Center for Civil War Studies will produce videos about West Virginia

May 15, 2000

Virginia Tech's Virginia Center for Civil War Studies will produce two videos about "West Virginia as a Child of the Civil War" with a grant from the Hugh I. Shott Jr. Foundation, an independent foundation that supports secondary and higher education, historic preservation, the arts, community development, and health in West Virginia and Virginia. The videos will be distributed to all elementary and high schools in West Virginia, as well as selected schools in Southwest Virginia.

"The Civil War is often referred to as a war of brother against brother and father against son. No other state serves as a better example of this than West Virginia, where there was relatively equal support for northern and southern causes," says James I. Robertson Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor of History at Virginia Tech and director of the Civil War center. Robertson has written and narrated several videos about the Civil War in Virginia for public television.

According to Robertson, the first video will look at the effect of Virginia's secession on its western counties. "As the Civil War spread across the country, Virginia seceded from the Union, and western Virginians began to think seriously of seceding from Virginia," he says.

The second video will examine Virginia's efforts to hold onto its western counties, which resulted in a number of military actions, and West Virginia's development into a separate state. "Once Virginia became the site of the Confederate capital, those families living in western Virginia became increasingly more resistant to pressure from Richmond," Robertson says. "The evolution of West Virginia statehood began in 1861 and 1862 when, at the Wheeling Convention, the idea of a state called Kanawha was proposed. This sentiment resulted in the formation of the West Virginia regiments, mainly Union but some Confederate, and led to additional military engagements, such as Rich Creek, Sewell Mountain and Cloyds Mountain."

West Virginia, which seceded from Virginia and joined the Union as the country's 35th state, provided the Union Army with 31,872 regular army troops, 133 sailors and marines, and 196 soldiers in the United Colored Troops. An estimated 16,000-20,000 West Virginians served in the Confederate Army.

According to Robertson, the two-part documentary will be part of Virginia Tech's ongoing efforts to initiate, organize and conduct a rich diversity of public and scholarly programs revolving around the Civil War. He anticipates that the first video will be completed for distribution in the 2001-02 school term.
-end-
Faculty member: James I. Robertson Jr.
540-231-5150
jircw@vt.edu


Virginia Tech

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