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West Virginia and the Civil War:: Mountaineers Are Always Free (Civil War Series) Paperback – August 5, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark A. Snell, PhD, is the director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War and professor of history at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, West Virginia. He is a retired U.S. Army officer and a former assistant professor at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. Mark has written or edited several books about the Civil War, including From First to Last: The Life of Major General William B. Franklin (Fordham University Press, 2002). His most recent publication is about the U.S. involvement in World War I and is titled Unknown Soldiers: The American Expeditionary Forces in Memory and Remembrance (Kent State University Press, 2008). During the fall semester of 2008, Mark served as visiting senior lecturer of war studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. In February 2009, he was given the Honorary West Virginian Award by Governor Joe Manchin, the highest individual honor the governor can bestow on someone who is not a West Virginia citizen.
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Product Details

  • Series: Civil War Series
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (August 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159629888X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596298880
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel A. Metraux on September 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
Mark A. Snell, West Virginia and the Civil War: Mountaineers Are Always Free. Charleston SC and London: The History Press, 2011. 255pp. $21.99

People often say with some exaggeration that that the Civil War was a conflict where brother fought against brother and father against son, but when one speaks about West Virginia's role in the Civil War, there is often no exaggeration. As Civil War historian Mark A. Snell ably demonstrates in his new book, West Virginia and the Civil War, the western section of Virginia that became the state of West Virginia was the most divided part of the nation throughout the Civil War. As many as forty thousand of the new state's residents served as combatants in the conflict, about twenty thousand on each side. There is evidence of a fairly even divide in the loyalties of the residents of the region as well.

There had long been a divide between eastern and western Virginia. As one newspaper in western Virginia noted, " The causes of complaint on the part of the citizens of Western Virginia were unequal and unjust taxation; a studied partiality in legislation by the delegates of East Virginia, and an improper appropriation of public funds in the way of internal improvements." When the Virginia Secession Convention passed its Ordinance of Secession on 17 April, 1861, by an 88-55 vote, forty-eight of the dissenting votes came from the northern Shenandoah Valley and western mountain regions of Virginia. The referendum vote for secession, however, was far more divided. Voters in half of the forty-eight counties of the future state of West Virginia supported Virginia's leaving the Union.
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Although Dr. Snell's book provides many details of Civil War events in and near West Virginia, it fails to examine important related subjects such as the integration of Confederate soldiers into everyday life upon their return from the war. Much more needs to be studied and reported about the post-war interactions between those who remained loyal to the State of Virginia at the onset of the war and those who did not.

The author also seemed surprised at the pro-Confederate sentiments in the state post-1865. However, those with deep family roots in West Virginia know that those sentiments were widely prevalent before and during the war. A study of the facts shows that the creation of West Virginia was one of opportunity, not one of desire by the residents of the western counties of Virginia. Had a fair and honest election of all residents been held, it seems highly unlikely that secession from Virginia would have been the outcome. This is supported by Dr. Snell's own accounting that no more than approximately half of the State's soldiers fought for the North. That alone causes the objective reader to question why the people of the counties that now make up West Virginia would have wanted to leave Virginia. It is likely that a large majority did not, explaining in part why the state quickly looked "pro-Confederate" after the war ended.
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Good local history of units and engagements localized to what became West Virginia. Valuable for unit research, and some individual personal histories.
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I gave this to my husband for an early Father's day gift. He loves it, he hasn't put it down! He can't wait to find more on West Virginia. He is learning facts he didn't know before and wants to research them to authenticity.
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I have read a lot about the Civil War. Being from WV, it was refreshing to see the war approached from the point of view of the formation of the state, the units on both sides and the battles.
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