Follow The Civil War Trail In Southern West Virginia 

West Virginia’s unique history is deeply intertwined with the Civil War. Originally part of Virginia, the state was born out of the conflict when it seceded from the Confederacy in 1863. Explore Southern West Virginia’s notable role by following the Civil War Trails, a network of locations offering a glimpse into this era. 

The West Virginia Civil War Trails showcase the stories of triumphs and tragedies, experienced by both soldiers and civilians. Discover lesser-known sites alongside prominent landmarks, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the region’s contribution to the war. 

Fayette County:

  • Battle of Fayetteville: Stand at the site of the Battle of Fayetteville, where Confederate General W.W. Loring’s forces drove out Union troops on September 10, 1862. A historical marker located at the courthouse square commemorates this strategic event.
    Location: 310 North Court Street, Fayetteville, WV 25840

  • First Indirect Artillery Fire: History was made on May 19-20, 1863. Confederate Corporal Milton Humphreys, a gunner, became the first to use indirect artillery fire in combat. This innovative tactic, targeting a Union fort in Fayetteville, revolutionized battlefield strategies by allowing attacks over obstacles. 
    Location: 350 W. Maple Ave., Fayetteville, WV 25840

  • Battles for the Bridges: Learn about the strategic importance of the Gauley Bridge, a wooden covered bridge over the Kanawha River. Both Confederate and Union forces recognized its vital role as it linked the Ohio River with the James River. Throughout the war, control of the bridge shifted hands several times as each side sought to control this vital passage.
    Location: 10731 Midland Trail, Gauley Bridge, WV 25085

  • Westlake Cemetery: This historic cemetery is one of the earliest identified west of the Allegheny Mountains. Explore the final resting place of prominent figures like William Tyree, owner of the nearby Tyree Tavern, and Confederate Colonel George W. Imboden. Julia Beckwith Neale, the mother of Stonewall Jackson, is also buried here. 
    Location: 59 Cemetery St., Ansted, WV 25812

  • Tyree Tavern: Discover a location that served multiple purposes during the war. Confederate Generals John B. Floyd and Henry A. Wise used the tavern as their headquarters during their unsuccessful Kanawha Valley campaign. The tavern also functioned as a hospital for both Confederate and Union soldiers.
    Location: 123 James River and Kanawha Turnpike E., Ansted, WV 25812

  • Contentment: Built in 1830 on the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, this restored antebellum home belonged to Colonel George W. Imboden, a member of General Lee’s staff during the Civil War.
    Location: 19295 Midland Trail, Ansted, WV 25812

  • Faith During War: Be inspired by the story of Jewish soldiers stationed in Fayetteville. In early April 1862, Pvt. Joseph A. Joel and 20 other Jewish soldiers requested leave from duty to observe Passover. Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, a future president, granted their request. Despite the challenging circumstances, the soldiers managed to gather the necessary supplies and hold a Seder dinner, a significant testament to their faith.
    Location: 100 Rotan St., Fayetteville, WV 25840

Greenbrier County:

  • Battle of Lewisburg: Witness the location of a pivotal battle, which took place on May 23, 1862, where Union Colonel George Crook’s forces emerged victorious against Confederate General Henry Heth’s troops. The battle lasted just over an hour, but resulted in significant Confederate casualties. Several buildings in Lewisburg, including churches and the former Greenbrier County Library, were used as temporary hospitals following the battle.
    Location:  115 Church St., Lewisburg, WV 24901

  • Alderson’s Ferry: Explore this historic ferry landing, used by both sides during the war for transporting troops and supplies across the Greenbrier River. The ferry crossing held strategic importance, and skirmishes occasionally occurred as each side vied for control.
    Location: 109 Railroad Ave., Alderson, WV 24910

  • Confederate Saltpeter Works: Organ Cave produced saltpeter which was a crucial element in gunpowder. Although initially staffed by Confederate soldiers beginning in 1861 the cave became a tourist attraction during and after the war. The Civil War Trails sign is accessible.
    Location: 242 Organ Cave Dr., Ronceverte, WV 24970

Mercer County:

