Library Of Virginia Coming To Highland County For Civil War Documentation

Hightown, VA – This year, the Library of Virginia is sending technicians and scanning equipment across the state to capture digital images of Civil War memorabilia. Local historian and board member of the Highland Historical Society, Clay Hamilton talks about this opportunity.

“To begin the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, the Library of Virginia has instituted a program in which they will come to each county and independent municipality in Virginia to scan documents pertaining to the Civil War” says Hamilton.

Mr. Hamilton goes on to give more details about the types of items being sought.

“What they’re after is to get local citizens to search their attics, their outbuildings for family papers that concern in any way the Civil War period in any of the years of the Civil War or perhaps a little bit after the Civil War” he says. “They’ll scan them [for] free, make you a copy, and preserve it and protect it. These documents can take almost any form; letters from soldiers or letters from people to soldiers, diaries or simple things like receipts.”

Mr. Hamilton describes a Civil War era letter from one of his Highland County ancestors.

“The letter written to his mother was a rather poignant letter because he was a new recruit in 1862” says Hamilton. “He had signed up at a recruitment camp at Hightown and they marched these boys off to Staunton. On the way they stopped to rest either at the top of Monterey Mountain or Monterey itself. And he took that opportunity to scratch out a note to his mother in which he said he didn’t know what was going to happen, but if he doesn’t come home, he will meet them in heaven.”

In another letter written about 2 years later, Mr. Hamilton notes a significant improvement in his ancestor’s writing skills.

“Later on in late 1864, he was with his unit, the 52nd Virginia in the trenches around Petersburg [Virginia], a terrible place to be, and he penned a letter to his mother again” he says. “This letter was longer, more intelligible, he could put words together in a more facile way; it was a great improvement which shows that Army life educates all men.”

The Library of Virginia technicians will be in Highland County this coming June, so now is the time to start looking for your Civil War era documents and letters. For more information about this program, contact Clay Hamilton in Hightown.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

Current Weather