My grandfather Newton Michael told me a story about how his grandfather Joseph Michael of Marion county WV sold his farm and moved to Pawpaw creek in Monangalia county after what was called “the flagpole incident”. Joseph had attempted to join the CSA late in the war, but was arrested and sent to Camp Chase POW camp. This incident was a mystery for many years but I had assumed it had something to do with the tensions following the Civil War. Thanks to the Marion County Historical Society, a documented explanation has been found.
“The Flagpole Incident” explained.
Footprints at the Forks of Buffalo
An early History of Mannington, West Virginia
WFY Inc. Philippi, WV., 1995 pp. 49
A short time after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox in 1865, some Confederate sympathizers erected a hickory flagpole on a stone wall at the north end of Main Street in this city [Logansport just west of Mannington]. The hickory flagpole was in honor of Andrew Jackson whose nickname was “Old Hickory”, and the stone wall was meant to indicate General John J. “Stonewall” Jackson who was born in Clarksburg.
The Southern sympathizers, regardless of their desire to raise the “Stars and Bars” which was the Confederate flag dared not do anything so traitorous. As it happened the pole was soon cut down. At about the same time the many disbanded Union soldiers in the vicinity of Logansport erected there a poplar flagpole and hoisted the American Flag.
This was too much for some of the Southerners from Wetzel County and as they came into Mannington on a Saturday morning, they declared that on their return in the evening [to Logansport] they would cut down “the dirty rag to trail in the dust.”
Captain Perry G. West heard of the threat and – determined that the stars and stripes should not be insulted - summoned 46 other returned Union soldiers who during the afternoon of that day hid themselves near the flag and the flagpole in readiness for the men who were bent on cutting it down. Sure enough, that Saturday evening the Southern sympathizers came to Logansport from Mannington, obtained an ax, and began to cut the pole. Just then they were commanded to halt, once, twice, three times; but still they continued their mischief.
Then Captain West gave the order to fire. The order was obeyed. One or more of the “enemy” being injured, they surrendered and pleading for mercy mounted their steeds and galloped off to their Wetzel County homes. Thus ended what has been designated locally as the last battle of the Civil War.
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