In 1863, West Virginia became 35th state admitted to the Union when it broke away from Confederate Virginia during the Civil War. When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, the western portion was against the action. On October 24, 1861, what would later become West Virginia was formed. The US government accepted West Virginia as a state two years later. Interestingly, West Virginia was initially going to be called Kanawha after the Kanawha River.