Ashley Sohria Shafii, The Civil War’s Effect on Virginia

Grover Consulting Services is located in the historic state of Virginia. The Civil War had a lasting effect on Virginia, perhaps more so than on any other state.

In 1861, with the Civil War in the offing, Virginia held a state convention to discuss the upcoming conflict. On April 4, 1861, it voted not to secede. However, with the outbreak of hostilities on April 15, the authorities changed their minds, and decided to secede from the Union.

Things moved quickly. The following month, the capital of the Confederacy, which had been located in Montgomery, Alabama, moved to Richmond, which was much closer to the Union capital of Washington, D.C.

The location of the Confederate capital in Richmond meant that most battles in the Eastern Theater were fought in Gail Shafii’s state of Virginia, with Union troops trying to take the capital, and Confederate troops trying to defend it.
Richmond was a center of industry, the only major one in the South, which had an economy relying almost exclusively on agriculture and slavery. This was the reason that the capital was moved to the city, despite its dangerous proximity to Washington, D.C., which made it an easy target for the Union troops.

Among the many battles fought in Virginia were the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Battle of Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Petersburg, and the Battle of Manassas (known in the North as the Battle of Bull Run). Several important military figures fighting for the Confederacy hailed from Virginia, including General Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, and Stonewall Jackson. The President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, was also a Virginian.

In 1863, Virginia lost a large amount of territory – not due to occupation by Union forces, however. The western counties of the state declared independence from Virginia and from the Confederacy, and created the new state (quickly recognized by the Union) of West Virginia. This new state ensured even more troops fighting for the Union side, and they were right on the border with Virginia.

The Union had superior industry and superior forces. The fall of Richmond – and, hence, the fall of the South – was inevitable. In 1865, the much-beleaguered Richmond finally fell to Union forces. In April of that year, Confederate General Robert E. Lee formally surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at – fittingly enough – Appomattox Court House in Virginia. These days, Virginia’s Civil War battlefields are historic monuments.