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Doc. 203.-address of General Rosecrans. To the people of Western Virginia.

In consequence of the perversions of the Disunionists in Western Virginia, and to satisfy constant application for information upon points discussed in the premises, Gen. Rosecrans issued the following proclamation:

Headquarters army of Occupation, Western Virginia, Clarksburg, Aug. 20, 1861.
To the Loyal Inhabitants of Western Virginia:--
You are the vast majority of the people. If the principle of self-government is to be respected, you have a right to stand in the position you have assumed, faithful to the Constitution and laws of Virginia, as they were before the ordinance of secession.

The Confederates have determined at all hazards to destroy the Government which, for eighty years, has defended our rights, and given us a name among the nations. Contrary to your interests and your wishes, they have brought war upon your soil. Their tools and dupes told you you must vote for secession as the only means to insure peace; that unless you did so, hordes of abolitionists would overrun you, plunder your property, steal your slaves, seize upon your lands, and hang all those who opposed them.

By these and other atrocious falsehoods they alarmed you, and led many honest and unsuspecting citizens to vote for secession. Neither threats, nor fabrications, nor intimidations sufficed to carry Western Virginia against the interest and wishes of its people, into the arms of secession.

Enraged that you dared to disobey their behests, Eastern Virginians, who had been accustomed to rule you and count your votes, and ambitious recreants from among yourselves, disappointed that you would not make good their promises, have conspired to tie you to the desperate fortunes of the Confederacy, or drive you from your homes.

Between submission to them and subjugation or expulsion, they leave you no alternative. You say you do not wish to destroy the old Government, under which you have lived so long and peacefully; they say you shall break it up. You say you wish to remain citizens of the United States, they reply you shall join the Southern Confederacy, to which the Richmond junta has transferred you, and to carry their will, their Jenkins, Wise, jackson, and other conspirators proclaim upon your soil a relentless and neighborhood war; their misguided and unprincipled followers re-echo their cry, threatening fire and sword, hanging and expulsion, to all who oppose their arbitrary designs. They have set neighbor against neighbor, and friend against friend; they have introduced among you warfare only known among savages. In violation of the laws of nations and humanity, they have proclaimed that private citizens may and ought to make war.

Under this bloody code, peaceful citizens, unarmed travellers, and single soldiers have been shot down, and even the wounded and defenceless have been killed; scalping their victims is all that is wanting to make their warfare like that which, seventy or eighty years ago, was waged by the Indians against the white race on this very ground. You have no alternative left you but to unit as one man in the defence of your homes, for the restoration of law and order, or be subjugated or expelled from the soil.

I therefore earnestly exhort you to take the most prompt and vigorous measures to put a stop to neighborhood and private wars; you must remember that the laws are suspended in Eastern Virginia, which has transferred itself to the Southern Confederacy. The old Constitution and laws of Virginia are only in force in [541] Western Virginia. These laws you must maintain.

Let every citizen, without reference to past political opinions, unite with his neighbors to keep those laws in operation, and thus prevent the country from being desolated by plunder and violence, whether committed in the name of Secessionism or Unionism.

I conjure all those who have hitherto advocated the doctrine of secessionism, as a political opinion, to consider that now its advocacy means war against the peace and interests of Western Virginia; it is an invitation to the Southern Confederates to come in and subdue you, and proclaims that there can be no law nor right until this is done.

My mission among you is that of a fellow-citizen, charged by the Government to expel the arbitrary force which domineered over you, to restore that law and order of which you have been robbed, and to maintain your right to govern yourselves under the Constitution and laws of the United States.

To put an end to the savage war waged by individuals, who, without warrant of military authority, lurk in the bushes and waylay messengers, or shoot sentries, I shall be obliged to hold the neighborhood in which these outrages are committed as responsible, and, unless they raise the hue and cry and pursue the offenders, deal with them as accessories to the crime.

Unarmed and peaceful citizens shall be protected, the rights of private property respected, and only those who are found enemies of the Government of the United States, and the peace of Western Virginia, will be disturbed. Of these I shall require absolute certainty that they will do no mischief.

Put a stop to needless arrests and the spread of malicious reports. Let each town and district choose five of its most reliable and energetic citizens a Committee of Public Safety, to act in concert with the civil and military authorities, and be responsible for the preservation of peace and good order.

Citizens of Western Virginia, your fate is mainly in your own hands. If you allow yourselves to be trampled under foot by hordes of disturbers, plunderers, and murderers, your land will become a desolation. If you stand firm for law and order, and maintain your rights, you may dwell together peacefully and happily as in former days.

W. S. Rosecrans, Brig.-Gun. Commanding A. O. W. V.

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