Virginia in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The Commonwealth of Virginia was a prominent part of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. The convention called to act for the state during the secession crisis opened on February 13, 1861, after seven seceding states had formed the Confederacy on February 4. Unionist delegates dominated the convention and defeated a motion to secede on April 4. The convention deliberated for several months, but on April 15 President Abraham Lincoln called for troops from all states still in the Union in response to the Confederate capture of Fort Sumter. On April 17, the Virginia convention voted to secede, pending ratification of the decision by the voters. With the entry of Virginia into the Confederacy, a decision was made in May to move the Confederate capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, in part because the defense of Virginia's capital was deemed strategically vital to the Confederacy's survival regardless of its political status. Virginians ratified the articles of secession on May 23. The following day, the Union army moved into northern Virginia and captured Alexandria without a fight.
Most of the battles in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War took place in Virginia because the Confederacy had to defend its national capital at Richmond, and public opinion in the North demanded that the Union move "On to Richmond!" The remarkable success of Robert E. Lee in defending Richmond is a central theme of the military history of the war. The White House of the Confederacy, located a few blocks north of the State Capital, was home to the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
On October 16, 1859, the radical abolitionist John Brown led a group of 22 men in a raid on the Federal Arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Federal troops, led by Robert E. Lee, responded and quelled the raid. Subsequently, John Brown was tried and executed by hanging in Charles Town on December 2, 1859.
In 1860 the Democratic Party split into northern and southern factions over the issue of slavery in the territories and Stephen Douglas’ support for popular sovereignty: after failing in both Charleston and Baltimore to nominate a single candidate acceptable to the South, Southern Democrats held their convention in Richmond, Virginia on June 26, 1860 and nominated John C. Breckinridge as their party candidate for President.
When Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected as president, Virginians were concerned about the implications for their state. While a majority of the state would look for compromises to the sectional differences, most people also opposed any restrictions on slaveholders’ rights. As the state watched to see what South Carolina would do, many Unionists felt that the greatest danger to the state came not from the North but from "rash secession" by the lower South.
Call for secession convention
On November 15, 1860 Virginia Governor John Letcher called for a special session of the Virginia General Assembly to consider, among other issues, the creation of a secession convention. The legislature convened on January 7 and approved the convention on January 14. On January 19 the General Assembly called for a national Peace Conference, led by Virginia's former President of the United States, John Tyler, to be held in Washington on February 4, the same date that elections were scheduled for delegates to the secession convention.
The election of convention delegates drew 145,700 voters who elected, by county, 152 representatives. Thirty of these delegates were secessionists, thirty were unionists, and ninety-two were moderates who were not clearly identified with either of the first two groups. Nevertheless, advocates of immediate secession were clearly outnumbered. Simultaneous to this election, six Southern states formed the Confederate States of America on February 4.
The convention met on February 13 at the Richmond Mechanics Institute located at Ninth and Main Street in Richmond. One of the convention's first actions was to create a 21 member Federal Relations Committee charged with reaching a compromise to the sectional differences as they affected Virginia. The committee was made up of 4 secessionists, 10 moderates and 7 unionists. At first there was no urgency to the convention’s deliberations as all sides felt that time only aided their cause. In addition, there were hopes that the Peace Conference of 1861 on January 19, led by Virginia's former President of the United States, John Tyler, might resolve the crisis by, in historian Edward L. Ayers’s words, “guaranteeing the safety of slavery forever and the right to expand slavery in the territories below the Missouri Compromise line.” With the failure of the Peace Conference at the end of February, moderates in the convention began to waver in their support for unionism. Unionist support by many was further eroded for many Virginians by Lincoln’s March 4 First Inaugural address which they felt was “argumentative, if not defiant. Throughout the state there was evidence that support for secession was growing.
