August 28 1921: Armed Miners March on Blair Mountain

Aug 28, 2019

Map of Battle of Blair Mountain
Credit Heidi Perov / WV Humanities Council

August 28, 1921, was a pivotal day in the armed miners’ march on Logan County. The march by thousands of pro-union miners, which had begun in Kanawha County three days earlier, was a key event during the Mine Wars.

Union District 17 president Frank Keeney had caught up with the marchers at Madison and implored them to return home. To this day, nobody’s quite sure whether Keeney was secretly giving the miners a different message in private. Regardless, his words had a mixed effect. Some miners began to return home, while others pushed on.

But then, on August 28, when it looked like a violent conflict might be averted, news arrived that changed everything. The miners learned that deputies, under the overall command of despised Logan County Sheriff Don Chafin, had killed five pro-union men.

The news was a goad to any union supporter who might’ve considered turning back. The armed miners pushed on to the peak of Blair Mountain, where a pitched battle occurred. The miners finally laid down their arms during the first week of September, when 2,500 U.S. Army troops arrived on the scene.