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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.
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
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.
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.
“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 Station; Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions; Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkeroff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field; One 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.
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.
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.
The 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.