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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

Visit:  www.battleofshepherdstown.org   and   http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/shepherdstown.html

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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.

Read the entire article by Rick Steelhammer in the Charleston Gazette….

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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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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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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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Dec
23

Historic Cement Mill Property Purchased

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ShepherdstownThe historic cement mill property in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, has been purchased by the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission.  This important 18 acre site on the Potomac River is associated with the Battle of Shepherdstown.

Read the full news release here….

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