Harold Holzer

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.

More information….

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

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.

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

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.

More: Read the entire article from The Civil War News…..

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.

Opening of the West Virginia exhibit at the B&O Railroad Museum. Richard A. Wolfe (center) of Bridgeport represented the West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and also loaned artifacts for the exhibit.

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph N. Geiger, Jr.

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.

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.

 

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.