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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood


Introduction

"Where Shall Western Virginia Go?" That question was posed in a letter published in the Wheeling Intelligencer on December 31, 1860. By then, Virginia’s citizens had been considering the future in earnest for nearly two months, since Abraham Lincoln’s victory in the presidential election on November 6 made certain that the country would be led by the standard bearer of the Republican Party. As early as November 12, when citizens in Preston County gathered, Virginians in the western counties began holding meetings to consider the political situation. The day after the election, Virginia Governor John Letcher was petitioned to call an extra session of the legislature; a week later, he called the legislature to meet in January.

The decades-long tensions over slavery, heightened by John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859, were exacerbated by a faction of southern states rights proponents ready to see Virginia secede from the Union. Yet, many other Virginians, both slaveholders and non-slaveholders, particularly in the central and northwestern regions, were opposed to such action. Deteriorating conditions in the country as 1860 came to a close made Virginia’s future course less certain, however. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the United States. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana would follow in January and Texas on February 1. These 7 states would form the Confederate States of America in March.

The timeline presented through the links below covers West Virginia's Civil War and Statehood period. It begins with January 1861 and covers military and political events affecting the parts of Virginia that would become West Virginia. Only events for 1861 and 1862 are available at present, but Archives and History will be adding other years during the course of the sesquicentennial commemoration. Much of the material was transcribed by Archives and History staff, but entries were also extracted from online versions of the Richmond Daily Dispatch and the War of the Rebellion.


1861

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

1862

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

1863

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

1864

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

1865

January
February
March
April
May


West Virginia Sequicentennial

West Virginia Archives and History