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A Campaign of Firsts: Western Virginia in 1861 Itinerary

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

6:00 PM: Check in at headquarters hotel for meet, greet, and to pick up your reading books. We will have a pizza party with various beverages and snacks. Gary and Scott will then overview the commencement of the war and why many of the early engagements were in western Virginia. The balance of the talk will overview the next four days. If you are still hungry, dinner is on your own.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

8:15 AM. We move south toward Weston, where we will discuss and preview the early life of one of the greatest figures of the Civil War, Thomas Jonathan Jackson—Stonewall. We will then make a beeline for Grafton, where we will spend the remainder of the morning visiting the National Cemetery and talking about the first Union casualty of the war. From there we will stop at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the most prominent feature of the first campaign. After lunch, we will visit the site of the Grafton Hotel (McClellan’s HQ) and review his plans for what would be the battle of Phillipi. The balance of the day will be involved in the approach and battle—the first land battle of the Civil War. We will then return to Clarksburg. Lunch is included, and dinner is on your own.

Friday, June 1, 2018

8:00 AM. We head out to conclude this first western Virginia campaign by covering actions at Laurel Hill, Rich Mountain, and Corrick’s Ford. We think you will really get excited at the viewing of weathered signatures of those first veterans that remain on boulders at the mountaintop. As we detail the fighting at Corrick’s Ford, you will hear the story of the first death of a Confederate general in the war, Robert Garnett. The big value of this day is the insight you will gain about upcoming maneuvers and fighting in western Virginia. Our day concludes with a stop at McClellan’s headquarters in Beverly and a discussion about the elevation of George McClellan to General-in-Chief. Was it merited? What do you think? We will return to the hotel. Lunch is included, and dinner is on your own.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

8:00 AM. Robert E. Lee was not always great or revered, yet we can learn much about him from this abortive effort. We will focus on Lee and his rocky transition from senior Virginia general to presidential advisor to field commander and peacemaker. Our first stop is at Cheat Mountain, Lee’s first engagements in August and September of 1861. At the top of Cheat Mountain you will view preserved fortifications and learn about the only Union officer to beat both Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee in separate Civil War battles. Do you know who it is? After lunch, we will make our way to the October 1861 engagement at Elkwater and then continue on to Camp Bartow. The day’s last stop is at rather high terrain, the Allegheny summit, at 4,400 feet above sea level. We will discuss the December 1861 engagement there as well as the Confederates’ winter encampment that lasted until the spring of 1862. Lunch is included, and dinner is on your own.

Sunday June 3, 2018

8:15 AM. The intention of this tour was to focus on 1861, but since we are in the area we cannot resist the urge to jump forward to 1863. We will start off by heading to Droop Mountain, which was the last significant battle fought in West Virginia. We will spend the day on the battle. The November 1863 fight occurred several months after the creation of the state of West Virginia. You will like the detail and the interpretation of this neat fight on a very unique site. Lunch is included. We will adjourn upon return to the hotel in Clarksburg. Thanks for coming.


Registration includes four lunches, a welcoming pizza party, a reading book with maps, the academic program, support of two professional historians, tour director, and on-the-ground transportation appropriate to the registration (which will be limited to two vans: 19 people). We will also provide snacks, bottled water, and a limited selection of sodas.

Ten percent of your registration fee is a tax-deductible contribution to the BGES 25th Anniversary Capital Reserve Campaign.

Register for this program online using our secure Sutler’s Tent ecommerce site: Register for A Campaign of Firsts: Western Virginia in 1861.