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West Virginia from 1777 to 1782


West Virginia landscape
West Virginia landscape

The nations kept their pledge of neutrality for almost two years, but continued friction with American settlers finally enabled the British to turn them against the Americans. West Virginians experienced three major Native American attacks from 1777 to 1782, and during the “Bloody Year of the Three Sevens” (1777), more depredations occurred in West Virginia than at any other time. Virginia endeavored to provide protection by constructing Fort Henry at Wheeling and Fort Randolph at Point Pleasant. With Fort Pitt at Pittsburgh and numerous small private forts, they formed the western perimeter of Virginia’s frontier defenses. But even after the revolution was over, the raids continued, encouraged by the British, until the decisive victory by General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, in Ohio, in 1794.

In spite of Native American raids, the settlement continued and population increased, especially in the Eastern Panhandle. Shepherdstown became a busy industrial town, contributing to the revolutionary cause with its manufacture of clothing, rifles, wagons, and saddles. After the revolution, rapid expansion from the coast helped increase West Virginia’s population to 78,000 by 1800. Despite the rugged terrain, most of the settlers took up farming. They grew corn, wheat, potatoes, and garden vegetables and also raised livestock. Many farmers attempted improvements in the breeding of livestock, and the South Branch of the Potomac became an important cattle-raising area. Sheep-raising also became profitable in Central and Northern Panhandle counties. Nevertheless, what eventually drew most settlers to West Virginia were the natural resources: timber, salt, iron, coal, gas, and oil. These resources enabled West Virginia to industrialize. "West Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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