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A Battle For Calhoun
Part 12; Interesting Leaders
by Maricia Mlynek

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Interesting Leaders

This week, we will review some of the interesting leaders that have been discussed thus far and introduce some new ones.

Bob Bonar, Calhoun Historical Society president, gave me a list of leaders and military units that breaks down the information into an easily understood outline. I use his list to clarify some of the characters that are a part of our Calhoun history.

Moccasin Rangers:

Perry Conley of Minnora was the most feared guerrilla and commanded a subgroup of the Moccasin Rangers. He died in Webster County in 1862.

George Downs was commander of the Moccasin Rangers. He was a miller by trade. His headquarters were at Big Bend. He led the Rangers at the Battle of Arnoldsburg. On July 2, 1862, he was captured in a skirmish at Big Bend and sent to Camp Chase. He returned to Calhoun to organize Co. A. of the 19th Va. Cav. (CSA).

Peregrine Hays helped organize the Moccasin Rangers. He lived in Arnoldsburg, where he was both county sheriff and postmaster. He was the wealthiest man in the county and a leader in the creation of Calhoun from Gilmer. He was captured and sent to Camp Chase. After parole, he became a major and quartermaster for General Wise (CSA).

Nancy Hart was known as the “Lady Guerilla.” She grew up on the West Fork and rode with the Moccasin Rangers. She served as a valuable spy for the CSA and was famous for her excellent shooting ability. Though captured several times, she had a way of escaping. Once she killed a guard to flee her captors.

Daniel Duskey was prosecuting attorney and justice of the peace in Calhoun. He commanded a subgroup of the Moccasin Rangers, and is known for his raid on Ripley. Duskey was also captured and sent to prison.

Union and Pro Union partisan bands:

Pro Union partisan bands (Home Guards) were commissioned to protect Union citizens and property, especially from guerrilla raids. Thirty-two such companies were organized in Calhoun.

Captain William Ellison organized the Home Guards.

Colonel John Cass Rathbone lived in Parkersburg, but had large holdings in the Burning Springs oil field. He formed he 11th W.Va. Infantry to protect his oil interests. He was a powerful man, with powerful friends, but a poor military officer.


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