The West Virginia Land Trust recently purchased property at Camp Bartow, a Civil War site in Pocahontas County, scene of the Battle of Greenbrier River in 1861.
The 14-acre tract lies in the heart of the battlefield and fronts the historic Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, once a major east-west route across Virginia.
“This well-preserved camp and battlefield is a living testament to American values and the true cost of war. It is gratifying to witness the vision and commitment of the West Virginia Land Trust in protecting this Pocahontas County treasure,” said Hunter Lesser, author of “Rebels at the Gate.”
The site overlooks the East Fork Greenbrier River and the historic Travellers Repose, a prominent 19th Century inn. The protected property contains a grove of large white oak trees shading well-preserved Confederate earthworks and two impressive artillery “lunettes.” As a bonus, this hilltop was the campground of the 31st Virginia Infantry, a storied regiment with local ties. Tent pads and other surface features remain visible.
Camp Bartow and the Battle of Greenbrier River, which occurred Oct. 3, 1861, played key roles in the First Campaign of America’s Civil War. The action there helped pave the way to West Virginia statehood and lay boundaries for the new state. The site was a proving ground for many future generals. Legendary author Ambrose Bierce highlighted this place in such works as “On a Mountain,” “Battlefields and Ghosts,” and “A Bivouac of the Dead.”
The West Virginia Land Trust worked with partners to protect the site, including the Pocahontas County Commission, Civil War Trust, West Virginia Division of Highways, First Energy Foundation, and other local contributors. This ongoing conservation project will offer new public access and interpretation.
“Protection of this site represents a tremendous success towards the conservation of West Virginia’s historic and cultural resources. I am very proud that the story and lessons of this site will be preserved and available for all to visit and learn,” said Ashton Berdine, lands program manager for the West Virginia Land Trust.
A public tour of the property will be scheduled for Aug.12. Hosted by the West Virginia Land Trust, this event will offer guests a chance to savor scenic landscapes, trace Civil War earthworks, view artifacts of the battle and hear stories of soldiers and civilians. Hunter Lesser, West Virginia author and interpreter, will lead the tour. More details will be announced by the organization. Those interested are encouraged to visit www.wvlandtrust.org and sign up to receive the newsletter.