone, fate would not be so kind. How he retained his command after the truce with the Moccasin Rangers was a question not answered. If I had to guess, I would say it had to do with money. Yet, Rathbone would have his third strike on Sept. 2. After surrendering Spencer without offering a defense, Rathbone was permitted to resign his commission. Thus, he returned to the life of a civilian once again.


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