image from The Washingtonian
What is present-day West Virginia broke away from secession-minded Virginia early in the Civil War, only to enter the Union in June 1863. That movement toward statehood was well in motion 150 years ago this week during the conflict. The mountainous area had already begun drumming up Union supporters even before a Richmond Convention voted for Virginia to secede from the Union in 1861.
Soon a move was afoot to form a new pro-Union government for the region, which found itself largely under Union control early in the conflict. President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill into law in December 1862 approving the creation of West Virginia as a pro-Union state.
The issue of statehood then went to a vote of West Virginia residents on March 26, 1863, and a majority approved of the statehood bill, including its amendments. Ultimately the state would be officially created as of June 20, 1863. Though West Virginia obtained statehood in the Union during the Civil War, animosities between pro-Confederate and pro-Union sides rankled for years in that region as families sent troops to both sides of the conflict to fight.