Chapter 20: commencement of civil War.
- Uprising of the Southern people, 478.
-- character of the early Volunteers, 479.
-- the insurgents on Arlington Hights
-- invasion of Virginia by National troops, 480.
-- military occupation of Alexandria, 482.
-- death and funeral of Colonel Ellsworth, 483.
-- first fortifications erected near Washington, 484.
-- the troops in Virginia
-- Mount Vernon, 485.
-- attack on Sewell's Point, 486.
-- attack on Acquia Creek batteries, 487.
-- dash into Fairfax Court House
-- the Unionists in Western Virginia, 488.
-- Union Convention at Wheeling
-- alarm of the conspirators, 489.
-- Government of Virginia reorganized, 491.
-- State of West Virginia, 492.
-- troops ordered to Western Virginia, 493.
-- insurgents in Western Virginia, 494.
-- March against the insurgents at Philippi, 495.
-- battle of Philippi, 496.
-- Union troops at Grafton, 497.
At the close of April, Jefferson Davis
and his confederates were satisfied that the Government
and the loyal people of the country were resolved to maintain the nationality of the Republic
at all hazards, and they put forth extraordinary efforts to strike a deadly blow before it should be too late.
The possession of Washington City
being the chief object to be first obtained, troops were hurried toward it, as we have seen, from all points of the Slave-labor States, with the greatest possible haste and in the greatest possible numbers.
At the beginning of May there were sixteen thousand of them on their way to Virginia
or within its borders, and, with the local troops of that Commonwealth, were pressing on toward Washington
, or to important points of communication with it. At the same time measures were on foot at Montgomery
for organizing an army of one hundred thousand men.1
The enthusiasm among the young men of the ruling class in the South
was equal to that of the young men of the North
Notwithstanding the proclamation of the President
, calling for seventy-five thousand men, was read by crowds, “on the bulletin-boards of the telegraph-offices in every town, with roars of laughter and derision, and cheers for the great rail-splitter Abraham,” as one of their chroniclers avers, and few believed that there would be war, “companies were formed on the spot, from among the wealthiest of the youths, and thousands of dollars were spent on their organization, drill, and equipment; indeed, had Jefferson Davis
so desired, he could have had two hundred thousand volunteers within a month for any term of service.”
The enthusiasm of the young men was shared by the other sex. “Banners of costly material,” says the same writer, “were made by clubs of patriotic young ladies, and delivered to the companies with appropriate speeches — the men, on such occasions, swearing that they would perish rather than desert the flag thus consecrated.
Subscriptions for arms and accouterments poured in, and an emissary was dispatched northward, post-haste, to get the requisites.”
Regarding the whole matter as a lively pastime in prospect, many of the companies prepared to dress in costly attire, and bear the most expensive rifles; but those who knew better than they what kind of an entertainment the Southern
youth were invited to, gave them some sound lessons at the beginning.
“The young gentlemen of your company,” wrote Jefferson
to a Mississippi captain, “must be thoroughly infused with the idea that their services will prove to be in hardships and dangers; the commonest material, therefore, will be the most desirable; and as for arms, we must be content with what we have; the enemy will come superabundantly provided with all things that money and ingenuity can devise.
We must learn to supply ourselves from them.”
He recommended that all volunteers should be dressed in gray flannels and light blue cotton pantaloons.3
The grand rallying-place of the “Confederates,” preparatory to a march on the Capital
, was Manassas Junction
, a point on the Orange and Alexandria Railway, where another joins it from Manassas Gap in the Blue Ridge
, about twenty-five miles west from Alexandria
, and thirty in a direct line from Washington City
This was a most important strategic point in the plans of the conspirators, as it commanded the grand Southern railway route, connecting Washington
, and another leading to the fertile valley of the Shenandoah
, beyond the Blue Ridge
. General Butler
had already suggested
to General Scott
the propriety of sending National troops to occupy that very position before a “Confederate” soldier had appeared,5
knowing that Washington City
could be more easily defended at that distance from it, than by troops and batteries on Arlington Hights, just across the Potomac
, within cannon-shot of the Capital
disagreed with Butler
; and while the veteran soldier was slowly
preparing for a defensive campaign, the enemies of the Government
, moving aggressively and quickly, had taken full possession, unopposed, of one of the most important positions for the accomplishment of their object.
They attempted to do more.
Under Colonel Lee
, the late occupant of Arlington House, they were preparing to fortify Arlington Hights, where heavy siege-guns would absolutely command the cities of Washington
Fortunately for the country, this movement was discovered in time to defeat its object.
That discovery revealed the necessity of an immediate advance of National forces beyond the Potomac
The advantages gained by the insurgents in having possession of the railways in that region was painfully apparent.
