Map of Slave Populations in Virginia, 1860
From the very beginning, there was division between eastern and western Virginia. Families in western Virginia did not usually own the land on which they lived which excluded those white men from voting, and they generally did not own slaves. This was very different than eastern Virginia where there was a larger degree of land and slave ownership. Western Virginia was largely tied to white wage labor in a rapidly industrializing economy and many of the area’s residents supported abolition because they felt slaves were taking jobs that white laborers should be paid to do. This led to steady conflict over the years about voting rights and representation in the state government. In October 1829, prominent Virginians met to develop a new constitution and eastern conservatives defeated every reform proposed by western Virginians. The new constitution was approved statewide 26,055 to 15,566, but in western Virginia voters rejected it 8,365 to 1,383.
There was some resolution in 1850 at a Reform Convention in which eastern and western Virginians compromised on many of the issues left unresolved from 1829, and with the 1850 Constitution eastern and western Virginians seemed politically closer than ever before. National depression in 1857, however, defeated most attempts to support the industry in the western counties and tension rose again. The start of the Civil War brought those tensions to a head. On April 17, 1861, right after the firing on Fort Sumter, a convention of Virginians voted to submit a bill of secession for a vote of the people. Many western delegates marched out of the Secession Convention and vowed to create a state government loyal to the Union. These delegates met at Clarksburg, WV on April 22 and called for a pro-Union Convention which met in Wheeling from May 13 to 15. Days later, on May 23, Virginia voters approved the Ordinance of Secession and the state joined the Confederacy.
Posted in Emerging Civil War, Politics, Sesquicentennial
Tagged Arthur I. Boreman, Charles Sumner, Francis H. Pierpont, Reorganized Government of Virginia, Second Wheeling Convention, Virginia, Waitman T. Willey, West Virginia, West Virginia Independence, West Virginia statehood
Brandy Station, 1864 (LOC), the Supply depot for Lee during the Bristoe Campaign after October 12, 1863
guest post by Rob Orrison
After the defeat of the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee spent the rest of the summer months refitting and resting his army. By mid-August, Lee could count 60,000 effectives, a remarkable feat considering the losses of the July campaign. By September, events in the western theatre left Lee and his Federal counterpart, Gen. George Meade, to send portions of their armies to northern Georgia. Lee believed he could seize the initiative that fall with the reduction of Meade’s force. It would be a risky affair, as Lee was still outnumbered–but it would not be the size of his army that would frustrate him. The Confederate Quartermaster and Commissary Departments began to seriously fail the men in the field. Poor wagons, draft animals and lack of food and clothing seriously impacted Lee’s ability to hold the initiative and directly affect the outcome of a campaign. It would not be a military defeat that would thwart this campaign. Continue reading
Posted in Arms & Armaments, Campaigns, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Weapons
Tagged Alexander Lawton, Bristoe, Bristoe Station, commissary, George Gordon Meade, Lee, meade, quartermaster, Robert E. Lee
4th: Chris Mackowski, “Crossroads of Fire: The Battle of Chancellorsville,” at the White Plains Historical Society (White Plains, NY)—rescheduled
9th: Chris Mackowski, ”Grant’s Last Battle: The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant,“ at the Western North Carolina Civil War Roundtable (Sylva, NC)
11th: Kristopher White, “It Was a Terribly Grand Scene: The Battle for Prospect Hill at Fredericksburg,” at the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable (OH)
Posted in Emerging Civil War, Speakers Bureau, Upcoming Events
Tagged Battle for Prospect Hill, Battle of Fredericksburg, Chris Mackowski, Cleveland CWRT, Crossroads of Fire, Grant's Last Battle, Kristopher D. White, Western North Carolina Civil War Roundtable, White Plains Historical Society
Theodore Lyman’s map of the army’s position on Nov. 26, 1863
“Thanksgiving day, when the fat turkey is served in state,” said Theodore Lyman, a member of Gen. George Gordon Meade’s staff. “And this [was the day] appointed for our flank move on Orange Court House….”
One hundred and fifty years ago, Thanksgiving fell on November 26. For the Army of the Potomac, though, the day was marked not by turkey and stuffing but by a long day of marching. Meade set the army in motion for what would eventually be known as the Mine Run campaign. Continue reading
Wednesday, November 27 marked another year in which a turkey received a Presidential pardon, this time from President Obama. The 2013 turkeys (there are always two nowadays–one is an alternate in case something happens to the first) are from Michigan, and will live to gobble another day at the nationally recognized livestock facility at the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, home of George Washington.
For those out there who abhor farbism in any manner, the turkeys will NOT be seen by the public, as they are not appropriate for the historical setting of Mount Vernon itself. Only back-bred wild turkeys need apply for that particular job. Continue reading
Posted in Civil War Events, Civilian, Common Soldier, Emerging Civil War, Holidays, Personalities
Tagged Abe Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln, President Obama, Tad Lincoln, Thanksgiving, White House
That is perhaps a hyperbolic title. But one brigade of all New York soldiers saved two Federal armies in the summer and fall of 1863, at Gettysburg and Chattanooga – thereby arguably doing more to assist the Union cause in 1863 than any other single brigade in the Union Army. These men have never really gotten their due, however. Here is their story.
The brigade in question is the 60th, 78th, 102d, 137th, and 149th New York Volunteers of the Union XII Corps. Commanded by Brigadier General George S. Greene and then Colonel David Ireland, these men came literally from every region of New York State. This brigade may have been the closest to a full representation of their state of any like-sized unit in either army during the war. Continue reading
Posted in Battles, Leadership--Federal, Personalities, Western Theater
Tagged Chattanooga, Chattanooga Campaign, Confederate, George S. Greene, New York, Union, Union Army, XII Corps
Part five in a series.
The changing leaves fell slowly to the ground from the trees atop Lookout Mountain. Overlooking Chattanooga, Tennesee, this great giant peered down on the Union lines around the city. Inside, the Army of the Cumberland had remained relatively idle during the fall of 1863. To many, this inactivity seemed destined to change in the middle of October.
Ulysses S. Grant. This photgraph was taken in 1865, when Grant was a Lieutenant General. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
On October 23, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the newly formed Military Division of Mississippi, arrived to begin preparations to break Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s stranglehold on the city. However, Grant was suspicious of the Cumberland army’s new commander, Maj. Gen. George Thomas. He felt that Thomas lacked the proper motivation to execute in warfare. In other words, Thomas was “slow”. The recent defeat at Chickamauga in September also did not bode well for Thomas’ army. A black pall hung like a fog over the Cumberlanders and not suprisingly, Grant’s plans did not include them in a primary role.
Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Civil War Events, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Western Theater
Tagged 150th Anniversary of Chattanooga, Absalom Baird, Army of the Cumberland, Army of the Tennessee, George Thomas, Gordon Granger, Joseph Hooker, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Orchard Knob, Patrick Cleburne, Phil Sheridan, Richard Johnson, Thomas Wood, Tunnel Hill, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman
The Army of the Cumberland charged Missionary Ridge on the afternoon of November 25, 1863. Among the leading regiments was the Milwaukee-based 24th Wisconsin, part of Major General Philip Sheridan’s division. Its color-bearer fell at the base of the ridge. Eighteen-year-old Arthur MacArthur, the 24th’s adjutant, grabbed the colors and cried, “On Wisconsin!” as he led the regiment up the hill. This action earned him the Medal of Honor. (His son, Douglas, also earned the Medal of Honor in World War II, making them the first father-son combination to be so honored.)