The Federal Relations Committee made its report to the convention on March 9. The fourteen proposals defended both slavery and states’ rights while calling for a meeting of the eight slave states still in the Union to present a united front for compromise. From March 15 through April 14 the convention debated these proposals one by one. During the debate on the resolutions, the sixth resolution calling for a peaceful solution and maintenance of the Union came up for discussion on April 4. Lewis Edwin Harvie of Amelia County offered a substitute resolution calling for immediate secession. This was voted down by 88 to 45 and the next day the convention continued its debate. Approval of the last proposal came on April 12. The goal of the unionist faction after this approval was to adjourn the convention until October, allowing time for both the convention of the slave states and Virginia’s congressional elections in May which, they hoped, would produce a stronger mandate for compromise.
After the Virginia Convention rejected the session by a two-to-one margin on the 4th of April, the tensions increased and war enthusiasm continued to grow. A showdown mounted at Charleston, S.C., between the Confederate forces and the Federal garrison inside Fort Sumter. The day of April 12, 1861; with a Northern relief expedition coming close to the harbor, the Southern batteries began to open fire. Fort Sumter was forced to surrender after a thirty-six hour bombardment.
Proposals Adopted by the Virginia Convention of 1861
The first resolution asserted states’ rights per se; the second was for retention of slavery; the third opposed sectional parties; the fourth called for equal recognition of slavery in both territories and non-slave states; the fifth demanded the removal of federal forts and troops from seceded states; the sixth hoped for a peaceable adjustment of grievances and maintaining the Union; the seventh called for Constitutional amendments to remedy federal and state disputes; the eighth recognized the right of secession; the ninth said the federal government had no authority over seceded states since it refused to recognize their withdrawal; the tenth said the federal government was empowered to recognize the Confederate States; the eleventh was an appeal to Virginia’s sister states; the twelfth asserted Virginia’s willingness to wait a reasonable period of time for an answer to its propositions, providing no one resorted to force against the seceded states; the thirteenth asked United States and Confederate States governments to remain peaceful; and the fourteenth asked the border slave states to meet in conference to consider Virginia’s resolutions and to join in Virginia’s appeal to the North.
At the same time, unionists were concerned about the continued presence of federal forces at Fort Sumter despite assurances communicated informally to them by Secretary of State William Seward that it would be abandoned. Lincoln and Seward were also concerned that the Virginia convention was still in session as of the first of April while secession sentiment was growing. At Lincoln’s invitation, unionist John B. Baldwin of Augusta County, met with Lincoln on April 4. Baldwin explained that the unionists needed the evacuation of Fort Sumter, a national convention to debate the sectional differences, and a commitment by Lincoln to support constitutional protections for southern rights. Over Lincoln’s skepticism, Baldwin argued that Virginia would be out of the Union within forty-eight hours if either side fired a shot at the fort. By some accounts, Lincoln offered to evacuate Fort Sumter if the Virginia convention would adjourn.
On April 6, amid rumors that the North was preparing for war, the convention voted by a narrow 63-57 to send a three man delegation to Washington to determine from Lincoln what his intentions were. However due to bad weather the delegation did not arrive in Washington until April 12. They learned of the attack on Fort Sumter from Lincoln, and the President advised them of his intent to hold the fort and respond to force with force. Reading from a prepared text to prevent any misinterpretations of his intent, Lincoln told them that he had made it clear in his inaugural address that the forts and arsenals in the South were government property and “if ... an unprovoked assault has been made upon Fort Sumter, I shall hold myself at liberty to re-possess, if I can, like places which have been seized before the Government was devolved upon me.”
The pro-Union sentiment in Virginia was further weakened after the April 12 Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter. Richmond reacted with large public demonstrations in support of the Confederacy on April 13 when it first received the news of the attack. A Richmond newspaper described the scene in Richmond on the 13th:
- "Saturday night the offices of the Dispatch, Enquirer and Examiner, the banking house of Enders, Sutton & Co., the Edgemont House, and sundry other public and private places, testified to the general joy by brilliant illuminations.
