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.

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.

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

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…

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.

 

 

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

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….

ShepherdstownFor the past nine years, the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc (SBPA) has worked to save and preserve the site of the September 19-20, 1862, Battle of Shepherdstown.  Its goal has been to save 300 acres in the core of the battlefield and so far SBPA has helped preserve 102 acres. In late 2011, SBPA aided the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission in purchasing 18 acres of core battlefield land on the Potomac River. In addition, with the aid of the late Senator Robert Byrd, SBPA began the process whereby the Shepherdstown site could become a part of an existing National Park.

The members of SBPA have expended about $165,000 in legal costs challenging a real estate developer who is attempting to build 152 houses on 123 acres in the core of the battlefield. A recent Circuit Court decision ruled in favor of a SBPA petition that the Jefferson County’s Planning Commission violated the WV Open Government Proceedings Act by granting the developer a 3 year extension to build the proposed development. In saving the 102 acres, SBPA has raised more that $800,000 through grants and funds provided by the West Virginia state government, the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service, the Civil War Trust, the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Program, and the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle. In December 2012, another battlefield property has been placed on the market and SBPA has pledged to donate $10,000 to aid the Civil War Trust in its purchase.

Click here to learn more about the Battle of Shepherdstown and how you can get involved!

by Rick Steelhammer, for the Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For some Civil War soldiers, the motivation for enlisting had as much to do with satisfying a sense of adventure and helping to shape history as it did with patriotism and regional pride.

Such was the case with Private Harry Fitzallen, who went to extraordinary lengths to join the 23rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry and serve in two other Union Army regiments before his military career hit a series of serious snags, including his arrest in Charleston 150 years ago today.

Fitzallen, as it turned out, was really a 19-year old woman named Marian McKenzie, a native of Scotland, and a former acting student.

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