By Kathy Hunter
At 2 o’clock on Nov. 6, a Sesquicentennial Memorial was held at the Battlefield at Droop Mountain. With Superintendent Michael Smith officiating visitors and family members were welcomed and a brief history of the battle was explained. Known as the bloodiest battle in the State of West Virginia, a total of 119 Union and 275 Confederates were killed, wounded or missing.
A veiled monument stood as Author/Historian Terry Lowry, who penned “Last Sleep,” talked about why we should remember the battle and Helena Gandry read a poem by Louise McNeil Pease. The honor guards and guests stood silently by and chills ran through us as the names of the men killed or that died of wounds, were read. This is the first time in history the names of the men have been spoken aloud.
The monument was unveiled as we look on in awe. The standing stone is a big slab of fine-grained Hampshire sandstone which fell from a cliff onto the Greenbrier River Trail north of Sharp’s Tunnel. It is 12 feet long, 2-1/2 feet wide and 1-1/2 feet thick, weighing about 7,000 pounds. The face of the stone, not wide enough for the bronze plaque, required a second stone leaned against it, and all surrounded by a flagstone viewing patio. A bronzed memorial plaque on the front of the stone has each soldier’s name, Union and Confederate that were killed or died of wounds in the Battle of Droop Mountain.
It seemed so calm and quiet when the Union and Confederate troops took turns firing a three gun salute to honor these men, and the lonely sound of the bugle playing taps could be heard across the mountain. It was a beautiful ceremony about a battle that took place 150 years ago in honor of the brave men that gave their lives for what they believed in.