4th Regiment West Virginia Volunteer Infantry (1861 - 1865)

Also Known As: Fourth Regiment West Virginia Volunteer Infantry

Updated: July 18, 2011

In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units.

In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.

Ohioans served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. In July 1861, the 4th Regiment West Virginia Volunteer Infantry mustered into service at Point Pleasant, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). The regiment is also sometimes referred to as the 4th Regiment Virginia Infantry. Six companies of the 4th consisted exclusively of Ohioans, and numerous state residents also served in the regiment's other four companies. The Ohio recruits principally came from Meigs, Gallia, Lawrence, and Athens Counties, Ohio. The men in the regiment were to serve three years.

On August 22, 1861, the 4th departed Point Pleasant and began a march up the Kanawha Valley, eventually joining William S. Rosecrans's command. In November 1861, officials detached the regiment from Rosecrans's force, and the 4th went into camp at Ceredo, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). During the winter of 1861-1862, the regiment conducted an expedition with other Union soldiers to Louisa Court House in eastern Kentucky.

On April 3, 1862, the 4th again advanced through the Kanawha Valley, spending the late spring and summer protecting transportation systems and the loyal civilian population from Confederate attack. In early September 1862, the regiment engaged Southern forces at the Battles of Fayette Court House (September 4, 1862), Gauley Bridge (September 8, 1862), and Charleston (September 13, 1862). Following the Battle of Charleston, the regiment and other Union soldiers in the Kanawha Valley retreated to Point Pleasant, where reinforcements from Cumberland Gap bolstered the Northern force. The Union soldiers advanced up the valley, skirmishing with Confederates at Pocotaligo. After this engagement, the Southerners withdrew from the Kanawha Valley, and the 4th went into camp at Fayetteville.

On December 20, 1862, the 4th left Fayetteville for Camp Piatt on the Ohio River. There, the regiment boarded transports and sailed to the vicinity of Vicksburg, Mississippi, arriving on February 2, 1863. In Mississippi, the 4th joined the 2nd Division, 15th Army Corps. On April 5, 1863, the regiment participated in Union General William T. Sherman's unsuccessful assault on Haines's Bluff. The 4th then encamped at Young's Point, Mississippi until April 12, 1863, when the organization moved to Grand Gulf, Mississippi. The regiment next marched to the outskirts of Vicksburg, arriving on May 18, 1863. The next day, the 4th participated in an assault on Confederate entrenchments around Vicksburg, with the regiment having 192 men killed or wounded out of four hundred men available for active duty. On May 22, the organization again attacked the Confederate line, having thirty-one soldiers killed or wounded. The 4th remained on the frontlines for the remainder of the Siege of Vicksburg, which ended with the Confederate soldiers' surrender on July 4, 1863. The 4th's commanding officer issued the following report during the Vicksburg Campaign:

HDQRS FOURTH WEST VIRGINIA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, Camp opposite Vicksburg, Miss., March 29, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to submit a report of the part performed by my regiment in the late expedition to Rolling Fork, pursuant to orders from brigade headquarters.

On the morning of the 17th instant, I marched to Young's Point, embarked on the transport Silver Moon, and proceeded to Eagle Bend. Disembarked on the morning of the 19th, and bivouacked on Senator Gwin's plantation.

On the 20th, received orders to clean out Muddy Bayou.

On the 22d, was ordered to send forward nine companies of my regiment, under command of Lieut. Col. J. H. Dayton, which I did, keeping one company to prosecute the work assigned, near Muddy Bayou. Lieut. Col. J. H. Dayton proceeded, with his command, to the head of Black Bayou; disembarked at Hill's plantation.

On the 23d, proceeded up the left-hand fork of Deer Creek, meeting the infantry and gunboats some 5 miles above Hill's plantation.

On the 24th, in connection with Col. Parry, of the Forty-seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was ordered forward with the remainder of my command, and rejoined the expedition at Hill's plantation on the morning of the 25th.

On the 26th, at 12 m., embarked on the gunboats Louisville and Pittsburgh, and arrived at Young's Point on the evening of the 27th.

No casualties to report, excepting my assistant surgeon, who was severely injured by a limb falling on his head, wounding him severely and injuring him otherwise.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. J. LIGHTBURN,

Col. Comdg. Fourth Regt. West Virginia Volunteer Infantry.

Capt. G. LOFLANDD,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

On July 4, 1863, officials ordered the 4th to Jackson, Mississippi in pursuit of Joseph E. Johnston's Confederate army. Moving in conjunction with other forces under General William T. Sherman's command, the regiment skirmished with the Southerners from Big Black River Bridge to Jackson. The organization also participated in the Union's successful ten-day siege of Jackson. Following Jackson's capture, the 4th returned to Vicksburg and encamped for two months at Camp Sherman.

On September 27, 1863, the 4th moved with Sherman's command to Memphis, Tennessee. On October 28, 1863, the men departed Memphis for Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Confederate forces were laying siege to the Union's Army of the Cumberland. While en route to Chattanooga, Southern cavalry under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked the Northerners at Bear Creek, Tennessee, with the 4th suffering heavy casualties.

The 4th arrived at Chattanooga on November 21, 1863. The regiment participated in Union assaults on Missionary Ridge on November 24, 1863 and the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863. The next day, the 4th joined in the Union pursuit of the retreating Confederate forces, engaging them at the Battle of Ringgold. After the Chattanooga Campaign, the 4th's commanding officer issued the following reports:

HDQRS. THIRTIETH REGT. OHIO VOLUNTEERS, In the Field, November 28, 1863.

