Wheeling in Ohio County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
The First Campaign
Civil War Begins in the Mountains of (West) Virginia
— The First Campaign —
West Virginia, born of a nation divided, was the setting for the first campaign of America’s Civil War. Although still part of Virginia in1861, many citizens of the west remained loyal to the Union, rather than the Confederacy. By late May, Union General George B. McClellan, commanding the Department of the Ohio, launched the first campaign, ordering troops to cross the Ohio River and secure “Western” Virginia for the Union.
Here, during June-July 1861, McClellan’s army won the inaugural Union victories of the Civil War. Hailed as the North’s first battlefield hero, McClellan was summoned to Washington on July 22, following a stunning Union debacle at Manassas, Virginia. Federal troops now occupied Western Virginia, as loyal delegates met in Wheeling to form the “Restored Government of Virginia,” a Union government to oppose the Confederate one in Richmond.
By August 1861, Southern forces again threatened. Confederate General Robert E. Lee attempted to reclaim Western Virginia, but failed miserably. Troops of both armies remained to guard the mountain passes during that terrible winter. By 1862, conflict shifted east.
”The history of that remarkable campaign would show, if truly portrayed, a degree of severity, of hardship, of tail, of exposure and suffering that finds no parallel.”
Col. Samuel V. Fulkerson, C.S.A.
Erected by Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1861.
Location. 40° 3.842′ N, 80° 43.3′ W. Marker is in Wheeling, West Virginia, in Ohio County. Marker is on 16th Street (State Highway 2) east of Market Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wheeling WV 26003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wheeling Custom House (here, next to this marker); Old Garibaldi (here, next to this marker); The Athenaeum (a few steps from this marker); Francis H. Pierpont (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named The Athenaeum (a few steps from this marker); Old Custom HouseBaltimore and Ohio Passenger Station (within shouting distance of this marker); B & O Railroad (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wheeling.
Also see . . . The Mountain Campaign of 1861-62 in Western Virginia. Rich Mountain website entry (Submitted on February 1, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2022. It was originally submitted on August 18, 2010, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. This page has been viewed 972 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on August 19, 2010, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. 2, 3. submitted on August 21, 2010, by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. 4. submitted on July 7, 2021, by TeamOHE of Napoleon, Ohio. 5, 6. submitted on January 4, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.