Wyoming County’s Civil War soldiers generally joined up with one of two companies. The Confederate soldiers joined Company G, 22nd Va. Volunteer Regiment, and the Union soldiers joined Company I, 8th (W)Va., later 7th WV, Cavalry. Many dozens of Wyoming County men, some for what appeared to be very personal reasons, were members of the Confederate and Union Home Guard units.
Within weeks, Floyd McDonald (1829-1865), son of Joseph McDonald and brother of Isaac E. McDonald, resigned his position as school superintendent, and began recruiting efforts. William T. Sarver, Erastus Duncan, and James A. Cooke, son of John and Mary Jarrell Cooke, also took up the initiative in support of the Confederate cause. Their recruiting led to the formation of Company G, 22nd Virginia Regiment. Perhaps as an act of defiant irony Floyd McDonald denounced the federal union on July 3, 1861, the eve of Independence Day.
Company G left Wyoming County for Greenbrier County to join other companies under the command of General William W. Loring. According to Val Husley’s history of the 22nd Virginia Volunteer Regiment, the regiment was made up of ten companies and Company G was known as “The Wyoming Riflemen,” with James Cook as the commanding officer. This commanding officer appears to have been either James A. Cooke (1838-191`5), son of John Cooke III, or James Russell Cooke (1832-1863), son of David Judson Cooke.
From a letter written by Theodore Freeling Bailey (1839-1926), son of James and Delilah Gore Bailey, and a lieutenant of Company G, 22nd Virginia Regiment, to historian G.P. Goode, dated January 20, 1913, it is known that Company G had a hand in battles at Cross Lanes, Carnifex Ferry, Big Sewell, Broad Fork, Droop Mountain, Fisher’s Hill, Beverly, Petersburg, (W)Va., Lynchburg, and Winchester, in Virginia, and as T. F. Bailey stated in his letter, “... so many I can’t remember...”. T. F. Bailey enlisted June 12, 1861, and served until April 12, 1864.
At Cross Lane, Nicholas County, (W)Va., Lt. Floyd McDonald led the troops of Company G into the battle, August 26, 1861, as both Capt. Erastus Duncan and Capt. James A. Cooke were absent at the time. Rev. G. P. Good’s notes state that Floyd McDonald received a sabre wound in the arm during the battle but “bound his wound with a red bandana handkerchief and rode over the battlefield on his big grey stallion with uplifted sword with the command, ‘Give ‘em hell, boys!’.” The Confederates, commanded by Gen. John B. Floyd, won this battle when the Federals were surprised while eating breakfast.
The Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Nicholas County, (W)Va., took place September 10, 1861, about two weeks after the Cross Lane engagement. Confederate Gen. Floyd, with about 2,000 troops in camp and some 6,000 scattered around the area, had plans to take back the Kanawha Valley. Union General William S. Rosecrans, with more than 6,000 troops, marched from Clarksburg and attacked Floyd on September 10, 1861, the battle lasting all day. Realizing he could not withstand another attack, Gen. Floyd abandoned his position on the hills overlooking Carnifex Ferry during the night and moved southward into Greenbrier County.
In the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, the Union losses were 27 killed, 103 wounded, and four missing. For the Confederates, none were killed, nine were wounded, and 23 were captured by Federals.
One of Joseph McDonald’s sons, John Clayborne McDonald (1821-1865), went off to Fayetteville, in Fayette County, in June 1861 to become part of Company K, the Fayetteville Rifles, of which he was made captain. He died in prison about the time the war was closing. William Wallace McDonald, eldest son of Joseph who had moved to Logan County in 1844, was taken prisoner though he was later released. Lewis McDonald, son of Joseph and also Oceana’s second merchant, served in Company 1, 16th Virginia Cavalry. His large, magnificent farm at Maple Meadow, in Raleigh County, was burned by Union soldiers, just as the ancestral McDonald plantation west of Oceana had been.
— Note: Copies of “From Cabins To Coal Mines, 1799-1999, Volume I” are drastically dwindling. Cost is $45, which includes tax, at the Wyoming County Historical Museum in Oceana, open Saturday from 12 until 4 p.m. The book has been reprinted by the Wyoming County Historical Museum Board of Directors.
To have the book mailed, add $11.35 for postage. To order, contact Betsy Ross, board treasurer, at 304-732-6995; or write her at P.O. Box 411, Pineville, WV 24874; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.