WV History – The Civil War

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park

The History Channel’s hugely successful Hatfield and McCoy television miniseries has created a lot of interest in history in southern West Virginia. Let’s take a closer look at more of the rich history that one can find in these parts.

And with only a few weeks until WV celebrates its birth as a state, a focus on the Civil War history here makes sense. West Virginia, by being in the territorial middle of this conflict, was born as a direct result of the resolution of this conflict.

Here are some of the Civil War battles took place in southern West Virginia.

Area Battles

  • Carnifex Ferry – This Nicholas County Battlefield State Park is a great stop for Civil War buffs. The onsite museum displays actual artifacts from the Battle of Carnifex Ferry. This battle was important because when Union troops prevailed, they ensured that the movement for West Virginia statehood could proceed without further conflict. There are trails leading to the old Ferry site, so be ready to explore.  The Battle of Carnifex Ferry is reenacted every few years.
  • Lewisburg – This WV town was the site of a May 1862 battle. Exploring the town, you’ll find a Confederate cemetery and a library that was a Confederate hospital. The North House Museum has plenty of interesting Civil War artifacts and documents. Take a self-guided walking tour of the town and visit other historic sites.
  • Fayetteville – This town was the site of the first use of indirect artillery firing by the Confederates on Union troops. Fayetteville is close to many other battle sites, including Gauley Bridge, Cotton Hill, and others. The Fleshmen Farm close to town has a Confederate cemetery.
  • Organ Cave – One of the largest cave systems in the US, this wonderful tourist attraction close to Lewisburg played a big role for the Confederates in the war. Many of the minerals the Confederates used to make gun powder came out of this cave system. Interestingly, part of the cave was used by the Confederates as a church. Over 1,000 Confederate soldiers hid out in its depths for almost 3 years.

Other towns with ties to the Civil War are:

A Can’t Miss Performance

Honey in the Rock is the longest running outdoor drama presented by Theatre West Virginia. Performances began in 1961 and audiences are still being entertained by it today. This performance explores the role the Civil War played in the birth of WV, using  music, comedy, and plenty of fun for all.  Theatre West Virginia has also been performing The Hatfields and McCoys since 1970. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more unique experience than a Theatre WV Outdoor Drama performance at Grandview, right on the rim of the New River Gorge.

What Civil War history sites have you explored in southern West Virginia?

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