If you were a reader of the Mount Vernon Democratic Banner in 1861, you could be excused for being a bit confused about what the 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the local boys in two of its companies were doing. The June 16 paper had conflicting reports, one saying they were engaged in a victory by Gen. George McClellan at Laurel Hill in West Virginia, the other describing McClellan’s action at nearby Rich Mountain (but not mentioning the 4th).
The first report, thrown into a column with a series of other short items, was this: “A private dispatch to Col. Stager of Cleveland, from Western Virginia July 12th, says Gen. McClellan gained a decided victory at Laurel Hill. He captured the enemy’s entire camp, guns, tents, wagons, etc. Many prisoners were taken, among whom were several officers. The enemy’s loss is severe — ours very small. No officers lost on our side. McClellan turned the enemy’s position.
“A dispatch was received from Geo. M. Fay on Saturday morning, which confirms the above.
“The Knox County boys were in the fight, but none of them were killed.”
That account mixed up events at Laurel Hill and Rich Mountain. On another page, there were longer accounts of the fighting in the mountains. One of them, also dated July 12, included this information: “A battle was fought yesterday afternoon at Rich Mountain, two miles east of this place where the enemy, numbering about 2,000, in command of Col. Pegram, were strongly entrenched.