Carnifex battlefield park in WV

Explore the historic battleground along the Gauley’s edge

Located on the rim of the Gauley River canyon, Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park was the site of an early Civil War skirmish. On Sept. 10, 1861, Union troops— with Brigadier General William S. Rosecrans in charge— forced the Confederates to evacuate their entrenched post at Henry Patterson Farm.

The Confederate troops– led by Brigadier General John B. Floyd– were surprised to see the union troops descending upon them. Shots were fired by 3 p.m. and the battle waged until after nightfall.

As the soldiers tended to the dead and wounded, Floyd weighed his options. Wait for reinforcements, or retreat to find a new post? Eventually Floyd decided on retreat. He, his army, their horses, and all of the artillery were discretely transported down the rugged cliffs in utter darkness for more than a mile until they reached the Gauley River.

Between the ferry and a 4-foot-wide log bridge— which was quickly swept away after their passing— the troops managed to cross the river at Carnefix Ferry, successful retreating from Union troops to setup a new camp closer to Lewisburg.

This battle represented the failed Confederate drive to claim the Kanawha Valley as their own. Failure to claim this section of Virginia eventually led to the succession and creation of our 35th state: West Virginia.