Author Archive

Pvt. Benjamin Fettro, a Union soldier from Clarksburg, may be the occupant of this grave, marked as the final resting place of a Confederate soldier with the same regiment and a somewhat similar name.

Pvt. Benjamin Fettro, a Union soldier from Clarksburg, may be the occupant of this grave, marked as the final resting place of a Confederate soldier with the same regiment and a somewhat similar name.

by Rick Steelhammer, The Charleston Gazette

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Towering over rows of neatly arranged headstones at Columbus Confederate Cemetery, a tarnished bronze statue of a Southern soldier stands watch atop a granite archway on which the word “Americans” has been engraved.

An inscription on a round, three-foot-high boulder at the base of the arch informs visitors that 2,260 Confederate Soldiers, most of them prisoners of war who died of diseases that swept through Columbus’s Camp Chase, located adjacent to the cemetery during the Civil War, are buried within the grounds.

But according to a Columbus man who has been researching biographies of the cemetery’s occupants, at least seven of the graves may actually contain the remains of Union soldiers — including Pvt. Benjamin F. Fettro, of Clarksburg, and Pvt. John E. Clark, of Morgantown, — who were mistakenly interred with their former foes.

Click here to read the entire article from The Charleston Gazette…

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shepsign_nov2014On Sunday afternoon, November 16, a sign was erected and dedicated to commemorate the purchase and preservation of two properties totaling 2.2 acres on the site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown. The properties are contiguous to the historic Cement Mill property which was saved and preserved in 2011.

In late 2011, the Civil War Trust (CWT) purchased 18 acres of the Cement Mill property and in late 2013, another small parcel, contiguous to the Cement Mill property, was purchased. Early this year the CWT purchased another property contiguous to the Cement Mill property. All the properties were deeded to the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC). Ultimately, the HLC intends to donate the parcels to the National Park Service (NPS). A conservation easement has been placed on the properties and they have been included in the National Register of Historic Places.

The total cost of all the land purchases was $536,000. The funds to complete the recent purchases came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund administered by the NPS, Save Historic Antietam Foundation Inc., and the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. Importantly, all the properties purchased by the CWT are contiguous to 59 acres already saved through the use of conservation easements. In total, 104 acres of the core of site of the Battle of Shepherdstown have been saved and preserved.

This effort has been the result of the work of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc (SBPA) and its individual members. SBPA is a non-profit corporation, organized in 2004 dedicated to saving and preserving the core of the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown. Almost $1.2 million has been raised through grants and membership contributions during the last ten years.

If you would like to help save more of the battlefield and learn more about SBPA, please go to: www.battleofshepherdstown.org.

 

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Sep
24

The Coal River Valley in the Civil War

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coalriverbookThe History Press publishing company has released a new title, The Coal River Valley in the Civil War by Michael B. Graham.

About the book

The three rivers that make up the Coal River Valley—Big, Little and Coal—were named by explorer John Peter Salling (or Salley) for the coal deposits found along its banks. More than one hundred years later, the picturesque valley was witness to a multitude of bloody skirmishes between Confederate and Union forces in the Civil War. Often-overlooked battles at Boone Court House, Coal River, Pond Fork and Kanawha Gap introduced the beginning of “total war” tactics years before General Sherman used them in his March to the Sea. Join author and historian Michael Graham as he expertly details the compelling human drama of West Virginia’s bitterly contested Coal River Valley region during the War Between the States.

About the author

Michael B. Graham, PhD, is adjunct professor of history, security and global studies at American Military University, Charles Town, West Virginia. He is senior vice-president for management and chief financial officer at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C. He graduated from the Air War College and attended the Naval War College and Marine Corps Command and General Staff College, the Foreign Service Institute, Management Concepts Institute, USDA Graduate School and the Academy for Conflict Management and Peacebuilding. He has written or contributed to many books, including Liberating a Continent: The European Theater (Vol. 1) and Fall of the Rising Sun: The Pacific Theater (Vol. 2) in The Faces of Victory: The United States in World War II (Addax Publishing, 1995). He authored Mantle of Heroism: Tarawa and the Struggle for the Gilberts, November 1943 (Presidio Press, 1993), the October 1993 Main Selection/Book of the Month of the Military Book Club.

