November 6, 2013, marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Droop Mountain. Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park Superintendent Michael Smith did a great job in organizing a wonderful ceremony to dedicate a new monument to the soldiers killed or died of wounds during the battle. Speakers included my good friends Terry Lowry, author of Last Sleep: The Battle of Droop Mountain, and Richard A. Wolfe, representing the West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. I had the honor of reading the names of the fallen soldiers of the West Virginia Mounted Infantry units.
For more information, visit www.droopmountainbattlefield.com.
Charleston Gazette Newspaper coverage of the event: http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201311090049
On November 5, 2013, author/historian Terry Lowry will give a presentation on the 1862 battle of Charleston and the Kanawha Valley Campaign at the Tuesday evening lecture 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.
In 1903 Sgt. Joseph A. Saunier, Co. F, 47th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a veteran of the battle of Charleston and the 1862 Kanawha Valley Campaign of the Civil War, wrote, “It is a curious fact that in all the military histories of the late war there is no mention made of one of the most masterly retreats that occurred during the rebellion, and that was the one that was conducted by Colonel Lightburn in the fall of ’62, from Gauley Bridge, West Va., thence to the Battle of Charleston, thence from Charleston to the Ohio River.” The battle of Charleston, fought September 13, 1862, between the Confederate forces of Gen. William W. Loring and the Federal army command of Col. Joseph A. J. Lightburn has long been neglected by historians.
Lowry’s presentation on the campaign will include details of the battles of Fayetteville, Cotton Hill, Montgomery’s Ferry, Charleston, and Buffalo, in addition to the Trans-Allegheny Raid of Gen. Albert G. Jenkins. He will detail the burning and mass evacuation of Charleston and provide insight into the various personalities involved, such as Col. Samuel A. Gilbert, father of Cass Gilbert, who designed the current West Virginia State Capitol, and Col. Edward Siber, who held off more than 5,000 Confederate soldiers with only two under-strength regiments of infantry, at Fayetteville. To compliment his presentation, Lowry will display a number of actual artifacts from the battle and campaign from his own personal collection, as well as of the State Archives collections, many never before seen by the public.
A native of South Charleston, Lowry received his BA in History in 1974 from West Virginia State College (now University) and studied Civil War History at Marshall University Graduate School. A professional musician for most of his life, he spent over twenty years as music critic at Charleston Newspapers, Inc., and one year with The Atlanta Journal. He published his first book, The Battle of Scary Creek; Military Operations in the Kanawha Valley, April-July 1861, in 1982. Other books have included September Blood: The Battle of Carnifex Ferry (1985); two volumes of the Virginia Regimental Histories Series, 22nd Virginia Infantry (1988) and 26th (Edgar’s) Battalion Virginia Infantry (1991); and Last Sleep: The Battle of Droop Mountain, November 6, 1863 (1996). In 2000 he co-authored with Stan Cohen, Images of the Civil War in West Virginia. Lowry’s most recent book is Bastard Battalion: A History of the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion in World War II (2009). His new book, The Battle of Charleston and the 1862 Kanawha Valley Campaign, is tentatively scheduled for an early 2014 release. Lowry currently is a historian with West Virginia Archives and History, where he has been employed since 2001.
On November 5, the library will close at 5 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m. for participants only. For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the lecture, but advance registration is not required to attend. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, by e-mail or at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.
One of the nation’s leading Abraham Lincoln scholars will deliver the 2013 McCreight Lecture in the Humanities at the state Culture Center in October. Harold Holzer will present “Emancipating West Virginia: Abe Lincoln Creates a State” at 7:30 p.m. on October 17. The annual McCreight Lecture is a program of the West Virginia Humanities Council and the public is invited to attend. Mr. Holzer’s lecture is one of many Civil War and Statehood Sesquicentennial programs delivered by the Humanities Council over the past four years.
Harold Holzer is Chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, official successor organization of the U.S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which he co-chaired for nine years, appointed by President Bill Clinton. In 2008 Holzer was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush. He recently served as script consultant for Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film,Lincoln.
Holzer is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 40 books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, most recently 1863: Lincoln’s Pivotal Year (2013), Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America(2012), the official young adult companion book for the Spielberg film, and The Civil War in 50 Objects, a volume that tells the story of the war through the collections of the New York Historical Society, for which he serves as the Roger Hertog Fellow.
