Defending Rowlesburg and the bridges were 220 members of the 6th West Virginia Infantry, a Union regiment formed to guard the B&O line. The outnumbered but well dug-in federal troops, aided by a hillside cannon battery and small-arms fire from dozens of townspeople, fought off repeated Confederate advances on the town from noon until dark, eventually convincing Jones to call off his attack.
Jones turned his attention to Morgantown, where he seized a large number of cattle and horses on April 28.
Imboden, meanwhile, loaded up the supplies captured at Beverly and, on April 29, moved on to Buckhannon, recently abandoned by a Union garrison, where he seized more livestock. That same day, the force commanded by Jones spent an even busier day in Fairmont, where they captured a garrison of 400 federal troops, destroyed a 900-foot B&O bridge and burned the library of Francis H. Pierpont, governor of the pro-Union Restored Government of Virginia.
On April 30, Jones' men swept into Bridgeport, where they captured a company of Union troops, destroyed a train and demolished several bridges belonging to the Northern Virginia Railroad.
On May 2, Jones and Imboden linked up, and spent several days together in Weston, where they staged a parade through the town and the troops under their command played ball on the grounds of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.
The two generals planned a joint attack on Union forces occupying Clarksburg, but after hearing reports that they were vastly outnumbered and outgunned, decided to split up again and continue their raid.
While Imboden's force turned toward Summersville, Jones and his men headed west along the Staunton & Parkersburg Turnpike on May 6, destroying five railroad bridges and capturing 94 federal troops assigned to guard the rail route.
In Wheeling, where plans for a new state government were taking shape, news of the Jones-Imboden Raid sent the city into a panic. Martial law was declared and hundreds of militia troops were brought in to protect Wheeling from possible attack.
On May 9, Jones' raiders laid siege to the oilfields along the Little Kanawha River just south of Parkersburg. Wells and storage tanks were torched, destroying an estimated 150,000 barrels of oil in the Burning Springs area.
"By dark the oil from the tanks on the burning creek reached the river, and the whole stream became a sheet of fire," Jones wrote in a report to Lee. "A burning river, carrying destruction to our merciless enemy, was a scene of magnificence that might well carry joy to every patriotic heart."
On May 12, Imboden's force captured the rear guard of a Union force abandoning Summersville, and seized 23 federal prisoners and 28 wagons loaded with supplies. Jones rejoined Imboden that night, and the two commanders decided they had accomplished all that they could with their weary troops. The following day, they headed East toward the relative safety of the Greenbrier Valley.
In all, the raiders spent a month behind enemy lines, traveling 300 miles and capturing nearly 700 prisoners. They destroyed 16 railroad bridges and two trains, damaged one tunnel, and captured 1,200 horses and 1,000 cattle, and severely damaged a large oilfield, while suffering casualties of 10 dead and 42 wounded.
The damage it produced was significant, but the raid marked the Confederates' last serious threat to the region.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.