In proper historical review of the creation of this State, we may begin with the fact that Virginia
was forced into secession by the military movements which compelled it either to surrender all its resources to the uses of war against its sister States, or to ally itself with secession in order to resist the threatening armed coercion.
‘The crossing of troops into Virginia
with hostile purpose is the act of war,’ said Robert E. Lee
in April, 1861, and that act occurred before the secession ordinance was voted on by the people.
The original ordinance of secession passed April 17, 1861, to take effect on the fourth Thursday in May, 1861, if ratified by the vote of the people, was opposed strenuously in the convention by the delegates from some of the northwestern counties, and notwithstanding its passage, many of those who had resented it returned to their counties to organize open opposition to the action of the convention.
The Virginia convention adjourned on May 1st to meet again on June 11th, and immediately upon the adjournment, public meetings were held in various western counties resulting in an informal call for a general convention of disaffected counties, to be held at Wheeling
on May 13th.
These proceedings attracted the attention of the administration at Washington
Communication with the national capital was easy, the distance slight and the way entirely open.
The call for national assistance in defying the action of the Virginia convention was earnestly made and did not go unheeded.
First among the military operations to support the secession of these counties from Virginia
were those in the two great neighboring States of Pennsylvania
The conference between the vigorous governor of Pennsylvania
and President Lincoln
, on April 12, 1861, which encouraged the President
in making his call for troops, was followed by the rapid military organization of the State
and the stationing of large bodies of troops at Chambersburg