Published on March 3, 2020

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“Born of Fire”:
West Virginia and the Civil War
A Civil War Conference

Saturday, July 31, 2021
Holiday Inn Martinsburg
Martinsburg, West Virginia

West Virginia was created by the Civil War – born of internal and national politics, geography, and the fires of war.   The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation’s 2021 Valley Conference, “Born of Fire”: West Virginia and the Civil War, will look at the Mountaineer state’s Civil War story, from the early campaigns with Robert E. Lee and George McClellan, Stonewall Jackson’s victory at the state’s largest battle, critical actions in the Kanawha Valley, the stories of individual West Virginians at war – on both sides – and the epic tale of the creation of the state.

The conference will be held on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at the Holiday Inn Martinsburg in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and will feature speakers Dennis Frye, Joe Geiger, Hunter Lesser, Terry Lowry, and Rick Wolfe.

Cost:  $30; $27 for SVBF members.  Pre-registration is required.

For more information call, 540-740-4545. To register, call 540-740-4545 or click the link below.

Schedule for the day:

8am:  Check-In Desk Opens
9am:  Welcome and IntroductionSVBF CEO Keven Walker
9:30am:  West Virginia’s Biggest Battle by West Virginia’s Famous Son – Stonewall at Harpers FerryDennis Frye
10:30am:  Robert E. Lee’s Feuding Generals: Wise vs. FloydHunter Lesser
11:30am:  “Hold the Kanawha at All Costs”Terry Lowry
12:30pm:  Lunch (On your own)
2:00pm:  The 35th Star: The Creation of West VirginiaJoe Geiger
3:00 pm:  West Virginia Soldiers at WarRick Wolfe

Dennis Frye, Joe Geiger, Hunter Lesser, Terry Lowry, Rick Wolfe


Summary of Talks

West Virginia’s Biggest Battle by West Virginia’s Famous Son – Stonewall at Harpers Ferry – Dennis Frye
In September 1862, General Robert E. Lee had a problem – Harpers Ferry. He could not continue his proposed invasion into the United States with this strategic position in the hands of the Federals. Something must be done. Lee devised a complex plan, then summoned his most aggressive lieutenant, Stonewall Jackson, to lead the mission. But soon much went wrong. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges, coupled with the enemy’s discovery of Lee’s orders, Jackson in his final independent command of the war brought Lee victory – Stonewall’s most brilliant battlefield victory.

Robert E. Lee’s Feuding Generals: Wise vs. Floyd – Hunter Lesser
This is the riotous tale of two former Virginia governors; old political rivals who upend Confederate efforts to reclaim the western counties of that state in 1861. Generals Henry Wise and John Floyd squabble like schoolboys-even as Union forces march to annihilate them! Robert E. Lee is no match for their antics, leading to the loss of West Virginia and a scandal that stretches to the capitol in Richmond.

“Hold the Kanawha at All Costs” – Terry Lowry
During the Civil War, particularly in the first two years, the Kanawha Valley area of western Virginia (now West Virginia) became prime real estate for both armies due to its abundance of salt, natural resources, manpower, and transportation routes. In the campaigns to take possession of the area, armed combat took place at such places as Scary Creek, Carnifex Ferry, Fayetteville, Cotton Hill, and Charleston, under such notable personalities as Generals Henry A. Wise, John B. Floyd, Jacob D. Cox, William S. Rosecrans, William W. Loring and Albert G. Jenkins, as well as colonels George S. Patton, John McCausland, and Joseph A. Lightburn.

The 35th Star: The Creation of West Virginia – Joe Geiger
This presentation will examine the issues and processes that led to the creation of West Virginia. In addition to reviewing sectional strife in Virginia prior to the war, the speaker will examine the election of Abraham Lincoln, the outbreak of the Civil War, the Reorganized Government of Virginia, the Wheeling conventions, and congressional debate on the admission of the new state. Also discussed will be the decision of Abraham Lincoln to sign the statehood bill despite significant reservations.

West Virginia Soldiers at War – Rick Wolfe
The story of West Virginia statehood is fascinating and intriguing. It reads like a novel as do the stories of the volunteer soldiers that fought for that statehood. Through the stories of selected soldiers the role of this fledgling state will be explored. This talk will look at the role of this fledgling state through the stories of selected soldiers – from the Battle of Philippi to Appomattox Court House.

Speaker Bios

For bios of our speakers, click here.

Host Site

The conference will be hosted at the Holiday Inn Martinsburg, 301 Foxcroft Ave., Martinsburg, West Virginia 25401.


Lunch will be on your own.  A list of nearby restaurants will be available at check-in.

Visitor Information

For For information about historic sites, attractions, lodging, and dining opportunities in the Martinsburg area, click here.

Questions or Need More Information?

Call the SVBF at 540-740-4545 or email