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Bullets and Steel
Bullets and Steel
List Price: $19.95
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This book covers the period before, during, and after the Civil War in the Great Kanawha Valley from Gauley Bridge to Point Pleasant, WV.
The title "Bullets and Steel" comes from a song sung by the Sandy Rangers of Wayne County during the Battle pf Scary Creek.
Gauley Bridge, at the foot of the imposing mountain barrier to the east and the river valley to the west, was a focal point of the conflict. Roads traversed the town both north to south and from east to west. Charleston and the salt works were east on the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, and were important military objectives in the control of the entire valley. The salt works figured prominently in the strategies of both armies for the first two years of the war.
This is not a definitive look at the history of every event in the valley during the war. Instead, it is an excellent overview of the main actions using as many first-person accounts as possible, as well as photos and drawings to enhance the story.
When the question is asked: "Did Charleston sympathize with the North or the South in the Civil War?"; the answer cannot come until we state which Charleston--the Charleston of 1861 or the Charleston of 1865.
In the summer of 1861 Charleston was mostly loyal to Virginia and the Confederacy. The people of Charleston knew of the great Confederate victory at First Bull Run and it seemed clear the South would win the war. By 1862 it was less clear and by July 1863, after Gettysburg, it seemed the South was doomed. Human nature being what it is, we can safely say that enthusiasm for the Confederacy ebbed and flowed as battles were won or lost.
As late as the fall of 1862 the people of Charleston clung to the hope of final victory. This hope was strengthened on Sept. 13, 1862, when the hometown boys of the 22nd Virginia drove the Yankees headlong in retreat back to Ohio.
Spirits must have fallen only a month later when the Confederate army abandoned Charleston for the last time. To add to the demoralization of the local population was the grim day-to-day life under military occupation.
In July 1863 it is not hard to imagine the despair of most Charleston residents as news spread that General Lee was defeated and retreating from Gettysburg.
By 1864 most citizens were worn out and broken by the war. The brave resolve of 1861 gave way to the hollow-eyed exhaustion of 1865..
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Sternwheelers On the Great Kanawha
Sternwheelers On the Great Kanawha
List Price: $23.95
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By Gerald Sutphin and Richard Andre

This book, briefly available in 1991, and finally reprinted over 20 years later, is just as pertinent and captivating as when it came out. A treasure trove of history and photographs of the 1830s onward of the Kanawha River which runs from Gauley Bridge to Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Freight steamers and passenger steamboats were vital to the growth and prosperity in this region. A large collection of historic photographs supplement the story of how these steam powered paddle wheelers became the lifeblood of Kanawha, Putnam and Cabell Counties.
Salt, coal, early racing, accidents, pleasure cruises, fine dining, towboats, and more is covered.

"The Kanawha River runs entirely within West Virginia, originating at the confluence of the Gauley and New Rivers at Gauley, and emptying into the Ohio at Point Pleasant. It early became an important water route first for flatboats and similar craft, then after the introduction of steamboats, became an important transportation route from the interior of West Virginia.

The river traffic ran parallel with the C&O main line most of the distance (diverging at St. Albans as C&O veered toward Huntington and the river ran to the north). Though in some ways a competing transportation system as the riverboats operating on the Kanawha were really a supplement to railroad transport.

The book’s coverage starts in the earliest years and tells of the pre-steam boat period, then the coming of the earliest steam-powered craft, followed by the large traditional-looking river steamers so familiar to us. It concludes with the steam vessels that took over as barge towboats that have persisted to the present day (now diesel powered), taking salt and coal down the river.

One section deals with early salt production in the area. This product was carried not only by the riverboats, but also by the C&O, especially in the 1870s-1900 era.

In addition to great old photos, there are scores of reproduced newspaper ads and stories and many steamboat era waybills, ads, and other documents that make the book all the more interesting.

I am a die-hard railfan, but this is a steamboat book that I really have enjoyed and that has a close association with our railway. Recommended reading." – Tom Dixon, C & O Historical Society

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