- Hardly less than ten thousand persons were on Main street, between 8th and 14th, at one time. Speeches were delivered at the Spottswood House, at the Dispatch corner, in front of the Enquirer office, at the Exchange Hotel, and other places. Bonfires were lighted at nearly every corner of every principal street in the city, and the light of beacon fires could be seen burning on Union and Church Hills. The effect of the illumination was grand and imposing. The triumph of truth and justice over wrong and attempted insult was never more heartily appreciated by a spontaneous uprising of the people. Soon the Southern wind will sweep away with the resistless force of a tornado, all vestige of sympathy or desire of co-operation with a tyrant who, under false pretences, in the name of a once glorious, but now broken and destroyed Union, attempts to rivet on us the chains of a despicable and ignoble vassalage. Virginia is moving." The convention reconvened on April 13 to reconsider Virginia's position, given the outbreak of hostilities. With Virginia still in a delicate balance, with no firm determination yet to secede, sentiment turned more strongly toward secession on April 15, following President Abraham Lincoln's call to all states that had not declared a secession, including Virginia, for troops to assist in halting the insurrection and recovering the captured forts.
War Department, Washington, April 15, 1861. To His Excellency the Governor of Virginia: Sir: Under the act of Congress for calling forth "militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, repel invasions, etc.," approved February 28, 1795, I have the honor to request your Excellency to cause to be immediately detached from the militia of your State the quota designated in the table below, to serve as infantry or rifleman for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged. Your Excellency will please communicate to me the time, at or about, which your quota will be expected at its rendezvous, as it will be met as soon as practicable by an officer to muster it into the service and pay of the United States.
— Simon Cameron, Secretary of War.
The quota for Virginia attached called for three regiments of 2,340 men to rendezvous at Staunton, Wheeling and Gordonsville. Governor Letcher and the recently reconvened Virginia Secession Convention considered this request from Lincoln "for troops to invade and coerce" lacking in constitutional authority, and out of scope of the Act of 1795. Governor Letcher's "reply to that call wrought an immediate change in the current of public opinion in Virginia"., whereupon he issued the following reply:
Executive Department, Richmond, Va., April 15, 1861. Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War: Sir: I have received your telegram of the 15th, the genuineness of which I doubted. Since that time I have received your communications mailed the same day, in which I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Virginia "the quota assigned in a table," which you append, "to serve as infantry or rifleman for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged." In reply to this communication, I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object - an object, in my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the act of 1795 - will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and, having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the administration has exhibited toward the South.
— Respectfully, John Letcher
Thereafter, the secession convention voted on April 17, provisionally, to secede, on the condition of ratification by a statewide referendum. Ayers, who felt that "even Fort Sumter might have passed, however, had Lincoln not called for the arming of volunteers", wrote of the convention's final decision:
The decision came from what seemed to many white Virginians the unavoidable logic of the situation: Virginia was a slave state; the Republicans had announced their intention of limiting slavery; slavery was protected by the sovereignty of the state; an attack on that sovereignty by military force was an assault on the freedom of property and political representation that sovereignty embodied. When the federal government protected the freedom and future of slavery by recognizing the sovereignty of the states, Virginia's Unionists could tolerate the insult the Republicans represented; when the federal government rejected that sovereignty, the threat could no longer be denied even by those who loved the Union.
The Governor of Virginia immediately began mobilizing the Virginia State Militia to strategic points around the state. Former Governor Henry Wise had arranged with militia officers on April 16, before the final vote, to seize the United States arsenal at Harpers Ferry and the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk. On April 17 in the debate over secession Wise announced to the convention that these events were already in motion. On April 18 the arsenal was captured and most of the machinery was moved to Richmond. At Gosport, the Union Navy, believing that several thousand militia were headed their way, evacuated and abandoned Norfolk, Virginia and the navy yard, burning and torching as many of the ships and facilities as possible.
