On Thursday, September 20, I spoke to the Powhatan Civil War Roundtable. We were supposed to tie the speaking engagement to a visit with some Virginia friends, but the visit had to be postponed. That meant that Susan and I had to run-and-gun the trip. We drove out on Thursday and back on Friday. On the way back, we made a brief visit to the battlefield at White Sulphur Springs, where I paid my respects to Capt. Paul Freiherr von Koenig of William Woods Averell’s staff, who was killed while leading a flank attach on the afternoon of the first day of the battle. Susan took the photo that appears here. I am standing next to the monument to von Koenig that marks the spot where he fell. This monument was erected by Bvt. Brig. Gen. James M. Schoonmaker in 1914 (at Schoonmaker’s own expense) and occupies the sport where the German adventurer fell. Sadly, much of the White Sulphur Springs battlefield has been destroyed by the development of a shopping center on the spot. The monument to von Koenig rests just outside a Hardee’s fast food restaurant, and if one did not know that this shopping center sits in the middle of a battlefield, there is no way to know.
Uncovering the facts von Koenig’s life story-and the story of how he died–and telling it in an appendix to my book on the Battle of White Sulphur Springs is, perhaps, the single piece of my historical work of which I am most proud (it turns out that Paul von Koenig became good personal friends with future President of the United States, Brig. Gen. James A. Garfield, which is one of the things that got me interested in Garfield’s service in the Civil War). I owe a great debt to the current Baron von Koenig, whose name is Dominik, and his son Florian, for helping me to put meat on the bones of this otherwise forgotten soldier.
We also stopped at the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in the lovely old town of Lewisburg, West Virginia. The church and its cemetery are pictured here. For those unfamiliar with the Battle of White Sulphur Springs, the law library in the Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg was the object of Averell’s unsuccessful raid at the end of August 1863. There was one grave that I wanted to visit there, of an officer of the 22nd Virginia Infantry, who was killed during the fight at White Sulphur Springs. Along the way, we found the grave of another officer of the 22nd Virginia who played a significant role in the Confederate victory at White Sulphur Springs.
This is the grave of Maj. Robert Augustus Bailey, who was a Lewisburg native. Nicknamed “Gus,” Bailey was born in Lewisburg in 1839. He was the son of prominent Circuit Judge Edward P. Bailey, which made his defense of the law library all the more notable. Gus Bailey became a lawyer himself and was practicing his trade in Fayette County in what became West Virginia when war came. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, he served as a captain In the 142nd Regiment Virginia Militia, 27th Brigade, 5th Division. With the coming of war, Bailey became captain of the Fayetteville Riflemen in Charleston on June 6, 1861. The Fayetteville Riflemen eventually became Company K, 22nd Virginia Infantry. The regiment was commanded by Col. George S. Patton, a prominent attorney from Charleston.
On August 26,1861, Bailey led a small scouting party to determine the feasibility of placing artillery to shell the Federal camps at and near Gauley River Bridge. Confederate Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd implemented Bailey’s plan during the fight at Gauley River Bridge in November 1861. Bailey was promoted to major on November 23,1861, and often commanded the 22nd Virginia (or elements of it) in various battles, receiving particular notice for his bravery at Fayetteville, (West) Virginia, September 10,1862. On March 1, 1863, he was major in command of the Department at Lewisburg, (West) Virginia. He led a battalion of the 22nd Virginia at White Sulphur Springs, and played an important role in the Confederate victory there.
Bailey was trying to rally his defeated men at the November 6, 1863 Battle of Droop Mountain when he was mortally wounded. After saving the regimental colors, he was waving the flag when struck by the ball that took his life. He lingered for five days before dying, and was then buried in the Old Stone Church cemetery in his hometown of Lewisburg. Bailey played an important role in the story of the Confederate victory at White Sulphur Springs, and I just happened upon his grave serendipitously. I’m glad I found it and was able to pay tribute to a gallant Southern soldier who received his mortal wound while doing his duty.
Lt. John Gay Carr served in Co. H of the 22nd Virginia Infantry. He was known as “Gay Carr” to friends and family. Carr was born in Albemarle County, Va. in 1830, but had lived in Kanawha County (in what became West Virginia) for many years before the war. He joined Patton’s Kanawha Riflemen as a private in May 1861, and was promoted to lieutenant. He served gallantly in all of the battles of the 22nd Virginia–an active, hard-fighting regiment–until he was killed in action at the age of 31 at White Sulphur Springs on August 26, 1863. He was described as “a promising young man, had exhibited the noblest qualities of a soldier both in the ranks and as an officer, and his death was deeply mourned by his comrades and the people of his home county.”
Carr’s friend, regimental adjutant Lt. Rand Noyes, wrote, “In this battle the gallant Lieutenant Gay Carr, of the Kanawha Riflemen…fell with a bullet through his brain…in whose memory I learn a monument has been erected…in Lewisburg, which was the War Home of the 22nd Virginia Regiment. There were many other brave and gallant men who fell victims of death on this severely contested battlefield and whose memories deserve the richest pandits of tongue and men.”
You can see larger versions of the four images that appear in this post by clicking upon them if you so desire.
The story of the Civil War in West Virginia has long gotten short shrift, but it was truly a civil war there, with neighbors fighting each other to the death. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend any of Terry Lowry’s excellent works on the battles fought in the Mountain State.Scridb filter