Well, I found out a lot about what happened to two of my ancestors, on a particular date, by walking through a State Park!
To be exact, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, located at Droop Mountain, in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.
This is the tower overlook at the top of the mountain.
From here, you can look down the steep slope where the climb can easily be seen.
Let's allow Wikipedia to give us more on the battle:
"The Battle of Droop Mountain was a battle in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, that occurred November 6, 1863, during the American Civil War. Confederate forces engaged, but failed to prevent Union forces under Brigadier General W.W. Averell from a rendezvous with other Federal troops in a joint raid on Confederate railways. Droop Mountain was one of the largest engagements in West Virginia during the war. As a result of the Union victory, Confederate resistance in the state essentially collapsed.
Assigned command of one of two brigades involved in the planned raid on the railroads, Averell moved toward southwestern Virginia with the purpose of disputing movement on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. The second column, under Brigadier General Alfred N. Duffié, destroyed enemy military property en route, while Averell probed for Confederate defenders.
On November 5, 1863, Averell attacked Confederates at Mill Point in Pocahontas County, driving the Southerners from their position back to the summit of Droop Mountain, where they were reinforced by a force under Brig. Gen. John Echolsconsisting of Patton's Brigade and one regiment from Albert G. Jenkins's command. The Confederate position was a relatively strong one, reinforced by breastworks commanding the road.
The following day, Averell elected to attack. Throughout the morning, Echols' smaller Confederate force held the high ground and blocked the highway with artillery. However, in the early afternoon, Averell turned Echols' left with his infantry, and then sent dismounted cavalry in a frontal assault on the main Confederate lines. After a brief yet violent battle, many Confederates fled, throwing away their arms and scattering for safety. Averell's cavalry pursued until dark, capturing several prisoners and a large quantity of arms, ammunition, and materiel. Echols rallied much of his force, but was forced to retreat into Virginia.
Averell's victorious force rejoined Duffié's brigade at Lewisburg on November 7. The reunited Union columns, burdened with prisoners and captured livestock, were in no condition to continue their raid, but they had effectively ended Confederate resistance in West Virginia.
The battlefield site is preserved and administered by West Virginia as a state park.
The unknown Confederate dead are buried in the Confederate Cemetery at Lewisburg, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987."
As you walk the battlefields, you are in awe that you are walking where so many men died.
There are two Memorial markers on the field:
JOHN D. BAXTER
THIS MARKS THE SPOT
WHERE JOHN D. BAXTER,
ORDERLY SERGEANT, CO. F
10TH W.VA. INFT. FELL INSIDE
THE CONFEDERATE LINE
LEADING THE LAST CHARGE
NOVEMBER 6TH, 1863.
IEUT. HENRY BENDER
COMMANDED CO. F IN THE LAST CHARGE
THAT THE 10TH W.VA VOL. INFT. MADE
THAT BROKE THE CONFEDERATE LINE
AT THE BLOODY ANGLE WHERE
SO MANY OF THE BRAVE MEN
OF BOTH ARMIES FELL
NOVEMBER 6TH, 1863.
For me, at least, there is a reverence there, in that place, much as there is when you visit the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas. So many died there that day. And the feelings of bravery, and death, still haunt those places.
A lone cannon, of the era, marks the edges of the battlefield.
A tiny museum sits next to the battlefield. A log cabin that was added after the Civil War.
It's three room interior is filled with memento's of the Civil War, and the bloody battle of Droop Mountain.
Getting to actually walk the grounds, and see the relics, the battle of Droop Mountain became very real for me. And I feel particularly blessed to have been there to see it through the eyes as a descendant of two survivors of the battle.
Pvt. Henry (Gottleib) Dreher, who served in the Union's 47th Ohio Infantry, which fought that bloody day.
And Pvt. William Bean, who served in the 14th Va. Infantry.
Two men. Fighting on opposite sides. Dreher, my gr-gr-grandfather. Bean, my gr-grandfather. Either of the men could have been killed! And if either had been, I would not be the one sitting here this afternoon, in my nice, air-conditioned home, writing this post. But for the grace of God....
Do you have ancestors who fought during the Civil War? If so, do you know any of the battles they might have fought in? And if so, do you know if any of your ancestors fought against other of you ancestors in the same battle?
Let us hear from you below.
Don't forget to check out museums, battlefields, and yes, even State Parks, for places of interest in your ancestors!
And if you are interested in visiting Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, it is located directly on US 219 between Hillsboro, WV (where the author/missionary Pearl S. Buck was born) and Mill Point, WV. Pack a picnic lunch, because you will want to take your time walking over the site, and going through the museum. There are several picnic areas, which are very nice, and hiking trails to make your outing complete.