The Travel Professor
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

America's Civil War in WVA!

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. The harrowing battles raged for four years, pitting brother against brother at the cost of more than 600,000 lives. Out of the war, however, there rose a new state, and the only created as a direct result of the war – West Virginia!

There were events that shaped the birth of this state so why not experience some of them in person. West Virginia has plenty of Civil War history to explore first hand. The past comes alive during re-enactments where the real battles actually took place. Experience what you studied in history class by taking a walking or driving tour of Civil War sites. Or see an outdoor theater production that brings West Virginia’s story to the stage.

Two events that shaped the struggle in 1861 are the battles of Carnifex Ferry and Guyandotte. Guyandotte is a short drive to basically the east end of Huntington while the other is only a few hours away via I 64.

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is located on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon only minutes from Summersville Lake. An official Civil War Discovery Trail Carnifex Ferry is where on Sept. 10, 1861 the Confederates failed to regain control of the Kanawha Valley.

West Virginia's statehood proceeded without serious threat as a result. Near Summersville, W.Va the Battle of Carnifex Ferry is reenacted on the same ground as the original conflict. The event attracts hundreds of the country's best Civil War re-enactors from several states and has been heralded as one of the finest small reenactments in the eastern United States.

The two day reenactment event includes various living history demonstrations such as camp life, military drill, and a reenactment of the Federal assault on the center of the Confederate line. This year’s Civil War weekend is being held September 10-11, 2011.

Visitors to the park are encouraged to enter the camps and interact with the re-enactors prior to the battle reenactment. In fact, walking tours, led by one of the re-enactors, are given each day.

The 150th Anniversary of this battle offers various living history demonstrations depicting civil war military life. Weekend events will conclude with the reenactment of the battle at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday Sept 11.

Another local WV Civil War living history opportunity is right across the river in Guyandotte. Here on Nov. 10, 1861 about 1,200 Confederate cavalrymen attacked about 150 Union recruits here on a peaceful Sunday. In the confused street fighting, several Union recruits and Confederates were killed and wounded and the rest of the Federal recruits were captured. The next day a Federal steamboat with Union reinforcements arrived and threatened to burn the town. One survivor of this episode is the Madie Carroll House.

As legend goes, the Madie Carroll House arrived in Guyandotte by flatboat in 1810. James Gallaher, a river tradesman, had obtained the house in Gallipolis, Ohio and placed the house on lot number 34 in Guyandotte. Today the historic house serves as both a museum and cultural community center. It will be open during Civil War days and with advance arrangements you can tour the property.

The sights and sounds of the Civil War will return on November 4-6, 2011 marking the 22nd anniversary of Thunder in the Village.

Save these dates, plan ahead and get out discovering some of our country’s history and heritage.

I hope to see you there.