The Civil War
In Southwest Virginia, the Civil War is a story of railroads and resources.
The Virginia-Tennessee Railroad, the largest and longest in the South, connects Richmond with the western Confederacy. Federal troops seek to cut the railroad in two, time and again, in hit and run raids in Wytheville, Dublin, Abingdon and other rail centers.
Cumberland Gap changes hands many times, as first Union forces and then Confederates seize control of this key mountain pass.
Crucial resources for the Confederate war effort come from the wells and works at Saltville and the lead mines at Austinville.
Southwest Virginia provides both leadership and manpower for the Confederate army, producing a score of generals as well as infantry and cavalry units. Among the most famous are Jeb Stuart, born in Patrick County, who becomes the Confederacy's most famous cavalry general. Joe Johnston, who grew up in Abingdon, commands armies in the western Confederacy. Jubal Early of Franklin County leads a daring raid to the outskirts of Washington, D.C.
Casualties in the war are high, and many die of wounds and disease at hospitals in Emory and Abingdon. Wounded Union African-American troops are killed even after the first battle of Saltville is over. Battleground fatalities claim the lives of more, on both the Union and Confederate sides.
See the scenes of battle and re-enactments of Southwest Virginia's key engagements. Visit historic land, homes, and cabins that witnessed the experiences of men, women and children whose lives were forever changed by the Civil War.