  • McNutt House: This antebellum dwelling is the only one to survive the burning of Princeton by Confederate troops in May 1862. This historic structure served a dual purpose during the Civil War, functioning as both a Union headquarters and a hospital. Mercer County’s Civil War history is further marked by the Battle of Pigeon’s Roost, a Confederate victory that occurred near Princeton on May 17, 1862, following the town’s burning.
    Location: 1522 North Walker St., Princeton, WV 24740

Monroe County:

  • General Crook’s Occupation of Union: This marker commemorates the Union army’s occupation of Union under General Crook in May 1864. During this time, a large Union force, including future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley, marched through the town.
    Location: 216 Main St., Union, WV 24983

  • Union College: Founded in 1820, this former Presbyterian school stands as the oldest private school building still standing in West Virginia. During the war, it served as a hospital for injured Confederate soldiers left behind by General Heth’s troops in 1862.
    Location: 116 South St., Union, WV 24983

  • Soldiers Memorial at Walnut Grove: A monument, erected in 1901, honors the local men who served the Confederacy. Standing atop a hill, it overlooks Walnut Grove, a house used as a hospital during the Union occupation, and offers a glimpse into the town’s layout during the Civil War.
    Location: 595 Main St. Union, WV 24983

  • Gen. John Echols House: This residence was home to John Echols, a lawyer and Confederate general. He played a significant role in the war, forming the Monroe Guards militia company and later commanding Confederate forces in the Kanawha Valley and Western Virginia.
    Location: 105 Green Hill Rd., Union, WV 24983

  • Chapman House: Built in 1803, this house belonged to a prominent Union family with Confederate ties. Augustus Chapman, a well-known lawyer and politician, served as a brigadier general in the Confederate army. His son, George, also fought for the Confederacy, leading Chapman’s Battery until his death at the Battle of Winchester in 1864.
    Location: 275 Main St., Union, WV 24983

Nicholas County:

  • Kesslers Cross Lanes:  Visit the site where a sharp clash took place in August 1861 between soldiers from the 7th Ohio Infantry squared off against Confederate Gen. John Floyd’s force. The Confederate surprise attack caught the Union unprepared and set the stage for the Battle of Carnifex Ferry. 
    Location: 6035 Summersville Lake Rd., Keslers Cross Lanes, WV 26675

  • Nancy Hart: Visit the site to uncover more of the legend and lore surrounding Nancy Hart. She allegedly served as a spy for the “Moccasin Rangers.” Was this harmless peddler, who was imprisoned for espionage, even named Nancy Hart and how did she outwit her captors? 
    Location: 700 Main St., Summersville, WV 26651

  • Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park: Walk the grounds where the tide of the Civil War began to turn. On September 10, 1861, Union forces under General William S. Rosecrans clashed with Confederate troops led by General John B. Floyd. The ensuing battle, though bloody, resulted in a decisive Union victory. This triumph secured their hold on western Virginia, paving the way for the state’s eventual formation. 
    Location: 1194 Carnifex Ferry Crossing, Summersville, WV 26651

Wyoming County:

  • McDonald Plantation: Observe the remnants of a once-grand estate caught in the crossfire of the war. In early 1862, suspecting them of aiding the Confederate cause, Union forces led by Lieutenant Ferdinand Newman raided the property.
    Location: 2711 Clear Fork Rd., Oceana, WV 24870

  • Civil War Romance: Discover a heartwarming story amidst the war’s turmoil. Exhausted and seeking refuge, Thompson Walker, a Confederate soldier, stumbled upon the home of William Walker, a resolute Unionist. Martilia Walker, William’s daughter, defied the potential dangers and offered Thompson shelter, food and medical care.
    Location: 11005 Appalachian Hwy. Oceana, WV 24870

Visit More Civil War Sites

The West Virginia Civil War Trails program is part of a five-state trails network, which includes Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Together, the program guides visitors to more than 1,500 sites. As you visit each historical site, be sure to snap a #signselfie and post it with #civilwartrails on Instagram!

Share Your Discoveries

History buffs, outdoor enthusiasts and curious minds will all find something fascinating in Southern West Virginia’s Civil War sites. Set out on an adventure to discover all the historical landmarks. Share your experiences with us on social media by tagging us on Facebook and Instagram. 

Plan your history trip today! Check out our calendar to find a list of upcoming events and historical reenactments, and transform your visit into an immersive experience.