detached mountain chains and ranges that render it one of the most remarkable fields for military operations in all the country, as is attested by the numerous battles that took place within it in Virginia
and its extensions into Maryland
6. Appalachia, or Appalachian Virginia
, is the mountain belt, some 350 miles long, that extends west of the Great Valley
entirely across the State
; wedge-shaped in form, some 60 miles wide in the northeast and narrowing to 20 in the southwest.
It is traversed by a large number of parallel ranges that vary in altitude from 2,000 feet to about 5,000, with long and generally narrow valleys between these mountain ranges running parallel with them.
Within these mountain ranges and running with their valleys, are the principal tributaries of the Potomac
in the northeast, of the James
and the Kanawha
in the central portions, of the Tennessee
in the southwestern portions, and in the northwestern, the easterly branches of the Monongahela
; all of which, in finding their way out, break through the successive ranges of the mountains and thus furnish ways through them.
In 1860, Virginia
's portion of Appalachia was divided into eighteen counties.
The larger portion of this territory was covered with forests.
As a whole, it was a most difficult region for the conduct of military operations, of which it was largely the theater during the first year of the war.
7. Trans-Appalachian Virginia
, or Trans-Alleghany
, as it was often called, is the region beyond the Appalachian or main mountain ranges; it is the inclined tableland that slopes to the northwest from the eastern outcrop of the great conglomerate rock border of the TransAppa-lachian coal-field to the Ohio
, descending from an average elevation of nearly 3,000 feet along its eastern border, in the great Flat-top mountain and its extensions, to one of about 600 along the Ohio
The streams have deeply eroded its long westward slope, leaving it in high relief with long and narrow stream valleys separated by intervening ridges, generally rugged in character.
The valleys widen and the between ridges sink as they approach the Ohio
This great region was divided into forty-one counties, nearly every one of which is underlaid by coal of highly-useful varieties, making it, intrinsically, one of the most valuable portions of the State
; while a large part of its surface was covered with virgin forests.