This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, May 15: West Virginia, a
state born of war.
In a May 12, 1861, dispatch to The Associated Press from Wheeling, in the
future state of West Virginia, a correspondent reports the region is
stirring with calls to break away from Virginia and side with the Union.
Accounts speak of the region’s leaders arriving in Wheeling on trains from
pro-Union counties all around, filling up hotels in preparation for a two-
or three-week convention to consider breaking with Virginia and siding with
"The town is alive with delegates to the Convention and they are continually
arriving,” the correspondent writes to AP of a gathering marked by a flurry
of speeches and calls for action. “The speeches took determined grounds and
favored immediate separation from the state (of Virginia). They were
received with great enthusiasm.”
Reports note an overwhelming sentiment in what was then Northwestern
Virginia that the “only safety is in the Union.” The dispatches add that two
companies have already been mustered from the area for the Union fight and
more are expected later. It is only a matter of time before West Virginia
becomes the only state born of the Civil War.