Heavy with History
As we mark the 150th anniversary, remnants of the Civil War remain in every region of West Virginia. Honor the sesquicentennial by touring some of the state’s treasured Civil War sites.
(page 2 of 4)
This early Union victory set the stage for West Virginia’s statehood. “This was a small battlefield with huge repercussions,” says Hunter Lesser, Elkins resident and author of Rebels at the Gate: Lee and McClellan on the Front Line of a Nation Divided.
The July 1861 battle for control of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike took place five miles west of Beverly. The Rich Mountain Battlefield site has more than 400 protected acres, including the battle site at the top of Rich Mountain, the Confederate Camp Garnett, and a section of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. Visit to see veterans’ rock carvings and the original earthworks at Camp Garnett.
Rich Mountain Battlefield features interpretive signs, walking tours, and a picnic area. The Beverly Heritage Center on Main Street in Beverly also has more information, with an exhibit and research facilities. Group and guided tours are available by appointment, and the battlefield is open year-round. The visitors center is open daily in season and weekdays throughout winter. While in town, enjoy the walking tour, Randolph County Museum, and Lemuel Chenoweth House.
Rich Mountain Battlefield & Beverly Historic District, 4 Court Street, Beverly, WV 26253; 304.637.7424
General McClellan’s Headquarters
Birthplace of the founder of Mother’s Day, what is now known as the Anna Jarvis House was used as a field headquarters by Union commanders in the summer of 1861. Situated on the Wheeling-Staunton Pike, providing access to the Northwestern Virginia Railroad, this home was a strategic supply depot throughout the war.
General McClellan’s Headquarters, Route 2, Box 352, Grafton, WV 26354; 304.265.5549
The site of the longest battle in the Tygart Valley Campaign is in Barbour County. Here, Union forces ousted the Confederate army and protected important turnpikes, securing safe passage to Wheeling for the founding fathers to plan for West Virginia statehood. On July 11, 1861, within earshot of Laurel Hill, Union General McClellan’s troops won a decisive battle at Rich Mountain. General Garnett found his army cut off at Laurel Hill. Visit the battlefield—open year-round—or take a stroll on the walking trails marked with interpretive signs.
Laurel Hill Civil War Battleground, Belington CVB, Belington, WV 26250; 304.823.3327
At the battle of Carnifex Ferry on September 10, 1861, confederates failed to regain control of the Kanawha Valley. As a result, West Virginia’s statehood proceeded without serious threat. The state park sits on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon, minutes from Summersville Lake. As an official Civil War Discovery Trail site, visitors can also picnic, reserve one of four shelters, take a walk on the trails, enjoy three views overlooking the Gauley River, or entertain themselves at the softball field, volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and the Patterson House Museum.
Cheat Summit Fort
Take a step back in time and see the earthworks that remain at this Civil War site. General George B. McClellan ordered this fort to be built in 1861 to secure the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike and protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The Confederacy failed to take the fort in September 1861. In the October battle of Greenbrier River, troops from Cheat Summit Fort attacked Camp Bartow. Neither side could claim victory, and the Union troops returned to Cheat Summit Fort while the Confederates withdrew to Camp Allegheny. In December, soldiers from Cheat Summit Fort attacked Camp Allegheny, but were driven back. The site is also significant for what is thought to be the earliest use of telegraph technology in the Civil War.
Cheat Summit Fort, Monongahela National Forest, 200 Sycamore Street, Elkins, WV 26241; 304.636.1800
Located in Princeton, the Dr. Robert B. McNutt House is the only house left standing after the town was burned in the Civil War. The McNutt House was used as headquarters during the war for Lt. Col. Rutherford B. Hayes and Sgt. William McKinley (both U.S. Presidents). It was also used as a hospital in May 1862.