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Sep
24

Incidents of Morgan’s Raid

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Brian Stuart Kesterson

Brian Stuart Kesterson

On Tuesday, September 2, 2014, Brian Stuart Kesterson presented “Incidents of Morgan’s Raid with an Account of Stovepipe Johnson’s Retreat through West Virginia” in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston.

Kesterson focused on the ill-fated 1863 raid of General John Hunt Morgan and Colonel Adam Rankin “Stovepipe” Johnson’s retreat through West Virginia. Several years ago, he traveled over roads and lanes that Col. Johnson and his 300 retreating Confederate cavalrymen traveled. The remoteness of the retreat route largely factored in the preservation of a substantial part of the route, according to Kesterson. “Some of these roads were little better than wagon paths and they have changed very little since the time of the Civil War. About 90% of Johnson’s original retreat route still exists, which is amazing to think about since he and his men retreated over eight counties in West Virginia and two counties in Virginia.”

A native of Wood County, Brian Kesterson received a bachelor’s degree from Marietta College and his teaching certification and master’s degree in education from Ohio Valley College. He currently is a history teacher at Parkersburg High School. He also is a member of the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, which has provided living history, boot camp programs for the school children of West Virginia and Ohio since 1990, and serves as chief musician/bugler for the general staff of the United States Volunteer Infantry.

Kesterson appeared in the in the movie The Patriot (2000) as a special abilities re-enactor for the Revolutionary War time period and has appeared in documentaries on Civil War and other historical topics. He is the author of The Last Survivor: The Memoirs of George William Watson, A Horse Soldier in the 12th Virginia Cavalry (1993); Campaigning with the 17th Virginia Cavalry Night Hawks at Monocacy (2005); Dear Sir . . . Dear Miss . . .: The Letters of Granville B. Mann, Company A, 30th Battalion Virginia Sharpshooters & Miss Lucinda Maria Virginia (Chandler) Mann (2007); and Incidents of Morgan’s Raid with an Account of Stovepipe Johnson’s Retreat through West Virginia (2013).

Click here to view the lecture on the West Virginia Archives and History Youtube channel…

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ArrowHeadandNPS

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Park Service News Release
National Park Service Seeks Public Comment on the Shepherdstown Battlefield Special Resource Study/Boundary Study/Environmental Assessment

WASHINGTON – Today, the National Park Service (NPS) released the Shepherdstown Battlefield Special Resource Study/Boundary Study/Environmental Assessment for public comment through October 3, 2014. The NPS will hold two public meetings during the comment period.

The NPS preferred alternative -Alternative 2A- proposes a boundary adjustment of Antietam National Battlefield to include the Shepherdstown battlefield. The special resource study determined that the battlefield does not meet NPS criteria to become its own stand-alone unit of the national park system.

During the public meetings the NPS planning team will explain the study outcomes, answer public questions and take public comments. Historian Thomas McGrath, author of Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign, September 19-20 1862, will present research on the events that occurred during the two-day Shepherdstown battle. McGrath served as an advisor to the NPS planning team, providing historical information and research.

The meetings are as follows:

Tuesday September 9, 5 to 8 p.m.
(with presentations at 5 and 6:30 p.m.)
Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center
5831 Dunker Church Road, Sharpsburg, Md.

Thursday, September 11, 5 to 8 p.m.
(with presentations at 5 and 6:30 p.m.)
Clarion Hotel & Conference Center
233 Lowe Drive, Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Congress directed the NPS to complete the special resource and boundary studies to evaluate the national significance of Shepherdstown battlefield and its suitability for inclusion in the national park system. The law specifically directs the NPS to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating Shepherdstown battlefield as a stand-alone unit of the NPS or adjusting the boundary of either Antietam National Battlefield or Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to include Shepherdstown battlefield. The special resource study evaluates Shepherdstown battlefield as a potential new stand-alone unit while the boundary study evaluates its potential addition to Antietam or Harpers Ferry.

