Camp Alleghany: “Of all the dreary and desolate places on earth. . . .”

Camp Alleghany Monongahela National Forest
Heaps of field-stone — the remains of chimneys erected in 1861 by soldiers building winter huts — bear mute testimony to melancholy history of Camp Alleghany.

From mid-July 1861 to the first week of April 1862, 1,500 Confederate soldiers lived in misery in a sprawling campsite on a remote mountaintop in western Virginia. Reports of the physical discomforts at Camp Alleghany — snow in August, frigid temperatures, rampant disease — have made the place legendary.

Camp Alleghany, Nov. 24, 1861.

It is snowing; the wind is blowing a hurricane; it is as cold as the North Pole; and of all the dreary and desolate places on earth, this is entitled to the palm. Yet, the boys are in spirits. Their loud halloo, jocund laughter, and occasionally the enlivening sound of the fiddle bravely throwing off Dixie to the echo of these hills, break on my ear above the flapping of tents and the whistling of the tempest.

anonymous, 12th Georgia

IMG_3721What We Will Do

From Staunton, we will trace the route of “The Monterey Line,” over which tons of supplies and thousands of men men moved to and from the defensive positions in the mountains blocking the advance of the Federals from Ohio. We will see Shenandoah Mountain, McDowell, Monterey, Camp Allaghany and Camp Bartow. The route uses the historic Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike and includes three battle sites (the Greenbrier River, October, 1861; Camp Alleghany, December 1861; McDowell, May 8, 1862). These are some of the more interesting, beautiful and ignored Civil War sites anywhere. Camp Alleghany is especially compelling. For half a dozen Confederate regiments in 1861-62, it served the same function as did Valley Forge for Colonial troops in the winter of 1777-78. The Southerners were tested and hardened under severe physical hardships that, in a sense, prepared them for rigors of service under Stonewall Jackson in the Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862. This is an unforgettable trip for the serious student of the Civil War.

Getting There

Staunton-Camp Alleghany