Updated on Wednesday*:
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.
This Week's Editorial:By Helen Morris:
Calhoun County Map