Already “Confederate” pickets were occupying Arlington Hights and the Virginia
shore of the Long Bridge
, which spans the Potomac
at Washington City
; and engineers had been seen on those rights selecting eligible positions for batteries.6
A crisis was evidently at hand, and the General-in-chief
was now persuaded to allow an immediate invasion of Virginia
Orders were at once issued
for the occupation of the shores of the Potomac
opposite, and also the city of Alexandria
, nine miles below, by National troops.
was in command of about thirteen thousand men at the Capital
Toward midnight, these forces in and around Washington
were put in motion for the passage of the river, at three different points.
One column was to cross at the Aqueduct Bridge
, at Georgetown
; another at the Long Bridge
, at Washington
; and a third was to proceed in vessels, and seize the city of Alexandria
The three invading columns moved almost simultaneously.
The one at Georgetown
was commanded by General Irvin McDowell
Some local volunteers crossed first, and drove the insurgent pickets from the Virginia
end of the Aqueduct Bridge
These were followed by the Fifth Massachusetts; the Twenty-eighth New York, from Brooklyn
; Company B of the United States Cavalry; and the Sixty-ninth New York, which was an Irish regiment, under Colonel Michael Corcoran
Their march across that lofty structure, in the bright light of a full moon, was a beautiful spectacle.
Thousands of anxious men and women saw the gleaming of their bayonets and the waving of their
banners, and heard the sounds of their measured foot-falls borne on the still night air, with the deepest emotions, for it was the first initial act of an opening campaign in civil warfare, whose importance no man could estimate.
two miles distant from this passing column was another crossing the long Bridge.
It consisted of the National Rifles under Captain Smead
, and a company of Zouaves under Captain Powell
, who drove the insurgent pickets toward Alexandria
, and took position at Roach's Spring, a half a mile from the Virginia
end of the Bridge
These were immediately followed by the constitutional Guards of the District of Columbia under Captain Digges
, who advanced about four miles on the road toward Alexandria
At two o'clock in the morning, a heavy body, composed of the New York Seventh Regiment; three New Jersey regiments (Second, Third, and Fourth), under Brigadier-General Theodore Runyon
, and the New York Twelfth and twenty-fifth, passed over.
The New York troops were commanded by Major-General Charles
, who, at the call of the President
, had offered his entire division to the service of the country.
the New York Seventh Regiment was halted at the end of the long
One New Jersey Regiment took post at Roach's Spring, near which a redoubt was cast up, and named Fort Runyon, in honor of the commanding General
under whose direction it was constructed.
It crossed the road leading from the long, Bridge to Alexandria
, near its junction with the Columbia Turnpike
The remainder of the troops, including the New York Seventh and a company of cavalry under Captain Brackett
, now joined those who crossed the Aqueduct Bridge
, and these forces combined took possession of and commenced fortifying Arlington Hights.
in the mean time, the New York fire Zouave Regiment,9
under Colonel Ephraim E. Ellsworth
, who had been encamped on the east branch of the Potomac
, near the Navy Yard
, were embarked on two schooners and taken to Alexandria
; while the first Michigan Regiment, Colonel Wilcox
, accompanied by a detachment of United States cavalry commanded by Major Stoneman
, and two pieces of Sherman
in charge of Lieutenant Ransom
, marched for the same destination
New Jersey State militia. |
by way of the long Bridge.
The troops moving by land and water reached Alexandria
at about the same time.
The National frigate Pawnee
was lying off the town, and her commander had already been in negotiation for the evacuation of Alexandria
by the insurgents.
A detachment of her crew, bearing a flag of truce, now hastened to the shore in boats, and leaped eagerly upon the wharf just before the Zouaves reached it. They were fired upon by some Virginia
sentries, who instantly fled from the town.
, ignorant of any negotiations, advanced to the center of the city, and took possession of it in the name of his Government, while the column under Wilcox
marched through different streets to the Station
of the Orange and Alexandria Railway, and seized it,
Ellsworth Zouaves. |
with much rolling stock.
They there captured a small company (thirty-five men) of Virginia
cavalry, under Captain Ball
, who had heard the firing of the insurgent pickets, escaped by way of the railroad.
was now in quiet possession of the National
troops, but there
were many violent secessionists there who would not submit.
Among them was a man named Jackson
, the proprietor of an inn called the Marshall House
The Confederate flag had been flying over his premises for many days, and had been plainly seen from the President's House
it was still there, and Ellsworth
went in person to take it down.
When descending an upper staircase with it, he was shot by Jackson
, who was waiting for him in a dark passage, with a double-barreled gun, loaded with buckshot.
fell dead, and his murderer met the same fate an instant afterward, at the hands of Francis E. Brownell
, of Troy
, who, with six others, had accompanied his commander to the roof of tie House
He shot Jackson
through the head with a bullet, and pierced his body several times with his saberbayonet.
The scene at the foot
The Marshall House. |
of that staircase was now appalling.
Immediately after Jackson
was killed, a woman came rushing out of a room, and with frantic gestures, as she leaned over the body of the dead inn-keeper, she uttered the wildest cries of grief and despair.
