Guns on the Mountain By: Mike Mezz
The Battle of Blair Mountain
August 25 to September 2 1921 (A Narrative Poem) The photos are authentic
99 years ago was a pivotal day August 31, 1921 history was made Miners wanted to receive real pay Instead of company script To join a union, better safety
Ten thousand miners marched They were heavily armed and ready Prepared to die for their rights The company was armed with artillery Today was going to be a deadly fight
“It is time to lay down the bible and take up the rifle,” Baptist reverend John Wilburn said in front of the altar
Machine guns roared from mine owners They were on top of Blair Mountain Miners wore red bandanas around their necks Bullets were fired by the thousands
Thick smoke and gunfire were the effects
The "Red Neck Army" had them outnumbered But they were heavily outgunned The miners uphill advance was lumbered As rifle barrels gleemed in the sun
The booming sounds of gunfire thundered
The Battle for Blair Mountain had started President Harding called in the military He had enough and sent in bombers Harding took the side of the company
He was prepared to drop bombs the miners
The "Red Neck Army" decided to surrender Most were veterans from World War One Fighting the military was not in their favor So they decided to lay down their guns
The miners lost the Battle of Blair Mountain but won the war years later. The battle led to "rights to organize " and were enshrined in New Deal legislation such as the National Industrial Recovery Act signed into law between 1933 and 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt
What led to the biggest battle on American soil since the Civil War? Workers had use leased tools and were paid low wages in company currency, or “scrip,” which could only be used at company stores. It wasn't real money. Safety conditions were often deplorable,
Companies compelled their workers to sign so-called “yellow dog contracts” pledging not to organize, and they used armies of private detectives to harass striking miners and evict them from their company-owned homes.
To distinguish one another in the dense forests, many of the miners tied red handkerchiefs around their necks. They soon became known as the “Red Neck Army.” This is where the term ",Red Neck" came from but don't have the same meaning today.
It was later estimated that some one million rounds had been fired during the battle. Reports of casualties ranged from as few as 20 killed to as many as 100, but the actual number has never been confirmed.
The Battle of Blair Mountain is now cited as a pivotal chapter in American labor history. In the short term, it proved to be a crushing defeat for the miners but led to Union rights in America. If it wasn't for these brave West Virginia coal miners, unions wouldn't exist in the US.
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If you want to know more about The Battle of Blair Mountain, you can visit : Americans for Blair Mountain on Facebook.
Copyright © 2020 Mike Mezz (All rights reserved)