Charleston Civil War Trails Markers
Explore Charleston's share of Civil War Trails Markers which detail the people and conflicts that defined the war in southern West Virginia.
This marker denotes the site of an early Civil War Battle for control of Kanawha Valley. A multipronged Union attack initially drove untested Confederate soldiers back. However, Confederate forces rallied and claimed a victory, though they continued their retreat out of southern West Virginia and into Virginia and Kentucky.
As Confederate forces closed in on Charleston in 1862, Union commander Colonel Joseph Lightburn recognized he was outnumbered and needed to extract his troops or face destruction. After a brief fight in the city, Lightburn's troops successfully withdrew across the Elk River and destroyed the bridge to prevent pursuit, setting the stage for a 50-mile retreat to Point Pleasant while guarding refugees and a supply train 700 wagons long.
Two markers on the north bank of the Kanawha River near downtown Charleston discuss aspects of military occupation during the Civil War. Notable during 1863 was the presence in Charleston of future U.S. presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley, both of whom served in the Union Army's 23rd Ohio Infantry Regiment, which was bivouacked across the river at Camp White. The former location of Camp White is visible from the marker.
Between September 6th and September 13th, 1862, Confederate forces pushed into the Kanawha Valley from western Virginia. When outnumbered Union troops pulled back from defensive positions near Fayetteville, a 10,000-strong Confederate force followed hot on the heels of the Federal retreat up the Kanawha Valley to Charleston. A brief but fierce fight took place throughout the city. Union troops withdrew across the Elk River and retreated north to Point Pleasant, but not before a large section of Charleston was burned to destroy military supplies. From the position of this marker, an observer would have been near the Union headquarters, and looked across the river toward attacking Confederate artillery.
The Craik-Patton House and the Ruffner Log Cabin, two significant dwellings that played a role in the area's Civil War heritage, have been moved to Daniel Boone Park.