Hatfield's Hideout Campground serving the Hatfield McCoy Trail System

MINE WAR HISTORY

Hatfield McCoy Cabins | Hatfield McCoy Camping | Hatfield McCoy Rentals | Matewan Cabins | Matewan Camping | Matewan Rentals |
585 River Rd. McCarr, KY 41544

History Of The Mine Wars

Marmet Was The Most Significant Labor Rebellion in American History January 14, 2022 Tuesday, August 23, 1921 Marmet’s recently elected mayor W.A. Miller watched as miners gathered in Marmet to begin their March to Mingo. Because Marmet had seen conflicts like this before he knew that resentments always simmered below the surface. There had been several times that full blown warfare had looked imminent only to calm down and abate. But this time the situaton boiled over into a labor rebellion unlike no one in the nation had seen before or has since. While there had been plenty of skirmishes in the past twenty years, this time was different. This time, the Baldwin-Felts agents that had been hired by the mine owners had gone too far. They had a reputation for being brutal and ruling the coal camps with an iron fist, doing whatever it took to keep unions out of the coal fields. Miners were tired of the dangerous working conditions, the squalor of their lives in the company towns, and being forced to only shop at the company stores. Baldwin-Felts agents had shot and killed Sid Hatfield, the miners’ hero, on the McDowell County Courthouse steps in broad daylight. And hundreds of miners were being detained without their civil rights under martial law in Mingo. Sid’s death wasn’t the cause of the war, but it ignited the fuse that led to the emotional explosion that had festered for so long. Unlike other conflicts when calm had prevailed after agreements were made to appease the miners and return the region to relative peace, miners could not be calmed this time, and threats were useless. This time there would be no negotiating to pacify and calm the situation, the miners were determined that this time there would be no stopping them. August 24, 1921 Mayor Miller gave an interview with the Charleston Gazette, telling them that all day long up to 5000 union miner men had been coming down from Cabin Creek and the mines at Cabin Creek were shut down from a lack of workers. These Cabin Creek miners were armed with rifles, shotguns, and revolvers and joined approximately 2,000 men already camped on the hillsides. The situation really began to look ominous when six physicians and eight registered nurses joined the men in the camps. The men in the camps had been civil to local citizens even when they had to pass through the camps. What no one knew at the time was that tensions were rising and this was the beginning of the redneck army. Miners were all wearing red bandanas as sign of solidarity for the labor cause and resistance to labor practices at the time. This is where we now get the term “redneck” from. This tension would soon boil over and become the largest labor rebellion in american history known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. There had been plenty of small skirmishes in the past couple of decades over working conditions like only being able to buy from the company store and dangerous working conditions, but this time it was different. This time the mine owners had hired some Baldwin-Felts agents and their brutal tactics had gone too far. The Baldwin-Felts agents had shot and killed Sid Hatfield (the miners hero) on the McDowell County Courthouse steps in broad daylight. They then initiated martial law in Mingo and detained hundreds of miners violating their civil rights. Sid’s death took the simmering situation and turned it into an explosive situaton. In the past diplomacy and concessions from the mining companies had always calmed things down, this time there would be no diplomacy. The Red Neck Army was determined to avenge their fallen hero Sid Hatfield