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A Battle For Calhoun
Part 7; Arnoldsburg, May 1862
by Maricia Mlynek

Updated on Wednesday*:

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Arnoldsburg, May 1862

Arnoldsburg in 1862 was a small village with only a few houses and a store building--not much different than it is today. The largest difference was a bivouac of some 300 to 400 Union soldiers. Located on the grounds of the home of Peregrine Hays, Camp McDonald was established in Arnoldsburg under the command of Major George C. Trimble of Wheeling.

Peregrine Hays

The year of 1861 had not been a very successful year for Federal troops in Calhoun County. Partisan bands were still in control and causing havoc for loyalists. The year of 1862 would be a turning point. The Union military post set up in Arnoldsburg was the beginning of the true efforts of establishing order in Calhoun.

Camp McDonald was named in honor of Colonel Adonijah J. McDonald, a former officer in Calhoun’s 186th Regiment of the Virginia Militia. Interestingly, the camp was set up in the region belonging to Peregrine (Perry) Hays, a Moccasin Ranger Captain and organizer.

Adonijah McDonald

Hays was an influential and wealthy man. He was a member of the 1850-51 Virginia Constitutional Convention, a sheriff in Gilmer and Calhoun counties, a postmaster, a leader in the creation of Calhoun from Gilmer in 1856, and a member of the Virginia and West Virginia legislatures. In early 1862, this mattered little to Union troops, who set up their military camp in Hays backyard.

Ironically, the guns set up in the Hays’ home were held by soldiers in blue. The rounds fired from his grounds were from Union troops. I am certain that this did not sit well with Hays or his men. The stage was being set for action in Arnoldsburg. Lines had been drawn and sides had been chosen.

Next week: The story of the Arnoldsburg Skirmish.

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