months of the time of his leaving his peaceful avocations he took the field for the first campaign of the war.
Secession placed no State in so embarrassing a position as the great Commonwealth of Virginia
Separated from the capital only by a river, and extending from the ocean to the Ohio
, it lay midway between the two contending parties, and early promised to be what it has since become,--the Belgium of the war. There is no doubt that the great body of its citizens were opposed to the State
's seceding; but they were equally opposed to the coercion of the States which had already seceded, and sympathized with many of their alleged grievances.
A State convention at Richmond
, on the 17th of April, when it was evident that war must ensue, passed an ordinance of secession.
Although this was not to go into force until it had been ratified by the people, the inhabitants of the eastern and southern portions of the State
immediately began hostilities.
In the portion of the State
lying west of the Alleghany Mountains
, and known as Western Virginia
, the feelings of the people were very different.
They owned but few slaves, and their soil and climate were unfitted for those branches of industry in which slave-labor is profitable.
While disapproving of the slavery agitation in the North
, they had no particular interest in the extension of that institution, and were strenuously opposed to secession for its sake; and they also had some grievances regarding alleged inequalities of taxation