Archive for December, 2012
by Rick Steelhammer, for the Charleston Gazette
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For some Civil War soldiers, the motivation for enlisting had as much to do with satisfying a sense of adventure and helping to shape history as it did with patriotism and regional pride.
Such was the case with Private Harry Fitzallen, who went to extraordinary lengths to join the 23rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry and serve in two other Union Army regiments before his military career hit a series of serious snags, including his arrest in Charleston 150 years ago today.
Fitzallen, as it turned out, was really a 19-year old woman named Marian McKenzie, a native of Scotland, and a former acting student.
The Cool Spring, Virginia, battlefield is one of five that the Civil War Trust is endeavoring to save during a year end campaign that includes an incredible $109 to $1 match! The campaign seeks to preserve 1150 acres of the battlefield where George Crook’s Army of West Virginia fought. West Virginia units at the battle included the 1st, 11th, 12th, and 15th West Virginia Infantries, as well as the 1st West Virginia Light Artillery Battery E.
To learn more about the campaign and to donate, visit: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/yearend2012/a-message-from-jim-lighthizer.html
For more info on the Battle of Cool Springs, click here….
On November 13, 2012, Dr. Kenneth R. Bailey presented ‘“Scratch ‘em and Sue ‘em’: Post Civil War Legal Issues” at the Tuesday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston.
Civil War legal issues consumed much of West Virginia’s court system for several years following the war. Using a PowerPoint program, Bailey discussed legal cases at the Supreme Court dealing with Reconstruction Era issues of voting, false arrest, belligerent rights, acts of Confederate county officers, the value of Confederate money, etc., from the end of the war until rights were restored to former rebels. Former Confederates were “scratched” from the voting rolls and sued for alleged wrongs on civilians during the war. Pictures of individuals and documents were used to illustrate topics covered.
Dr. Bailey is a graduate of West Virginia Institute of Technology (now WVU Tech), Marshall University, and The Ohio State University, from which he received a Ph.D. in 1976. He is retired Dean of the College of Business, Humanities and Sciences and Emeritus Professor of History and Geography at WVU Tech. Bailey is the author of Kanawha County Public Library: A History (2004), Alleged Evil Genius: The Life and Times of Judge James H. Ferguson (2006), Raising the Bar: A History of the West Virginia Bar Association (2007), and Mountaineers are Free: A History of the West Virginia National Guard (1979, revised and expanded 2008).
On October 11, 2012, Greg Carroll presented “Applying for a West Virginia Civil War Medal” at the Thursday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston.
The Civil War medals were authorized by the state legislature in 1866 as “tokens of respect” for Union veterans of West Virginia military units. Many were unclaimed, however, and eventually were turned over to Archives and History, which began a program to distribute remaining medals to descendants who file a properly documented line of descent from the veteran to themselves.
Greg Carroll is a graduate of Marshall University and recently retired as a staff historian at West Virginia Archives and History, where he worked for 23 years. He had been working with the Civil War medal claims for about two decades.
For more on the West Virginia Civil War Medals, click here….