— Jones-Imboden Raid —
(Preface): On April 20, 1863, Confederate Gens. William E. "Grumble" Jones and John D. Imboden began a raid from Virginia through present-day West Virginia against the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Taking separate routes, they later reported that they marched 1,100 miles, fought several engagements, captured 100 Federals, seized about 1,200 horses and 4,000 cattle, and burned 4 turnpike bridges, more than 20 railroad bridges, 2 trains, and 150,000 barrels of oil. Most bridges were soon repaired. Confederate losses were slight. By May 26, both commands had returned to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.
Confederate Gen. John D. Imboden and his cavalry men left Gen. William E. Jones at Buckhannon on May 6, 1863, and marched toward Summerville, where the two forces would reunite a week later. On May 12, Imboden, with Col. William L. "Mudwall" Jackson and his second-in-command struck here at Suttonville. Because of bad weather and muddy roads, Imboden's progress had been slow. "No incident of interest occurred on the march," he later reported, "until we reached Big Birch River, in Braxton, on the evening of the 12th. At Bulltown, Suttonville, and Big Birch the enemy had block-houses and intrenchments, and had destroyed at each place large amounts of stores laid in for the summer's campaign. I destroyed their quarters and block-houses at these several places."
The small Federal garrison had just evacuated the town. Imboden and his men rode on to Summersville the next day. Union troops soon reoccupied Suttonville.
"Phoebe Hefner ... came [to Suttonville] to get a doctor for her sister, Elizabeth, who was very ill with typhoid fever, ... but the post commander ... refused to allow the girl to return ... [until] the next day [when she found] her sister was dead. She was so incensed that she planned revenge and ... went to [Confederate Col. William L.] Jackson's camp and asked that a force of soldiers be sent to capture Sutton[ville]. During the night that she was held ... she had heard the roll call of soldiers, observed their strength and position and this information made the capture easy."
- Local tradition regarding Imboden's raid, Charleston Daily Mail
, March 27, 1938
The Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike was one of the better roads in a section of the state with difficult terrain and few roads of any kind. It was macadamized (hard-surfaced) in parts, and farmers used it to transport grain and timber to the gristmills and sawmills in Suttonville. During the war, both Union and Confederate forces considered the turnpike to be of strategic importance for moving men and supplies north and south. Suttonville's location on the turnpike guaranteed that the contending forces would occupy or march through the community several times. In the summer of 1861, Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans and his 10,000-man army camped here, the largest force that ever bivouacked in Suttonville or marched through central West Virginia. They left on September 7, 1861. Three days later the fought the Battle of Carnifex Ferry.