Civil War Wiki
Battle of Scary Creek
Part of the American Civil War
Date July 17, 1861 (1861-07-17)
Location Mouth of Scary Creek, Putnam County, West Virginia
Result Confederate victory
United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America
Jacob Dolson Cox
John W. Lowe
Henry A. Wise
George S. Patton Sr.
Albert G. Jenkins
1,000+ (est.) 800
Casualties and losses
14 killed, 30 wounded, 7 captured 4 killed, 6 wounded

The Battle of Scary Creek was a minor battle fought during the American Civil War across the Kanawha River from present day Nitro in Putnam County, West Virginia on July 17, 1861.


The battle occurred four months after the beginning of the war and days before the first major battle at Manassas (Bull Run). Union forces under General Jacob Cox began a push up the Kanawha Valley from Ohio.

Confederate General Henry A. Wise commanded a few thousand troops stationed near present day St. Albans, WV.


The battle occurred when Colonel John W. Lowe and several Union regiments advanced toward the Confederate camp. Captain George S. Patton, the grandfather of the famous George S. Patton of World War II, commanded the Confederate line behind Scary Creek, several miles from the main Confederate camp. A heated firefight took place in which Captain Patton was wounded, with Captain Albert Gallatin Jenkins taking command. After several Union attempts to charge across the bridge near the mouth of the creek were repulsed, the Federal forces withdrew.

Post-Battle Confusion[]

After the Federal forces began falling back, for some reason, the Confederates thought that fresh Union reinforcements were arriving and the result was a retreat by both sides. The Confederates realized their mistake, however, and returned to the battlefield to claim victory.


Despite tactical victory, General Wise, in a highly criticized move, decided to withdraw back up the Kanawha Valley toward the Confederate supply bases in Fayette and Greenbrier Counties. Thus, the victory was hollow for the South. Wise's retreat resulted in most of the Kanawha Valley falling into Union hands.

Casualties were rather light considering the ferocity of the battle. The Union lost 14 killed, approximately 30 wounded, and several missing. The Confederates lost between 1-5 killed, and a half a dozen wounded, including Captain Patton.


  • Lowry, Terry. The Battle of Scary Creek: Military Operations in the Kanawha Valley, April-July 1861. Quarrier Press; 2 edition (April 1998).