Sunday, May 15

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, May 15

West Virginia, a state born of war

In a May 12, 1861, dispatch to The Associated Press from Wheeling, in the future state of West Virginia, a correspondent reports the region is stirring with calls to break away from Virginia and side with the Union. Accounts speak of the region's leaders arriving in Wheeling on trains from pro-Union counties all around, filling up hotels in preparation for a two- or three-week convention to consider breaking with Virginia and siding with the Union.

"The town is alive with delegates to the Convention and they are continually arriving," the correspondent writes to AP of a gathering marked by a flurry of speeches and calls for action. "The speeches took determined grounds and favored immediate separation from the state (of Virginia). They were received with great enthusiasm."

Reports note an overwhelming sentiment in what was then Northwestern Virginia that the "only safety is in the Union." The dispatches add that two companies have already been mustered from the area for the Union fight and more are expected later. It is only a matter of time before West Virginia becomes the only state born of the Civil War.

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