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Chapter 20: commencement of civil War.

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.” 2 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 [479] Davis 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 Richmond, and another leading to the fertile valley of the Shenandoah, beyond the Blue Ridge. General Butler had already suggested

Mississippi Rifleman.4

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. The General-in-chief disagreed with Butler; and while the veteran soldier was slowly [480] 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 and Georgetown. 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.7 Orders were at once issued

May 23, 1861.
for the occupation of the shores of the Potomac opposite, and also the city of Alexandria, nine miles below, by National troops. General Mansfield 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 [481] 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.

Aqueduct Bridge at Georgetown.8

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 W.

Theodore Runyon.

Sandford, 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 [482] Bridge. 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's Battery10 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. Ellsworth, 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. Other Virginians, who had heard the firing of the insurgent pickets, escaped by way of the railroad.

Alexandria was now in quiet possession of the National troops, but there [483] 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 in Washington.11 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. Ellsworth 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.

Ellsworth'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

Ephraim Elmore Ellsworth.

its final resting-place at Mechanicsville, on the banks of the upper Hudson. Ellsworth 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 [484] 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 and Alexandria 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 [485] 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

General Sandford, 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,

May 25, 1861.
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,
May 27.
he was succeeded by General McDowell, of the regular Army, who was appointed to the command of all the National forces then in Virginia. Colonel Wilcox, 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. Stone 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 from desecration. 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;14 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 [486] at Washington.” 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,

May 16, 1861.
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;15 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.

Ward 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

May 29, 1861.
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 and resolute 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. The three [487] 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,
June 1, 1861.
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

ceased. The Pawnee 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,

May 1861.
and reached Fairfax Court House at about three o'clock the next morning, where Colonel (afterward General) Ewell, late of the United States [488] dragoons, was stationed with several hundred insurgents. Tompkins 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 at Wheeling. Meetings were held elsewhere. One of these, at Kingwood, in Preston County,

May 4, 1861.
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. They [489] 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 Ohio 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 and Washington, 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 [490] before it is sent. If troops from Ohio or Pennsylvania 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.

the Convention was organized by the appointment of Arthur J. Boreman, of Wood County, as permanent President, and G. L. Cranmer, Secretary. 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,

June 13, 1861.
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 [491] 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 was formed. Governor Letcher 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.” 23 the Convention 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

Francis H. Pierpont.

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.

Governor Pierpont 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 occurred. The Convention reassembled on the 20th of August,

[492] 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.

Seal of West Virginia.

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 [493] 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 and Indiana 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 of Volunteers,

May 14, 1861.
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,
May 26, 1861.
he issued an address to the Union

George B. McClellan.

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 and Indiana 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 [494] 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.”

McClellan'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!” he exclaimed. “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 and Indiana troops were moving in the same direction. A part of them crossed the Ohio River at Wheeling, 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 arrived. Kelley was on the [495] point of pursuing Porterfield. His troops were in line. Morris 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. Kelley'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. Kelley'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. Dumont'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. Dumont'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. Kelley 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.

June, 1861.
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, over. Rugged hills, along slippery slopes, through humid valleys, and across swollen streams.

March to Philippi — map.

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, [496] 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's pickets. Kelley 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.

Kelley 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 road. 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.27 Porterfield'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 from Cincinnati to General

Benjamin F. Kelley.

Morris, 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.

[497] 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!” General Morris 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

Colonel Dumont assumed the command of the combined columns after the fall of Kelley, and, assisted by Captain Henry W. Benham, the Engineer-in-chief of McClellan'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

view of Grafton.31

of Porterfield up Tygart's Valley to Beverly. 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 to Grafton, 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.

1 “Message” of Jefferson Davis to the “Congress of the Confederate States of America,” April 29, 1861.

