Monday, November 9, 2020

Booknotes: Disorder on the Border

New Arrival:
Disorder on the Border: Civil Warfare in Cabell and Wayne Counties, West Virginia, 1856-1870 by Joe Geiger, Jr. (35th Star Pub, 2020).

Though still a relative newcomer to a scene long the domain of Pictorial Histories and Quarrier Press, 35th Star Publishing has already established itself as the go-to publisher of Civil War West Virginia military history and edited primary source materials. Their latest release didn't appear on my radar until it was already out the door. Disorder on the Border is from Joe Geiger, the Director of the Archives and History section of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and a figure well-known to Civil War readers as the author of Civil War in Cabell County West Virginia, 1861-1865 (1991) and Holding The Line: The Battle of Allegheny Mountain and Confederate Defense of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike in 1861-62 (2012).

Geiger's new book greatly expands upon his earlier published work on Cabell County (and readers might also recall Jack Dickinson's slender book-length study of Wayne County). From the description: "In the last half of the 1850s, the Virginia counties of Cabell and Wayne became immersed in the national debate over slavery. Located only a stone's throw away from the free state of Ohio, some western Virginians practiced and defended slavery, and the contentiousness between supporters and those who opposed the institution increased dramatically as the nation moved closer to civil war. When the conflict erupted in 1861, disorder was the order of the day. Although the overwhelming majority of voters in Cabell and Wayne counties opposed the Ordinance of Secession, the most prominent and influential citizens in the area favored leaving the Union. When the state seceded, some who had opposed this step now cast their loyalty with Virginia rather than the Union. During and after the Civil War, dozens of skirmishes, raids, and armed encounters occurred in this border area, and the lengthy struggle only ended with the statewide Democratic victory in the 1870 election."

The two counties did not host any major battles, but a pair of chapters in the book discuss the Battle of Barboursville and the Raid on Guyandotte along with a host of other minor actions. A number of raids passed through the area and both counties experienced the horrors of guerrilla warfare. More from the description: "Federal supporters in Cabell and Wayne counties lived through years of terror. Their efforts to save the Union and create the new state of West Virginia, and their willingness to die on behalf of the country ensured its survival from the greatest conflict in the history of the United States."

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you wish to comment, please sign your name. Otherwise, your submission may be rejected, at my discretion. Also, outside promotions are not allowed in the comments section.