Last Days of the War Civil War Symposium – Saturday June 6, 2015, 10:00 a.m.
The Davis Center, Potomac State College, Keyser, West Virginia.
As the days of the Southern Confederacy grew numbered, Rebel fighters scattered through the Potomac Highlands kept up their struggle against Union forces guarding the B&O Railroad. The symposium will focus on these often-overlooked military actions.
Welcome – Joe Gratto
Invocation – Pastor Sally Battling
National Anthem – Ellen McDaniel-Weissler
Living Historian – Gary Carter
Introduction of Speaker – Joe Gratto
Talk: Rick Wolfe – “The Kidnapping of Generals” (Crook & Kelley)
Civil War Songs – Ellen McDaniel-Weissler
Introduction of Speaker – Joe Gratto
Talk: Steve French – “Last Gasps of the Highland Rebels”
And more… including period music and local artifacts displays. Free & open to the public.
For more information, contact Steve French: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. at #1 Valley Park Drive, Hurricane WV 25526. The speaker will talk for approximately an hour followed by Q&A and light refreshments. Authors may be selling and signing books, and additional local titles will be available as well. The event will conclude at 9:00 p.m each night.
Monday March 23, 2015: Terry Lowry – “Blueprint for War: The Battle of Scary Creek”
Mr. Lowry is the author of The Battle of Scary Creek and three additional books on the Civil War in West Virginia. A professional musician, he served as the music editor for The Charleston Gazette and as the historian/curator for the Craik-Patton House. Since 2001, Mr. Lowry has been a historian at the West Virginia Archives.
Tuesday March 24, 2015: Wayne Motts – “Fighting the Civil War: Historical Treasures of the Conflict in the Collection of the National Civil War Museum”
Mr. Motts has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park for 27 years. He has worked in historical societies as a curator, artifact collections manager, and executive director. Since 2012, Mr. Motts has been the CEO of the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. He will be speaking on artifacts from that collection including Jackson’s gauntlet and Lee’s Bible.
Wednesday March 25, 2015: Steve Cunningham – “Loyalty They Always Had: The 7th West Virginia Cavalry in the U.S. Civil War”
Mr. Cunningham has been researching the 7th West Virginia Cavalry, including four of his ancestors, for more than 20 years. He also maintains a website on the unit and hosts events for their descendants. The owner of 35th Star Publishing, Mr. Cunningham is a past president of the Kanawha Valley Civil War Roundtable and co-author of Their Deeds Are Their Monuments: West Virginia at Gettysburg.
Thursday March 26, 2015: Greg Carroll – “Freedom or Slavery and the Kanawha Valley during the Civil War”
Mr. Greg Carroll worked as a historian with West Virginia Archives 23 years where he handled research inquiries the Civil War, Native American, and African American research as well as overseeing the West Virginia Union Civil War Medal Program. He serves on the boards of West Virginia Citizen Action Group, the West Virginia Environmental Council, and the West Virginia International Film Festival.
For more information, visit Putnam County Civil War Days…
When the West Virginia Bill was introduced into the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, statehood supporters soon discovered that passage was improbable without adequate provisions affecting slavery.
Since 1996, the Civil War Trust has sponsored Park Day, an annual hands-on preservation event to help Civil War — and now Revolutionary War — battlefields and historic sites take on maintenance projects large and small. Activities are chosen by each participating site to meet their own particular needs and can range from raking leaves and hauling trash to painting signs and trail buildings.
Consider volunteering at one of these West Virginia historic sites on Park Day, March 28, 2015: Shepherdstown Battlefield, Rich Mountain Battlefield, Droop Mountain Battlefield, Harper’s Ferry.
by Rick Steelhammer, for the Charleston Gazette
How do you motivate 300 battle-weary cavalrymen to voluntarily leave their encampment in the dead of winter, ride more than 75 miles across snow-covered mountains, and then attack an enemy garrison force more than three times larger?
Confederate Gen. Thomas L. Rosser faced just such a challenge 150 years ago this week at his brigade’s winter quarters near McDowell, Virginia, where food and warm clothing were in short supply following a successful Union sweep through the Shenandoah Valley the previous fall. Rosser began honing his leadership skills while a cadet at West Point, where his roommate was George Armstrong Custer, before dropping out two weeks before graduation, at the outset of the Civil War, to accept a commission in the Confederate Army, in which he rapidly advanced through the ranks. But on this occasion, hunger and discomfort likely trumped charisma in raising volunteers for the planned raid.
On Jan. 9, 1865, Rosser and 300 volunteers drawn from 9 Virginia regiments rode westward on the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike toward the Union supply depot at Beverly, guarded by two regiments of Ohioans — a force totaling nearly 1,100 troops. After spending the first night in a church and a scattering of houses atop Allegheny Mountain, Rosser’s force rode on, crossing the Greenbrier River and Cheat Mountain, where rain changed to snow, causing the Confederates’ overcoats to freeze solid and “rattle like boards,” according to Thomas J. Arnold’s “A Battle Fought in the Streets: Rosser’s Beverly Raid of 1865.”
As the Confederates approached Beverly at the end of the second day of their trek, they stopped at the family home of one of Rosser’s volunteers to rest and gather information about the Union garrison, including the fact that the federal officers had spent much of the night at a dance in Beverly’s Leonard Hotel and should be fast asleep at the time of the raid, planned to take place just before dawn. The enlisted troops, Rosser was told, were housed in a series of log huts, and were also expected to be sleeping through the subfreezing night.
When the attack began on Jan.11, 1865, the federal troops were taken completely by surprise.
“The Federals, such as were not captured, retreated, fighting through the streets of Beverly and across the bridge on the road to Buckhannon,” Arnold wrote. After about 30 minutes of fighting, 6 Union troops were dead, 23 were wounded and nearly 800 were captured. About 150 Union troops managed to escape to safety in Buckhannon. Confederate losses were one dead and several more wounded. The Confederates helped themselves to nearly 10,000 rations from the Union supply depot, along with 600 rifles and 100 horses.
By the time the Confederate raiders returned to Staunton, about 250 of their prisoners had escaped, including the garrison’s commander, Lt. Col. Robert Youart, who was later relieved of duty for his role in the debacle.
After learning of Rosser’s success, Union Army Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan wrote that he had advised Gen. George C. Crook, commander of federal forces in West Virginia, “some time ago to break up the post at Beverly; it is of no use, and is bait for the enemy, both from position and gross carelessness, and want of discipline on the part of the troops.”
The raid was the last significant action to take place in Randolph County during the Civil War.
Despite leading his cavalry against his former college roommate’s cavalry force on several occasions during the war, Rosser and Custer remained friends. In June 1864, Rosser captured Custer’s entire supply train, including the flamboyant general’s personal wardrobe, during the Battle of Trevilian Station. Custer returned the favor a few months later during the Battle of Tom’s Brook, when Rosser’s supply train, including his personal wardrobe, was seized by his classmate’s troops.
“Please accept my good wishes and this little gift — a pair of your draws (sic) captured at Trevilian Station,” Rosser wrote his friend.
“Thanks for setting me up in so many new things,” Custer replied after capturing Rosser’s headquarters wagon. “But would you please tell your tailor to make the coat tails of your next uniform a trifle shorter?”
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.
On 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.
The 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.
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).