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The Philippi Races

On June 3rd, 1861, less than two months after the Battle of Fort Sumter, confederate forces under Col. George Porterfield were routed out of Philippi in a sunrise raid by Federals under the command of Cols. B. Kelley and Ebenezer Dumont.

Some of Porterfields men had been raised the previous month by Thomas Bedford, a local attorney,under the name The Barbour Greys. They were mostly without training or equipment when Porterfield had arrived in mid-May. Porterfield oversaw training and recruited and organized a few more companies, in addition to the couple he brought with him to the town.

Early in the rainy morning of the third, several cannons began firing on the confederate camps near Philippi. The confederates hastily retreated as before the union infantry reached the town. On the road to Belington, some order was restored and a company under Captain Moomau had taken a stand and was holding back the Union. Word of this spread to other companies, several of which retracted their steps with plans to reinforce him. They were too late, as they met his men resuming the retreat and collectively decided not to take a second stand. Soon the Union gave up their pursuit, ending the first land battle of the War Between the States, which became known occasionally as The Philippi Races.

The battle had only one casualty, a young James Hanger who was wounded by cannonball. Doctors amputated his leg soon afterwards, but he was not pleased with the standard wooden legs of the time. He whittled himself a replacement that was more satisfactory, then went on to produce them for other wounded soldiers. He moved operatios to Richmond and after the war, his company grew and expanded to become the largest manufacturer of prosthetic limbs in the world.

DISCLAIMER: Sorry, but I don't have any references near me, so the previous account is accurate only so much as I can remember. For that reason, I ask that you don't use it to settle any disputes or write any thesi, but feel free to use it anecdotally or for a general understanding of how the battle played out. I'll soon check my references and update any errors, embellish the interesting parts, and maybe drop a few more names. ~PCJ