West Virginia and the Civil War: Mountaineers Are Always Free

Overview

The only state born as a result of the Civil War, West Virginia was the most divided state in the nation. About forty thousand of its residents served in the combatant forces—about twenty thousand on each side. The Mountain State also saw its fair share of battles, skirmishes, raids and guerrilla warfare, with places like Harpers Ferry, Philippi and Rich Mountain becoming household names in 1861. When the Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861, leaders primarily from the northwestern ...

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West Virginia and the Civil War: Mountaineers Are Always Free

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Overview

The only state born as a result of the Civil War, West Virginia was the most divided state in the nation. About forty thousand of its residents served in the combatant forces—about twenty thousand on each side. The Mountain State also saw its fair share of battles, skirmishes, raids and guerrilla warfare, with places like Harpers Ferry, Philippi and Rich Mountain becoming household names in 1861. When the Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861, leaders primarily from the northwestern region of the state began the political process that eventually led to the creation of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. Renowned Civil War historian Mark A. Snell has written the first thorough history of these West Virginians and their civil war in more than fifty years.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596298880
  • Publisher: History Press, The
  • Publication date: 7/28/2011
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 224,020
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark A. Snell, PhD, is the director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War and professor of history at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, West Virginia. He is a retired U.S. Army officer and a former assistant professor at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. Mark has written or edited several books about the Civil War, including From First to Last: The Life of Major General William B. Franklin (Fordham University Press, 2002). His most recent publication is about the U.S. involvement in World War I and is titled Unknown Soldiers: The American Expeditionary Forces in Memory and Remembrance (Kent State University Press, 2008). During the fall semester of 2008, Mark served as visiting senior lecturer of war studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. In February 2009, he was given the Honorary West Virginian Award by Governor Joe Manchin, the highest individual honor the governor can bestow on someone who is not a West Virginia citizen.
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  • Posted September 4, 2011

    Fine study of W VA and Civil Wsr

    Mark A. Snell, West Virginia and the Civil War: Mountaineers Are Always Free. Charleston SC and London: The History Press, 2011. 255pp. $21.99



    People often say with some exaggeration that that the Civil War was a conflict where brother fought against brother and father against son, but when one speaks about West Virginia's role in the Civil War, there is often no exaggeration. As Civil War historian Mark A. Snell ably demonstrates in his new book, West Virginia and the Civil War, the western section of Virginia that became the state of West Virginia was the most divided part of the nation throughout the Civil War. As many as forty thousand of the new state's residents served as combatants in the conflict, about twenty thousand on each side. There is evidence of a fairly even divide in the loyalties of the residents of the region as well.

    There had long been a divide between eastern and western Virginia. As one newspaper in western Virginia noted, " The causes of complaint on the part of the citizens of Western Virginia were unequal and unjust taxation; a studied partiality in legislation by the delegates of East Virginia, and an improper appropriation of public funds in the way of internal improvements." When the Virginia Secession Convention passed its Ordinance of Secession on 17 April, 1861, by an 88-55 vote, forty-eight of the dissenting votes came from the northern Shenandoah Valley and western mountain regions of Virginia. The referendum vote for secession, however, was far more divided. Voters in half of the forty-eight counties of the future state of West Virginia supported Virginia's leaving the Union.

    Despite the great divide in western Virginia, however, leading politicians such as John Snyder Carlile of Clarksburg organized a convention in Wheeling in northwestern Virginia that brought forth a proposal for the formation of a new state, Western Virginia. When the proposal was put forward as a referendum in the counties affected by dismemberment from Virginia in late October, 1861, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor. Author Mark Snell notes, how-ever:

    The referendum.was not truly fair, because many of the counties of the proposed new state were staunchly loyal to the Confederacy and the old Commonwealth of Virginia with some, if not most, refusing to vote because of intimidation, fear of reprisal or outright rejection of the legality of the ordinance. On the other hand, voter intimidation also kept Unionists away from the polls in those counties with strong Confederate sympathies.

    A second referendum in April 1862 on the creation of the new state and adoption of a constitution showed overwhelming support again, but the vote was skewed because no returns came in from pro-Confederate eastern and southern counties and the number of voters was quite low.

    While Snell, director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War and professor of History at Shepard University in West Virginia, looks at the great divide among the residents of western Virginia over the question of statehood, he devotes far more attention to the soldiers and battles involving West Virginians throughout the war. We follow West Virginians on both sides as they slogged through a most bitter conflict that cost so many lives.

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