Nationally renowned Civil War author Bob O'Connor will make his fourth appearance at the Blue and Gray Reunion scheduled June 1 to 3 in Philippi.
O'Connor said he looks forward to making his return appearance at the site of the first land battle of the Civil War - Philippi Bridge, in what is now West Virginia. He said he is intrigued and plans to write a book about James Hanger, the first amputee of the war, who was wounded and treated at Philippi.
O'Connor is the author of six Civil War books. His latest, published in the fall of 2011, is entitled "A House Divided Against Itself." The historical novel is about two brothers who faced each other in two battles, at Falling Waters north of Martinsburg and at Stephenson's Depot, the battle of Second Winchester.
"What is unusual about this book is that it is often said that 'brother fought against brother' - and they did, particularly in western Virginia. In the state that is now West Virginia, about 20,000 soldiers fought for the Confederacy and a like number fought for the Union," O'Connor said. "They were on different sides of the conflict. What is unusual is to find an instance where brothers actually fought in the same battle on the same day. And these two brothers were opposite each other twice."
O'Connor's research took him to the national archives, the research library at Carlisle, Pa., and to the Adams County (Pa.) Historical Society. He poured through newspaper accounts and official rosters of the two units involved. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park chief historian Dennis Frye's book on the regimental history of the 2nd Virginia Infantry was a valuable resource in following the actions of the Shepherdstown brother and his company.
Wesley Culp, the Shepherdstown man, was a member of the Hamtramck Guards. When the fighting began he enlisted in Company B of the 2nd Virginia Infantry at Harpers Ferry, a unit that soon became part of the famed Stonewall Brigade. His brother William, along with his Gettysburg friends, all enlisted in Company E of the 2nd Pennsylvania Infantry, a unit that became part of the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry.
Wesley's friend, Johnston Hastings "Jack" Skelly Jr. (part of the same regiments that William had joined) and his girlfriend, Mary Virginia Wade, are the other two main characters in the novel.
All the characters in O'Connor's latest book are real. All the situations really happened. The historical fiction part comes in the dialogue which has been fabricated by the author.
The author has been a finalist four times in national book awards. He spoke more than 100 times in 18 states last year about his books.
The author's tent will be set up all three days across the street from the Sheetz store in downtown Philippi. He will be talking to the school groups on Friday during their visit to the event. He will be selling and signing books all three days.
O'Connor writes an almost daily account of the Civil War in West Virginia. Those articles can be read free at Examiner.com/civil-war-in-charleston/bob-o-connor.