2 Battle-Fields of the South: by an English Combatant. Page 4.

3 Battle-Fields of the South, page 5.--This writer, speaking of the company to which he was attached, says:--“The ambition of all was to bear a musket in the holy war for independence,” and added, “that his company was composed of men representing property, in the aggregate, of not less than twenty millions of dollars.” Then, “to show the spirit of those about to fight for the freedom of their country,” he says:--“A commissioned, (company) officer, having donned his gray uniform and gilded shoulder-straps, began to strut about camp and assume ‘ airs,’ eager to show his ‘ little brief authority ’ on all occasions. This unfortunate fellow disgusted those who elected him; and although the men were desirous of learning their duty thoroughly and expeditiously, he seized upon every opportunity to ‘ blackguard’ his former associates. He was frequently told how obnoxious his assuming manner was; but, not heeding the admonition, several threatened to take him out and ‘whale’ him. Laughing at these suppressed remarks, he dared to lift his sword to slap one of the men when on parade: he was told what the immediate consequence would be, but foolishly raised the weapon again, and slapped one across the shoulders; when, in an instant, the rifle was dropped, a bowie-knife flashed, and the officer lay dead on the turf, stabbed five or six times in as many seconds. The company did not stir, but looked on and applauded; the culprit quietly wiped his knife, resumed his place in the ranks, and dress-parade proceeded as if nothing had happened. Courts-martial could not — or at all events did not — attempt to exercise any jurisdiction in this or similar cases; they were reckoned affairs of self-defense, or ‘ honor.’ ”

Bowie-knife and sheath.

4 the Mississippi riflemen were renowned as destructive sharp-shooters during the war. In addition to their rifle, they carried a sheath-knife, known as the Bowie-knife, in their belt. This is a formidable weapon in a hand-to-hand fight, when wielded by men expert in its use, as many were in the southwestern States, where it was generally seen in murderous frays in the streets and bar-rooms. Its origin is connected with an incident in the life of Colonel Bowie, who was engaged in the revolt of Texas against Mexico, in 1835 and 1836. his sword-blade was broken in an encounter, when he converted the remainder into a stout sharp-pointed knife, and the weapon became very popular. See note 1, page 266.

5 Parton's Butler in New Orleans, page 105.

6 James D. Gay, mentioned in note 1, page 418, visited the steamship Monticello on the 23d of May, then discharging Government stores at Georgetown, and while viewing Arlington Hights, not far from the Aqueduct Bridge, through a telescope, discovered Lee (according to his description) and some subordinate officers, apparently engaged, in the partial concealment of bushes and irregularities of the ground, in laying out fortifications. After satisfying himself that preparations were being made by the insurgents to plant batteries on Arlington Hights, Gay hastened to the Headquarters of General Mansfield and told him what he had seen, in detail. The General, not doubting that a battery would be built on Arlington Hights that night, went immediately to the War Department with his information. The order went out at once for the troops to move into Virginia and occupy Arlington Hights before the insurgents should gain absolute possession there. The success of the National troops on that occasion was a very severe blow to the conspirators. The loss of that opportunity to gain a position that would doubtless have secured their possession of Washington City, was at the time, and frequently afterward, spoken of in the Richmond press as one of the greatest of misfortunes.

7 On the previous day (May 22) a large National flag, purchased by the clerks of the Post-Office Department, in testimony of their loyalty, was raised over the General Post-Office, in Washington City, by the hand of President Lincoln. The air was almost motionless, and the banner clung ominously sullen to the staff and the halliards. In a few moments a gentle breeze came from the North, and displayed the Stripes and Stars in all their beauty and significance to the assembled crowd. “I had not thought to say a word,” said the President when he observed the incident, “but it has occurred to me that a few weeks ago the Stars and Stripes hung rather languidly about the staff, all over the nation. So too with this flag, when it was elevated to its place. At first it hung rather languidly, but the glorious breeze from the North came, and it now floats as it should. And we hope that the same breeze is swelling the glorious flag throughout the whole Union.”

