“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Grafton in Taylor County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

The First Campaign

Civil War Begins in the Mountains of (West) Virginia


— The First Campaign —

The First Campaign Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, June 22, 2014
1. The First Campaign Marker
Inscription.  West Virginia, born of a nation divided, was the setting for the first campaign of America's Civil War. Although still part of Virginia in 1861, 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 first
The First Campaign Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, June 22, 2014
2. The First Campaign Marker
campaign proved to be decisive: the western counties under Union control became the new state of West Virginia in 1863. The arduous conflict in these mountains forged armies and leaders-notably McClellan, Lee, and Stonewall Jackson - who shaped the course of the Civil War.

"The history of that remarkable campaign would show, if truly portrayed, a degree of severity, of hardship, of toil, of exposure and suffering that finds no parallel."
Col. Samuel V. Fulkerson, C.S.A.
Erected by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil.
Location. 39° 20.482′ N, 80° 1.244′ W. Marker is in Grafton, West Virginia, in Taylor County. Marker is on West Main Street (U.S. 119) west of St. John Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Grafton WV 26354, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Grafton (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old Catholic Cemetery (approx. ¼ mile away); Federal Dam (approx. one mile away); a different marker also named Grafton (approx. one mile away); Valley Falls (approx. 1.2 miles away); Dedicated to the Memory of Thornsbury Bailey Brown
The First Campaign Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, June 22, 2014
3. The First Campaign Marker
Marker is on the right of this building, on the walk that climbs up to West Boyd Street.
(approx. 1½ miles away); John Barton Payne (approx. 3 miles away); Pruntytown (approx. 3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Grafton.
More about this marker. On the right side of the marker is a map of West Virginia with sites related to the Western Virginia campaign noted. This marker orients visitors to the early war campaign in West Virginia and is duplicated at several locations.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 3, 2014, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 377 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 3, 2014, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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Oct. 28, 2020