On September 30, 2013, the Civil War Trust (CWT) closed on the purchase of a property on the site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown. The property is contiguous to the historic Cement Mill property. The property was purchased for $70,000 with funds supplied by the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service (NPS), the CWT and from a $10,000 donation by the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. (SBPA). The property is less than one acre but is strategically important as it is at the intersection of Trough and River Roads. Now, approximately 75 contiguous acres from the Potomac River south have been saved and preserved.
The CWT has remitted the title of the property to the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission (JCHLC). A small house on the property will be demolished and the JCHLC intends to merge the property into the Cement Mill tract and place it within the conservation easement recently placed on the Cement Mill property. Ultimately, the JCHLC intends to donate the entire property to the NPS.
The Cement Mill property was purchased for $375,000 by the JCHLC in 2011 with funds garnered by the SBPA, the CWT, Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Inc. and a final contribution from the office of West Virginia Governor Earl Tomblin. Approximately, 102 acres of the core of the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown have now been saved and preserved. SBPA continues in its effort of saving about 300 acres within the core of the battlefield site. Importantly, in 2010, the “Update to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields” concluded that the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown included approximately 2,500 acres in West Virginia. Approximately 265 of those acres have been saved.
Historians consider the Battle of Shepherdstown significant because it resulted in the preliminary issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. The battle persuaded Confederate General Robert E. Lee against further incursions into Maryland that year. Lee’s Maryland Campaign of 1862 met none of his goals and his defeat in Maryland and retreat after the Battle of Shepherdstown, importantly gave the Union Army a military victory that President Abraham Lincoln considered necessary for the release of the Emancipation Proclamation.
For further information contact:
Martin Burke – Chairman, Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission – (304) 876-3883
Edward Dunleavy – President, Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. (917) 747-5748
In 1939, Festus S. Summers wrote The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in the Civil War. Primarily a corporate history of the B&O during the war years, it has remained the only title on the subject for over seven decades! Now there is The War Came by Train.
Beginning with the B&O’s reaction to John Brown’s Raid in 1859 and ending with the demobilization of the Union Army in 1865, the author has written a highly detailed yet readable history of America’s most famous railroad during the Civil War. Daniel Carroll Toomey blends the overall strategy and political aims of that time period with the battles, raids, and daily operational challenges of a Civil War railroad. He introduces an array of little known personalities who worked for, attacked, defended or travelled on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He also shows in numerous instances how the railroad and the telegraph combined to conquer time and distance on the battlefield and ushered in the era of modern warfare with the introduction of armored railcars, hospital trains and large scale troop movements.
The hard bound book contains 304 pages, 100 illustrations, 4 maps, end notes, bibliography and index. An added bonus, Appendix A contains detailed information on every B&O locomotive cited in the text.
The book can be ordered online directly from the B&O Railroad Museum Store.
For more information on the B&O Railroad Museum, visit borail.org.
Ravenswood, July 19, 2013 – With no coastline and no ocean ports, West Virginia seems an unlikely locale for a battle involving the U.S. Navy.
But 150 years ago today, a few miles upstream from this Ohio River town, artillery fire from a pair of Navy gunboats in West Virginia waters played a key role in bringing an abrupt end to a daring Confederate cavalry raid that swept through Indiana and Ohio.
The year 1863 and West Virginia are featured at the B&O Railroad Museum’s exhibit “The War came By Train,” a five-year exhibition of railroad equipment and artifacts that changes annually during the sesquicentennial.
West Virginia’s statehood — June 20, 1863 — is due in large part to the operations of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad in what was western Virginia.
The B&O was involved in the Civil War from the beginning — the April 19, 1861, Baltimore Riot to April 21, 1865, when President Lincoln’s funeral train left from Baltimore for Springfield, Ill.
The exhibit is in the museum’s National Landmark Roundhouse. Many locomotives, including the largest collection of trains that actually saw service in the Civil War, are displayed.
For more information on the B&O Railroad Museum: Visit borail.org.
For further reading, we highly recommend The War Came by Train, by Daniel Carroll Toomey.