and determined to change the status quo. They left their camps and moved up Lens Creek and were joined by thousands of men on their way to Mingo. On August 25th the first wave of men left Marmet headed for Mingo County to free the illegally held miners and help bring the union to southern West Virginia. On the way to Mingo County more and more men came streaming out of the mountains until they numbered more than 10,000 looking for a fight. Men wore either their WWl uniforms or their red bandanas and carried all the weapons they owned. At night the mountainsides were lit up with their campfires. They created regiments and devised military plans as they followed the creek beds and paths on their way to Logan County. They knew they would be facing forces led by anti-union sherriff Don Chafin who was known as the king of Logan County. Chafin vowed that no armed mob of union men will cross the Logan County Line. As the redneck army were busy building field hospitals, kitchens and rest stations the anti union forces were busy as well. Governor Morgan called out the National Guard and President Harding sent General Bandholtz to West Virginia to help put the rebellion down. General Bandholtz warned the leaders of the Red Neck Army that their ranks would be decimated going against the forces that had been assembled against them and a ceasefire was grudgingly agreed to. Unfortunately as the still angry miners were boarding trains to return home Sheriff Chafin sent 300 men to Sharples where a gun battle erupted where men on both sides were killed. When word got back to the men boarding the train that the ceasefire had been broken, Mooney and Keeney, the leaders of The Redneck Army, lost their influence over their men and the assault started again. The army headed toward Logan in Logan County even more angry than before. Logan was protected by the natural barrier of Blair Mountain that was located just south of Sharples. The miners and anti- union forces both knew that the only way to get to Mingo was over Blair Montain. Anti-union forces dug in at the top of the mountain creating machine gun nests and foxholes for protection. The miners massed in Blair near the base of the mountain in preparation for the assault knowing that they did not have the advantage of high ground but more determined than ever. Then on day three of the furious battle the anti-union forces called in civilian planes to drop bombs on the miners’ front lines. This was the only time in the history of this country that dropped bombs have been used against U.S. citizens. Undeterred, the miners continued to fight and it would have been a very bad outcome for the miners except for one event. On Septembr 1, President Harding sent in federal troops from Fort Thomas, Kentucky. When the federal troops arrived in Sharples, Blair, Clothier and Logan the miners were unwilling to continue the battle because they considered themselves patriots and would not fire on United States Soldiers. The arrival of U.S. Soldiers brought an end to a conflict that would no doubt have been a massive and bloody defeat of the Red Neck Army. Miners that were considered to be the leaders of the rebellion were held to face a special grand jury, 1,217 indictments were handed down charging 325 miners with murder and 24 with treason against the state. The defense was funded by the United Mine Workers union and in the end only a few miners were found guilty but the expense of the trial bankrupted the United Mine Workers union which weakened their power over the next 12 years. Even though the miners didn’t win, their actions brought attention to the injustices in the West Virginia mining industry. The force and power of their resistance is arguably the most important labor action in American history.
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Hatfield's Hideout Campground serving the Hatfield McCoy Trail System

