of the other Southern States, or join them in the defense of principles it had professed since 1789 --belong to the invading party, or to that standing on the defensive — it chose the latter, and passed its ordinance of secession.
The people confirmed that choice by an overwhelming vote.
The passage of that ordinance, in secret session on the 17th of April, was not known in Washington
, where, as Quartermaster-General
of the United States Army, I was then stationed, until the 19th.
I believed, like most others, that the division of the country would be permanent; and that, apart from any right of secession, the revolution begun was justified by the maxims so often repeated by Americans
, that free government is founded on the consent of the governed, and that every community strong enough to establish and maintain its independence has a right to assert it. Having been educated in such opinions, I naturally determined to return to the State
of which I was a native, join the people among whom I was born, and live with my kindred, and, if necessary, fight in their defense.
Accordingly, the resignation of my commission, written on Saturday, was offered to the Secretary of War
Monday morning. That gentleman was requested, at the same time, to instruct the Adjutant-General
, who had kindly accompanied me, to write the order announcing its acceptance, immediately.
No other officer of the United States Army of equal rank, that of brigadier-general, relinquished his position in it to join the Southern Confederacy.
Many officers of that army, of Southern birth, had previously resigned their commissions, to return