Extract from Report of the Droop Mountain Battlefield Commission, 1928.
The Droop Mountain Battlefield Commission respectfully submits the following report: That on the 25th day of January, 1927, House Joint Resolution No. 8, was adopted, which is as follows:
"Providing for the appointment of a commission for the battlefield on Droop Mountain."
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
WHEREAS, One of the hard fought battles of the Civil War occurred at Droop Mountain, on November 6, 1863, a battle in which West Virginia soldiers, both Union and. Confederate, participated; and,
WHEREAS, The intervening years have obliterated many of the scars of that battle, yet there are still living old soldiers and citizens who can mark out the various positions of the different regiments, battalions and companies that were engaged in the battle; and,
WHEREAS, Droop Mountain is a very high elevation overlooking the valley of the Greenbrier River, the little levels of Pocahontas County, and the far off peaks of the Alleghany Mountains, making it one of the most beautiful scenic spots in West Virginia; therefore be it
Resolved, That the Governor be requested to appoint a committee of five, three from the House and two from the Senate, Whose duty it will be to look over the battlefield, temporarily mark the battle lines, and secure all necessary information from the old soldiers and citizens yet living in the community, that everything authentic may be preserved for future generations. The committee shall ascertain the owners of the land upon which the battle was fought and take a conditional option on some part of such land, of not less than fifty acres, at a price that seems reasonable to the committee.
The members of the committee shall be paid their actual expenses incurred in carrying out this resolution.
Pursuant to the Joint Resolution aforesaid and in compliance therewith, your Excellency on the 21st day of April, 1927, appointed a commission as follows:
From. the House of Delegates:
John D. Sutton of Sutton, West Virginia.
N. F.Kendall of Grafton, West Virginia.
M. M. Harrison of Confidence, West Virginia.
From the Senate:
A. L.Helmick of Thomas, West Virginia.
Robert F. Kidd of Glenville, West Virginia.
That your Commission met on the 28th day of April, 1927, in the City of Charleston, and organized by the election of John D. Sutton as chairman and N. F. Kendall as Secretary.
The Commission at this meeting authorized the Chairman to employ a, competent engineer to aid and assist in the preparation of the map of the battlefield, showing the most important points in this, one of the fiercest and most decisive battles waged on West Virginia soil during the Civil War. The Commission then adjourned to meet at the call of the Chairman.
Your Commission pursuant to the call of the Chairman on the 18th day of July, 1927, met at Marlinton and on the 19th visited the scene of the battlefield on Droop Mountain, accompanied by quite a number of prominent and interested citizens from Marlinton and Hillsboro - many of whom were thoroughly acquainted with the battlefield and furnished much valuable information to the Commission.
On July 20th, 1927, the Commission met in session at the residence of Mrs. Rebecca B. McCarty, which is located on the farm where the great and destructive battle was fought. All of the members of the Commission were present.
The Commission inspected the battlefield and made a fairly complete survey of the same. It comprises more than two thousand acres of territory.
Your Commission further reports that they stood on the summit of Droop Mountain on a calm, quiet summer day, when the whole surrounding country seemed at peace and there was nothing to indicate that sixty-four years prior to that time those who wore the blue and those clad in the gray were engaged on that hill in one gigantic struggle for the mastery of West Virginia, then in its infancy. Each army fought for what it believed to be right and nearly all of the men who were actors in that bloody drama were West Virginians. But the North and South ended their bitter struggle, the Republic was preserved, and the animosity engendered by that conflict has passed away and universal peace reigns throughout the Republic.
The scene spread out before us was one of indescribable beauty and enchantment. Towering mountains, the smiling and fertile plain and the famous and historic Greenbrier River, flowing gently at the base of the rugged mountain. Nowhere in all of our travels have we witnessed such scenic beauty or such a location for a great State Park.
After such inspection your Commission decided that a part of the battlefield should be optioned for "A Battlefield State Park" and decided that the ground embraced in the McCarty farm, consisting of about one hundred and forty-one acres, this covering the spot where the battle was most fiercely waged, and such option was obtained, subject, however to areservation of fifteen acres around the residence and also the graveyard of one-half acre.
This option is filed herewith and made part of this report and the Secretary was directed to send a copy of the option to your Excellency. The matter of making a survey and of locating and marking the important points of interest was left to the Chairman.
Your Commission further reports that the Chairman caused to he made a map of the said battlefield, showing the location of the battle lines and position of the different units engaged therein, as well as much other valuable information, which plat is filed herewith and made part of this report.
The Commission then adjourned to meet again at the call of the Chairman. A call was made by him for a meeting to be held at Weston, West Virginia, on the 28th day of December, 1927, at which meeting all the members were present, except Delegate Harrison. At this meeting the scope of the report of the Commission was decided upon and the preparation of the report was delegated to Senator Kidd, with the aid of the Chairman and Secretary. It was the expressed intention to make the report very complete, and that it should contain, the photographs of your Excellency and of the Commission, and further contain the cuts and a brief biographic sketch of the leading officers engaged in that hotly contested battle, as well as photographic views of the field and of the Little Levels Valley. That it also contain a picture of the old hospital now standing, and further a recommendation for a lake and flying field, and that it also contain letters and interviews obtained from soldiers engaged in the battle and other interesting incidents connected therewith.
