Formed in 1848 from Cabell, Mason and Kanawha Counties, Putnam County, Virginia, was part of the Old Dominion until June 20, 1863, when West Virginia was admitted into the Union as the thirty-fifth state.
Citizens of Putnam County were intensely divided during the Civil War; it is estimated that 52% of the white male population served in the Confederacy and 48% in the Union Army. Accessible transportation routes on the James River and Kanawha Turnpike (modern U.S. Route 60) and the Midland Trail (modern State Route 34), as well as the Kanawha River, made it easy for military and partisan guerrilla forces to traverse the countryside. This subjected residents to frequent raids, harassment, theft, and even murder. Four battles occurred in Putnam County during the war, at Atkeson’s Gate, Hurricane Bridge, Scary Creek, and Winfield, along with numerous smaller skirmishes and raids.
This otherwise peaceful, agrarian county of western Virginia epitomized the embittered fratricidal struggle America faced during the Civil War. Many former neighbors, friends, and families found themselves mortal enemies in 1861.
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