Crook-Averell Raid on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad

Virginia & Tennessee Railroad

Virginia & Tennessee Railroad

During the Civil War, Brigadier General George Crook commanded the Union Army of West Virginia, made up of three brigades from the Division of the Kanawha. When General Ulysses S. Grant launched his spring offensive of 1864, two Union armies marched towards Richmond, Virginia and a third moved into the Shenandoah Valley. General Crook’s troops were also involved in the offensive and march through the Appalachian Mountains into southwest Virginia. His objective was to destroy the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, working in conjunction with General William W. Averell.

General George Crook, about 1870

General George Crook

Brigadier General Albert G. Jenkins was in command of a few scattered Confederate units protecting the rail lines. This campaign is noteworthy for its extreme difficulty, the tenacity of its commanders, and the courage of the soldiers involved.

Cloyd’s Mountain (May 9, 1864) – Taking place in Pulaski County, General Crook’s three brigades, which included 6,100 men on a raid into southwestern Virginia, encountered a patchwork Confederate forces under Confederate Brigadier General Albert Jenkins at Cloyd’s Mountain. Fighting was furious and hand-to-hand. Casualties were heavy for the size of the forces engaged: Union 10%, Confederate 23%. Confederate General Jenkins was mortally wounded. Union General George Crook afterward joined forces with General William Averell, who had burned the New River Bridge, and the united column withdrew to Meadow Bluff after destroying several important railroad bridges. The Union victory resulted in estimated Union casualties of 688 and Confederate 538.

Cove Mountain (May 10, 1864) – Occurring in Wythe County, Brigadier General William Averell’s raiders encountered a brigade under Confederate General William “Grumble” Jones near Cove Mountain. After delaying the Union advance, the Confederates withdrew. The next day, Averell reached the New River Bridge on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, which he burned. The inconclusive battle resulted in an estimated 300 total casualties.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated May 2021.

Also See:

Campaigns of the Civil War

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National Park Service Battle Descriptions (no longer available online)
National Park Service Civil War