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John Hanson McNeill
Born (1815-06-12)June 12, 1815
Died November 10, 1864(1864-11-10) (aged 49)
Place of birth

near Moorefield, Virginia

now West Virginia
Place of death Harrisonburg, Virginia
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Years of service 1861-1864
Rank Confederate States of America Captain.png Captain
Commands held Company E of the 18th Virginia cavalry
Battles/wars American Civil War

John Hanson McNeill (June 12, 1815 – November 10, 1864) was a Confederate soldier who served as a Captain in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He led McNeill's Rangers, an independent irregular Confederate military company commissioned under the Partisan Ranger Act.

McNeill was born near Moorefield, Virginia (now West Virginia). He was the son of Strother and Amy Pugh McNeill.[1] In 1848, he moved himself, his wife, three sons and one daughter to Boone County, Missouri, where he operated a cattle business.[2]

In 1861, he formed and was named commander of a company in the Missouri State Guard, seeing action in Boonville, Carthage, Wilson's Creek, and Lexington. Although captured and imprisoned in St. Louis, he escaped on June 15, 1862, and made his way back to Virginia.

In Richmond, he obtained permission to form an independent unit in the western counties of West Virginia and Virginia in order to disrupt Union activities in the area. This was granted, and on September 5, 1862, McNeill became captain of Company E of the 18th Virginia Cavalry, more commonly known as McNeill's Rangers. Along with raids on railroads and wagon trains, he first proposed the operation that became the Jones-Imboden Raid.

His final action occurred on October 3, 1864, in which he led his unit in an attack on a detachment of the 8th Ohio Cavalry Regiment guarding a bridge at Meems Bottom near Mount Jackson, Virginia. Although it was a victory for his forces, he was severely wounded in the predawn raid. He was taken first to the Reverend Anders Rude home nearby, then moved to Hill's Hotel in Harrisonburg, Virginia (where the Massanutten Regional Library now stands). He died there on November 10, 1864.[3] He was first buried in Harrisonburg with full Military and Masonic honors. Several months later his Rangers returned his body to Hardy County for reinterment. He is buried in Olivet Cemetery in Moorefield, West Virginia, next to the Monument to Confederate Dead, surrounded by the graves of other Confederate soldiers.[4]

Command of the Rangers passed to his son Jesse Cunningham McNeill after his father's death.[5]


  • Simeon Miller Bright, "The McNeill Rangers: A Study in Confederate Guerrilla Warfare", Volume 12, Number 4 (July 1951), pp. 338–387
  • Roger U. Delauter, "McNeill's Rangers (Virginia Regimental Histories Series)", H.E. Howard, 2nd edition (December 1986), ISBN 0-930919-34-3
  • Neil Hunter Raiford, "The 4th North Carolina Cavalry in the Civil War", McFarland & Company, 2003, ISBN 0-7864-1468-5, page 5.

External links

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