The public comment period is open August 8 to October 3, 2014. The NPS invites the public to share thoughts on the alternatives, the proposed boundary and to identify concerns with the study. Comments will be accepted electronically at www.parkplanning.nps.gov/SHBA, orally or in writing at the public meetings and written comments can also be by mailed to:

Regional Director, National Capital Region
C/O Jordan Hoaglund-Planning
National Park Service, Denver Service Center
12795 West Alameda Parkway, PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287

Mailed comments must be postmarked by October 3, 2014, to receive consideration.
Before including a personal address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in a written comment, commenters should be aware that their entire comment-including their personal identifying information-may be made publicly available at any time. While anyone wishing to comment may ask the NPS in their comment to withhold their personal identifying information from public review, the NPS cannot guarantee it will be able to do so.

For more information visit parkplanning.nps.gov/SHBA.

Shepherdstown

For more information on the Shepherdstown Battlefield, visit Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association.

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cox_bio_coverCitizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era
New biography by the Ohio University Press

The wrenching events of the Civil War transformed not only the United States but also the men unexpectedly called on to lead their fellow citizens in this first modern example of total war. Jacob Dolson Cox, a former divinity student with no formal military training, was among those who rose to the challenge. In a conflict in which “political generals” often proved less than competent, Cox, the consummate citizen general, emerged as one of the best commanders in the Union army.

During his school days at Oberlin College, no one could have predicted that the intellectual, reserved, and bookish Cox possessed what he called in his writings the “military aptitude” to lead men effectively in war. His military career included helping secure West Virginia for the Union; jointly commanding the left wing of the Union army at the critical Battle of Antietam; breaking the Confederate supply line and thereby helping to precipitate the fall of Atlanta; and holding the defensive line at the Battle of Franklin, a Union victory that effectively ended the Confederate threat in the West.

At a time when there were few professional schools other than West Point, the self-made man was the standard for success; true to that mode, Cox fashioned himself into a Renaissance man. In each of his vocations and avocations—general, governor, cabinet secretary, university president, law school dean, railroad president, historian, and scientist—he was recognized as a leader. Cox’s greatest fame, however, came to him as the foremost participant historian of the Civil War. His accounts of the conflict are to this day cited by serious scholars and serve as a foundation for the interpretation of many aspects of the war.

Book Review: Civil War Books and Authors

About the Author: Eugene D. Schmiel is a retired U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer. He was an assistant professor of history at St. Francis University (PA) and has taught at Marymount, Shenandoah, and Penn State universities. He holds the Ph.D. degree from The Ohio State University and coauthored, with his wife Kathryn, a book on life in the Foreign Service.

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Aug
07

Help Save 13 acres at Harper’s Ferry

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save-harpers-ferry-headerHarpers Ferry is one of the most historic places in the United States.

In 1783, Thomas Jefferson stood in awe of its beauty. Abolitionist John Brown raided the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry in 1859, only to be captured by U.S. Marines led by Col. Robert E. Lee and Lt. J.E.B. Stuart.  In 1861, General Thomas J. Jackson occupied Harpers Ferry, then returned in 1862 as “Stonewall,” bringing about the largest mass surrender of U.S. troops of the Civil War.

Today, the Civil War Trust has the opportunity to save 13 acres at Harpers Ferry.  This tract—the site of the historic Allstadt’s Ordinary—played a pivotal role in John Brown’s raid and was at the heart of the battlefield in 1862.  Now, thanks to a phenomenal $19.41-to-$1 match, we can protect this crucial piece of American history and preserve it for future generations.

Click here to Help Save Harpers Ferry!

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Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, By S.C. Gwynne

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson,
By S.C. Gwynne

From the author of the prizewinning New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon comes a thrilling account of how Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson became a great and tragic American hero.

Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the Confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic Southern notion of the virtuous lost cause. Jackson is also considered, without argument, one of our country’s greatest military figures. His brilliance at the art of war tied Abraham Lincoln and the Union high command in knots and threatened the ultimate success of the Union armies. Jackson’s strategic innovations shattered the conventional wisdom of how war was waged; he was so far ahead of his time that his techniques would be studied generations into the future.

