Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Robert Sawrey


In June and Juy of 1861 the American Civil War's first land campaign was conducted along the Staunton-Parkersburg turnpike in western Virginia. Although insignificant in the war's eventual outcome, the early campaign in western Virginia seemed consequential at the time for several reasons. First, the Union offensive into the region was the initial military campaign of the war. As a result, news of the fighting in western Virginia was closely followed by citizens both North and South. Second, the region appeared to have strategic significance. If the Confederacy could hold all of Virginia, the northwestern portion of the state could be used as a staging ground for offensives into boarding Union states. Conversely, Union control would protect the B&O Railroad, a vital east-west corridor. Third, and perhaps most significantly, the 1861 Union offensive into western Virginia appeared to have importance due to the presence of the ambitious General George B. McClellan, whose actions were magnified by the Northern press.


United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.

Confederate States of America -- History, Military.