West Virginia, the Civil War, and Geology
President Abraham Lincoln established the Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1st of 1863. The emancipation applied to slaves in areas under rebellion, not areas loyal to or already controlled by the Union. The Union had to wait for ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865 for emancipation and abolition of slavery.
West Virginia became a State, separate from Virginia, on June 20, 1863 during the Civil War, some 150 years ago.
Slavery was ended in Texas by the Union Army on June 19th of 1865, known as “Juneteenth.”
The geology of the eastern United States was an important factor in West Virginia becoming a State. It was also of critical importance in the conduct and outcome of the Civil War.
The battle of Antietam, which occurred on September 17, 1862 remains the bloodiest day in American history—23,000 men died or were wounded on that battlefield—as well as one of the most strategically significant of the Civil War. The Union victory marked a turning point and emboldened President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation a few days later.
The battlefield also offers one of the best illustrations of Civil War geology. Antietam was fought atop different types of bedrock: in one area was limestone; in another, dolomite. Over millions of years, these different bedrocks eroded into distinct terrains. The limestone area became flat and open. But because dolomite is harder than limestone, the dolomite areas eroded into less even terrain, filled with hills and ridges that provided cover for the troops.
Slavery Ended on Juneteenth
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved people were now free.