American Civil War

October 11, 1811: State Founder Waitman Willey Born

Oct 11, 2019
State founder and Senator Waitman Willey negotiated a key compromise on slavery, known as the Willey Amendment, that allowed West Virginia to join the Union.
E-WV / The Humanities Council

State founder Waitman Willey was born near Farmington in Marion County on October 11, 1811. He opened his first law practice in Morgantown in 1833 and served as Monongalia County Court clerk for more than a decade.

Willey gained statewide attention for his “Liberty and Union” speech at the 1850-51 Virginia Constitutional Convention. At the start of the Civil War, he spoke passionately against secession and war. After Virginia seceded from the Union, Willey was elected to represent the loyal citizens of Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

August 21, 1861: Confederate Troops Cross Gauley River at Carnifex Ferry

Aug 21, 2019
United States Army Corps of Engineers / Library of Congress

On the night of August 21, 1861, more than 2,000 Confederate troops under General John B. Floyd crossed the Gauley River at Carnifex Ferry and entrenched at Keslers Cross Lanes in Nicholas County. Four days later, about 850 Union troops from the 7th Ohio Infantry, led by Colonel Erastus Tyler, advanced from Gauley Bridge and ended up three miles from Floyd’s camp at Keslers Cross Lanes. Tyler failed to scout the area properly or post sufficient pickets.

August 7, 1864: Battle of Moorefield Fought in Hardy County

Aug 7, 2019
Jedediah Hotchkiss / Library of Congress

On August 7, 1864, the Battle of Moorefield was fought in Hardy County. The Civil War skirmish occurred shortly after Confederate General John McCausland’s cavalry had burned the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in retaliation for a similar Union raid on Lexington, Virginia. The evening before the clash at Moorefield, McCausland and General Bradley Johnson had camped at nearby Old Fields. They ignored warnings from McNeill’s Rangers—a local Confederate guerrilla group—that their position had been exposed.

Detainees are seen outside tent shelters used to hold separated family members, Friday, June 22, in Fabens, Texas.
Matt York / AP Photo

U.S. immigration policies are very much in the spotlight recently with reports on conditions at some of the southern border detention camps and fresh concerns about children being held apart from their parents.

U.S. Department of State

On Monday, Americans will celebrate Memorial Day. The holiday came to represent the unofficial start to summer. But for many, the day also reminds us to take a few moments to stop and remember a loved one who fought and died for our country on the battlefield. The holiday is steeped in rich history dating back to the American Civil War.

May 14, 1910: Businessman W. D. Thurmond Dies in Fayette County

May 14, 2019

Businessman W. D. Thurmond died in Fayette County on May 14, 1910, at age 89. He was born in Virginia and came to Fayette County as a young man with his family in 1845.

During the Civil War, he served as a captain with Thurmond’s Rangers—a Confederate guerrilla force commanded by his brother Philip, who was killed in Putnam County in 1864. According to his family, W. D. Thurmond remained an “unreconstructed Rebel” the rest of his long life.

November 6, 1863: Battle of Droop Mountain

Nov 6, 2018
At first glance, the battle might not have seemed that significant because Echols’s forces managed to escape.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, General William Averell, General John Echols, Pocahontas County, Lewisburg, Civil War

On November 6, 1863, one of the most important Civil War battles in West Virginia occurred in Pocahontas County. In August of that year, Union General William W. Averell had launched a series of raids to disrupt the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad in southwestern Virginia.

Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, W.Va. played a pivitol role during the American Civil War.
Mark Frickett / Wikimedia Commons

Undergraduate students from any college or university in the United States can spend a semester immersing themselves in the study of the American Civil War here in West Virginia beginning next year.

October 29, 1861: General Lee Ends Three-Month Campaign

Oct 29, 2018
The rest of his Civil War career would rank Lee among the greatest generals in history. However, his first campaign was a total calamity.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Robert E. Lee, Traveler, Pocahontas County, Cheat Mountain

On October 29, 1861, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee departed present-day West Virginia, near the end of his ill-fated western Virginia campaign. The rest of his Civil War career would rank Lee among the greatest generals in history. However, his first campaign was a total calamity.

He had been dispatched to the region to regain territory for the Confederacy. His plans came to a head in September 1861 atop Cheat Mountain in Pocahontas County. Lee’s attack, though, fell apart. His troops made a hasty retreat, and he soon abandoned the effort.

October 16, 1859: John Brown Captures U.S. Armory

Oct 16, 2018
Harpers Ferry was the site of the US Armory, and played a vital role before and during the Civil War.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Harpers Ferry, John Brown, US Armory, Robert E. Lee, Civil War

On the night of October 16, 1859, a band of antislavery men under John Brown captured the U.S. armory at Harpers Ferry. Earlier in the year, Brown had settled into a western Maryland farmhouse, where he trained his 18-man army in military tactics. His goal was to seize weapons from the national armory at Harpers Ferry and arm slaves, who would then overthrow their masters.

