Copyright 2013. Summersville Convention & Visitors Bureau. All Rights Reserved.
CIVIL WAR HISTORY
Nestled on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon near
Summersville, Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is
an important Civil War battle site. On September 10,
1861 Union troops led by Brigadier General William S.
Rosecrans engaged the Confederates and forced
them to evacuate an entrenched position on the
Henry Patterson Farm which overlooked Carnifex
Ferry. The Confederate commander, Brigadier
General John B. Floyd, retreated across the ferry to
the south side of the Gauley River and on eastward
to Meadow Bluff near Lewisburg. This Civil War battle
represented the failure of a Confederate drive to
regain control of the Kanawha Valley. As a result,
the movement for West Virginia statehood proceeded
without serious threat from the Confederates.
During the Civil War, both Confederate and Union
armies were camping near Summersville.
Legend tells us that a young woman, Nancy Hart, joined the Moccasin Rangers, a Confederate guerrilla unit. She was an expert with rifles and served the Confederates well. Soon, a reward was offered for her capture and Lt. Colonel Starr, a leader in the Union forces, captured her and housed her in a make-shift jail in Summersville. The legend continues with the story of how Ms. Hart gained the trust of a guard and was able to grab his pistol, shooting him and escaping back to the Confederate line. She then led the Confederates into Summersville, burning many houses and buildings in the town. The Confederates took several prisoners, including Colonel Starr. At the end of the war, Ms. Hart married Joshua Douglas and they later made their home in Richwood. There is a marker on the courthouse lawn in Summersville commemorating the capture and escape of Nancy Hart.