She was the wife of Jackson
's body was borne in sadness to Washington
by his sorrowing companions, and funeral services were performed in the East
room of the white House, with President Lincoln
as chief mourner.
It was then taken to New York, where it lay in state in the City Hall, and was afterward carried in imposing procession through the streets before being sent to
its final resting-place at Mechanicsville
, on the banks of the upper Hudson
was a very young and extremely handsome man, and was greatly beloved for his generosity, and admired for his bravery and patriotism.
His death produced great excitement throughout the country.
It was the first of
note that had occurred in consequence of the National
troubles; and the very first since the campaign had actually begun, a few hours before.
It intensified the hatred of rebellion and its abettors; and a Regiment was raised in his native State (New York) called the Ellsworth Avengers
intrenching tools were sent over the Potomac
early on the morning of the 24th, and the troops immediately commenced casting up intrenchments and redoubts, extending from Roach's Spring, on the Washington
road, across Arlington Hights, almost to the Chain Bridge
The brawny arms of the Sixty-ninth (Irish
) Regiment soon piled up the banks of Fort Corcoran, on the Arlington
estate, while the less vigorous men of the New York Seventh,
Map showing the first defenses of Washington. |
a greater portion of whom were unaccustomed to manual labor, worked with surprising zeal and vigor in the trenches with their more muscular companions in arms.
Fort Corcoran was the first to assume a regular form, and when partly finished a flag-staff was raised, and the National banner was unfurled from it with imposing ceremonies.12
that and Fort Runyon were the first regular works constructed by the National
troops at the beginning of the civil war, and the first over which the flag of the Republic
was flung out. At that point a small detachment of cavalry, under Lieutenant Tompkins
, who had crossed the Chain Bridge
, was stationed.
Other fortifications were speedily constructed; and in the course of a few days there was a line
of strong intrenchments extending from the Potomac
toward Arlington House, across the Columbia Turnpike
, and the railway and carriage-road leading to Alexandria
; also detached batteries along Arlington Hights almost to the Chain Bridge
, which spans the Potomac
five or six miles above Washington
These, well manned and mounted, presented an impregnable barrier against any number of insurgents that might come from Manassas Junction
, their place of General rendezvous.
A reference to the map on the preceding page will show the position of the National
troops on this the first line of the defenses of Washington, at the beginning of June.13
, of the New York militia, took temporary command of the forces on Arlington Hights; and when he ascertained that the family of Colonel Lee
had left Arlington House a fortnight before, he made that fine mansion his Headquarters, and sent word to Lee
, then at Richmond
, that he would see that his premises should receive no harm.
He issued a proclamation,
in which he assured the frightened inhabitants of Fairfax County
that no one, peaceably inclined, should be molested, and he exhorted the fugitives to return to their homes and resume their accustomed avocations.
Two days afterward,
he was succeeded by General McDowell
, of the regular Army, who was appointed to the command of all the National
forces then in Virginia
, who was in command at Alexandria
, was succeeded by Colonel Charles P. Stone
, who, as we have observed, had been in charge of the troops for the protection of Washington City
during the latter part of the winter and the spring of 1861.
was soon recalled to the District
, and was succeeded by the veteran Colonel S. P. Heintzelman
, of the regulars, who, by order of General Scott
, took special care for the protection of the estate of Mount Vernon
from injury, and the tomb of Washington
It is a pleasant thing to record, that while the soldiers of both parties in the contest during the struggle were alternately in military possession of Mount Vernon
, not an act is known to have occurred there incompatible with the most profound reverence for the memory of the Father
of his country.
New York State militia. |
the conspirators, alarmed by these aggressive movements, and by others in Western Virginia
, took active measures to oppose them.
The whole military force of Virginia
, of which Robert E. Lee
was now chief Commander
, was, as we have observed, placed, by the treaty of April 24, under the absolute control of Jefferson Davis
and by his direction, his Virginia
lieutenant, Governor Letcher
, issued a proclamation on the 3d of May, calling out the militia of the State
to repel apprehended invasion from “the Government
he designated no less than twenty places in the State
as points of rendezvous for the militia.
One-fourth of these places were westward of the mountains.
At the same time the insurgents strengthened the garrison at Harper's Ferry
, and erected batteries on the Virginia bank of the Potomac
, below Washington
, for the purpose of obstructing the navigation of that stream, and preventing supplies for the army near the Capital
being borne upon its waters.
This speedily led to hostilities at the mouth of Acquia Creek
, fifty-five miles below Washington City
, and the terminus of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railway, where the insurgents had erected batteries to command the River
: one at the landing, and two others, with a line of intrenchments, on the hights in the rear.
