The Swamp Dragon Home Guard and the Civil War in West Virginia

41st Annual Appalachian Studies Conference:

Re-stitching the Seams: Appalachia Beyond Its Borders

Millennium Hotel, Cincinnati, OH

Proposal Category: Paper

Type of Presentation: Appalachian History Studies

Subject: The Swamp Dragons of the South Branch Valley, WV

Media Needs: PowerPoint/Internet

Presenter: Cameron Michael Mallow


Abstract: The Swamp Dragon Home Guard and the Civil War in West Virginia

The Swamp Dragons area of operation was the South Branch Valley of the Potomac River. These men were part of the WV Home Guard and were significant in turning the war effort and aiding the Union cause. In opposition to the Swamp Dragons were the McNeill Rangers. One of the tasks of the Swamp Dragons was escorting any regular Union regiment from infantry, cavalry, to artillery through the valley. The Swamp Dragons also had to escort supply trains from places like New Creek Station to the valley or through the valley. As the war came to the end, the Swamp Dragons also had to deal with the discharged confederate forces in the valley. A great deal of emphasis and scholarship has been directed toward the McNeill Rangers, without giving proper consideration to the significance of the Swamp Dragon Home Guard. This paper will explore the contribution of these West Virginia soldiers at home who aided in the union cause during the Civil War. The paper will also touch on the devastation that came to mountain people during the war that played a signicant part in the violence and poverty that was associated with the region.