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[344]

War.

A few weeks later Colonel Lee was ordered, and came to Washington, reaching there three days before the inauguration of President Lincoln. At that time South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, had already seceded from the Union, and the Provisional Government of the Confederate States was in operation at Montgomery.

The Virginia Convention was in session, but slow and deliberate in its course. The State which had done so much to found the Union was 10th to assent to its dissolution, and still guided by the wise counsels of such men as Robert E. Scott, Robert Y. Conrad, Jubal A. Early, John B. Baldwin, Samuel McDowell Moore, and A. H. H. Stuart, she persisted in efforts to avert the calamity of war. Events followed swiftly. The Peace Conference had failed. Overtures for the peaceful evacuation of Fort Sumter had likewise failed. On the 13th of April, under bombardment, the Federal Commander, Major Anderson, with its garrison, surrendered. On April 15th President Lincoln issued his proclamation for 75,000 men to make war against the seceded States, which he styled: ‘Combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.’ This proclamation determined Virginia's course. War had come. Her mediation had been in vain. She was too noble to be neutral.

Of the arts of duplicity she knew nothing save to despise. She must now level her guns against the breasts of her Southern brethren, or make her own breast their shield. On April 17th Virginia answered Mr. Lincoln's proclamation with the Ordinance of Secession, and, like Pallas-Athene, ‘the front fighter’ stepped with intrepid brow to where, in conflict, history has ever found her—to the front of war.

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