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.
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
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.