Colonel Robert E. Lee resigned his U.S. Army commission, turning down an offer of command for the U.S. Army.
Virginia's ordinance of secession was ratified in a referendum held on May 23, 1861, by a vote of 132,201 to 37,451.
The referendum was a perfunctory endorsement of the Governor Letcher's decision to join the Confederacy and was not a free and fair election. The Confederate Congress proclaimed Richmond to be new capital of the Confederacy and Confederate troops moved into northern Virginia before the referendum was held. The actual number of votes for or against secession are unknown since votes in many counties in northwestern and eastern Virginia (where most of Virginia's unionists lived) were "discarded or lost." Governor Letcher "estimated" the vote for these areas.  Many unionists feared retaliation if they voted against secession because it wasn't a secret ballot and Virgina's pro-confederate government would have a record of their votes. Unionists who did attempt to vote were threaten with violence and even death on some occasions. Women and Virginians of African ancestry, slave or free, were excluded from taking part in the referendum. Had the referendum been free and fair, with Virginians of African ancestry allowed to vote, it might have been defeated.
The reaction to the referendum was swift on both sides. Confederate troops shut down the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, one of Washington, DC's two rail links to Ohio and points west. The next day, the Union army moved into northern Virginia. With both armies now in northern Virginia, the stage was set for war. In June, Virginia unionists met at the Wheeling Convention to set up the Restored Government of Virginia. Francis Pierpont was elected governor. The restored government raised troops to defend the Union. It resided in Wheeling until August 1863 when it moved to Alexandria with West Virginia's admittance to the Union. During the summer of 1861, most of the northern, western and eastern Virginia, including the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, were returned to Union control. Norfolk returned to union control in May 1862. These areas would be administered by the Restored Government of Virginia, with the northwestern counties later becoming the new state of West Virginia. In April 1865, Francis Pierpont and the Restored Government of Virginia moved to Richmond.
Virginia during the war
The first major battle of the Civil War occurred on July 21, 1861. Union forces attempted to take control of the railroad junction at Manassas for use as a supply line, but the Confederate Army had moved its forces by train to meet the Union. The Confederates won the First Battle of Bull Run (known as "First Battle of Manassas" in southern naming convention) and the year went on without a major fight.
The first and last significant battles were held in Virginia, the first being the First Battle of Bull Run and the last being the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse. From May 1861 to April 1865, Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy. The White House of the Confederacy, located a few blocks north of the State Capital, was home to the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Union general George B. McClellan was forced to retreat from Richmond by Robert E. Lee's army. Union general Pope was defeated at the Second Battle of Manassas. Following the one-sided Confederate victory Battle of Fredericksburg, Union general Hooker was defeated at Chancellorsville by Lee's army. Ulysses Grant's Overland Campaign was fought in Virginia. The campaign included battles of attrition at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor and ended with the Siege of Petersburg and Confederate defeat.
In April 1865, a fire set in Richmond by the retreating Confederate Army burned 25 percent of the city before being put out by the Union army. It was the Union Army that saved the city from widespread conflagration and ruin. As a result, Richmond emerged from the Civil War as an economic powerhouse, with most of its buildings and factories undamaged.
Virginia was administered as the "First Military District" during the Reconstruction period (1865–1870) under General John Schofield. On January 26, 1870, when the U.S. Congress approved a new Virginia constitution, Virginia's representatives membership to the Congress was restored.
Richmond, Virginia was the only large-scale industrial city controlled by the Confederacy during most of the Civil War. The city's Tredegar Iron Works, the 3rd largest foundry in the United States at the start of the war, produced most of the Confederate artillery, including a number of giant rail-mounted siege cannons. The company also manufactured railroad locomotives, boxcars and rails, as well as steam propulsion plants and iron plating for warships. Richmond had shipyards too, although they were smaller than the shipyards controlled by the Union in Norfolk, Virginia. Richmond's factories also produced guns, bullets, tents, uniforms, harnesses, leather goods, swords, bayonets, and other war materiel. A number of textile plants, floor mills, brick factories, newspapers and book publishers were located in Richmond too. The city's warehouses were the supply and logistical center for Confederate forces.
