For 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.
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.
The Cool Spring, Virginia, battlefield is one of five that the Civil War Trust is endeavoring to save during a year end campaign that includes an incredible $109 to $1 match! The campaign seeks to preserve 1150 acres of the battlefield where George Crook’s Army of West Virginia fought. West Virginia units at the battle included the 1st, 11th, 12th, and 15th West Virginia Infantries, as well as the 1st West Virginia Light Artillery Battery E.
To learn more about the campaign and to donate, visit: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/yearend2012/a-message-from-jim-lighthizer.html
For more info on the Battle of Cool Springs, click here….
On November 13, 2012, Dr. Kenneth R. Bailey presented ‘“Scratch ‘em and Sue ‘em’: Post Civil War Legal Issues” at the Tuesday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston.
Civil War legal issues consumed much of West Virginia’s court system for several years following the war. Using a PowerPoint program, Bailey discussed legal cases at the Supreme Court dealing with Reconstruction Era issues of voting, false arrest, belligerent rights, acts of Confederate county officers, the value of Confederate money, etc., from the end of the war until rights were restored to former rebels. Former Confederates were “scratched” from the voting rolls and sued for alleged wrongs on civilians during the war. Pictures of individuals and documents were used to illustrate topics covered.
Dr. Bailey is a graduate of West Virginia Institute of Technology (now WVU Tech), Marshall University, and The Ohio State University, from which he received a Ph.D. in 1976. He is retired Dean of the College of Business, Humanities and Sciences and Emeritus Professor of History and Geography at WVU Tech. Bailey is the author of Kanawha County Public Library: A History (2004), Alleged Evil Genius: The Life and Times of Judge James H. Ferguson (2006), Raising the Bar: A History of the West Virginia Bar Association (2007), and Mountaineers are Free: A History of the West Virginia National Guard (1979, revised and expanded 2008).
On October 11, 2012, Greg Carroll presented “Applying for a West Virginia Civil War Medal” at the Thursday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston.
The Civil War medals were authorized by the state legislature in 1866 as “tokens of respect” for Union veterans of West Virginia military units. Many were unclaimed, however, and eventually were turned over to Archives and History, which began a program to distribute remaining medals to descendants who file a properly documented line of descent from the veteran to themselves.
Greg Carroll is a graduate of Marshall University and recently retired as a staff historian at West Virginia Archives and History, where he worked for 23 years. He had been working with the Civil War medal claims for about two decades.
For more on the West Virginia Civil War Medals, click here….
A lecture on a select group of West Virginia’s Civil War sites provided by Bethany Canfield of the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office on March 6, 2012. The lecture was held in the West Virginia Archives and History Library at the Culture Center in Charleston, West Virginia.
Author/historian Steve French has recently published his third book on Civil War action in the eastern panhandle and surrounding region.
The new title, Rebel Chronicles: Raiders, Scouts, and Train Robbers of the Upper Potomac, is divided into three parts, and includes a foreword by Edwin C. Bearrs.
Part 1: 8 chapters dealing with Potomac Scouts Captain Redmond Burke and Lieutenant Andrew Leopold, and 4 chapters covering the Valley Scout Captain John Corbin Blackford.
Part 2: 3 chapters on the Highland Raiders and the Raids on Little Cacapon, Paw Paw, Capon Bridge, South Fork and Saint George.
Part 3: 3 chapters of Train Robberies. The Winchester & Potomac Robbery, The Brown’s Shop Robbery and the Greenback Raid Robbery.
Ted Alexander, Chief Historian, Antietam National Battlefield says: “Steve’s book is buttressed by a vast array of sources, many of them never before utilized in any other studies. The bibliography alone is worth the price of this book. Some scholars have thrown out the challenge that there is nothing new to write about on the Civil War. Let them read Rebel Chronicles. Steve French has provided us with a fresh look at an often ignored phase of Civil War History.”
Rebel Chronicles is available for purchase at Battlefields and Beyond, Butternut and Blue, Confederate Shop, or by contacting the author. [Send $22.95 + $3 s/h to 8604 Martinsburg Rd., Hedgesville, WV 25427]
About the author: Steve French is the author of Imboden’s Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, winner of the 2008 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award and the 2009 Gettysburg Civil War Round Table Book Award, and The Jones-Imboden Raid Against the B&O Railroad at Rowlesburg, Virginia, April 1863. He is also the editor of Four Years Along the Tilhance: The Diary of Elisha Manor. His more than seventy Civil War and other historical articles have appeared in The Washington Times, Gettysburg Magazine, North &South Magazine, The Southern Cavalry Review, Maryland Cracker Barrel Magazine, The Morgan Messenger, and Crossfire: The Magazine of the American Civil War Round Table (UK).
The Civil War Trust recently had the chance to sit down with Nicholas Redding, author of a new book, Civil War Shepherdstown: Victory and Defeat in West Virginia’s Oldest Town. This new book describes and analyzes the story of a town caught on the border of north and south and the experience of its citizens. The book also offers driving tours of nearby sites, including the Shepherdstown Battlefield.
Nicholas Redding, executive director of Historic Long Branch in Clarke County, Virginia, is the Civil War Trust’s former deputy director for advocacy.
By Joe Geiger, Jr.
This book seeks to provide a detailed look at military activities along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike from mid-September 1861 to the first week of April 1862. This campaign, fought primarily in Pocahontas County, Virginia, included the Battle of Greenbrier River, in which nearly 7,000 soldiers clashed in what was primarily an artillery duel; the Battle of Allegheny Mountain, the bloodiest battle of the first year of the war in present-day West Virginia; the January 1862 raid on Huntersville; and numerous other skirmishes, raids, expeditions, incidents and events.
The evidence shows that although Union forces never planned an offensive eastward along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike after Major General George B. McClellan departed from western Virginia, Confederate leaders were convinced that failure to defend this road would result in a Union advance toward Staunton, a belief that doomed hundreds of Confederate soldiers to spend a winter in a most inhospitable land.
The soldiers who lived through these tumultuous times would remember their experiences in this remote region for the rest of their lives, and this endeavor was undertaken and completed so that their sacrifices and experiences are documented and preserved for future generations. They would undoubtedly be pleased to be remembered.
About the Author: Joe Geiger is the director of Archives and History at the West Virginia Division of Culture. Geiger has published numerous scholarly articles and a book, Civil War in Cabell County, West Virginia, 1861-1865.
Author/Historian Hunter Lesser has written an article describing a prayer book captured at the Battle of Rich Mountain for The Civil War News.