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New Martinsburg pub toasts local role in Civil War

May 03, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - There are plenty of bars in town, but how about one where you can hold a Civil War cannonball, bayonet, or see re-enactors dressed in full regalia gabbing about their favorite war moments?

Susan Crites' new tavern at 127 E. King St. has all that and more.

Crites' decision to open The Stonewall Brigade Pub is all part of her effort to shed more light on the area's local Civil War history, which she feels is neglected.

Crites said when she moved to Martinsburg eight years ago, she went to the library and asked for a book about local Civil War history. Crites said she was told that there was no such book in town.

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"It was astounding to me," she said.

So she began writing about local Civil War history herself, publishing short books on local conflicts and writing regular Civil War columns for local publications.

Now comes her own pub.

Crites transformed an old basement under Ronnie's bar into a tribute to local Civil War history. The walls are lined with pictures of memorable Civil War moments in Berkeley and Jefferson counties, like the burning of the train station and train roundhouse off East Burke Street in Martinsburg.

Relics like cannonballs, bayonets and bullets - many unearthed at local battlefields - are there for patrons to touch and hold, something that's not always allowable in museums, she said.

"We're having a lot of fun with it," said Crites, who owns the bar with Esther Watson.

The bar is named after the most famous Confederate regiment, said Crites.

Led by Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson, The Stonewall Brigade included soldiers from Berkeley and Jefferson counties, she said. Some members of the brigade formed in the town square located around the corner from the bar.

Local Civil War buffs like the pub, and predict it will be a big hit in Martinsburg. George Hayes and his brother, James Pestell, re-enactors from the 55th Virginia Infantry, sat down in the pub last week to trade stories and give their own perspective of life in the south.

"You couldn't ask for anything better," said Pestell, who lives in Martinsburg.

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