The Civil War in Nevada

The Civil War in Nevada

Of the "Pacific Coast" states, none had more southern supporters than Nevada. In Virginia City in particular, sentiment towards the warring sides was split evenly. However, in strict military fashion any strong sentiment that was pro-Confederate was struck down. The commander of Fort Churchill felt particular paranoia about pro-Confederate sympathies in mining camps, and throughout the war Nevada remained under martial law. By the time Congress approved an Enabling Acting for Nevada on March 21, 1864, the Civil War was winding down. The Union had won decisive victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and the South was in shambles. President Lincoln sought reelection and faced a three-way race against General John C. Fremont, the Radical Republican candidate, and General George B. McClellan, a Democrat, both of whom he had relieved of their commands earlier in the wars. New states, and their popular and electoral vote, were needed to reelect Lincoln in support of his moderate, reconstruction policies for the South. Among the proposed policies was the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. If Nevada were a state, it could ratify the amendment and help in the passage of the landmark humanitarian legislation.

Lincoln wanted an additional Northern state that would presumably vote for his reelection, and help force pro-Northern ideas into new amendments to the United States Constitution. Union sympathizers were so eager to gain statehood for Nevada that they rushed to send the entire state constitution by telegraph to the United States Congress before the presidential election as they did not believe that sending it by train would guarantee that its arrival on time. The constitution was sent on October 31, just eight days before the election on November 7, 1864.

Nevada's main contribution to the war was the Comstock Lode, whose silver totaling $400 million financed the Union Civil War effort to defeat the southern states. A common belief is that Nevada achieved early statehood due to its silver, but as the Union already had Nevada's silver due to Nevada being its territory, its statehood was due to political concerns, not economic and to achieve that end, Captain Moore along with U. S. Marshall John Blackburn confiscated arms from the citizens in Carson City, then marched on to Silver City where he confiscated twenty-one more arms, and then on to Virginia City.

There is an excellent article on line regarding this issue at In total, Nevada sent 1,200 men to fight for the Union. However Nevada's main contribution to the war was the Comstock Lode, whose silver totaling $400 million financed the Union Civil War effort,

One organization particularly pro-Union was the Virginia City Fire Department. Many of them were originally from New York, and had strong feelings for the New York Fire Zouaves, who many had known when they lived back east. When news arrived of the Union defeat at the First Battle of Manassas, with the New York Fire Zouaves in particular suffering heavy casualties, it was determined by the Virginia City firemen that they would book no celebrations by pro-Confederates, and they bullied any southern sympathizer they met that day by fist and weapons