The guns of these batteries had been opened upon several vessels during the few days that the National
troops had occupied the Virginia
shore, when they were responded to by Captain J. H. Ward
, a veteran officer of the Navy, who had been in the service almost forty years.
at the middle of May, Ward
had been placed in command of the Potomac
flotilla, which he had organized, composed of four armed propellers, of which the Thomas Freeborn
was his flag-ship, and carried 32-pounders.
He was sent to Hampton Roads
to report to Commodore Stringham
Before reaching that Commander
he had an opportunity for trying his guns.
The insurgents who held possession of Norfolk
and the Navy Yard
had been constructing batteries on Craney Island
and the main, for the protection of those posts, by completely commanding the Elizabeth River
They had also erected strong works on Sewell's Point
, at the mouth of the Elizabeth
and at the middle of May they had three heavy rifled cannon in position there, for the purpose of sweeping Hampton Roads
This battery was masked by a sand-hill, but did not escape the eye of Captain Henry
eagle, of the National
armed steamer Star
, who sent several shot among the workmen on the Point
, on the 19th.
The engineers in charge, supported by a company of Georgians and some Norfolk volunteers, sent several shot in response, five of which struck the Star
, and she was compelled to withdraw.16
that night almost two thousand of the insurgent troops were sent from Norfolk
to Sewell's Point
, and these were there on the morning of the 20th, when Commander Ward
.opened the guns of the Freeborn
upon the redoubt.
The battery was soon silenced, and the insurgents were driven away.
reported to Stringham
, and proceeded immediately toward Washington
with his flotilla.
On his way up the Potomac
, and when within twenty-five miles of the Capital
, he captured
two schooners filled with fifty insurgent soldiers.
He then proceeded to patrol the River
, reconnoitering its banks in search of batteries; and on the 31st of the month he attacked those at Acquia Creek
, in which service the Freeborn
was assisted by the gunboats Anacosta
of his flotilla.
For two hours an incessant discharge upon the batteries was kept up, when all the ammunition of the flotilla suitable for long range was exhausted.
batteries had been silenced.
On the slackening of Ward
's fire, the two on the hights began again, and for nearly an hour they poured volleys of heavy shot on the flotilla like hail, but only wounding one man. Unable to reply at that distance with effect, Ward
withdrew his vessels, but resumed the conflict on the following day,
in company with the sloop-of-war Pawnee
, of eight guns, Captain S. C. Rowan
For more than five hours, a continuous storm of shot and shell assaulted the works on shore.
This cannonade and bombardment were briskly responded to by the insurgents, who seemed to have an ample supply of munitions of war. Twice their batteries were silenced, but their fire was resumed whenever that of the flotilla
View at Acquia Creek landing at the time of the attack.17 |
became the chief object of their attention.
She was hulled four times, and nine shots in all struck her; and yet, neither on board of this vessel nor of those of Ward
's flotilla was a single person killed or seriously injured.18
during the engagement, the large passenger and freight House
near the landing was destroyed by fire.
at about this time, another aggressive movement was made by the United States forces.
It was important to gain information concerning the advance of the insurgents, said to be at Fairfax Court House at the close of May. Lieutenant Charles H. Tompkins
, with seventy-five of Company B.
Of the Second Regiment of United States Cavalry, stationed, as we have seen, on Arlington Hights, was sent on a scout in that direction.
He left Fort Corcoran at half-past 10 in the evening of the 31st,
and reached Fairfax Court House at about three o'clock the next morning, where Colonel
(afterward General) Ewell
, late of the United States
dragoons, was stationed with several hundred insurgents.
captured the pickets and then dashed into the town, driving a detachment of the insurgents before him. These were re-enforced, and a severe skirmish occurred in the street.
Shots were fired upon the Union
troops from windows.
Finding himself greatly outnumbered by his enemy, Tompkins
retreated in good order, taking with him five fully armed prisoners19
and two horses.
He lost one man killed, one missing, and four who were wounded.
He also lost twelve horses and their equipments.
It is estimated that about twenty of the insurgents were killed or wounded.
Among the killed was Captain John Q. Marr
, a highly esteemed citizen of Virginia
, who had been a member of the late Secession Convention. “he has been the first soldier of the South
,” said the Nashville Union
, “to baptize the soil of the old Dominion with patriotic blood.”
this gallant dash of Tompkins
gave delight to the loyal people, and made the insurgent leaders at Manassas
and its vicinity very vigilant and active.
They were expecting an attack from the direction of Washington City
, and. Were alarmed by military movements already commenced in Western Virginia
Troops from the more Southern States were still crowding in, and it was estimated that these, with the Virginians under arms, comprised about forty thousand men, in the camp and in the field, within the borders of the. Old Commonwealth on the 1st of June, prepared to fight the troops of the Government
there was a civil and political movement in Northwestern Virginia
at this time, in opposition to the conspirators, really more important and more alarming to them than the aspect of military affairs there.
