HILLSBORO, W.Va. – Three hikes are scheduled at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park in Pocahontas County to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle that occurred there November 6, 1863.
Park Superintendent Mike Smith has scheduled the hikes to follow the routes that soldiers coursed on their way to that conflict. The first of four scheduled hikes was held June 22*, a nine-mile retracing of the steps of the 10th West Virginia Infantry and the 28th Infantry, during which descendants of Droop Mountain battle soldiers walked, talked and shared Civil War history.
The three remaining Droop Mountain Battle memorial hikes are scheduled for July 20 (four miles), August 31 (three miles), and November 5, a 30-mile overnight hike that concludes at Droop Mountain on November 6, 2013.
Advance registration is required. Download preregistration forms to hike as a participant in a 150th Memorial Hike, at www.droopmountainbattlefield.com
or email Michael.A.Smith@wv.gov
. Calls regarding the hikes should be made during the daytime at 304-653-4254; please leave a short message if a recording is received.
July 20, 2013 – 2nd & 3rd West Virginia Mounted Infantry Memorial Hike
Registrations for Hike # 2 on July 20 are still being accepted. One registrant is a descendant who will be travelling from Florida. Mounted infantry was a temporary designation for several of Gen. William Averell’s regiments. When Averell was transferred to western Virginia in May 1863, he was put in command of mostly infantry units, foot soldiers, but he was a cavalry commander, and would facing mostly Confederate cavalry troops. The enemy could move from place to place more quickly on horseback, so Averell secured mounts for most of his men and began training them in cavalry tactics, in order to better counter his opponents. The Union troops could move from place to place more quickly, then dismount and fight on foot as regular infantry.
Hike #2 will be along the attack route of the 2nd and the 3rd West Virginia Mounted Infantry. Those same units in 1864 were reorganized and the men re-enlisted in the 5th and the 6th West Virginia Cavalry. There will be no horses on any of the hikes, as the terrain is no more suitable for horses today than it was 150 years ago.
August 31, 2013 – 8th West Virginia Mounted Infantry Memorial Hike
Registrations for Hike #3 on August 31 have at least eight descendants of men in the 8th West Virginia Mounted Infantry (later 7th West Virginia Cavalry) already signed up. Two of those are from Ohio and one from Colorado. This is our shortest mileage of the four memorial hikes. Preregistration is required and the form is available on the park website, www.droopmountainbattlefield.com
August 31- September 1, 2013 – The Battle at Droop Mountain Re-enactment
The West Virginia Re-enactors Association invites the public to attend the 150th Anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Droop Mountain scheduled August 31 – September 1, 2013. The original battle, fought on November 6, 1863, pitted General John Echols’ Confederates controlling the Greenbrier Valley against General William Averell’s Federals advancing from the north. A welcome social will be held on Friday evening in the park shop building. Coffee and refreshments will be served along with Civil War videos and a warm fire if the weather is cold. Civilian activities will center on a social to be held near the Union camp during the tactical. Saturday evening will feature the Droop Mountain Open Air Ball and Young Ladies’ Cotillion. Period music and dance instruction will be provide, with a special opportunity for a “coming out” presentation for young ladies. On Sunday morning, an authentic church service will be held at the overlook near the Confederate camp.
November 5–6, 2013 – Echols’ Brigade, Confederate Army of Southwestern Virginia Memorial Hike
Three people are firmly committed to the all night, 30-mile. The start point is near Lewisburg and participants will hike along US Rt. 219 for approximately 27 miles, mostly at night, with 1,000-foot elevation change and moderate grades. The hike will begin in the afternoon with a two hour break from midnight to 2 a.m., then continue through the night to arrive at the park near dawn as did the Confederate army of Gen. John Echols prior to the battle at Droop Mountain.
A support vehicle with food, first aid supplies, and a port-a-john will be provided. Should anyone become physically or mentally exhausted, the support vehicle will also be available to allow those participants to sag out for a rest (or entirely) if they need to do so. This will be an extremely rigorous hike, mostly at night, along a public road on a weekday in November when the weather could easily be quite miserable. It is not intended for the faint of heart and registrants are requested to obtain a doctor’s statement that they are physically fit for a 30-mile trek.
After arrival at Droop Mountain Battlefield, a second extended rest period is scheduled, to be followed by a public dedication of a monument and reading of names (of battle casualties) in the early afternoon. Because much of Hike #4 will be at night and along a major highway, reflective arm bands (provided by park) will be worn by all participants. Other safety measures may also be required.
About Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park is located in Pocahontas County in West Virginia. The park address is Hillsboro. It is a day-use park steeped in history of the Civil War and of the Civilian Conservation Corps contribution to the development of the state park system in the early 1930s. Mike Smith has been superintendent at Droop Mountain and its chief historian for 29 years. He is a published author, historian, conversationalist, grandfather, and outdoorsman.
*A Field Report from Supt. Mike Smith of the June 22, 2013, 10th West Virginia Infantry & 28th Ohio Infantry Memorial Hike
Hike #1 on June 22 went wonderfully. We enjoyed warm, not hot, morning sun for the first two miles; a fine view of our destination atop the mountain; and pleasant temperatures with shade and gentle breezes throughout the rest of the hike. There were 18 hikers, all West Virginians, except one from Ohio.
The group was a good mix of descendants, history buffs, and hikers, with three young Cub Scouts leading us on. The entire hike was a series of pleasant strolls interspersed with little parties every mile and a half at the rest stations. There was continuous conversation and commentary throughout the hike, with each descendant
sharing the stories of their ancestors with the whole group at rest breaks.
Some of the notable items shared were letters of three Morrison brothers, an original bank note signed by Col. Thomas M. Harris, original 10th West Virginia Infantry postcards, several photographs, and personal stories of ancestors in the Droop Mountain battle. At hike’s end we had an excellent view from a neighbor’s deck of the entire route we had just walked. Upon reaching the parking area, instead of rushing to the cars, everyone lingered for another hour and a half touring the park museum and grounds and sharing even more stories.
I was a little embarrassed the next day when one of the local hikers told me that I had talked for six hours without repeating myself, but they truly meant it as a compliment.
Mike Smith, Superintendent