Blair Mountain from

the Other Side


Tree days before the U.S. Army was ordered into Coal River and Logan to settle the Mine War, our engineering crew was in No. 10 mine at Holden. An emergency call came from Logan for ex-servicemen to report to the courthouse in Logan. As our crew chief, Vic Willis, was an ex-service-man, we came out to report to the mine manager, W. O. Percival. Mitchell Bower and I-we had been junior high school classmates at Bedford, Virginia-told Percival that we were both ROTC trainees, Mitchell at Fishburne and I at VPI. He told us to go ahead.
When we reached Logan courthouse we were told to line up with the others who had reported. We were then told to go to one of the designated stores and get any clothes needed for the mountain and report back in one hour. Edward "Whitey" Bloom had me change boots and fitted me with a naugahyde jacket. We reported back to the courthouse and Harry S. Walker, Logan Elementary School principal, was appointed captain and Charles J. Everett, Logan hardware salesman, was appointed lieutenant. We were then told our mission.
It seemed a shortcut foot path across the mountain between Ardrosson (abandoned mine no. 4 on the left fork above Monclo) and Ethel (actually Keyes) had been overlooked. It was not known what was happening there and must be investigated. We were loaded into trucks and taken up Bear Wallow Hollow to Keyes on the Logan side of the mountain. We settled long enough to be issued Springfield rifles and clips of ammunition and to load one clip in the rifles. I was also given a Smith and Wesson revolver and led the advance patrol up the mountain. We would advance about 100 feet and signal the next patrols in turn to to follow. We reached the top of the mountain without incident and established headquarters. Two-man picket posts were established at about 50-yard intervals along the ridge between Blair on the right and Crooked Creek on the left.
A fellow named John Chapin from New York, whom I have never known before or since, and I were the last post on the Crooked Creek side. We made ourselves a den in the brush and took turns in standing watch. During the evening there was sporadic firing in the valley below, the only noise except the dew falling to sound like footsteps in the leaves. Darkness brought quiet except for an infrequent shot in the valley. At daybreak intense firing began.
We were supposed to have been relieved at 7 A.M. After waiting until after 9 A.M. for relief, we decided to follow the picket posts between us and headquarters to find out the situation. We found all picket posts deserted and reported to Charlie Everett that something was wrong. He replied "Hell, yes. When the heavy shooting began at daybreak they all came into headquarters!"
We spent the next two nights as repetitions of the first, quiet at night and heavy fire during the day. Except for a scarcity of food it was a rather uneventful period, Chapin and I never sighting an "enemy." Each time a man was sent off the mountain to inquire about food he did not come back - and rarely any food. We got enough to sustain us, but sometimes the Alex Rose's Bakery bread boxes contained Beechnut chewing tobacco.
After the third night we were notified the U.S. Army troops were in Logan. Trucks were at the foot of the mountain to take us back to Logan, where we found the troops. It was over. I have never understood why the short path across the mountain was not used to reach logan, unless Bill Blizzard did not know about it. The miners' plan may have been to establish intense fronts at Blair and at Crooked Creek, then slip over the shortcut.

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Permission given by R. B. ADAMS. Article published in The Goldenseal Book of the West Virginia Mine Wars

WV Coal Mining
Page designed January, 1999