Little is known of an organization during the Civil War called the Virginia State Rangers. This organization apparently was the Confederacy's attempt to form a home guard unit for those with Southern sympathies. Randall Osborne and Jeffrey C. Weaver, however, do shed some light on the Rangers in their book called "The Virginia State Rangers and State Line".
According to Osborne and Weaver, this organization was authorized by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on March 27, 1862. The act authorized ten or more companies, but less than twenty. A total of nine companies were raised and commissioned by Governor Letcher on March 18, 1862.
Actually, some companies were already in operation, and Governor Letcher forwarded blank commissions to their leaders, which were completed by the guerrillas in case they were captured.
The Rangers primarily operated in what is now the state of West Virginia. Their fundamental mission was to operate in small detachments behind Federal lines to counter Federal scouting parties and foragers. Their area of operation was on the northern, western and northwestern frontier of the Old Dominion. When the Rangers were in proximity to regular Confederate units they were to subject themselves to the commanding officers of those units.
Company A of the Virginia State Rangers come to be known as the Moccasin Rangers. Peregrin Hays and George W. Silcott, of Arnoldsburg, Calhoun County, W.Va., organized the Moccasin Rangers as a home guard unit. When Captain Perry Connally took command of the Calhoun County Home Guards, he began calling them "The Guerrillas". The men disliked the name, and changed it to "The Moccasin Rangers".
The men from Clay County with Southern leanings who wanted to enlist with the Confederacy probably first joined the Moccasin Rangers since Calhoun County is immediately adjacent to Clay County.
The United States forces considered the Moccasin Rangers outlaws rather than soldiers and gave every indication that when captured they would be treated as such. One captured group was charged with being bushwhackers, horse thieves, robbing Union men, pressing Union men into the service etc.
Following is a list of known Clay County men who were members of the Moccasin Rangers. Anyone having further names they wish added to the list is urged to send them in to us. Herschel Shamblin
ADKINS, PETER - Co. G, 3rd VSL. Later served in Co. H, 19th VA Cav. Enl. Frankfort, 3/19/63 (also as Clay Co., 4/1/63). Dstd. Took oath of allegiance, Charleston, 5/23/65, age 21, 5' 7", fair comp., brown hair, gray eyes, farmer, res. of Nicholas Co., WV B. ca. 1844.
ADKINS, SILAS - Co. G, 3rd VSL. Later served in Co. H, 19th VA Cav. Enl. Frankfort, 3/19/63 (also Clay Co., 4/1/63).
BOGGS, WALTER - Co. G, 3rd VSL. Later served in Co. H, 19th VA Cav. Enl. Clay Co., WV. 4/1/63. Taken POW in Braxton Co., 12/9/64. Sent to Clarksburg, WV. 12/13/64, then to Wheeling, 12/16/64, age 18, 5' 7", fair comp., light hair and gray eyes, farmer, residing in Braxton Co., WV. Sent to Camp Chase 12/27/64, desired to take the oath of Allegiance. Took the oath, released, 5/15/65.
BOGGS, WILLIAM F. - Co. C., 2nd VSL. Enl. on ?. Taken POW on 6/15//63 in Clay Co. Sent to Camp Chase via Wheeling, WV. then age 25, 5' 8" 3/4", light comp., dark eyes, fair hair, res. of Clay Co. Transf. to Johnson's Island and took oath of allegiance on 10/9/63.
BUTLER, OLIVER MARION - Co. G, 3rd VSL. Later served in Co. H, 19th VA Cav. Res. of Clay Co., WV. Arrested and confined by 3/15/62, charged with being a thief and a bad man. Confined in Camp Chase Prison in Columbus, Ohio. Among group of 770 Confederate prisoners exchanged at Vicksburg, Miss. on 12/8/1862. Enl. Frankfort, WV. 3/19/63, but records do not show if he was present or not.
DORSON, RICHARD S. - Co. G, 3rd VSL. Later served in Co. H, 19th VA Cav. Enl. Frankfort, WV, 3/20/63 (Clay Co., WV.4/1/63).
MELLEHAN, JOHN P. - Co. G, 3rd VSL. Gave a statement 1/28/65, which listed him as age 20, a Res. of Braxton Co., WV. Says he was arrested 5/62 by Capt. O'Brien (VSL) with a guard of 5 or 6 men, taken to Bath Co., and assigned to Co. H. Later served in Co. H, 19th VA Cav. Enl. Clay Co., WV. 5/1/63. Dstd on the night of 4/28/64, escaping the vigliance of the pickets in the dark and walked 100 miles home. Taken POW in Clay Co., WV. 5/12/64, within 10 miles of his home. Held at Atheneum Prison, 6/10/64, age 19, 5' 8", light comp. brown hair and hazel eyes, farmer, res. of Clay Co., WV. Sent to Camp Chase 6/11/64, charged with being a bushwhacker and robber. Took the oath of allegiance, released 2/8/65. B. ca. 1845.
ROGERS, JAMES - Co. G, 3rd VSL. Later served in Co. H, 19th VA Cav. as Corp. B. ca. 1845. Enl. Frankfort, WV. 3/19/63 (Clay Co. WV. 4/1/63). Paroled at Charleston, WV. 5/9/65, age 20, 5' 9" fair com. dark hair and dark eyes.
SUMMERS, ANDREW J. - Co. G, 3rd VSL. Later served in Co. H, 19th VA Cav. as Corp. Enl. Clay Co., WV, 4/1/63.