SIR: By order of Gen. J. A. J. Lightburn, we left camp on the evening of the of the 23d November, and marched to the Tennessee River near the Caldwell house, and at about 3 a.m. we crossed the river on pontoon boats, swimming our horses alongside holding their heads to the boats out of water, and, as it was icy cold, and they were forced to remain in it for near thirty minutes, they were so chilled and stiffened that they could scarcely ascend the bank to get out. After landing took position on a beautifully rounded elevation near the river, just south of the mouth of Chickamauga River, and intrenched it. At 2 p.m. started in line of battle for the hills known as Mission Ridge, under cover of a dense mist and fog of the river bottom, and met with no enemy on summit of first hill.

Were then ordered to the main hill immediately in front one we occupied and found the enemy advancing from the opposite side. As it was dark, misty, and foggy, and it not being desirous to bring on a battle so late in the day, we were ordered to hold and intrench the hill we occupied during the night, and worked to the end most of the night, making a fine work by daylight next morning, and one in which we felt perfectly safe, the Thirty-seventh Ohio being on our left flank and rear protecting it.

At about 9 a.m. November 25, Gen. Sherman visited us in position and gave verbal order to Gen. Lightburn to send an officer and 200 men to occupy Tunnel Hill, and I was ordered with six companies of the Thirtieth Ohio and two of the Fourth [West] Virginia, the latter under command of Capt. J. L. Mallernee, to execute the order.

The six companies of the Thirtieth Ohio were at once formed in line of battle just outside of our works, with the Fourth [West] Virginia companies in reserve.

The Thirtieth was started immediately on double-quick, with orders to deploy as skirmishers forward, and to take the first work, the reserve to follow. Scarcely had we moved, when the enemy opened fire with their battery on reserve. As they were still closed and marching by company front they were immediately ordered to deploy also forward, but to be held well in hand, for use on either flank or center, as might be required.

In this order the first work was taken after a sharp fight lasting perhaps ten minutes; we captured a prisoner from a Texas regiment, and running over the captured work we continued on the crest of east end of Tunnel Hill, closing in around it on three sides.

We here found the enemy well posted and protected by good works, and as they commanded us entirely on both flanks, they were closed in upon the center where their fire was less deadly to us, although they shot down at us at an angle of about 40 degrees all day until the grand charge of the army was made in the evening.

We continued to keep up a galling fire upon them from our position, about 50 yards from their works, and kept ourselves busy keeping down their skirmish fire. Owing to the rapidity of our movement and to deployment of line and reserve, as soon as formed outside of our work, and after becoming at home against the spur of east end of Tunnel Hill, our casualties were few.

Two dashes were made upon their work in full force at intervals during the day, only to find force in our front still heavier each charge. We were relieved by First Brigade of our division at dusk after battle, and bivouacked for the night on the intrenched hill we had left in the morning.

On the morning of the 26th were ordered to march for Chickamauga Station with three days' rations at 12 m.

Our regimental loss on the 25th was 7 killed and 32 wounded; of the Fourth [West] Virginia companies 7 wounded-in all 7 killed and 39 wounded.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. H. HILDT,

Lieut. Col. Thirtieth Ohio Volunteers, Comdg. Detachment.

Lieut. J. C. HILL,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Div., 15th Army Corps.

The 4th Regiment next advanced to Knoxville, Tennessee to assist a besieged Northern force at that location. Before reaching Knoxville, officials ordered the 4th into western North Carolina. On December 1, 1863, the regiment received orders to march to Larkinsville, Alabama, where the 4th arrived on December 16, 1863.

On February 3, 1864, many of the 4th's soldiers reenlisted. The regiment received a furlough to their homes, departing for Wheeling, West Virginia on March 15, 1864. At the furlough's conclusion, on May 3, 1864, the 4th departed Gallipolis, Ohio for Cedar Creek, West Virginia, where the regiment joined General David Hunter's command. Hunter's force advanced to Piedmont, Virginia, where the Battle of Piedmont occurred on June 5, 1864. At this engagement, the 4th had approximately thirty men killed or wounded. On June 6, 1864, Hunter's army began a raid to Lynchburg, Virginia. Confederates defeated the Northerners at the Battle of Lynchburg, prompting the Union soldiers to retreat to Charleston, West Virginia, where they arrived on July 3, 1864. The 4th then advanced, via Parkersburg, West Virginia and Hancock, Maryland, to Snicker's Ferry on the Potomac River.

On July 18, 1864, the 4th intercepted a portion of Confederate General Jubal Early's command, which was advancing towards Washington, DC. In the ensuing engagement, the 4th had one-third of its men killed or wounded. On July 24, 1864, the Battle of Winchester, Virginia occurred, with the Confederates soundly defeating the Union force, including the 4th Regiment. The Northerners retreated into Maryland. The 4th next engaged Early's men at the Battle of Opequon Creek on September 19, 1864. After this Union victory, the Confederates retreated to Cedar Creek, Virginia, where the Battle of Cedar Creek occurred on October 19, 1864. Following this victory, the 4th moved to Stephenson's Depot until late in December 1864. The regiment eventually traveled to Cumberland, Maryland and then to New Creek, West Virginia, where the organization remained until late May 1865.

In late June 1865, officials ordered the 4th Regiment to Wheeling, West Virginia, where its members mustered out of service. During the regiment's term of service, eighty-three men, including three officers, died on the battlefield, and 158 additional men, including two officers, died from disease or accidents.

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MLA Style

"4th Regiment West Virginia Volunteer Infantry," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 17 Oct 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=700>

APA Style

"4th Regiment West Virginia Volunteer Infantry." (2019) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved October 17, 2019, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=700

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