The Confederate need for war materiel played a very significant role in its decision to move its capital from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond in May 1861, despite its dangerous northern location 100 miles south of the United Sates Capital in Washington, DC. It was mainly for this industrial reason that the Confederates fought so hard to defend the city. The capital of the Confederacy could easily be moved again if necessary, but Richmond's industry and factories could not be moved. The city's loss to the Union army in April 1865 made a Union victory in the Civil War inevitable. With Virginia firmly under Union control, including the industrial centers of Richmond and Norfolk, the mostly rural and agricultural deep south lacked the industry needed to supply the Confederate war effort.
Soldiers and Sailers
Roughly 120,000 Virginians from all economic and social levels, both slaveholders and non-slaveholders, as well as former Unionists, served in the Confederate military. These men included General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, General Stonewall Jackson and General J.E.B. Stuart. Roughly 40,000 Virginians served in the Union military, including West Virginians and roughly 6,000 Virginians of African ancestry. Areas of Virginia that supplied Union soldiers and sent few or no men to fight for the Confederacy had few slaves, a high percentage of poor families, and a history of opposition to secession. These areas were located near northern states and were often under Union control. 40% of Virginian officers in the United States military when the war started stayed and fought for the Union. These men included Winfield Scott, General-in-Chief of the Union Army, David G. Farragut, First Admiral of the Union Navy, and General George Henry Thomas.
West Virginia splits
The western counties could not tolerate the Confederacy; they formed a pro Union state government of Virginia in 1861 (recognized by Washington), then with its permission formed the new state of West Virginia in 1863.
At the Richmond secession convention on April 17, 1861, the delegates from western counties were 17 in favor and 30 against secession.
From May to August 1861, a series of Unionist conventions met in Wheeling; the Second Wheeling Convention constituted itself as a legislative body called the Restored Government of Virginia. It declared Virginia was still in the Union but that the state offices were vacant and elected a new governor, Francis H. Pierpont, this body gained formal recognition by the Lincoln administration on July 4, but Congress did not seat its elected representatives. On August 20 the Wheeling body passed an ordinance for the creation; it was put to public vote on Oct. 24. The vote was in favor of a new state—West Virginia—which was distinct from the Pierpont government, which persisted until the end of the war.
Congress and Lincoln approved, and, after providing for gradual emancipation of slaves in the new state constitution, West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863.
During the War, West Virginia contributed about 32,000 soldiers to the Union Army and about 10,000 to the Confederate cause. Richmond of course did not recognize the new state, and Confederates did not vote there. Everyone realized the decision would be made on the battlefield, and Richmond sent in Robert E. Lee. But Lee found little local support and was defeated by Union forces from Ohio. Union victories in 1861 drove the Confederate forces out of the Monongahela and Kanawha valleys, and throughout the remainder of the war the Union held the region west of the Alleghenies and controlled the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the north.
Notable Civil War leaders (Confederate) from Virginia
Robert E. Lee
Thomas J. Jackson
Joseph E. Johnston
A. P. Hill
Richard S. Ewell
Jubal A. Early
Lewis A. Armistead
Notable Civil War leaders (Union) from Virginia
David G. Farragut
George Henry Thomas
John Davidson (general)
Philip St. George Cooke
William R. Terrill
Alexander Brydie Dyer
John Newton (engineer)
William Hays (general)
Abolitionist and Richmond Spy Ring Leader
Elizabeth Van Lew
- Alexandria in the Civil War
- Army of Northern Virginia
- Confederate States of America States (animated map of secession and confederacy)
- Richmond in the Civil War
- Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters Museum
- Virginia Units in the Civil War
- Winchester in the Civil War
- McPherson pp. 213-216
- Link p. 217. Link wrote, “Although a majority probably favored compromise, most opposed any weakening of slaveholders’ protections. Even so-called moderates -- mostly Whigs and Douglas Democrats -- opposed the sacrifice of these rights and they rejected ant acquiescence or ‘submission’ to federal coercion. ... To a growing body of Virginians, Lincoln’s election meant the onset of an active war against southern institutions. These men shared a common fear of northern Republicans and a common suspicion of a northern conspiracy against the South.”
