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[51] proposed negro insurrection in 1859. So the very first step taken in Virginia, after secession was agreed to, was the seizure of Harper's Ferry. Governor Letcher ordered the volunteers of the valley there within five hours after the convention passed the ordinance of secession on April l7th, and about dusk on the 18th, the Second Virginia regiment, Colonel Allen, with several detached companies and with James Ashby's and Welby Carter's troops of cavalry from Fauquier land Loudoun, took possession of the place, with its workshops and machinery. The Union officer that was posted there as the regular guard with a detachment of half a hundred infantry, retired after having set fire to the armory, where a large number of muskets were stored, and to the storehouses and machine shops. The Virginians got in in time to save most of the buildings and the machinery, and a large lot of gunstocks was afterwards shipped to Fayetteville, N. C., for the Confederate armory at that place.

Col. Thomas J. Jackson, a professor of the Virginia military institute, was assigned to command the post, which the Virginia authorities considered the one of greatest importance, responsibility and danger; for it was to protect the valley of Virginia from the Potomac to the North Carolina and Tennessee line. Virginia troops were poured into the place. Captain Johnson, as we have seen, procured from Colonel Jackson permission to rendezvous the Marylanders there and at the Point of Rocks, and by June 1st had collected about five hundred men. As soon as Virginia had joined the Confederacy, President Davis, equally impressed with the value and importance of this Thermopylae, assigned to command it Gen. Joseph Eggleston Johnston, the second in rank of the generals of the Confederate army. Johnston ranked next to Lee, but was his equal in experience in war. He was a Virginian by birth and blood, and knew all about the Virginia fetish about Harper's Ferry

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