Episode Three - Forgotten Battlegrounds, The Civil War in Southwest Virginia
Forgotten Battlegrounds, The Civil War in Southwest Virginia When historians examine the civil war in Virginia there are many well known battlefields that come to mind. Mannasas, Chancellorsville, Winchester, and Appomattox are just a few of the names that bring to mind the sacrifices the commonwealth made during those years of conflict. Often overlooked in the history books are the areas beyond Richmond and below the Shenandoah Valley known as southwest Virginia. Yet the contributions made to the war effort and the importance of the battles fought there are in many ways are as significant as the more famous names.
Forgotten Battlegrounds, the Civil War in Southwest Virginia, follows the route of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad as it delivered the soldiers and supplies needed to sustain the armies of the confederacy. The natural resources and secure transportation links so vital to the war effort made the "Mountainous Peninsula" a rich target for numerous Union raids. From The Cumberland Gap to Lynchburg this part of Virginia offered and suffered much during these years of struggle.
To say that this part of the Old Dominion made a contribution is understated at best. An army cannot fight with empty stomachs or empty weapons. The salt ponds of Saltville supplied the Confederacy with it's primary method of preserving meats and the lead mines around Wytheville supplied the munitions. As important as these resources were to the South, many of the states' most famous fighting units also came from this region and the leadership provided by at least 16 generals who were born or made this area their home cannot be overlooked.