Updated on Wednesday*:
For the full four years of the Civil War, West Virginia
was, for the most part, an armed camp.
That does not mean that the state saw little action. West
Virginia’s war story is one of ruthless events, guerilla attacks, and
border battles. The conflicting loyalties between the two sides made the
state a fierce and unsettling place. In fact, the lack of unity made a
perfect battleground and buffer between the confederate lines of
Virginia and the union troops of the Ohio Valley.
It is estimated that Western Virginia had a population
of less than 400,000 in 1860. Of this number, the federal government is
said to have enlisted 32,000 soldiers. The confederates enlistment was
between 10,000 and 12,000. These numbers change depending on the source,
and may not even reflect some of the rangers and marauders in the
central counties, as they worked in independent bands.
Many believe the enlisted soldiers were mere home
guards, but that is untrue. On both sides, they were soldiers. These
soldiers bore their weight, saw their share of blood shed, and
experienced the ugliness of war, both near and far. Before the war ended
in April 1865, an estimated 632 actions, listed in 16 different
categories, were fought in West Virginia.
These statistics were recorded in Boyd B. Stutler’s
West Virginia in the Civil War,
Charleston, W.Va., 1963. As Stutler penned the history of the state
almost 50 years ago, he wrote, “This is a work not intended to be a
definite history of the war, but rather is a series of highlight
sketches of the major and some minor events and actions.”
I plan to use a collection of materials from historians,
like Stutler, as well as diaries, newspapers and stories told for over a
century. I am no historian and definitely not an expert in Calhoun, let
alone West Virginia history. I am now officially a student of some of
the “greats,” and I hope you will join me as I study the defining times,
tales, legends, and stories of our county, state and people during the
Boyd B. Stutler is a name synonymous with West Virginia
history. He received an award of merit from American Association for
State and Local History in 1962, and is the author of several books
including Captain John Brown and
Harpers Ferry; Glory, Glory
Hallelujah, the Story of the John Brown Song;
West Virginia in the Civil War,
and West Virginia Yesterday and
Today (with Phil Conley), used for many years in eighth grade for
studying for the Golden Horseshoe test.
Stutler was born at Cox’s Mill, Gilmer County, but
raised in Calhoun. He attended public school in both counties and
received a degree of Litt.D. (honorary) from Alderson-Broaddus College,
Philippi, in 1961. In addition to being an author, he was also an
editor, printer, and publisher of several newspapers, including The
Sunbeam, Grantsville, 1904; Grantsville News, 1907-17; Banner and State
His connections to Calhoun began as a child in the
classroom and continued to adulthood, as he served as president of the
county board of education, 1915-16, and mayor of Grantsville, 1911-12.
His legacy lives on through his research, writings, and collections. He
died in Charleston in 1970 at age 80.
This Week's Editorial:By Helen Morris:
Calhoun County Map