Nevada is only on the Colorado River because Arizona had sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War. And prior to gaining statehood on the Union side in 1864, part of present day Lincoln County was once in the Confederacy. Until 1909, Lincoln County included what is now Clark County as well.

During the Civil War, land that is now Clark County was part of the Arizona territory, under Confederate control, although it is doubtful if troops ever came here.

After the war, as payback for the Arizona and New Mexico territories having sided with the Confederacy, Congress took a portion of that territory, and gave it to Nevada, allowing the state to have access to the Colorado River.

Just how many people living in the region were southern sympathizers or how many may have even left to join the Confederate forces may never be known. The area was only sparsely populated at the time and the few settlers that were here were primarily of Mormon stock.

Yet even before and during the Civil War years LDS President Brigham Young had encouraged the members of the church not to participate, holding rather to the idea that they were “neither pro-Union nor pro-Confederacy, simply pro-Mormon.”

The town of Panaca was first settled during this time, 1864. Nevertheless, there were some church members who did fight on both sides, but how many came from what would later be Lincoln County, is not known.

The Utah territory had pushed its borders further westward, and a large portion of today’s Lincoln County was once in Utah. Congress finally agreed on the present border in 1867.

As a territory, but not yet a state, Nevada did have Union and Confederate sympathizers, but it seems no army battles were fought here. Just probably a lot of shouting back and forth at one another.

However, there was one former Confederate soldier living in Virginia City, Nevada later in the summer of 1861. His name was Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), then working as a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise. While living in Mississippi as a riverboat pilot, when war broke out in the spring of 1861, Clemens decided to join a Confederate militia, the Marion Rangers. But his stay with them lasted only two weeks before he quit and went West, accompanying his older brother Orion who had been appointed territorial governor of Nevada. Clemens knew he was no soldier and was also strongly anti-slavery.

He recalled his short-lived Army experience did bring him one time close to a Union commander that he openly admitted frightened him terribly. He wrote, “…(General Nathaniel) Harris ordered us back, but we told him there was a Union colonel coming with a whole regiment in his wake, and it looked as if there was going to be a disturbance, so we had concluded to go home…”

Years laters Clemens learned the Union colonel heading his way that day was Ulysses S. Grant.

(adapted from a story by Dan Valentine)