Hampshire County, in the War Between the States

by Cheryl Singhal


"The Woah"

When War came to Hampshire county, it came in like a lion.

The Western counties of Virginia had long been wanting to break away from the eastern "elite" government in Richmond and form their own government to deal with what remained more-or-less frontier problems. Virginia's Secession from the United States provided the perfect excuse. On June 20, 1862, a collection of men representing themselves as the interim government of West Virginia voted to break off from the seceded Virginia and petition for admission to the Union as a separate State. This petition was rapidly granted, and on 20 June 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.

Hampshire county, not quite Western frontier but not quite Eastern elite either, opted to go with West Virginia officially. Like most of the rest of the state, what individuals did unofficially was quite a different matter.

Hampshire countians served in a number of military units on both sides. Indeed, the inhabitants of the Davis History House, then the Angus MacDonald family of blacksmiths, saw half its sons go North and half go south. The neighbor across the street, son of a German immigrant who had been naturalized a mere 20 years earlier, put on the grey of the 7th Virginia Cavalry, CSA. Others donned the blue of the 11th West Virginia Infantry, USA.

It is documented fact that Romney changed hands 56 times during this conflict. It is locally well-known that many many more turnovers occurred, and a popular local story goes that the Confederates built the cook fire one morning, the Yankees put the bacon on to fry, the Confederates ate it, and the Yankees put the fire out. The military would count this as one turn-over, but the beleaguered population considered it three turnovers.

Hampshire county has what very well may be the oldest Confederate monument in the country. Ordered by the ladies of Romney from a statuary company in Baltimore, the statue was crated and ready to leave the factory before the inscription was carved to reduce the chances of anti-Southern sentiments preventing the shipment.

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