It commanded the profound attention of the Government
, and of the loyal and disloyal people of the whole country.
the members of the Virginia Secession Convention from the Western
portion of the State
, as we have observed, could not be molded to suit the will of the conspirators, and they and their colleagues defied the power of the traitors who controlled the Convention
Before the adjournment of that Convention, the inhabitants of Northwestern Virginia
were satisfied that the time had come when they must make a bold stand for the Union
and their own independence, or be made slaves to a confederacy of traitors whom they abhorred; and Union meetings were called in various parts of the mountain region, which were largely attended.
The first of these assembled at Clarksburg, in Harrison County
, on the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, on the 22d of April, when resolutions, offered by John S. Carlile
, a member of the Convention
yet sitting in Richmond
, calling an assembly of delegates of the people at Wheeling
, on the 13th of May, were adopted.
The course of Governor Letcher
was severely condemned, and eleven citizens were chosen to represent Harrison County
in the Convention
Meetings were held elsewhere.
One of these, at Kingwood, in Preston County
evinced the most determined hostility to the conspirators, and declared that the separation of Western from Eastern Virginia
was essential to the maintenance of their liberties.
also resolved to elect a representative in the National Congress.
Similar sentiments were expressed at other meetings, especially in a mass Convention held at Wheeling
on the 5th of May, where it was resolved to repudiate all connection with the conspirators at Richmond
A similar meeting was held at Wheeling
on the 11th, when the multitude were addressed by Mr. Carlile
and Francis H. Pierpont
the Convention of delegates met at Wheeling
on the 13th.
A large number of counties were represented by almost four hundred Unionists
The inhabitants of Wheeling
were mostly loyal; and when the National
flag was unfurled over the Custom House
there, in token of that loyalty, with public ceremonies, it was greeted with loud acclamations of the people, and the flinging out, in response, of the flag of the Union
over all of the principal buildings in the City
the chief topic discussed in the Convention
was the division of the State
and the formation of a new one, composed of the forty or fifty counties of the mountain region, whose inhabitants owned very few slaves and were enterprising and thrifty.
A division of the State
had been desired by them for many years.
The Slave Oligarchy eastward of the mountains and in all the tide-water counties wielded the political power of the State
, and used it for the promotion of their great interest, in the levying of taxes and the lightening of their own burdens, at the expense of the labor and thrift of the citizens of West Virginia
These considerations, and their innate love for the Union
, produced a unanimity of sentiment at this crisis that made the efforts of secret emissaries of the conspirators, and open recruiting officers of the military power arrayed against the Government
, almost fruitless.
This unanimity was remarkable in the Wheeling Convention, which, too informal to take definite action on the momentous question of the dismemberment of the State
, contented itself with passing resolutions condemnatory of the Secession Ordinance
, and calling a Provisional Convention to assemble at the same place on the 11th day of June following, if the obnoxious Ordinance should be ratified by the voice of the people, to be given on the 23d of May.
A Central Committee was appointed,20
who, on the 22d of May, issued an argumentative address to the people of Northwestern Virginia
these proceedings thoroughly alarmed the conspirators, who expected a revolt and an appeal to arms in Western Virginia
, under the auspices of the National Government
; and on the 25th of May, Governor Letcher
wrote a letter to Colonel Porterfield
, who was in command of some State troops at Grafton
, at the junction of the Baltimore
and the Northwestern Railway
, ordering him to “take the train some night, run up to Wheeling
, and seize and carry away the arms recently sent to that place by Cameron
, the United States Secretary of War
, and use them in arming such men” as might “rally to his camp.”
he told him that it was “advisable to cut off telegraphic communication between Wheeling
, so that the disaffected at the former place could not communicate with their allies at Headquarters.”
“establish a perfect control over the telegraph, if kept up,” he said, “so that no dispatch can pass without your knowledge and inspection
before it is sent.
If troops from Ohio
shall be attempted to be passed on the railroad, do not hesitate to obstruct their passage by all means in your power, even to the destruction of the road and bridges.”
the people in all Eastern Virginia
, under the pressure of the bayonet, as we have observed,21
ratified the Ordinance of Secession, and gave a majority of the votes of the State
in its favor, while the vote in Western Virginia
was overwhelmingly against it. A Convention was accordingly held at Wheeling
on the 11th of June, in which about forty counties of the mountain region were represented.
It met in the Custom House
; and each delegate, as his credentials were accredited, took a solemn oath of allegiance to the National Constitution
and its Government.22
Room in which the Convention met at Wheeling. |
was organized by the appointment of Arthur J. Boreman
, of Wood County
, as permanent President
, and G. L. Cranmer
The President made a patriotic speech on taking the chair, and found the delegates in full Union with him in sentiment.
The Convention then went to work in earnest.
A committee was appointed to draw up a bill of rights
, and on the following day it reported through its chairman, John S. Carlile
All allegiance to the Southern Confederacy was totally denied in that report, and it recommended a Declaration that the functions of all officers in the State of Virginia
who adhered to it were suspended, and the offices vacated.