Your Commission further reports that all of the matters set forth are filed herewith or printed in this report and asked to be made part thereof.
The Commission reports that Droop Mountain is a high elevation, nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, and contains several high peaks; the land is rolling, and is a limestone soil and the tract optioned is about one-half cleared. The woodland contains some valuable timber.
The scenery from this mountain is beautiful, stretching northward is what is known as the Little Levels of Pocahontas County, and a magnificent view of the Alleghany Mountains and the Greenbrier River as it cuts its way through the myriad hills and spurs of the Alleghenies.
Prior to this battle there were no considerable Confederate forces anywhere in West Virginia except in the Greenbrier Valley, which was held by the Confederates from its head to its foot, a distance of about one hundred seventy miles, and which protected Virginia from attacks from the west. For the purpose of dislodging these Confederate forces, General Averell was directed to march from Beverly, West Virginia, to Lewisburg and that it was while on this march he met the enemy at Droop Mountain. The battle was there fought on the 6th day of November, 1863, between the forces commanded by General Averell, and the Confederate forces by General John Echols and Colonel William L. Jackson.
Your Commission further reports that this was the only battle where the forces were composed largely of West Virginia soldiers, and fought on West Virginia soil.
Droop Mountain is fourteen miles south of Marlinton, seven from Millpoint and four and one-tenth miles from Hillsboro, and it is also. ten miles from Renic station, sixteen miles from Frankfort and twenty-four miles from Lewisburg. Your Commission further reports that Hills Creek, rising at the base of some high mountains, west of Droop Mountain, sinks and passes under Droop Mountain, near the middle of the battlefield, then emerges at the eastern edge where it is called Locust Creek. It flows about two miles to the Greenbrier River.
. . .
Since attention has been called to the Droop Mountain Battlefield great interest has been shown all over the State, and being situated as it is on one of the paved highways of the State, no greater attraction can be shown than the great scenic views of the mountains and rivers, and the rich valley, lying at its base, together with the battlefield, will make Droop Mountain one of the nation's leading attractions, and will advertise West Virginia, as nothing else could do.
We wish to call your attention to the fact that the effort that is being put forth for the development and beautifying the battlefield has met the hearty response of every old soldier, living of either army, and has the universal approval of the citizens of the State, and the West Virginia Historical Society at a recent meeting, held in Charleston, passed the following resolution:
"Resolved, That we, the West Virginia Historical Society earnestly commend the Droop Mountain Battle Field Commission for their labors and zeal, in acquiring title to the land on which the battle was fought, and for the work that has been done and the effort that is being made for the improvement and beautifying one of the greatest natural scenic views of the State; and that funds should be appropriated to carry on the work that the Commission has begun.
''Resolved, That the thanks of the Society are hereby extended to Governor Gore for the aid he has given the Battlefield Commission in its work, and
"Resolved, further, That the memory of the brave men, of both armies, who fought the memorable battle of Droop Mountain, should be perpetuated for all time by monuments and parks, and the battle's history, and that the State should no longer neglect this historic battlefield in beautifying a spot, drenched with the blood of her own sons, around which cluster so many sacred memories of the dead."
Your Commission further reports that the land optioned is not complete, nor can it be made so, without acquiring the fifteen acres reserved. This your commission would recommend should be done, at a reasonable price, to be agreed upon by the parties in interest. We wish to call special attention to the topography of the mountain. There is a straight ridge running north and south, through the greater part of the land optioned. This ridge is smooth and rises to the north and would make a fine field for airplanes to operate.
Another matter of special interest is an ancient lake that was discovered by the Chairman of your Commission. Its outline is plainly marked and shows it to have been a magnificent lake of water, but the countless ages have encroached upon its shores, until it is covered over with elder brush, moss and vines. Its waters flow out from the end of the lake, and with two small fills would, in all probability, be sufficient to impound the waters, to a depth of several feet, and a driveway around the lake would be about one mile in length, and we believe that the magnitude of the lake, covering about fifteen acres, would support millions of mountain trout.
Your Commission would recommend that the land optioned should be purchased and a deed obtained and the title to the fifteen acres reserved should also be obtained and that an appropriation of $35,000.00 may be made for the payment of the lands and to carry on the work of improvement as rapidly as possible, and we would further recommend that the marketable timber on the lands be sold and that the ridge, hereinbefore referred to, should be made accessibl[e] for flying machines; and also that the water of the lake should be impounded; and that suitable driveways and other attractive features be prepared as early as possible and that ultimately a great park may be established and maintained that would be equal at least to those in other states.
Your Commission would further recommend that your Excellency call the attention of the Governors of Pennsylvania and Ohio to the very valuable service rendered by the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Schoonmaker, and the 28th Ohio Infantry, commanded by Colonel Moor, as these states might desire to perpetuate the memory of those brave men by a suitable monument or monuments placed on the battle lines where they fought.
Your Commission here expresses the belief that by the expenditure of a reasonable sum of money on the Droop Mountain Battlefield that it would become such an attractive resort and of a value to the State beyond estimation in dollars and cents, and that the same would produce a patriotic sentiment that would forever be blended and clustered around the field that holds so many sacred memories.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
JNO. D. SUTTON,
N. F. KENDALL,
R. F. KIDD,
M. M. HARRISON,
A. L. HELMICK.
Parks and Recreation