Saturday, April 27, 2019

Charleston, West Virginia

I know, I know, what an odd title for a post in a wargaming blog, right?  I recently returned from Charleston for a week-long work trip for numerous meetings with folks at the state capitol and to be quite honest I had no idea about some of the blog-worthy things I would encounter in the quaint city

Talking strictly from a military-history perspective, West Virginia in general is steeped in history, itself being a product of the American Civil War.  With many battles and forced marches occurring within West Virginia, the movement of Civil War armies through its thoroughfares is a common occurrence in my reading.  There was even an engagement for the city itself:

A historical marker commemorating the battle of Charleston

Every morning I was sure to get up and run around various parts of the city, stopping along the way to read important landmarks such as signposts for famous explorers who traipsed through or paddled along the waters of the Kanawha River, and stories of Civil War lore.

The Kanawha River

I walked some beautiful forest trails that witnessed a "drumbeat court-martial" of 2 women who were led up the mountain and summarily executed by what were first thought to be Confederate, and later turned out to be Union Soldiers.  They are buried nearby.

A seriously nice little town - everyone - even the 3 x homeless people - were friendly

In regards to my meetings at the Capitol building in Charleston, there were some beautiful monuments to West Virginia's sons (and also its daughters) who fought in America's wars since the Civil War and the Capitol grounds are covered in Civil War statues.  The history seems to be at odds with itself but it's perfectly appropriate, honoring Soldiers from both the South and the North.  If you needed any inspiration for ACW painting, look no further!

He needs no introduction

Too bad the Capitol building was being worked on.  It's one of the most beautiful of all of the US state capitols I've seen.

Memorial to the WV Soldiers who fought in the ACW

Another who needs no introduction!

Another trip was to Spring Hill Cemetery at the "top of the mountain" overlooking the town.  There were 2 main things I wanted to see here - a massive tree imported from England, and the Confederate Soldier Cemetery, where I was surprised to find Federal gravestones which are issued to US veterans.  A moving tribute to reconciliation between the North and the South, Confederate States Army Soldiers were authorized to receive the benefit of a government-issued veteran tombstone.  It sounds silly but it's touching none-the-less.

Confederate Cemetery

US Government-issued tombstones for Confederate veterans
Confederate States Army is not something you normally see on a headstone!

State Veterans Memorial

I also have to say, no visit to West Virginia (or the south) would be complete without eating Biscuits and Gravy. If you don't know - look it up.  Here are two favorite spots for the locals - Tudor's Biscuit World, and Suzi's Hamburgers, both known for their excellent Biscuits and Gravy.  Biscuits and Gravy, by the way, is a southern US dish which will confuse Europeans who use the term "biscuit" to mean something different than what we call it in the US.  If you're curious - here is a tutorial.  Take my word for it - it's amazing.

Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast from Tudor's  [click]

Biscuits and Gravy from Suzi's.  I put hot sauce on it.  Suzy's had a clear edge over Tudors, but both were excellent!
And so there you have it.  My week was productive and also surprising in the sense that I got to see some rich history and add another Civil War battlefield to my CV!  In other news, I am looking forward to gaming at Ken's house tomorrow where we will try a game of "To The Strongest" ECW version.  Truth be told, I've never played an ECW game in my life so I'm looking forward to it.


  1. Excellent report. I must get over to the states soon to visit. Very informative discussion
    I'm also now very hungry. The biscuits look delicious.

    1. Cheers, Darren. I got the inspiration from your "Duc on the Road" series of posts! I figured since there was all this great history around me on my travel, I might as well blog about it on the blog here. ECW action coming up.
      If you visit my neck of the woods, your first Cheesesteak is on me.

  2. Excellent travelogue! My position is that a wargaming blog is perfect for sharing travels! Not sure those biscuits and gravy would be palatable to me even with hot sauce although it is bound to improve them. I feel my arteries clogging simply looking at your photos. I grew up eating biscuits and gravy regularly as a lad. Perhaps, that is why I am never drawn to them now?

    1. Cheers, Jonathan. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I did not know biscuits and gravy even existed until about my teenage years. At that point I could not get enough! You're quite right, though. They're not the healthiest thing to eat in the world.

  3. Great travel post Steve - thanks for sharing!
    I have one to do from my recent trip to Okinawa

    1. Thanks, Paul! Looking forward to your Okinawa trip report!

  4. Nice comments on the city I now live in. There was also the Mountaineer Monument at the Capitol to the loyal Virginians. It was placed at the original capitol in Charleston two years after, and as a response to, Stonewall Jackson. That capitol burned in 1921 and the present one was built over several years at the current location. The local SCV is working on new Veterans Administration headstones for the cemetery. Some of the flat stones we found have errors in regiments and we have uncovered some birth/death dates as well.

    1. Cheers, Ernest. I think the staff at the cemetery were very surprised and flattered that someone would come there just to see those graves (and the seriously old tree). I love your town and I find myself there quite alot with work.