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Thunder in the Mountains : the West Virginia Mine War, 1920-21 (1985)

par Lon Savage

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The West Virginia mine war of 1920-21, a major civil insurrection of unusual brutality on both sides, even by the standards of the coal fields, involved thousands of union and nonunion miners, state and private police, militia, and federal troops.  Before it was over, three West Virginia counties were in open rebellion, much of the state was under military rule, and bombers of the U.S. Army Air Corps had been dispatched against striking miners. The origins of this civil war were in the Draconian rule of the coal companies over the fiercely proud miners of Appalachia.  It began in the small railroad town of Matewan when Mayor C. C. Testerman and Police Chief Sid Hatfield sided with striking miners against agents of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, who attempted to evict the miners from company-owned housing.  During a street battle, Mayor Testerman, seven Baldwin-Felts agents, and two miners were shot to death. Hatfield became a folk hero to Appalachia.  But he, like Testerman, was to be a martyr.  The next summer, Baldwin-Felts agents assassinated him and his best friend, Ed Chambers, as their wives watched, on the steps of the courthouse in Welch, accelerating the miners' rebellion into open warfare. Much neglected in historical accounts, Thunder in the Mountains is the only available book-length account of the crisis in American industrial relations and governance that occured during the West Virginia mine war of 1920-21. … (plus d'informations)

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The West Virginia Mine War 1920-21.
  LanternLibrary | Sep 10, 2017 |
Detailed retelling of the violent events of 1920-21 in southern West Virginia. Sometimes called the largest civilian uprising since the Civil War, the mine wars of the era ripped the region apart. Lon Savage has produced one of the few historical accounts of the events. Miners had been pushed to the breaking point by the coal companies, who controlled every aspect of a miner's life and enforced it with hired "detectives." Most of us today do not realize how backbreaking and difficult life was for the miners and their families. An important story of how men and women fought for a better life for themselves and their children.

I was raised in WV and was taught very little about the labor battles in the state. Less than two pages in the WV history text book. I'm very glad this book is still available and it should be a reminder of how far we've come. ( )
1 voter RitaFaye | Sep 1, 2010 |
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In August of 1921, West Virginia's miners began pouring into Lens Creek Valley near Charleston.
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The West Virginia mine war of 1920-21, a major civil insurrection of unusual brutality on both sides, even by the standards of the coal fields, involved thousands of union and nonunion miners, state and private police, militia, and federal troops.  Before it was over, three West Virginia counties were in open rebellion, much of the state was under military rule, and bombers of the U.S. Army Air Corps had been dispatched against striking miners. The origins of this civil war were in the Draconian rule of the coal companies over the fiercely proud miners of Appalachia.  It began in the small railroad town of Matewan when Mayor C. C. Testerman and Police Chief Sid Hatfield sided with striking miners against agents of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, who attempted to evict the miners from company-owned housing.  During a street battle, Mayor Testerman, seven Baldwin-Felts agents, and two miners were shot to death. Hatfield became a folk hero to Appalachia.  But he, like Testerman, was to be a martyr.  The next summer, Baldwin-Felts agents assassinated him and his best friend, Ed Chambers, as their wives watched, on the steps of the courthouse in Welch, accelerating the miners' rebellion into open warfare. Much neglected in historical accounts, Thunder in the Mountains is the only available book-length account of the crisis in American industrial relations and governance that occured during the West Virginia mine war of 1920-21. 

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