In April 1862 Jackson was merely another Confederate general in an army fighting what seemed to be a losing cause. By June he had engineered perhaps the greatest military campaign in American history and was one of the most famous men in the Western world. He had, moreover, given the Confederate cause what it had recently lacked — hope — and struck fear into the hearts of the Union.

Rebel Yell is written with the swiftly vivid narrative that is Gwynne’s hallmark and is rich with battle lore, biographical detail, and intense conflict between historical figures. Gwynne delves deep into Jackson’s private life, including the loss of his young beloved first wife and his regimented personal habits. Rebel Yell traces Jackson’s brilliant twenty-four-month career in the Civil War, the period that encompasses his rise from obscurity to fame and legend; his stunning effect on the course of the war itself; and his tragic death, which caused both North and South to grieve the loss of a remarkable American hero.

Online Book Reviews of Rebel Yell:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-kelly/new-stonewall-jackson-bio_b_5995644.html
http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/bookreview/rebel-yell-the-violence-passion-and-redemption-of-stonewall-jackson
http://www.huntingtonnews.net/98025
http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-rebel-yell-by-s-c-gwynne-1411764498
http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-prj-rebel-yell-stonewall-jackson-sc-gwynne-20140926-story.html#page=1
http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/book-review-rebel-yell/

Author Bio
S.C. Gwynne, author of Rebel Yell, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National BookCritics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as a journalist, including stints with Time as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and with Texas Monthly as executive editor. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. For more information please visit http://www.scgwynne.com.

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Gray Days in MorgantownGray Days in Morgantown, by Clyde Cale, Jr.

On April 27, 1863, Confederate raiders under the command of General William “Grumble” Jones came to Morgantown in search of supplies and livestock. The raiders were part of a larger force led by Jones and General John Imboden sent to western Virginia to destroy railroads and industrial facilities.

The story of the raid on Morgantown is told by Clyde Cale, Jr., in a new book, Gray Days in Morgantown, published by the Monongalia Historical Society.  Cale’s meticulous research uncovered many little known details of the raid. Among these seldom told stories is the fact that the raiders made a return visit to town after residents thought they had left, and surprised many who believed it was safe to bring their horses and cattle from their hiding places. This is a book that Civil War buffs and local historians will want to own.

The book is $25 by mail, posting and handling included.  Checks made payable to Monongalia Historical Society may be sent to Monongalia Historical Society, PO Box 127, Morgantown WV 26507.

For more information, contact Richard E. Walters, at 304-594-2290, or rewalters@comcast.net.

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On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, Robert Thompson will present “Wayne County: Slavery and the Civil War” in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Slavery in western Virginia was not as widespread as it was in the Tidewater and Piedmont regions of Virginia; however, it was an economic and political factor in the most western county, Wayne. While the number—143 slaves in the 1860 U.S. Census—was not large, it was a similar amount to that of the surrounding counties of Pike and Lawrence in Kentucky and Cabell and Logan in Virginia. Thompson will share the story of the Pauley family children and their return to slavery in 1850, after they were kidnapped from Ohio and sold to William Ratcliff of Wayne County. Later, Ratcliff, as a delegate of Wayne County, was instrumental in the statehood movement that formed West Virginia.

The second part of Thompson’s presentation will examine the life and career of Milton Jameson Ferguson, a local attorney with a flourishing practice, handling chancery and other property actions. When the Civil War erupted he became a colonel of the Confederate 16th Virginia Cavalry. This unit was formed primarily of men from Wayne County and the surrounding area. Slavery and the county political leaders produced a very complex and volatile situation as Virginia became engulfed in the Civil War and West Virginia was born.

Robert Thompson has researched Wayne County and its history nearly all his life. He is a product of Wayne High School and a 2010 graduate of Marshall University, the alma mater of Milton J. Ferguson. A lifelong Wayne Countian, he currently teaches social science at Wayne High School and is on the Wayne Town Council. He has authored 10 books on the history of Wayne County including Few Among the Mountains: Slavery in Wayne CountyFear No Man: The Life of Colonel Milton Jameson Ferguson; and his latest book, Badges & Bullets: Wayne County, WV Sheriffs 1842-1942.

On June 3, the library will close at 5:00 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m. for participants only. For additional information, call (304) 558-0230.

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