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A Battle For Calhoun
Part 13; Looking For The Moccasin Rangers
by Maricia Mlynek
     

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Looking for the Moccasin Rangers

As many roamed the streets of Grantsville last week for the 47th annual Wood Festival, they may have found many unusual events occurring. One such event was particularly of interest to this writer. Tents lined the grass at the mouth of Phillips Run, but these were no ordinary tents with vendors and crafts. This was a step back in time. It seemed that the Little Kanawha River was under the control of the Moccasin Rangers once again.

In 1861, many of Captain George Downs’ Moccasin Rangers lived along the banks of the Little Kanawha. In fact, so many lived along this route that Captain James L. Simpson made an effort on Nov. 28 to enter the county on a scouting expedition to clear the Rangers along the Kanawha. His hope was to arrest some of the most active rangers; however, he did not anticipate running into Perry Conley; as his gang usually operated in the West Fork area.

At first, Simpson’s plan seemed to be succeeding. He arrested Patrick Rafferty and Jackson Wright, both infamous Rangers, a few miles east of Grantsville. Other Rangers heard of the arrests and took to the hills. Simpson’s hope of arresting many faded fast. He knew that chasing the Moccasins into the dense woods would be suicide. Instead, he decided to make an unscheduled visit to Arnoldsburg.

The Union detachment of Company C, which at the time was about 26 men, along with Capt. Simpson, made its way along the Little Kanawha. The march brought them to a divide between the forks of Sycamore where the home of Adonijah McDonald stood. It was high noon when the men arrived. Simpson divided his detachment among nearby residents for lunch, while he and five others sat to dine at McDonald’s.

Captain Perry Conley would ruin any chance of a peaceful meal for the men of Company C. He had heard of their efforts in the river region, and he would react in return. The two forces met at the forks of Sycamore. It may have been a small encounter, and was missed by many, as it was never recorded in any West Virginia military action rolls. Yet, the action of the men of Company C and Perry Conley’s Rangers is worth noting and may shock some historians.

Next week, the Skirmish at Sycamore Creek continues.

 

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