Battle of Blair Mountain

Good Essays

Terry M. Deener
West Virginia History HIST225
March 10, 2013

In the early 20th Century, West Virginia was a place where coal barons held immense power. Coal companies owned towns, mayors and governors. Miners were forced to live on coal camps and rent houses from them, as well as purchase all of their coal and other items required to survive from the companies. With this control, mining families where forced to live and work in brutal conditions. In 1921, after a generation of violent suppression, miners erupted in the largest class war in US history. For 5 days miners fought the coal barons, over 1 million rounds of ammunition were fired, this is known as the Battle of Blair Mountain.
The Battle of Blair
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This enraged the miners and they began to exit the mines and take arms.
Miners along the Little Coal River were among the first to militarize, and began to patrol and the guard the area. Sheriff Don Chafin sent his troopers from Logan County to Little Coal River area. The troopers were quickly overthrown, apprehended, disarmed, and sent back running from the miners. Frank Keeney and Fred Mooney, the leaders of the UMWA District 17, called a rally at the state capitol in Charleston. The two met with Governor Ephraim Morgan, and presented him with a petition spelling out the miners’ demands. Governor Morgan rejected the miners demands which caused the miners to become more restless. Miners began to talk about organizing a march on Mingo to free the confined miners, end martial law, and organize the county; unfortunately, the only things standing in their way were Blair Mountain, Logan County, and Sheriff Don Chafin.
The first altercations occurred on August 25, 1921. The majority of miners were still 15 miles away. President Warren Harding threatened to send in federal troops and Army Martin MB-1 bombers. After a long discussion in the town of Madison, agreements were made and miners were convinced to go home. Chafin although did not expect to sit quietly after assembling his private army, he wanted a battle to end union attempts at organizing Logan County
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