and western borders of Virginia
became the boundary line across which the first bloody experiment of coercion by land was to be made.
This long frontier of Virginia
was exposed to the assaults of four armies; one consisting of regulars and volunteers stationed in and around Washington
, one at Fortress Monroe
, one under General Patterson
along the upper Potomac, and one gathered chiefly from Ohio
, under the command of General McClellan
To these two last mentioned armies, and particularly to the able general from Ohio
, were intrusted the military operations which would enforce the movement inaugurated in April in the western counties of Virginia
to resist the ratification of the ordinance of secession, passed by the State convention, and to overthrow the existing State government.
For the purposes of this movement, the situation was exceedingly favorable.
was on the western border and Pennsylvania
on the northern.
, the city chosen as the place where the convention would assemble, was in the narrow strip of Virginia
lying between those two States, and McClellan
's forces were assembling in easy striking distance.
The people of the nearest counties were generally opposed to the secession of Virginia
, and had been at all times in near commercial and political sympathy with the people of the adjacent States.
With these advantages, McClellan
prepared in May to advance into Virginia
During these movements, so adverse to its wishes and interests as well as to its sovereignty, the State of Virginia
was well advised of the dangers that threatened it, and began preparations after April 17th to place its people and their possessions in a state of defense.
Gen. Robert E. Lee
having been appointed by Governor Letcher
to command all Virginia
forces until the State
should be formally incorporated in the Confederate States
, directed Maj. A. Loring
, commanding volunteers at Wheeling
on April 29, 1861, to accept and muster into service such volunteer companies as might offer