MARMET – In late August 1921, thousands of union supporters marched from the outskirts of Marmet to the foot of Blair Mountain, which culminated in the violent clash known famously as the Battle of Blair Mountain.
On Aug. 1, 1921, Sid Hatfield, who was considered a hero among the miners for his role in the Battle of Matewan a year earlier, was shot by detectives of the Baldwin-Felts detective agency on the steps of the McDowell County Courthouse in Welch. Fueled by anger over Hatfield’s murder and other events with the Mine Wars that had been ongoing since 1912, an estimated 7,000 union supporters began a march toward Mingo County on Aug. 24, 1921.
Their intent was to overthrow the martial law that had been imposed on Mingo County and free the striking miners who had been arrested in the process. In order to get to Mingo County, the marching miners had to cross over Blair Mountain in the northern end of Logan County.
That’s when they were met by the forces of the infamous anti-union Logan County Sheriff Don Chafin. The resulting clash became what is now famously known in the history books as the Battle of Blair Mountain, which remains the second largest civil insurrection in American history after the Civil War.
100 years after that historic march, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) is organizing a three-day event that aims to recreate it. The recreated march will be part of the several other centennial celebrations known as Blair 100.
Those involved in the march will walk approximately 15 miles per day.
The march is scheduled to begin in Marmet at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 3, and participants will march to Racine. The march will pick up the next day on Saturday from Racine to Madison, and it will end on Sunday at approximately 5 p.m. at the Local 2935 Union Hall at Sharples. A mini celebration will be held at the Union Hall at the end of the march.
According to the Blair 100 website, the deadline to RSVP for the event has already passed, but questions or concerns about the event may still be directed to the UMWA by emailing Activist@umwa.org.
To learn more about the Blair 100 project, visit www.blair100.com.