- Ayers p. 86
- Link p. 224
- Robertson p. 3-4. Robertson, clarifying the position of the moderates, wrote, "However, the term 'unionist' had an altogether different meaning in Virginia at the time. Richmond delegates Marmaduke Johnson and William McFarland were both outspoken conservatives. Yet in their respective campaigns, each declared that he was in favor of separation from the Union if the federal government did not guarantee protection of slavery everywhere. Moreover, the threat of the federal government's using coercion became an overriding factor in the debates that followed."
- Link p. 227
- Robertson p. 5
- Ayers pp. 120-123
- Potter pp. 545-546. Nevins pp. 411-412. The conferences recommendations, which differed little from the Crittenden Compromise, were defeated in the Senate by a 28 to 7 vote and were never voted on by the House.
- Robertson p. 8. Robert E. Scott of Fauquier County noted that this failure and the North’s apparent indifference to southern concerns “extinguished all hope of a settlement by the direct action of those States, and I at once accepted the dissolution of the existing Union ... as a necessity.”
- Robertson p. 8. Robertson quotes an observer of the speech saying, ”Mr. Lincoln raised his voice and distinctly emphasized the declaration that he must take, hold, possess, and occupy the property and places [in the South] belonging to the United States. This was unmistakable, and he paused for a moment after closing the sentence as if to allow it to be fully taken in and comprehended by his audience.”
- Robertson p. 9. Robertson writes, “Although some leaders such as Governor Letcher still believed that ‘patience and prudence’ would ‘work out the results,’ a growing, uncontrollable attitude for war was sweeping through the state. Militia units were organizing from the mountains to the Tidewater. Newspapers in Richmond and elsewhere maintained a steady heat, noisy partisans filled the convention galleries, and at night large crowds surged through the capital streets ‘with bands of music and called out their favorite orators at the different hotels.’”
- Robertson p. 13. The committee report represented the moderate/unionist position; the vote in committee was 12 in favor, 2 against, with 7 abstaining.
- Riggs p. 268
- Robertson p. 15
- Link p. 235
- James I.Robertson Jr. p.7 BATTLEGROUND FOR A NATION CIVIL WAR VIRGINIA 1991 www.upress.virginia.edu
- Riggs p. 264. Riggs made his summary based on Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861, Volume 1, pp. 701-716
- Potter p. 355
- Klein p. 381-382. Ayers (p. 125) notes that Baldwin had said that “there is but one single subject of complaint which Virginia has to make against the government under which we live; a complaint made by the whole South, and that is the subject of African slavery.
- Klein p. 381-382. Baldwin denied receiving the offer to evacuate Fort Sumter, but the next day Lincoln told another Virginia unionist, John Minor Botts, that the offer had been made. In any event, the offer was never presented to the convention.
- Robertson p. 14-15. Furgurson p. 29-30.
- McPherson p. 278.
- Furgurson p. 32.
- (Richmond Daily Dispatch April 15, 1861)
- "On This Day: Legislative Moments in Virginia History". Virginia Historical Society.
