|West Virginia Civil War Soldiers Database . . .|
West Virginia has the unique distinction of attaining its statehood due directly to the turmoil of the Civil War. Formerly the western section of Virginia, this region possesses geographical, economic, and settlement patterns which have always set it apart from its eastern neighbors. Issues involving political apportionment, internal improvements, and slavery exacerbated these differences in the decades preceding the conflict. When Virginia opted to secede from the Union in early 1861, leaders primarily from the northwestern region of the state began the process which eventually led to the creation of the new state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863.
Though no great battles approaching the magnitude of Gettysburg or Chickamauga were fought on West Virginia soil, the state nonetheless saw a great deal of military activity during the four years of conflict. Several significant battles, including Rich Mountain, Harper's Ferry, Shepherdstown, and Droop Mountain took place in the state, as well as countless actions, skirmishes, and movements. Raids by independent Confederate units, partisan rangers, and guerrillas were frequent occurrences in the "Mountain State" during this period. Due in large part to the presence of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the region had strategic significance to both sides, resulting in large numbers of Union troops being stationed in the state from the summer of 1861 on. Most of these troops were from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
The State of West Virginia, however, should not be considered a "Union" state. Like Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and other border states, the loyalties of its citizens were divided. Numbers given by researchers in the past have put the head count of Union soldiers from West Virginia at about 30,000, with Confederate figures ranging from a low of 8,000 to a high of 20,000. The Union figures, however, include at least several thousand Pennsylvanians and Ohioans serving in West Virginia regiments, with lesser numbers from other states and foreign countries. A more accurate estimate of the number of West Virginia citizens who wore the Union blue is between 22,000 and 25,000.
Our research at the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War involving the compilation of figures from the soldiers' compiled military service records will lead to a more definitive number. Within the next five years, data gleaned from the service records of soldiers serving in all of West Virginia's Union regiments and (Western) Virginia Confederate regiments will be compiled on our database. Then, a simple query that requests the home-of-record of the soldiers in these regiments will give us a very accurate total for both sides. Once we have entered data from the records of all of the units raised in West Virginia, we will progress to data entry for other states' regiments.
For Sample records from our extensive database of West Virginia soldiers, click the soldier database button below.