The Seventh West Virginia Infantry
An Embattled Union Regiment from the Civil War's Most Divided State
David W. Mellott and Mark A. Snell
Though calling itself “The Bloody Seventh” after only a few minor skirmishes, the Seventh West Virginia Infantry earned its nickname many times over during the course of the Civil War. Fighting in more battles and suffering more losses than any other West Virginia regiment, the unit was the most embattled Union regiment in the most divided state in the war. Its story, as it unfolds in this book, is a key chapter in the history of West Virginia, the only state created as a direct result of the Civil War. It is also the story of the citizen soldiers, most of them from Appalachia, caught up in the bloodiest conflict in American history.
The Seventh West Virginia fought in the major campaigns in the eastern theater, from Winchester, Antietam, and Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Petersburg. Weaving military, social, and political history, The Seventh West Virginia Infantry details strategy, tactics, battles, campaigns, leaders, and the travails of the rank and file. It also examines the circumstances surrounding events, mundane and momentous alike such as the soldiers’ views on the Emancipation Proclamation, West Virginia Statehood, and Lincoln’s re-election. The product of decades of research, the book uses statistical analysis to profile the Seventh’s soldiers from a socio-economic, military, medical, and personal point of view; even as its authors consult dozens of primary sources, including soldiers’ living descendants, to put a human face on these “sons of the mountains.” The result is a multilayered view, unique in its scope and depth, of a singular Union regiment on and off the Civil War battlefield—its beginnings, its role in the war, and its place in history and memory.
“Delving into the lives of the Seventh West Virginia Infantrys soldiers—all of whom endured the privations of war while being caught between advocates and opponents of statehood—effectively parallels the larger national clash of arms relative to secession and union. Through this means, the authors double-underscore that the Civil War was as much about limited regional concerns as it was about sweeping national controversies.”
—Journal of Military History
“A thoroughly researched, penetrating, and deftly written regimental history that should supersede the less rigorous popular works that have long dominated West Virginia’s Civil War literature.”
—Michigan War Studies ReviewSee all reviews...
“Mellott and Snell have produced a first-rate regimental history that demonstrates the enduring value of military history in understanding the sectional conflict.”
“The book describes the lives of both officers and soldiers in general. Thoroughly researched and well-written, this book appeals to both general readers and Civil War historians.”
“Despite its complicated origins in a bitterly divided southern state, the ‘Bloody Seventh’ became one of the great regiments of the Army of the Potomac. David Mellott and Mark Snell tell the regiments story with rich detail, vital context, and the literary verve of a good novel.”
—Kenneth W. Noe, Draughon Professor of Southern History at Auburn University
“The Seventh West Virginia Infantry will take its place alongside the best of the modern Civil War regimental histories. We learn more than just the battles and marches of the Seventh West Virginia Infantry. We come to know who these men were, the politics that shaped their creation, the motivations for why they fought, what they endured, and how the war changed them.”
—D. Scott Hartwig, author of To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of September 1862
“The Seventh West Virginia was a true fighting regiment,’ seeing action in some of the Civil War’s greatest battles. In the process, they not only made notable and honorable contributions to Union military victory but also enabled the establishment of a new state. David Mellott and Mark A. Snell tell their story in a fascinating, impressively researched study that offers useful information and insights.”
—Ethan S. Rafuse, author of McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union and Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield GuideSee fewer reviews...