As part of the State of West Virginia’s sesquicentennial events, Joseph N. Geiger, Jr. will present a lecture on “A State of Convenience: The Creation of West Virginia” in the West Virginia Archives and History Library at the Culture Center in Charleston on Thursday, June 20, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Geiger will outline the major conventions and other events that shaped the creation of the new state from Virginia in the midst of the Civil War. He also will discuss the importance of the Civil War to the statehood movement and review the reasons why many questioned the legality of West Virginia’s formation.
Joe Geiger has been the director of West Virginia Archives and History since 2007. He is the author of Holding the Line: The Battle of Allegheny Mountain and Confederate Defense of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, 1861-62 (2012) and currently is working on a revised edition of his Civil War in Cabell County, West Virginia, 1861-1865 (1991). Geiger has taught West Virginia history at Marshall University since 1997.
For additional information, contact Bryan Ward, assistant director of Archives and History, at (304) 558-0230, ext 723, or Bryan.E.Ward@wv.gov.
As part of the State of West Virginia’s sesquicentennial events, Dr. Aaron Sheehan-Dean will present a lecture on “When Western Virginians Remained Loyal: West Virginia Statehood and the Union” in the West Virginia Archives and History Library at the Culture Center in Charleston on Friday, June 21, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.
When western Virginians remained loyal to the United States in the Civil War, they were among the only white people living in the slave states who refused to join the Confederacy. Sheehan-Dean will discuss the reasons for their decision. Understanding their motivation helps solve one of the continuing puzzles at the heart of the Civil War: why people stayed loyal to the U.S. He will explore what the United States represented that compelled such sacrifice from its loyal citizens. Sheehan-Dean also will explore what other northerners thought about West Virginia statehood. Beyond the technical question of state creation and the strategic importance of securing the territory of western Virginia, he will discuss how Americans understood what West Virginians’ loyalty meant.
Aaron Sheehan-Dean is the Eberly Professor of Civil War Studies at West Virginia University. He is the author of Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia (2007) and the Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War (2008), and he is also the editor of several books. He teaches courses on 19-century U.S. history, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Southern History.
For additional information, contact Bryan Ward, assistant director of Archives and History, at (304) 558-0230, ext 723, or Bryan.E.Ward@wv.gov.
On May 2, 1863, Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson led his Second Corps around the unsuspecting Army of the Potomac on one of the most daring flank marches in history. His surprise flank attack-launched with the five simple words “You can go forward, then” – collapsed a Union corps in one of the most stunning accomplishments of the war. Flushed with victory, Jackson decided to continue attacking into the night. He and members of his staff rode beyond the lines to scout the ground while his units reorganized. However, Southern soldiers mistook the riders for Union cavalry and opened fire, mortally wounding Jackson at the apogee of his military career. One of the rounds broke Jackson’s left arm, which required amputation. A week later Old Jack was dead.
Calamity at Chancellorsville: The Wounding and Death of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is the first full-length examination of Jackson’s final days. Contrary to popular belief, eyewitnesses often disagreed regarding key facts relating to the events surrounding Jackson’s reconnaissance, wounding, harrowing journey out of harm’s way, medical care, and death. These accounts, for example, conflict regarding where Jackson was fatally wounded and even the road he was on when struck. If he wasn’t wounded where history has recorded, then who delivered the fatal volley? How many times did he fall from the stretcher? What medical treatment did he receive? What type of amputation did Dr. Hunter McGuire perform? Did Jackson really utter his famous last words, “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees?” What was the cause of his death?
Author Mathew W. Lively utilizes extensive primary source material and a firm understanding of the area to re-examine the gripping story of the final days of one of the Confederacy’s greatest generals, and how Southerners came to view Jackson’s death during and after the conflict. Dr. Lively begins his compelling narrative with a visit from Jackson’s family prior to the battle of Chancellorsville, then follows his course through the conflict to its fatal outcome.
Instead of revising history, Dr. Lively offers up a fresh new perspective. Calamity at Chancellorsville will stand as the definitive account of one of the most important and surprisingly misunderstood events of the American Civil War.
About the Author: Mathew W. Lively is a West Virginia native and practicing physician. He currently serves as a Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. The recipient of two master’s degrees in addition to his medical degree, he has been an active teacher of medical students and resident physicians for the past fifteen years. He is the author of numerous scientific articles in the medical literature, several of which focus on medical history topics. A life-long student of Civil War history, he has combined his interests and medical knowledge in a book on the death of Stonewall Jackson.