Resolutions were adopted, declaring the intention of the people of Virginia
never to submit to the Ordinance of Sebcession, but to maintain the rights of the Commonwealth
in the Union
; also, calling upon all citizens who had taken up arms against the National Government
to lay them down and return to their allegiance.
on the Third day of the session,
an Ordinance was reported for vacating all the offices in the State
held by State officers acting in hostility to the General Government
, and also providing for a Provisional
Government and the election of officers for a period of six months; also, requiring all officers of the State
, counties, and towns to take the oath of allegiance.
This movement was purely revolutionary.
There was no pretense of secession from Virginia
, but a Declaration of the people that Governor Letcher
and other State officers then in an attitude of rebellion against the National
authority had “abdicated Government,” and were formally deposed, and that a new Government for Virginia
had, by his acts, made war upon the people, and placed himself in the attitude of George the Third when he made war upon the Colonies, and thus, as they expressed it, he “abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.”
adopted a Declaration of Independence
of the old Government on the 1 7th, which was signed by all the members present, fifty-six in number, and on the 19th the Ordinance for the establishment of a Provisional Government was adopted.
The Convention had already considered the propriety of forming a new State, separate from the old one; and on the 20th there was a unanimous vote in favor of the ultimate separation of Western from Eastern Virginia
On that day, the new or “restored Government” was organized.
Francis H. Pierpont
, of Marion
County, was, on the nomination of the venerable Daniel Lamb
, chosen Provisional Governor
, with Daniel Polsley
, of Mason County
, as Lieutenant-Governor
, and an Executive Council of five members.
The unanimous voice of the Convention
was given for these officers.
was a bold, patriotic, and energetic man. His first official Act was to notify the President
of the United States
that the existing insurrection in Virginia
was too formidable to be suppressed by any means at the Governor
's command, and to ask the aid of the General Government
He organized the militia, and very soon no less than twelve regiments of the loyal mountaineers of Northwestern Virginia
had rallied beneath the standard of the Union
Money was needed.
There was no treasury, and the Governor
borrowed, on the pledge of his own private fortune, twelve thousand dollars for the public service.
In every way he worked unceasingly for the permanent establishment of the “restored Government,” and succeeded, in defiance of the extraordinary efforts of the conspirators at Richmond
to crush the New
organization, and bring the loyal people into subjection.
A Legislature was elected, and they were summoned to a session at Wheeling
on the 1st of July.
soon after its assembling, it chose John S. Carlile
and Waitman G. Willie
to represent the restored Commonwealth in the Senate of the United States.
in the course of time the long desired dismemberment of Virginia
The Convention reassembled on the 20th of August,
and passed an ordinance for the erection of a New State, in which Slavery was prohibited, to be called Kanawha
, the name of its principal stream.
This ordinance was submitted to the people of the counties represented in the Convention
on the 24th of October ensuing, when the vote was almost unanimous in its favor.
At a subsequent session of the Convention
, on the 27th of November, the name was changed to West Virginia
, and a State Constitution was formed.
On the 3d of May following the people ratified it, and on the same day the Legislature, at a called session, approved of the division of the State
, and the establishment of a New Commonwealth.
All of the requirements of the National Constitution
now having been complied with, West Virginia
was admitted as a State of the Union
on the 3d of June, 1863, by an Act of Congress, approved by the President
on the 31st of December, 1862.24
a State seal, with appropriate inscriptions and device, was adopted,25
and the New Commonwealth took its place as the thirty-fifth State of the Union
, covering an area of twenty-three thousand square miles, and having a population, in 1860, of three hundred and ninety-three thousand two hundred and thirty four.
at the beginning of the efforts of the loyal men of Northwestern Virginia
to lay the foundation of a New and Free-labor State, they found it necessary to, prepare for war, for, as we have observed, the conspirators were forming camps of rendezvous in their midst, and preparing to hold them in subjection to the usurpers at Richmond
Thousands of loyal men secretly volunteered to fight for the Union
; and the National Government
made preparations in Pennsylvania
and beyond the Ohio River
to co-operate with them at a proper moment.
Both the Government
and the loyal citizens of Virginia
abstained from all military movements on the soil
of that State before the votes of the people had been given on the Ordinance of Secession, on the 23d of May, for it was determined that no occasion should be afforded for a charge, which the conspirators would be quick to make, that the votes had been influenced by the presence of military power.
The reverse of this policy, as we have seen, had been pursued by the conspirators, and while the entire vote of the State
showed a large majority in favor of the Ordinance, that of Western Virginia
was almost unanimously against it. This verdict of the people on the great question relieved the Government
and the loyal Virginians
from all restraints; and while Ohio
troops were moving toward the border, the patriots of Western Virginia
, and especially of the River
counties, rushed to arms.
