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Published on May 23, 2007
The American Coal Miner War West Virginia 1912-1921 "After Matewan"
The 1912-13 events at Paint & Cabin Creek are known as the first of the Coal Mine Wars of West Virginia. There was a march of 5,000 miners in 1919. Then the Matewan Massacre in 1920 led to the shooting of Chief Hatfield. The only movie made about this was filmed in 1987 by John Sayles. Finally with the help of Mother Jones and Bill Blizzard, apx. 15,000 armed miners attacked apx. 1,500 Company thugs, State Police, & 2,000 U.S. Military units in the Battle of Blair Mountain. The "RedNeck Army" (named for red cloth around their neck) surrendered when the U.S. Air Force threatened to bomb them. In 2005, the West Virginia Archives and History Commission voted unanimously to recommend to the National Park Service that 1,600 acres of Blair Mountain be included on the National Register. Coal mining companies and nearby landowners promptly sued to overturn the nomination. The Sierra Club moved to join the suit, and in May 2006 a West Virginia judge granted the Club's participation. That same month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Blair Mountain battlefield on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Places. The United Mine Workers union also came out in support of the National Register listing because of its importance to the labor movement.
Bibliography: "When Miners March"; William Blizzard "Thunder in the Mountains"; Lon Savage "WV Mine Wars"; David A. Corbin "Battle of Blair Mountain"; Robert Shogun