MINE WAR HISTORY

History Of The Mine Wars

Hatfield McCoy Cabins | Hatfield McCoy Camping | Hatfield McCoy Rentals | Matewan Cabins | Matewan Camping | Matewan Rentals |
585 River Rd. McCarr, KY 41544
Marmet Was The Most Significant Labor Rebellion in American History January 14, 2022 Tuesday, August 23, 1921 Marmet’s recently elected mayor W.A. Miller watched as miners gathered in Marmet to begin their March to Mingo. Because Marmet had seen conflicts like this before he knew that resentments always simmered below the surface. There had been several times that full blown warfare had looked imminent only to calm down and abate. But this time the situaton boiled over into a labor rebellion unlike no one in the nation had seen before or has since. While there had been plenty of skirmishes in the past twenty years, this time was different. This time, the Baldwin-Felts agents that had been hired by the mine owners had gone too far. They had a reputation for being brutal and ruling the coal camps with an iron fist, doing whatever it took to keep unions out of the coal fields. Miners were tired of the dangerous working conditions, the squalor of their lives in the company towns, and being forced to only shop at the company stores. Baldwin-Felts agents had shot and killed Sid Hatfield, the miners’ hero, on the McDowell County Courthouse steps in broad daylight. And hundreds of miners were being detained without their civil rights under martial law in Mingo. Sid’s death wasn’t the cause of the war, but it ignited the fuse that led to the emotional explosion that had festered for so long. Unlike other conflicts when calm had prevailed after agreements were made to appease the miners and return the region to relative peace, miners could not be calmed this time, and threats were useless. This time there would be no negotiating to pacify and calm the situation, the miners were determined that this time there would be no stopping them. August 24, 1921 Mayor Miller gave an interview with the Charleston Gazette, telling them that all day long up to 5000 union miner men had been coming down from Cabin Creek and the mines at Cabin Creek were shut down from a lack of workers. These Cabin Creek miners were armed with rifles, shotguns, and revolvers and joined approximately 2,000 men already camped on the hillsides. The situation really began to look ominous when six physicians and eight registered nurses joined the men in the camps. The men in the camps had been civil to local citizens even when they had to pass through the camps. What no one knew at the time was that tensions were rising and this was the beginning of the redneck army. Miners were all wearing red bandanas as sign of solidarity for the labor cause and resistance to labor practices at the time. This is where we now get the term “redneck” from. This tension would soon boil over and become the largest labor rebellion in american history known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. There had been plenty of small skirmishes in the past couple of decades over working conditions like only being able to buy from the company store and dangerous working conditions, but this time it was different. This time the mine owners had hired some Baldwin-Felts agents and their brutal tactics had gone too far. The Baldwin-Felts agents had shot and killed Sid Hatfield (the miners hero) on the McDowell County Courthouse steps in broad daylight. They then initiated martial law in Mingo and detained hundreds of miners violating their civil rights. Sid’s death took the simmering situation and turned it into an explosive situaton. In the past diplomacy and concessions from the mining companies had always calmed things down, this time there would be no diplomacy. The Red Neck Army was determined to avenge their fallen hero Sid Hatfield and determined to change the status quo. They left their camps and moved up Lens Creek and were joined by thousands of men on their way to Mingo. On August 25th the first wave of men left Marmet headed for Mingo County to free the illegally held miners and help bring the union to southern West Virginia. On the way to Mingo County more and more men came streaming out of the mountains until they numbered more than 10,000 looking for a fight. Men wore either their WWl uniforms or their red bandanas and carried all the weapons they owned. At night the mountainsides were lit up with their campfires. They created regiments and devised military plans as they followed the creek beds and paths on their way to Logan County. They knew they would be facing forces led by anti-union sherriff Don Chafin who was known as the king of Logan County. Chafin vowed that no armed mob of union men will cross the Logan County Line. As the redneck army were busy building field hospitals, kitchens and rest stations the anti union forces were busy as well. Governor Morgan called out the National Guard and President Harding sent General Bandholtz to West Virginia to help put the rebellion down. General Bandholtz warned the leaders of the Red Neck Army that their ranks would be decimated going against the forces that had been assembled against them and a ceasefire was grudgingly agreed to. Unfortunately as the still angry miners were boarding trains to return home Sheriff Chafin sent 300 men to Sharples where a gun battle erupted where men on both sides were killed. When word got back to the men boarding the train that the ceasefire had been broken, Mooney and Keeney, the leaders of The Redneck Army, lost their influence over their men and the assault started again. The army headed toward Logan in Logan County even more angry than before. Logan was protected by the natural barrier of Blair Mountain that was located just south of Sharples. The miners and anti-union forces both knew that the only way to get to Mingo was over Blair Montain. Anti-union forces dug in at the top of the mountain creating machine gun nests and foxholes for protection. The miners massed in Blair near the base of the mountain in preparation for the assault knowing that they did not have the advantage of high ground but more determined than ever. Then on day three of the furious battle the anti-union forces called in civilian planes to drop bombs on the miners’ front lines. This was the only time in the history of this country that dropped bombs have been used against U.S. citizens. Undeterred, the miners continued to fight and it would have been a very bad outcome for the miners except for one event. On Septembr 1, President Harding sent in federal troops from Fort Thomas, Kentucky. When the federal troops arrived in Sharples, Blair, Clothier and Logan the miners were unwilling to continue the battle because they considered themselves patriots and would not fire on United States Soldiers. The arrival of U.S. Soldiers brought an end to a conflict that would no doubt have been a massive and bloody defeat of the Red Neck Army. Miners that were considered to be the leaders of the rebellion were held to face a special grand jury, 1,217 indictments were handed down charging 325 miners with murder and 24 with treason against the state. The defense was funded by the United Mine Workers union and in the end only a few miners were found guilty but the expense of the trial bankrupted the United Mine Workers union which weakened their power over the next 12 years. Even though the miners didn’t win, their actions brought attention to the injustices in the West Virginia mining industry. The force and power of their resistance is arguably the most important labor action in American history.
Hatfield’s Hideout