This Day In History: The Union Defeats the South At the Battle of Corrick’s Ford

This day in history saw one of the first Union victories over the South. On July the 12th the , Union General George. McClellan won fame by defeating  a large southern force  under General Robert Garnett at Corrick’s Ford in Virginia. The victory gave the Union firm control of the region and secured for them the  east-west railroad connections. This battle was set in motion the events that would lead to the establishment of Western Virginia.

First Battle of Bull Run

A week before Corrick Ford, Union soldiers and cavalry had confronted a Confederate force at Rich Mountain. The Union had routed the Confederates. The defeat forced a larger confederate force to retreat to Laurel Hill. McClellan followed him and managed to force the Confederated under General Garnett to fight a pitched battle.

During the battle, the Confederate commander was killed and he was the first general officer to die on the battlefield.  The casualties from the battle was light, especially when compared to the later battles of Gettysburg or Shiloh. Mac Clellan was able to use his superior forces to good effect, but the death of the Confederate commander helped him to achieve victory. Many Confederates were captured at the battle or in the aftermath.

The Battle of Corrick’s Ford was important because it cleared the region of Confederates. It was therefore, significant but it was overshadowed by another and more famous battle, The Battle of Bull Run happened around, the same time. This resulted in a defeat for the Union. McClelllan was considered a hero in Washington. His achievements were real but they were greatly exaggerated. The Union government needed a hero and the made MacClellan into a national hero. The Battle of Corrick’s Ford was inflated into a great victory and the casualties inflicted on the south are greatly exaggerated.  but it is often overlooked, particularly because it was overshadowed by the Battle of Bull Run, After the battle, McClellan became commander of the Army of the Potomac, the primary Federal army in the main theatre of the civil war. Unfortunately the Union army and Abraham Lincoln, the small campaign that climaxed at Corrick’s Ford was the height  of  General McClellan’s military career. He was too cautious and he was reluctant to engage in pitched battles that would result in high casualties. However, his men admired the General as they knew he would not sacrifice their lives needlessly.

However, the battle was to result in Union control of the west of Virginia and this portion of territory eventually seceded from the rest of Virginia and eventually became a separate state. This is the case to this day. The state can be considered born out of MacClellan’s victory at Corrick’s Ford.