Camp Carlile, already formed in Ohio
, opposite Wheeling
, was soon full of recruits, and the first Virginia Regiment was formed.
B. F. Kelley
, a native of New Hampshire
, but then a resident of Philadelphia
, was invited to become its leader.
He had lived in Wheeling
, and had been commander of a volunteer Regiment there.
His skill and bravery were appreciated, and in this hour of need they were required.
He hastened to Wheeling
, and, on the 25th of May, took command of the Regiment.
George B. McClellan
had been called to the command of the Ohio
troops, as we have observed.
He was soon afterward commissioned a Major-General
and assigned to the command of the Department of the Ohio, which included Western Virginia
He was now ordered to cross the Ohio River
with the troops under his charge, and, in conjunction with those under Colonel Kelley
and others in Virginia
, drive out the “Confederate” forces there, and advance on Harper's Ferry
He visited Indianapolis
on the 24th of May, and reviewed the brigade of Indianians who were at Camp Morton, under Brigadier-General T. A. Morris
In a brief speech at the Bates House
, he assured the assembled thousands that Indiana
troops would be called upon to follow him and win distinction.26
two days afterward,
he issued an address to the Union
citizens of Western Virginia
, in which he praised their courage and patriotism, and warned them that the “few factious rebels” in their midst, who had lately attempted to deprive them of their rights at the polls, were seeking to “inaugurate a reign of terror,” and thus force them to “yield to the schemes and submit to the yoke of the treacherous conspiracy dignified by the name of the ‘ Southern Confederacy.’
” he assured them that all their rights should be respected by the Ohio
troops about to march upon their soil, and that these should not only abstain from all interference with the slaves, but would, “on the contrary, with an iron hand, crush any attempt at insurrection on their part.”
at the same time he issued a stirring address
to his soldiers, telling them that they had been ordered to “cross the frontier;” that their mission was “to protect the majesty of the law, and secure our brethren from the grasp of armed traitors.”
he knew they would respect the feelings of the Virginians and their rights, and preserve perfect discipline.
He believed in their courage.
He begged them to remember that their only foes were “armed traitors;” and he exhorted his soldiers to show them mercy when they should fall into their hands, because many of them were misguided.
He told them that when they had assisted the loyal men of Western Virginia
until they could protect themselves, then they might return to their homes “with the proud satisfaction of having preserved: a gallant people from destruction.”
's addresses were read in Camp Carlile on the evening of the 26th, and Colonel Kelley
and his regiment, full eleven hundred strong, immediately thereafter crossed over to Wheeling
and moved in the direction of Grafton
, where Colonel Porterfield
was in command, with instructions from General Lee
to gather volunteers there to the number of five thousand.
His recruits came in slowly, and he had written to Lee
, that if re-enforcements were not speedily sent into Northwestern Virginia
, that section would be lost to the “Confederates.”
on the evening of the 27th, Kelley
reached Buffalo Creek
, in Marion County
, when Porterfield
, thoroughly alarmed, fled from Grafton
with about fifteen hundred followers, and took post at Philippi
, a village on the Tygart's Valley River
, a branch of the Monongahela
, about sixteen miles southward from Grafton
He had destroyed two bridges in Kelley
's path toward Grafton
, but these were soon rebuilt by the loyal Virginians
, who, under their commander, entered the deserted Camp of Porterfield on the 30th.
On that day, the latter
Virginia Volunteer Infantry. |
issued a frantic appeal from Philippi
to the people of Northwestern Virginia
, begging them to stand by the “legally constituted authorities of the State
,” of which he was the representative, and assuring all Unionists
that they would be treated as enemies of the Commonwealth
He told the people that he came to protect them from “invasion by foreign forces,” and secure to them the enjoyment of all their rights.
“it seems to me,” he said, most inappropriately, “that the true friend of National liberty cannot hesitate” to defend Virginia
“strike for your State!”
“strike for your liberties!
rally! rally at once in defense of your mother.”
his appeal had very little effect upon the sturdy people of the mountain region, and his efforts were almost fruitless.
while Colonel Kelley
was pressing toward Grafton
, the Ohio
troops were moving in the same direction.
A part of them crossed the Ohio River
, and another portion at Parkersburg
; and they were all excepting two regiments (the Eighth and Tenth Indiana), at or near Grafton
on the 2d of June, on which day General Morris
was on the
point of pursuing Porterfield
His troops were in line.
sent for him, and a new plan of operations was agreed to, by which Porterfield
and his command at Philippi
might be captured rather than dispersed.
's troops returned to camp, and the impression went abroad that the National
forces would not leave the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway.
Word to this effect was sent to Porterfield
by the secessionists in Grafton
, and thus aid was unintentionally given to the “invaders” of Virginia
the new plan was immediately executed.
