When we think of the Civil War, Nevada isn’t the first state that generally comes to mind, yet the conflict between North and South had as much of an impact there as it did in Pennsylvania or Virginia.
At the start of the war Nevada was a territory and its sentiments mostly for the Union. Its main contribution to the war effort was the plentiful supply of silver from its mines, but some 1,200 of its men volunteered for the Union. In May, 1863, they formed the 1st Battalion Nevada Volunteer Cavalry. The next summer, the 1st Battalion Nevada Volunteer Infantry was formed.
There were no battles between blue and gray in the territory. Instead the men guarded outposts and stagecoach routes, fought Native American tribes, and freed up other troops to fight the war to the east. Some men decided they wanted to see more of the action and headed east to join the Union or Confederate army.
President Lincoln, eager to get more votes in the difficult 1864 election, granted Nevada statehood that year even though it was well below the population requirements. As he predicted, Nevada voted for Lincoln.
The 150th Anniversary of the formation of the 1st Battalion, Nevada Volunteer Cavalry, will be commemorated in Virginia City, Nevada, May 25-27. A reenactor camp and battle will be staged, along with other living history demonstrations and a special temporary museum exhibit dedicated to the history of Civil War Nevada.
For more information see the Civil War Nevada Sesquicentennial Page.
[Photo courtesy Suzette Eder]