Objective Denied...

General Echols conducted the retreating Confederate column over the four miles of narrow road on Droop Mountain, while Colonels Jackson and Ferguson defended the rear against the continuing Federal cavalry attacks. Colonel Patton returned to the rear in a futile attempt to rally the men and restore order. Unnerved by the ordeal of battle and the Federal cavalry and artillery closely pursuing them, many Confederates dropped from the ranks to escape into the woods, most of whom rejoined the main body later. Unable to repair a broken-down carriage, the Confederates abandoned and partially concealed a brass cannon with brush, which was later recovered by the Federals.

At Frankford the Confederate commander allowed his troops two hours to eat and rest after the gruelling marches and fighting of the past two days. After the units were regrouped and order was restored, Echols continued the retreat southward through Lewisburg, crossed the Greenbrier River before dawn, and proceeded through Monroe County, from which many of his troops were enlisted. Echols led his troops as far south as Sinking Creek, in Giles County.

General Duffie entered Lewisburg about nine o'clock on the morning of November 7. Sending the Second West Virginia Cavalry to follow the Confederates closely, Duffie led his entire column in pursuit. Before he was stopped by a burned bridge, Duffie succeeded in capturing a few prisoners, along with over 100 cattle and two caissons. Duffie returned to Lewisburg where he destroyed large quantities of Confederate commissary and ordnance stores, tents and the knapsacks of the Twenty-Second Virginia. Averell entered Lewisburg that afternoon, and upon Duffie's arrival, ordered him to retutrn the following day to Union where the Confederates were thought to have made a stand. Learning that Echols ahd retreated farther south and that he had been reinforced by the Thirty-Sixth Virginia from Princeton, Duffie again returned to Lewisburg. Averell then ordered him to return to Charleston at which point Duffie arrived four days later after having been delayed by a heavy snow storm.

Determining the frive against the Virginia and Tennessee to be impractical because of a shortage of rations and the condition of his troops, Averell moved eastward with his cavalry, mounted infantry, and Ewing's battery. With the Twenty-Eighth, Keeper's battery, and the Tenth West Virginia, Colonel Moor was ordered to return to Beverly with the prisoners and wounded.

Moving through White Sulphur Springs to a point near Callaghan, some five miles west of Covington, Virginia, Averell contacted General Imboden who had moved down to protect the Covington area. Unwilling to commit his diminished and exhausted command to a general engagement against Imboden, Averell swung northward over the Back Creek Road to Franklin. Part of his troops moved through Hightown, while the Fourteenth entered Monterey. At Petersburg, Averell halted his command for rations and forage, and on November 17 he arrived at New Creek (Keysar) with 27 prisoners, some 150 captured horses and several hundred cattle.

Casualties at Droop Mountain included 119 Union and an estimated 275 Confederates killed, wounded, and missing. Reports in the Wheeling Intelligencer indicate that over 150 Confederates were brought from this campaign and confined in the Athenaeum, a Federal prison at Wheeling. This battle, in which brothers and neighbors fought under opposing flags, represented civil war in its truest and most tragic form. The heaviest fighting occurred on the left flank where former neighbors in the Tenth West Virginia and the Nineteenth Virginia met in the closest combat. While one bother fought against the Confederates on the left flank, another with teh Twenty-Second Virginia defended the right.

Although a qualified success for Averell, the Battle of Droop Mountain might be considered a tactical victory for the Confederates, for Echols survived the main thrust of the Federal offensive and rendered Averell's command unable to complete the raid on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, his primary objective. Moreover, Echols managed to escape the closing arms of the pincer movement with his forces in the main unimpaired.

To some degree responsible for the creation of the State of West Virginia, Lincoln referred to Averell's victory at Droop Mountain to boost the sagging morale off the Federals in Tennessee who had recently been defeated at Rogersville by General Sam Jones. According to the Federal commander, General Burnside, the Droop Mountain victory greatly encouraged his troops. Although the departmental commander in West Virginia, General Kelley, informed Washington that all organized bodies of Confederates had been driven from the State, the Confederates returned within ten days to their former posts. Soon General Jones was on hand to inspect Echols' command, but the Confederates were unable to stop Averell's drive the following month when he succeeded in disrupting the vital railroad.

Battle of Droop Mountain Links

The Best Laid Plans
Mill Point
Droop Mountain
Averell Attacks
Objective Denied