Author: N. Wayne Tripp


Lynchburg during the Civil War

Lynchburg, Virginia, is located just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the banks of the James River, where its founder, John Lynch, established a ferry service in 1757. On the eve of the American Civil War (1861–1865), Lynchburg was Virginia’s sixth-largest city and a major transportation center, with access to the James River and Kanawha Canal, as well as the Virginia and Tennessee, the South Side, and the Orange and Alexandria railroads. In addition, the city was a major manufacturer of plug tobacco and, by the 1850s, the second-wealthiest city per capita in the United States. During the war, Lynchburg women established the Ladies’ Relief Hospital, and the Confederate military made the city a major hub of supplies and transport, which Union troops attempted to disrupt at the Battle of Lynchburg in June 1864. After the fall of Richmond in April 1865, the state government relocated to Lynchburg briefly, only to return after Robert E. Lee’s surrender a few miles to the east at Appomattox.


Percy C. Corbin (1888–1952)

Percy C. Corbin was a civil rights activist. A lawsuit he filed on behalf of his son, Corbin et al. v. County School Board of Pulaski County, Virginia, et al. (1950), led to one of only six successful lawsuits supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in its legal campaign to equalize school facilities before Brown v. Board of Education (1954). A Texas native and physician, Corbin established his practice in the town of Pulaski, where he helped combat an influenza outbreak in 1918 and attracted both black and white clients. Corbin fought to equalize school facilities and was active in the local black community. He died in 1952.