Author Archive

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.

Categories : Events
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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.

Categories : Books
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Jon Averill has recently released a new documentary film, Averell’s Raiders and the 35th Star. The film features several prominent historians, including Eric J. Wittenberg, Scott C. Patchan, Dr. David Bard, and Howard R. McManus. It will be available on DVD in July 2013. Watch the trailer below, and visit www.averellsraiders.com for more information.

 

Categories : Videos
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Eric J. Wittenberg

UPDATE:  Listen to an interview with Eric Wittenberg on West Virginia Public Radio.

Eric Wittenberg, one of the nation’s leading experts on Civil War cavalry, is the guest speaker for the May meeting of the Kanawha Valley Civil War Roundtable. Wittenberg is the author of The Battle of White Sulphur Springs: Averell Fails to Secure West Virginia. The book is the focus of Wittenberg’s lecture at the May meeting of the Kanawha Valley Civil War Roundtable. The meeting will be Tuesday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m. at the South Charleston Public Library. The meeting is free and open to the public.

The Battle of White Sulphur Springs is one of the first in 1863 to involve Gen. William Woods Averell’s 4th Separate Brigade. Averell, a West Point graduate who had risen to command a division in the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps, assumed command of the brigade in May 1863. It was comprised of infantry, mounted infantry, cavalry and artillery batteries. The mounted infantry regiments were the 2nd, 3rd and 8th West Virginia, regiments which began the war as infantry, became mounted infantry in 1863 and finished the war as the 5th, 6th and 7th West Virginia Cavalry regiments respectively.

“Averell took command of these infantry regiments and in just a few weeks turned them into effective cavalry. They had to learn to march and fight in formation. It’s supposed to take months to train cavalry. Averell did it in just a few short weeks before he was ordered to Lewisburg,” Wittenberg said.
Battle of White Sulphur SpringsAverell’s command was sent to Lewisburg to capture the Virginia Supreme Court law library housed in the Greenbrier County Courthouse. Because the Virginia Supreme Court met at least once each year in western Virginia, the courthouse had a law library that was a duplicate of the one in Richmond. When West Virginia became a state, the library was needed in Wheeling to help establish the new West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Because of this mission, the Battle of White Sulphur Springs is sometimes referred to as the Battle of the Law Books.

“There is a misperception that Averell was afraid to fight. That he was too cautious. The truth is that he was a bold gambler who did what he needed to do. This was a brutal slugging match, and Averell and his troops were up to the task,” Wittenberg said.

Eric Wittenberg is an attorney in Columbus, Ohio. His other books include The Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station; The Battle of Brandy StationGettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry ActionsProtecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkeroff’s Ridge and East Cavalry FieldOne Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia;Lil Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Generalship of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan; and Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and the Civil War’s Final Campaign. His new books include one on Gen. John Buford’s division in the Gettysburg Campaign and Buckeyes Forward, a book on Ohio troops in the Antietam Campaign.

Copies of The Battle of White Sulphur Springs will be available for purchase at the meeting. For more information, phone (304)389-8587.

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Quarrier Press has released a reprint of Stan Cohen’s classic book, A Pictorial Guide to West Virginia’s Civil War Sites.

Over 400 photographs, maps, and drawings. Includes 230 sites connected to the Civil War such as battlefields, cemeteries, buildings, and houses. The book divides the sites by county, giving the significance of and directions to each site. This guidebook provides an opportunity for a hands on approach to learning about the Civil War.

The book can be ordered online at The West Virginia Book Company.

Categories : Books
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Apr
28

West Virginia Sesquicentennial Events

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West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial

West Virginia celebrates its Sesquicentennial on June 20, 2013.

West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission

Events and information from West Virginia Culture and History

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Apr
28

Video: Slavery in Virginia, 1619-1860

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Greg Carroll

Greg Carroll presented the talk “Slavery in Virginia: 1619-1860″ on Thursday, April 11, 2013, in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston.

Carroll addressed the development and spread of slavery from Virginia’s early years to the Civil War. He discussed how the slavery system in Virginia differed from the types of slavery practiced in South Carolina, the Caribbean, South America, and even the serfdom techniques used in Russia. Carroll explained the main aspects of slavery in economic and social terms. He also explained the contradictions that the system fostered, especially in Virginia, and how the reliance on a slave economy in the southern states split the U.S. in 1860 and brought about the Civil War.

Carroll is a graduate of Marshall University. He was a staff historian for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s Archives and History Section for 23 years until his retirement in October 2012. His primary focus was on Native Americans, African Americans and Civil War history.

View the video here…

Categories : Videos
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Author/historian Terry Lowry will be speaking on his upcoming book, The Battle of Charleston and the 1862 Kanawha Valley Campaign, on Tuesday, March 19, at 7pm at the Dunbar Public Library.  The lecture is free and open to the public.

Mr. Lowry is one of West Virginia’s leading historians, a member of the staff at the West Virginia State Archives, and is the author of several books and articles on West Virginia and the Civil War.

 

 

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Mar
13

Symposium to be held in Morgantown

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A House Divided: The Civil War in West Virginia

The Mason-Dixon Civil War Round Table’s annual Civil War Symposium will be held at the Erickson Alumni Center located on the West Virginia University Evansdale Campus, on Saturday, April 6, 2013. The Symposium registration cost is $25.00. Registration includes lunch and breakfast pastries.  Registration starts at 8:30 AM and the presentations begin at 9:00 AM.

The day-long symposium will include several presentations:

  • West Virginia Statehood, by Joe Geiger
  • The Jones and Imboden Raid, by Steve French
  • The Battle of White Sulphur Springs, by Eric J. Wittenberg
  • Lincoln’s Statemanship, by Dr. Joseph Fornieri

More information:  West Virginia Mason-Dixon Civil War Roundtable

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Feb
16

In Memory: William D. Wintz

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It is with sadness that we honor the memory of William D. Wintz, who passed away on February 13th.  Bill was a World War II veteran and well known as a local historian in the Kanawha Valley.   His many articles and books included Civil War history titles such as Civil War Memoirs of Two Rebel Sisters and Bullets and Steel.

Click here to read his obituary via the Charleston Daily Mail….

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