The forces at Grafton
were arranged in two columns, commanded respectively by Colonels Kelley
, of Virginia
, and E. Dumont
, of Indiana
's column was composed of his own regiment (the first Virginia), the Ninth Indiana, Colonel Milroy
, and a portion of the Sixteenth Ohio, under Colonel Irwin
's column consisted of eight companies of his own regiment (the Seventh Indiana) ; four companies of the Fourteenth Ohio, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Steedman
; four companies of the Sixth Indiana, under Colonel Crittenden
, and a detachment of Burnet
's Ohio Artillery, under Lieutenant-Colonel Sturgis
's column was accompanied by the gallant Colonel F. W. Lander
, who was then a Volunteer aid on General McClellan
's staff, and represented him.
the two columns were to March upon Philippi
by converging routes.
Both left Grafton
on the afternoon of the 2d; Kelley
's for Thornton
, a few miles eastward, and Dumont
's for Webster
, a few miles westward.
was to strike the Beverly
road above Philippi
, in the rear of Porterfield
, and Dumont
was to appear at the same time on the hights overlooking that village, and plant cannon there.
The hour appointed for the attack, simultaneously by both columns, was four o'clock on the dawn of the 3d. Kelley
had to March twenty-two miles, and Dumont
twelve miles. The day was very hot, and the night was excessively dark, because of a heavy rain-storm, that commenced at sunset and continued until morning.
In that darkness and in the drenching rain the two columns moved toward Philippi
Rugged hills, along slippery slopes, through humid valleys, and across swollen streams.
at the appointed time Dumont
's column approached its destination.
It was discovered by a woman, who fired a pistol twice at Colonel Lander
, who was riding ahead of the column, and then sent her boy to alarm Porterfield
The boy was caught and detained; and while Porterfield
's camp was in commotion, on account of the report of the woman's pistol, Dumont
's column took position on the bights,
with his cannon commanding the bridge over the river, the village, and the insurgent camp, a fourth of a mile distant, when they were fired upon by Porterfield
had not arrived.
His long March was a most wearisome one, yet he was not far off. Lander
had taken command of the artillery, and fearing Porterfield
might escape unhurt, should there be any delay, he ordered the opening of the heavy guns upon the insurgents.
At the same time Dumont
's infantry swept down the winding road to the bridge, where the insurgents had gathered in force to dispute their passage.
They advanced at a double-quick, drove in the pickets, dashed across the bridge, and carried a fatal panic into the ranks of their opponents.
was hurrying on. The booming of Lander
's cannon had invigorated his men. His guide was treacherous, and instead of leading him out from the hills in the rear of Porterfield
's camp, he had brought him from the mountain road upon the flank of the now flying insurgents.
He pushed rapidly over a ridge, and fell furiously upon the fugitives, who were driven in wild confusion through the town and up the Beverly
They were pursued by the columns, which had joined in the main street of Philippi
, for about two miles, when the insurgents, abandoning their baggage-train, escaped, and halted only at Beverly
, the capital of Randolph County
, twenty-five or thirty miles farther up Tygart's Valley
's troops, about fifteen hundred strong, were one-third cavalry, and all were fresh.28
among the spoils of victory were the commander's official papers, a large quantity of baggage, three hundred and eighty stand of arms, and a regimental flag.29
the only serious casualty sustained by the Union
forces in this engagement was the wounding of Colonel Kelley
, who was shot through the right breast by a pistolball, while he was gallantly leading his troops through the town in the pursuit.
He continued to press forward and urge on his men, when he fainted from loss of blood, and fell into the arms of some of his soldiers.
It was believed that he was mortally hurt, and for a long time his recovery seemed almost impossible.
“say to Colonel Kelley
,” telegraphed General McClellan
, on the day of the battle, “that I cannot believe that one who has opened his career so brilliantly can be mortally wounded.
In the name of his country I thank him for his conduct, which has been the most brilliant episode
The Union Cenerals. |
of the war, thus far. If it can cheer him in his last moments, tell him I cannot repair his loss, and that I only regret that I cannot be by his side to thank him in person.
God bless him!”
also sent to Kelley
a cordial recognition of his bravery and valuable services; but when both messages were delivered to him, he was so weak that he could answer only with tears.
A devoted daughter watched over him incessantly, and he recovered; and he soon bore the commission and the insignia of a brigadier-general.30
assumed the command of the combined columns after the fall of Kelley
, and, assisted by Captain Henry W. Benham
, the Engineer-in-chief
's army, he prepared to secure the approaches to Philippi
, with a view of holding that position.
Scouts, chiefly under J. W. Gordon
, of the Ninth Indiana, were sent out to observe the position and number of the insurgents among the mountains, with a view to the pursuit
up Tygart's Valley
Guided by information thus obtained, and considering his lack of wagons and other means for transportation, General Morris
thought it prudent to recall his troops from Philippi
, rather than to send them at that moment, and so ill prepared, on a most perilous expedition among the mountains.
For a time Grafton
became the Headquarters of the National
troops in Northwestern Virginia