McNeill’s Raid: Remembering the Past with the Present
Written by Trevor Kesner, contributing writer
Blast from the past comes to Grace United Methodist Church with a presentation by local retired professor Jim Hoey (pictured third from the left) and Gary Clites. Professor Jim Hoey paints the picture of a man and his crew going through the familiar sights of the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. The presentation was given on behalf of the Mineral County Historical Society. The two speakers gave their presentation with much fervor. Their love of history and their research shined through with elaboration on important points and concise delivery. The presentation was content heavy, covering travel routes and giving in depth information for each important figure in history. Amidst this storm of information, the two presenters still found time to sprinkle in trivia. For instance, it was mentioned that future presidents McKinley and Hayes were present near Cumberland at the time of McNeill’s raid. Anyway, the most daring part of McNeill’s career was the primary focus.
Modern location on McNeill’s Raid in Cumberland (from Google Maps)
The rangers braved the Union front to capture Union Army Generals Crook and Kelly. As McNeill’s rangers were not officially considered a part of the Confederate Army. They were not respected as soldiers, so any treatment that prisoners of wars would get was not a luxury allowed to them. They would be killed if captured.
Jesse McNeill and his rangers were a partisan force during the Civil War. They were referred to as bushwackers, a term for one who enacts guerilla warfare or fights in a battle of attrition. Their primary goal was to disrupt Union activities on the east coast. This was presented to the audience through the use of a multi-media presentation. Maps of West Virginia were used in reference to locations where McNeill’s Rangers would have traveled through. The band of 63 men traveled through Frankfort Road to Old Furnace with Crook and Kelly in tow. More information can be read about McNeill’s Rangers here.
The event was packed with a precious information that people should not forget. The way the speakers went about it certainly resonated with the audience. The Mineral County Historical Society seeks to hold more events later on in the year. This event was free and the public can attend any special presentations that may be held in the future.
(Painting above by John Paul Strain)
(Jim Hoey picture by PSC Communications)