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The guerilla. [volume] : (Charleston, Va. [W. Va.]) 1862-186?
Place of publication:
Charleston, Va. [W. Va.]
Geographic coverage:
  • Charleston, Kanawha, West Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Associate Printers
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1862.
  • English
  • Charleston (W. Va.)--Newspapers.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Newspapers.
  • United States.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204155
  • West Virginia--Charleston.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01213401
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 2 (Sept. 29, 1862).
sn 85059834
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The guerilla. [volume] September 29, 1862 , Image 1


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The Guerilla

The short-lived Charleston Guerilla was the product of the autumn 1862 Confederate invasion of the Kanawha River Valley in central West Virginia. Having learned that Union garrison forces had been weakened, Confederate General William Loring set out to invade the region, and on September 13 the Confederates successfully defeated Federal forces at the Battle of Charleston and secured the city and the surrounding region. Within two weeks of its capture, the Guerilla began circulating in the streets of the town. Published by "Associate Printers," the few extant copies of the Guerilla shed light on the nature of the Civil War in West Virginia and the Confederate occupation of the Kanawha River Valley.

Proclaiming itself "Devoted to Southern Rights and Institutions," the four-page Guerilla reflected the politics and agenda of the Confederate occupiers. The newspaper contained articles attesting to the desire of Confederates... many of whom were Virginians native to the region- to be seen as liberators, not occupiers. Moreover, the Confederate invasion threatened the newly created Union state of West Virginia. As General Loring declared in the Guerilla's pages, his desire was "to rescue the people from the despotism of the counterfeit State Government imposed upon you by Northern bayonets." Confederate officers hoped to induce these newly liberated Virginians to enlist in the Rebel army, and the Guerilla ran advertisements promoting enlistment in a newly created artillery unit, promising recruits service "full of exciting incident. No-half sleep men need apply!"

Yet the paper also hints that many Virginians did not welcome the return of the Confederate army. The Guerilla republished Ohio newspaper articles attesting to the flight upriver of Unionists escaping Confederate occupation. Included among these refugees were hundreds of African-Americans, who fled west "to elude the rebel advent, which they have learned to dread greatly." Charleston residents who remained proved reluctant to trade with the Rebel army, and the paper urged local merchants to set aside their "scruples about taking Confederate money." The Guerilla's editors also urged local salt producers to coordinate production and prices with one another, revealing one of the Confederacy's strategic need for the mineral crucial to preserving meet.

Although many of the Guerilla's pages were devoted to local affairs, national politics did not escape the editors' notice. Not surprisingly, the paper had a low opinion of Abraham Lincoln. "The song of Lincoln's syrens [sic] has lost its sweetness, and the eyes of the people are opening to the danger of the threatening despotism," the Guerilla warned. The editors were also critical of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, calling it the desperate act of a cause "now in the last struggles of death."

Despite their enthusiasm, the printers of the Guerilla were only able to produce approximately half a dozen issues. By late October 1862, the Confederates were forced to evacuate Charleston as a much larger Union army approached. The Guerilla presumably ceased publication around this time. Although short-lived, the paper provides valuable insights into the Civil War in West Virginia.

Provided by: West Virginia University