CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- David Hart's loyalty to the Union cause was put to the test swiftly and soundly 150 years ago Monday, when the 22-year-old civilian was asked to guide a force of nearly 2,000 troops from Indiana and Ohio up a narrow backwoods path and into battle at the summit of Rich Mountain.
The Union force, led by Brig. Gen. William S. Rosencrans, hoped to surprise a Confederate garrison controlling access to the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike at the point the toll road crossed the 3,000-foot peak. The pass is located a few miles east of Beverly, Hart's birthplace, and then the county seat of Randolph County.
The lofty roadblock manned by the Southern troops was located on the Hart family farm, to which the young man had intended to return following a visit with relatives before encountering Union troops on the road home.