A Campaign of Firsts: Western Virginia In 1861

May 30 – June 3, 2018
A BGES Civil War Field University Program
With Gary Ecelbarger and Scott Patchan from Clarksburg, WV

In the days after the election of Abraham Lincoln the United States split into sections with the Deep South seceding from the Union before the March 1861 inauguration. Upper South states such as Maryland, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia among others remained loyal. Within the states debate raged, areas that were less integrated with slavery had little to no interest in the secession debate. In Virginia, in particular, the western part of the state had much more in common with the Ohio Valley than it did with the Old Dominion of the Revolutionary era.

Not surprisingly early encounters pitted soldiers and neighbors against each other. Early fighting in the war took place in western Virginia but as the armies and strategic targets came into focus the newly created state of West Virginia was soon a backwater absent any decisive or important battles. Perhaps it is because of this that Civil War tours in West Virginia are few and far between. Indeed as the BGES enters its 25th year this is our very first tour devoted to West Virginia. Having said that, the sites are very dramatic and for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice no battles were harder fought than those we will cover on this study.

This is a tour of firsts–our first in WV and many of the events were firsts in the Civil War. The scenery is dramatic, the military terrain challenging and the combat deadly–join us for this singular program offered for the very first time by the popular team of Gary Ecelbarger and Scott Patchan.

The complete itinerary is here on our main website: A Campaign of Firsts: Western Virginia In 1861.

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