Camp Piatt was one of many U.S. military camps situated in West Virginia during the Civil War. The camp was located in Belle, at Malones Landing about 15 miles south of Charleston. The camp was strategically situated on the Kanawha River, where it served as a major hub for the steamboats which carried soldiers as well as supplies for the Union cause.
The camp was named after Col. Abraham Piatt, commander of the 34th Ohio Regiment Zouaves. Rebel sympathizers in the Kanawha Valley detested the soldiers of the 34th Ohio, who would sometimes loot and burn property of known Confederate backers in the area. Another regiment, the 23rd Ohio, moved into Camp Piatt following the Battle of Carnifex Ferry. In this regiment were two future U.S. presidents, Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley, who were commissioned first lieutenants at Camp Piatt in 1863. Hayes was fond of Camp Piatt and the surrounding area. ‘‘This is a beautiful valley from Camp Piatt down. Make West Virginia a free state, and Charleston ought to be a sort of Pittsburgh,’’ he wrote.
This Article was written by Scott M. Kozelnik
Belle Woman Club. Bicentennial Belle, West Virginia: 1776-1976. Belle: 1976.
Rice, Otis K. Charleston and the Kanawha Valley: An Illustrated History. Woodland Hills, CA: Windsor Pub., 1981.