McNeill’s Rangers destroyed property belonging to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

In the predawn hours of October 3, 1864, Confederate guerilla John “Hanse” McNeill led a raid near Mount Jackson, Virginia. After a quick exchange of fire with Union cavalry, McNeill collapsed from a gunshot wound. He would die five weeks later.

WV Regional and History Collection

General George S. Patton was killed during the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia, on September 25, 1864. In 1856, Patton, a Richmond lawyer, had moved to Charleston and founded the Kanawha Riflemen, a decidedly pro-Southern militia company.

September 24, 1830: General John Hunt Oley Born

Sep 24, 2018

General John Hunt Oley was born in upstate New York on September 24, 1830. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, he was one of six New York National Guardsmen sent to Western Virginia to drill troops at the request of Francis Pierpont, governor of the Reorganized Government of Virginia. That fall, he organized the pro-Union 8th Virginia Infantry, which would later become the 7th West Virginia Cavalry. By the end of the war, he’d rise in rank to brevet brigadier general.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On July 17, 1861, Confederates won one of their first victories of the Civil War at the Battle of Scary Creek in Putnam County. Union forces had been dispatched to dislodge Confederates, who had controlled the Kanawha Valley since the war began three months earlier. On July 17, about 1,300 Union troops under the direct command of Colonel John Lowe clashed at the mouth of Scary Creek with about 900 Confederates under Colonel George S. Patton of Charleston. Patton was the grandfather of General George S. Patton of World War II fame.

July 11, 1861: Union Victory at Rich Mountain

Jul 11, 2018
Rich Mountain Map
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On July 11, 1861, the Battle of Rich Mountain was fought in Randolph County. It was the climax of a successful Union campaign to seize control of Western Virginia early in the Civil War.

Confederate General Robert Garnett had established defensive positions at Laurel Hill and Rich Mountain. Suspecting an attack on Laurel Hill, Garnett placed only about a fourth of his men on Rich Mountain, under the command of Colonel John Pegram.

March 9, 1832: Politician George Latham Born in Prince William County

Mar 9, 2018
e-WV Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

George Latham was born on March 9, 1832, in Prince William County, Virginia, on what would later become the Bull Run Battlefield.

He moved to Taylor County in 1849 and taught in local schools while studying to become a lawyer. He opened his legal practice in Grafton in 1860.

When the Civil War began the next year, Latham transformed his law office into a military recruiting station for Northern troops. He formed Company B of the 2nd Virginia Infantry and detained them in Grafton long enough to vote against Virginia’s secession from the Union.

Storer College, Stephen Mather Training Center, Harpers Ferry
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This year marks 150 years since Storer College was established in Harpers Ferry. The school came out of the Civil War first as a place to teach former slaves how to read and write, and then by the 1930s, it had evolved into a four-year, higher education institution for African-Americans. But in 1955, it closed due to lack of funding. Still, the legacy of Storer College continues to be celebrated each year in the Eastern Panhandle.

Cannons on Bolivar Heights, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia and Tennessee are among the states receiving part of $7.2 million in grants to help identify, preserve and protect historic battlefields.

The announcement was made by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Wednesday.

Rich Mountain Map
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On July 11, 1861, the Battle of Rich Mountain was fought in Randolph County. It was the climax of a successful Union campaign to seize control of Western Virginia early in the Civil War.

Confederate General Robert Garnett had established defensive positions at Laurel Hill and Rich Mountain. Suspecting an attack on Laurel Hill, Garnett placed only about a fourth of his men on Rich Mountain, under the command of Colonel John Pegram.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This year marks the Centennial Celebration of the National Park Service – 100 years since the system was created. But 2016 is also special for another reason – it marks the release of a new quarter honoring one of West Virginia's best known National Parks.

Hundreds of people gathered in Harpers Ferry for the official launch of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program honoring Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Every year, dozens of people in Harpers Ferry go back in time. In the shops and at the national park, it's 1864 all over again. It's fun for locals and visitors to see how people in Victorian-era West Virginia celebrated Christmas. But it's also a reminder of how bittersweet it can be for people to try to find a bit of good cheer in the midst of a long and terrible war.

 

W.Va. Native Covers the New American Civil War

Oct 5, 2015
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear from a West Virginia native who usually covers civil wars in Africa about covering America’s civil war.  That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Wikimedia Commons

Two Civil War battlefields in Maryland are ringing bells to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender.
 
The Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg and the Monocacy National Battlefield near Frederick are ringing bells for four minutes Thursday starting at 3:15 p.m. The four minutes symbolize the four years of the war.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who set John Wilkes Booth’s leg after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, has been portrayed in a variety of media as an innocent victim who was wrongly accused for conspiring with Booth.