A haunting exploration of the earliest days of the Civil War. Set in the lush hills and mountains of Virginia, it recalls fundamental issues so polarizing that the people of Virginia were willing to divide their state over them-a decision that would ultimately influence the outcome of the war. In a defiant act to sustain President Lincoln’s war effort, Virginia Unionists created their own state government in 1861- destined to become the new state of West Virginia. Their actions blocked what should have been Confederate control of the territory and closed one of their key gateways to the Union States forever changing a nation.
“Lesser uncovered manuscripts, diaries and letters from soldiers and civilians to relate the story of the first Union victories and the events that caused Virginians to divide the state. This detailed account of the Civil War’s beginnings re-creates the sights and sounds, the feelings and passions of the battlefield.” -Booklist
“People tend to forget that the first land campaign of the Civil War was fought in Virginia, but in what is today West Virginia, a region that both sides thought to be of vital importance in 1861, as indeed it was. W. Hunter Lesser’s Rebels at the Gate is the first study of this campaign in generations, and surely the finest to date, thoroughly researched, thoughtfully presented and riddled with the future great lights of the war-Robert E. Lee, George B. McClellan, William Rosecrans and more. Only the Civil War could have produced battles at places with names like Traveller’s Repose, and perhaps only a West Virginian like Hunter Lesser could have produced this fine study.” -William C. Davis, author and two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee
About the author:
W. Hunter Lesser has had a 20-year career as an archaeologist and is involved with many archaeological and historical preservation groups, including the Civil War Preservation Trust, Trust for Public Land and the National Park Service. Recently, he acted as a technical advisor for the Conservation Fund's The Civil War Battlefield Guide. He lives in West Virginia.