Blair Mountain Uprising

On this day 99 years ago, the Battle of Blair Mountain – the largest labor uprising in U.S. history – began.

The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest labor uprising in United States history and the largest armed uprising since the American Civil War. The conflict began on this day in Logan County, West Virginia, as part of the “Coal Wars”, a series of early-20th-century labor disputes in Appalachia. Up to 100 people were killed (although estimates vary widely), and nearly one thousand miners were arrested on multiple charges, including murder and treason.

For five days, from late August to early September 1921, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers who were backed by coal mine operators during the miners’ attempt to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. The front was more than 10 miles long at one point. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired, aerial bombardment of the miners, and the United States Army’s arrival, intervening on orders from the president. Notably, the miners had no issues shooting at cops and Baldwin-Felts agents, but did not want to fight with federal troops (many were veterans themselves).

In recent years, some coal companies have been trying to destroy the historical site where the fighting happened. This, despite there never having been a complete archaeological survey of it. You can read more about the fight to preserve this heritage here.

If you want to learn more about this event from a socialist perspective, listen to RevLeft’s episode about it.

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