(1836 - 1927)
Brigadier-General John McCausland, one of the most conspicuous figures in the warfare in the valley of the Shenandoah and on the borders of Virginia, held important Confederate commands, and gained a national reputation as a brilliant leader and persistent fighter. He is the son of John McCausland, a native of county Tyrone, Ireland, who came to America when about twenty-one years of age, and first made his home at Lynchburg, with David Kyle, whose daughter Harriet he subsequently married. He became a prominent merchant and finally resided at St. Louis, where he rendered valuable service as commissioner of taxation. His son, John McCausland, was born at St. Louis, September 13, 1837, and in 1849 went with his brother to Point Pleasant, Mason county, where he received a preparatory education. He was graduated with first honors in the class of 1857 at the Virginia military institute, and subsequently acted as assistant professor in that institution until 1861.
Upon the secession of Virginia he organized the famous Rockbridge artillery, of which he was elected commander; but leaving Dr. Pendleton in charge of that company, he made his headquarters at Charleston, in the Kanawha valley, under commission from Governor Letcher, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, for the organization of troops in the military department of Western Virginia He gathered about 6,000 men for the commands of Generals Wise and Floyd, who subsequently operated in that region, and formed the Thirty-sixth regiment, Virginia infantry, of which he took command, with a commission as colonel. This regiment, made up of the best blood of the western Virginia counties, was distinguished under his leadership in the campaign of Floyd's brigade in West Virginia, and in the latter part of 1861 moved to Bowling Green, Ky., to unite with the army of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston.
At Fort Donelson, Colonel McCausland commanded a brigade of Floyd's division, and after bearing a conspicuous part in the gallant and really successful battle before the fort, brought away his Virginians before the surrender. After reorganizing at Nashville, he remained at Chattanooga with his command until after the battle of Shiloh, when he moved to Wytheville, Va. During 1862 and 1863 he was engaged in the campaigns in southwestern and western Virginia and the Shenandoah valley, under Generals Loring, Echols and Sam Jones, taking a conspicuous part in the battle at Charleston, September, 1862.
Early in May, 1864, he was ordered by Gen. A. G. Jenkins to move his brigade from Dublin to meet the Federal force advancing under General Crook from the Kanawha valley. He took position on Cloyd's farm, where he was reinforced by General Jenkins, and attacked by the enemy May 9th. After several hours' fighting, Jenkins was mortally wounded and the Confederate line was broken-by the superior strength of the enemy. Colonel McCausland assumed command and made a gallant fight, forming two new lines successively, and finally retired in good order, repulsing the attacks of the Federal cavalry, and carrying with him 200 prisoners. In this battle the Federals outnumbered the Confederates three to one. By his subsequent active movements, General McCausland delayed the contemplated juncture of Crook and Hunter and rendered the Federal movement upon Dublin a practical failure. He was immediately promoted brigadier-general and assigned to the command of Jenkins' cavalry brigade.
After the battle at Port Republic, June 5th, he stubbornly contested the advance of the Federals under Hunter and Crook, all the way to Lynchburg, his command of about 1,800 men being the only organized force in the front of the enemy. His tenacious contest saved the city, and in recognition of his services the citizens presented him an address of congratulation, accompanied by a handsome cavalry officer's outfit, horse, sword and spurs. Early arrived from Cold Harbor in time to relieve McCausland from the pressure of the Federal troops, and McCausland and his troopers were soon upon their heels, intercepting Hunter at Falling Rock, and capturing his artillery and wagon train.
Sweeping on down the valley, he was a conspicuous figure in the July raid through Maryland, levying $25,000 tribute from Hagerstown, winning a handsome cavalry fight at Frederick City, and made the first attack at the ford of the Monocacy across which Gordon moved to strike the Federal flank at the defeat of Wallace. Joining in the demonstration against Washington, D.C., the daring commander actually penetrated into the town of Georgetown, but was compelled to retire before the Federal reinforcements. He returned with Early's army to the Shenandoah valley, and soon afterward was ordered to make a raid upon Chambersburg, Pa., and destroy it in retaliation for the destruction which attended the operations of the Federals in the valley. This duty he faithfully performed.
In command of a brigade of Lomax's cavalry division he participated in the Valley campaign against Sheridan, and subsequently, attached to Rosser's division, fought before Petersburg, made a gallant struggle at the decisive battle of Five Forks, during the retreat was engaged in continuous fighting, and finally cutting his way through the Federal lines at Appomattox, brought a number of his men to Lynchburg, where he once more saved the city from rapine by repressing the efforts of the stragglers that infested the suburbs. A few days later he disbanded his men.
Returning home, to what was now West Virginia, he had difficulties with his Unionist neighbors. He soon went into exile and spent several years in Canada, Europe, and Mexico. He was formally charged with arson in Pennsylvania, but President Grant intervened on his behalf. He increasingly felt mistreated by his neighbors and the press, who he felt never presented his case properly, and became something of a recluse on his farm at Grimm's Landing until his death. He was next to the last Confederate general to die.