Sunday, September 9, 2012

Civil War Sunday - Harpers Ferry, WVa

 They call it wild, wonderful West Virginia.

The history textbooks will tell you that the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Harpers Ferry (then in Virginia, now West Virginia) took place September 12-15, 1862.  But most people know Harpers Ferry for a pre-Civil War event, the raid by John Brown on the United States arsenal in Harpers Ferry (that building, incidentally, no longer exists.)  Actually, Harpers Ferry is rich in history, and deserves another blog post devoted to more than Civil War era history.

What the history textbooks will not tell you is anything about this wonderful town, nor any of the other towns throughout the United States and Confederate States of America where these battles in textbooks were fought.

The textbooks will not tell you anything about what these places are like today.  Today, I would like to show you some of Harpers Ferry.

Too many times these places are like other typical American cities -full of strip malls and busy, busy traffic.
Harpers Ferry is not that kind of place.  Thank heavens.  It is a little bit off the beaten track and for good reason.  It is hilly and rugged.

I visited Harpers Ferry this past March along with the Antietam battlefield, and I will be returning to the area later this month.
The Appalachian Trail runs right through this area.
A monument dedicated to John Brown, erected by the NAACP, in Harpers Ferry.

A John Brown historic marker in nearby Charlestown, WVA, where John Brown was tried.

The bookshop at the National Park in Harpers Ferry is one of the best sources I've seen for Civil War books and related items.  I highly recommend a visit.  While in the book store, we saw this marker for a flood - as it turns out, Harpers Ferry is very flood prone and portions (such as Virginius Island) have had to be given back to nature due to floods, including some where townspeople died.
One of the many historic buildings in Harpers Ferry.  This is on the campus of the former Storer College, one of the first integrated schools.  Frederick Douglass was a trustee of the college. 

This is a view (a little blurred) of the Potomac River from a bluff.  I'm told sometimes you can see bald eagles flying over the river.
And, a beautiful sunset over Harpers Ferry.  Such a contrast from what was happening there 150 years ago this week.

I hope my travels later this month leave me time to visit the modern Harpers Ferry again.

Do you have a favorite town or city where a Civil War battle was fought?


  1. Alana, this looks like a wonderful place to visit. Perhaps its ruggedness has protected it from over-development? Interesting plaque to JB dated 1932. Hope you have an enjoyable return visit.

  2. Great information. We'll be looking into the Civil War this week, but it's good to know "more of the story", too. Thanks!


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