- "Lincoln Call for Troops".(page includes TWO documents)
- Clement A. Evans, Confederate Military History- Volume III - Virginia, pt. 1, p. 38
- Ayers p. 140
- Ayers p. 141
- McPherson p. 279-280
- Virginia Historical Society
- West Virginia Division of Culture and History
- Library of Virginia
- Encyclopedia Virginia
- http://books.google.com/books?id=g7ABIgo_yDgC&pg=PP1&ots=wJAnYXykKy&dq=civil+war+history&sig=7KIo6o_w7hTI5hY3HK1_d_FJ7YM#PPP9,M1 The Civil War: A History
- Aaron Sheehan-Dean, "Everyman's War: Confederate Enlistment in Civil War Virginia," Civil War History, March 2004, Vol. 50 Issue 1, pp 5-26
- Pryor, Elizabeth Brown (2011-04-19). "The General in His Study". Disunion. The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
- In the statewide vote on May 23, 1861 on secession, the 50 counties of the future West Virginia voted 34,677 to 19,121 to remain in the Union. Richard O. Curry, A House Divided, Statehood Politics & the Copperhead Movement in West Virginia, (1964), pp. 141-147.
- Curry, A House Divided, pg. 73.
- Curry, A House Divided, pgs. 141-152.
- After statehood was achieved the counties of Jefferson and Berkeley were annexed to the new state late in 1863. Charles H. Ambler and Festus P. Summers, West Virginia: The Mountain State ch 15-20.
- Otis K. Rice, West Virginia: A History (1985) ch 12-14
- Ambler, Charles, A History of West Virginia, Prentice-Hall, 1933.
- Ayers, Edward L. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America 1859-1863. (2003) ISBN 0-393-32601-2.
- Blair, William. Virginia's Private War: Feeding Body and Soul in the Confederacy, 1861-1865 (1998) online edition
- Crofts, Daniel W. Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis (1989)
- Curry, Richard Orr, A House Divided: A Study of Statehood Politics and the Copperhead Movement in West Virginia (1964).
- Davis, William C. and James I. Robertson Jr., eds. Virginia at War, 1865 (vol 5; University Press of Kentucky; 2011) 237 pages; Virginia at War, 1864 (2009); Virginia at War, 1863 (2008); Virginia at War, 1862 (2007); Virginia at War, 1861 (2005)
- Furgurson, Ernest B. Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War. (1996) ISBN 0-678-42232-3.
- Kerr-Ritchie, Jeffrey R. Freedpeople in the Tobacco South: Virginia, 1860-1900 (1999)
- Klein, Maury. Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War. (1997) ISBN 0-679-44747-4.
- Lebsock, Suzanne D. "A Share of Honor": Virginia Women, 1600-1945 (1984)
- Lewis, Virgil A. and Comstock, Jim, History and Government of West Virginia, 1973.
- Link, William A. Roots of Secession: Slavey and Politics in Antebellum Virginia. (2003) ISBN 0-8078-2771-1.
- McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom. (1988) ISBN 0-345-35942-9.
- Noe, Kenneth W. Southwest Virginia's Railroad: Modernization and the Sectional Crisis (1994)
- Potter, David M. Lincoln and His Party in the Secession Crisis. (1942) ISBN 0-8071-2027-8.
- Randall, J. G. and David Donald, Civil War and Reconstruction, (1966).
- Riggs, David F. "Robert Young Conrad and the Ordeal of Secession."The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 86, No. 3 (July 1978), pp. 259–274.
- Robertson, James I. Jr. "The Virginia State Convention" in Virginia at War 1861. editors Davis, William C. and Robertson, James I. Jr. (2005) ISBN 0-8131-2372-0.
- Robertson, James I. Civil War Virginia: Battleground for a Nation, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, Virginia 1993 ISBN 0-8139-1457-4; 197 pages excerpt and text search
- Shanks, Henry T. The Secession Movement in Virginia, 1847-1861 (1934) online edition
- Sheehan-Dean, Aaron Charles. Why Confederates fought: family and nation in Civil War Virginia? (2007) 291 pages excerpt and text search
- Simpson, Craig M. A Good Southerner: The Life of Henry A. Wise of Virginia (1985), wide-ranging political history
- Wills, Brian Steel. The war hits home: the Civil War in southeastern Virginia? (2001) 345 pages; excerpt and text search
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