West Virginia Department of Commerce Birth of the Civil War

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Birth of the Civil War

Day 1

Arrive in West Virginia, the only state born out of the Civil War and get ready to experience what Thomas Jefferson said was worth a trip across the sea.  The confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in Harpers Ferry will be a photo op for everyone.

Day 2

The slavery question, which between 1830 and 1860 tore at the fabric of the nation, left the Commonwealth of Virginia equally as divided.  Perhaps the most incendiary of all events connected with the slavery issue took place on what is now West Virginia soil, with the seizure of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry in 1859 by the fiery abolitionist, John Brown.  His plan for arming the slaves of northern Virginia and coordinating a general uprising, together with the secretiveness with which his plan was carried out, threw the South into a panic.

Follow the trail of John Brown as we visit the Engine House, walk the B & O Train Bridge, visit the John Brown Museum and see the wagon that carried Brown to the gallows at the Jefferson County Museum.  Find out why Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times during the Civil War and how Stonewall Jackson achieved his most brilliant victory in September 1862.

Day 3

Explore the town that became a vast hospital for Robert E. Lee’s retreating Confederate Army following the “bloodiest day of the war” at Antietam Creek.  Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia and home to many types of shops and restaurants.  Hear the story of Confederate Spy Belle Boyd at her childhood home in Martinsburg.  This evening set back and relax at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races for dinner and a little wager or two.

Day 4

After a hardy breakfast, depart for home and consider the other sites relevant to West Virginia’s birth for your next trip … Independence Hall, Center Market, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park and the list goes on.