The Battle of Blair Mountain
The Battle of Blair Mountain The Story of America’s Largest Labor Uprising by Robert Shogan tells the story of American’s largest labor uprising “and the largest armed insurrection on U.S. soil since the Civil War . . .”.
Extract from the book:
What the governor’s legalisms did not take into account was the steadily mounting anger among the miners. While Morgan was drafting his response to the UMW petition, many union miners began to arm themselves, and talk spread of a new protest march, like the abortive uprising of 1919. With groups of armed miners patrolling the roads, Logan County sheriff Don Chafin became increasingly nervous and called for help from the state police. The result was a tragi-comedy of errors. On Friday August 12 a squad of five troopers galloped into the little town of Clothier, about ten miles north and east of Logan and put on a show of force. One of the five rode his horse right into a parked car. The horse stumbled and fell to the ground and his rider was thrown to the ground.
Feeling foolish and frustrated, the troopers vented their anger at the owner of the parked car, pulling him from the vehicle, abusing him and chasing him home. A group of armed miners rushed to the scene, bent on revenge. Mistaking an auto driven by a railroad worker for a police car, the miners opened fire and put six bullet holes in the vehicle. When a state police car sped to the scene, the miners stopped that car, pulled the officers out into the road, took away their weapons and chased them home. By nightfall armed miners in groups of five to ten patrolled all the roads into Clothier, determined to keep the state police at bay. They cut all phone and telegraph wires and in effect took control of the area.
The following week, with news of Morgan’s rejection of the union demands, the contagion of rebellion spread. Morgan’s dismissal of the UMW petition presented to him after the August 7 demonstration fed resentment. So did a state supreme court ruling denying freedom to scores of union men jailed in Mingo for union activity and upholding the governor’s authority under martial law as recast after the court’s June ruling in the Lavinder case. Armed miners began assembling just outside of Charleston, near the town of Marmet, which had been rallying point for the 1919 march.