Essential reporting in volatile times.

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It's a peaceful scene.

The sun rises over Blair Mountain, and the fog has lifted. The sound of the occasional coal truck breaks the chatter of native birds, and a white historical marker stands out amongst the lush greenery.

In August of 1921, the site was far from serene, as an estimated 10,000 union coal miners clashed with a group of regional officials and anti-union figures in Logan County. The Battle of Blair Mountain wasn't a single dispute; it was a result of decades of oppression and intimidation.

In order to differentiate themselves from the enemy, many miners sported red bandannas around their necks. Today, in times of strife or strike, the "redneck" bandannas are worn in solidarity with working-class rights.

The miners were paid a low salary, and only in company "scrip," which could only be spent in the general store owned by the coal company. As the miners' dissatisfaction increased, they were courted by labor union representatives and there was growing support among the miners to organize.

That's when mine operators hired gun-toting agents from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to intimidate the miners into standing down.

When local law officials approached the agents, gunfire broke out and ended with the deaths of several agents and Matewan's Mayor, Cabell Testerman. The murder of Mingo County Sheriff Sid Hatfield, who had staunchly supported the miners and their unionized efforts, was the final straw for the miners.

The Battle of Blair Mountain lasted from late August into September, with miners' historical records later recalling the endless firing of machine guns and weaponry. The relentless pursuit was halted only by federal officials sent by President Warren G. Harding.

The Battle of Blair Mountain is regarded as a victorious effort on behalf of the union miners and as a landmark turning point for the rights and safety of the working-class laborers.