United States Armies in the East

March – June 1862

The Mountain Department was created on March 11, 1862 from Department of Western Virginia. It consisted of the western and southwest part of the state of Virginia (much of which would soon become the State of West Virginia) and eastern Kentucky.

John Fremont had commanded the Western Department in Missouri in 1861. He was removed amid political and financial scandals and an emancipation policy that was at odds with Lincoln’s. But Fremont maintained considerable political clout, especially among the German community, and was given command of the Mountain Department as a result. Because of Fremont’s popularity with the German community Blenker’s mostly German division was transferred to the Mountain Department from the Army of the Potomac.

When the Mountain Department was merged into the Army of Virginia in June Fremont refused to serve under Pope and was relieved.

Major General John C. Fremont

Major General
John C. Fremont

Organization of the Mountain Department in 1862
March •  April • MayJune
Timeline of the Mountain Department in 1862
March 11 The Mountain Department was created under the command of Major General John C. Fremont. Brigadier General William Rosecrans took temporary command until Fremont could arrive.
March 29 Fremont arrived to take over command of the department.
May 8
Battle of McDowell

Jackson won a moderate victory against two brigades under Schenck before returning to the Shenandoah Valley.

June 8-9
Cross Keys

Fremont was loosely cooperating with Shield’s Division of the Department of the Rappahannock in an attempt to trap Jackson between the two forces. He attacked Jackson on the first day but was driven off. Tis allowed Jackson to withdraw across the Shenandoah River and concentrate on Shields the next day. Jackson was able to defeat Shields, not only escaping the trap but moving unhindered to the Richmond front while leaving the two Union forces behind in the Shenandoah.

June 26 Merged into Major General John Pope’s Army of Virginia.