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Civil War Trails marker dedication set for July 27 in Lee County

 

On Saturday, July 27, at 11 a.m., the Lee County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and the Appalachian Warfare Program at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise will dedicate a Civil War Trails historic marker at the Seminary United Methodist Church.

 

This marker project is the result of more than a year of planning by the Lee County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and the Appalachian Warfare Program at UVa-Wise. 

 

The marker tells the story of the Turkey Cove (Seminary) community and its sacrifices during the Civil War.  Led by Campbell Slemp and James Buchanan Richmond, both of who later served in Congress, dozens of local men were formed into a company and marched to Jonesville where they were incorporated into the 21st Battalion Virginia Infantry.  Later incorporated into the 64th Virginia Mounted Infantry, these men fought locally at Saltville and Jonesville.

 

In September 1863, Cumberland Gap was taken by Union forces and a large part of the regiment captured and sent to prison at Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois, where most of the men would remain for the duration of the war.  Although the men of the 64th did not fight at Gettysburg, Antietam, and the other great battles of the Civil War, their sacrifices were great.  Of the 79 men taken prisoner at Cumberland Gap, 31 died as prisoners of war.

 

Jan. 3, 1864, was one of the coldest days of the war.  Federal soldiers were holed up in the town of Jonesville waiting for the cold snap to end, but Confederates moved across the mountains from Rogersville, Tenn., hoping to take the enemy by surprise.  The gamble worked and after a bitterly cold night ride across narrow mountain trails, William “Grumble” Jones’s Confederates moved into Jonesville and swept the Union forces aside forcing the surrender of more than 350 men.

 

At Saltville in October 1864, the 64th was stretched along a high bluff overlooking the Holston River.  As Federal troops approached their position to the north of a perilous road into town, the men of the 64th opened fire along with the other defensive forces.  After a brisk afternoon battle, the Confederates had successfully defended the South’s most productive saltworks.

 

The public is encouraged to join this celebration of Lee County’s Civil War heritage.  For more information, contact Joan Minor at 276-346-4629, Kathy Still at 276-376-1027, or Brian McKnight at bdm2e@uvawise.edu.