The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

October 3, 2012

Civil War historian to speak

— The West Virginia Humanities Council established its Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau to help organizations across the state strengthen their programs related to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and birth of the Mountain State. The sesquicentennial period runs 2011 to 2015 and will be marked by observances all over the country. West Virginia, as the lone state created during the period of the Civil War, has much history to consider during the observance.

A Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau program will be presented at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Coffee Beans and Books in Beaver. Civil War historian and author Hunter Lesser will give a talk entitled “Robert E. Lee’s Forlorn Hope: Outwitted and Outgeneraled in West Virginia.”  

The talk is free and the public is cordially invited to attend. Seating is limited and those interested in attending are encouraged to pre-register by calling the New River Community and Technical College Office of Workforce Education at 304-929-3313 to confirm seating.

Western Virginia was the setting for the first campaign of America’s Civil War and a proving ground for some whose names became synonymous with that conflict. Gen. George B. McClellan, for example, became the first superstar for the Union because of his success in what became West Virginia. Gen. Robert E. Lee led Confederate troops to the mountains of West Virginia in his first command of the Civil War.

Lesser says that Lee’s experience with mountain warfare was a failure and defeats here led to him being known in the South as “Granny” Lee. He was eventually recalled to Richmond to serve as an advisor to Jefferson Davis. “But he found himself a legendary warhorse in these mountains and learned lessons in leadership that would serve him well as he restored his reputation to become a military icon,” Lesser adds.

Lesser, of Elkins, is a consulting archaeologist and historical interpreter who serves on the West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the Humanities Council’s Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau. He is the author of “Rebels at the Gate” and “The First Campaign: A Guide to Civil War in the Mountains of West Virginia, 1861.” Copies of his books will be available for purchase at the event.

For information about the free Oct. 23 program, contact Stephanie Stiffler of New River Community and Technical College at 304-929-3313.

Groups interested in scheduling a sesquicentennial speaker should contact West Virginia Humanities Council program officer Mark Payne at 304-346-8500 or