Bishop Polk had not then occupied Columbus, as Gen. Grant supposed; but he did so next day, with a force of ten regiments, six batteries, and three battalions of cavalry. Of course, the promise of Gov. Harris that he should be withdrawn was not fulfilled, and the fact that Grant had now crossed the Ohio was made an excuse for this invasion. In other words: the people of Kentucky, through their then freshly chosen Legislature, having decided to remain in and be loyal to the Union, the Confederates regarded this as justifying them in seizing any portion of that State of which they should deem the occupancy advantageous to their cause; and, in fact, Gen. Zollicoffer,1 commanding their forces in East Tennessee, had already occupied Cumberland Gap, and advanced through that pass into Kentucky, at least so early as the 5th; though no pretense of Federal invasion, accomplished or meditated, was, in that quarter, justified. But East Tennessee was earnestly and unchangeably loyal to the Union--had so voted by more than two to one at the recent State Election; and it had become necessary to surround her with Confederate camps, and cut her off from all communication with the loyal States, to prevent a general uprising of her hardy mountaineers in defense of the cause they loved. Gen. Robert Anderson assumed command, at Louisville, of the Department of Kentucky, Sept. 20th; and the organization of Union volunteers
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The safety of Tennessee requiring, I occupy the mountain passes at Cumberland, and the three long mountains in Kentucky. For weeks, I have known that the Federal commander at Hoskins's Cross-Roads was threatening the invasion of East Tennessee, and ruthlessly urging our people to destroy our own road and bridges. I postponed this precautionary movement until the despotic Government at Washington, refusing to recognize the neutrality of Kentucky, had established formidable camps in the center and other parts of the State, with the view, first, to subjugate your gallant State, and then ourselves. Tennessee feels, and has ever felt, toward Kentucky as a twin-sister; their people are as one people in kindred, sympathy, valor, and patriotism. We have felt, and still feel, a religious respect for Kentucky's neutrality. We will respect it as long as our safety will permit. If the Federal force will now withdraw from their menacing position, the force under my command shall immediately be withdrawn.“The despotic Government at Washington” could hardly, with reason, be blamed for refusing to recognize the neutrality of Kentucky, when Kentucky herself did that very thing with a decision and emphasis quite equal to those evinced in President Lincoln's reply to Magoffin. Zollicoffer's “religious respect,” therefore, was paid to something exceedingly convenient to his cause, but which, if it ever had been, no longer existed.
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