8 this is a view of the Aqueduct Bridge at Georgetown, over which flow the waters of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, in its extension to Alexandria, after having traversed the valley of the Potomac from the eastern base of the Alleghany Mountains. The picture is from a sketch made by the writer in the spring of 1865, from the piazza in the rear of the Cumberland House, which was the residence of Francis S. Key, author of “the Star-Spangled banner,” at the time when that poem was written. See Lossing's Pictorial field-book of the War of 1812. Arlington Hights are seen beyond the Potomac, with Fort Bennett on the extreme right, the flag of Fort Corcoran in the center, and three block-houses on the left, which guarded the Virginia end of the Bridge. Several of these block-houses were built on Arlington Hights early in the War, all having the same general character of the one delineated in the annexed engraving. They were built of heavy hewn timber, and were sometimes used as signal-stations.


9 see page 429.

10 Sherman's Battery, which, as we have observed, accompanied the Pennsylvania troops under Colonel Patterson (see page 445), consisted of six pieces. The whole Battery crossed the long Bridge on this occasion but only four of the pieces were taken to Arlington Hights.

11 on the preceding day (May 23d) a Confederate flag, flying in Alexandria, had attracted the attention of the troops in Washington City. Just at evening, William McSpedon, of New York City, and Samuel Smith, of Queen's County, long Island, went over and captured it. This was the first flag taken from the insurgents.

12 on that occasion a group of officers stood around the flag-staff. Among them was Colonel Corcoran, the commander, Colonel (afterward Major-General) David Hunter, and Captain (afterward Brigadier-General) Thomas Francis Meagher. At the request of Corcoran, John savage, his aid, the well-known Irish poet, sang a song, entitled the Starry flag, which he had composed on the war-transport Marion, on the 18th of May, while on her perilous voyage with the regiment up the Potomac, exposed to the masked batteries planted by the Confederates on the Virginia shore. This song May be found in a collection of a few of Mr. Savage's poems, entitled faith and Fancy. it is full of stirring sentiment.

13 this map was copied from one published early in June, 1861, and suppressed by the Government, because it afforded valuable information to the insurgents.

14 see page 383.

15 see map on page 899.

16 the insurgents magnified this withdrawal, caused by a lack of ammunition, into a repulse, and claimed a victory for themselves. “this is the first encounter in our waters, and the victory remains with us,” said a writer at Norfolk. No one seems to have been hurt, on either side, in this engagement.

17 this picture is from a sketch made by Mr. E. Forbes, an excellent artist, then accompanying the National forces. Acquia Creek landing, with the shore battery, is seen in the foreground, with the bluffs rising back of it. The spectator is looking toward the northwest, up Acquia Creek, at the mouth of which is seen a sloop. The line of intrenchments is seen on the bluffs back of the landing.

18 report of Commander Ward to the Secretary of the Navy, May 31 and June 1, 1861. report of Commander Rowan to Secretary Welles, June 2, 1861.

19 among the prisoners was W. F. Washington, son of the late Colonel John Marshall Washington, of the United States Army. He was sent to General Mansfield, at Washington City, with the other prisoners, where he took the oath of allegiance and was released.

20 that Committee consisted of John S. Carlile, James S. Wheat, C. D. Hubbard, F. H. Pierpont, G. R. Latham, Andrew Wilson, S. H. Woodward, James W. Paxton, and Campbell Farr.

21 see page 884.

22 the delegates all took the following oath:--“we solemnly declare that we will support the Constitution of the United States, and the laws made in pursuance thereof, as the supreme law of the land, any thing in the Ordinance of the Convention that assembled at Richmond on the 13th day of February last to the contrary notwithstanding. So help me God.”

23 the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

24 the conspirators denounced the action of Congress and the President as usurpation, and a violation of the third section of the fourth Article of the Constitution, which says:--

New States May be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no New State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State, nor any State formed by the junction of two or more States or parts of States, without the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.”

let us see how this matter will endure the constitutional test. The loyal people of Virginia, and who alone constituted the State as a part of the Republic, deposed Governor Letcher and his fellow-traitors in regular form, and reorganized the Government of the Commonwealth, making Francis H. Pierpont chief magistrate. The Legislature forming a part of this newly organized Government agreed that a New State should be made out of a portion of the old one. One part of the constitutional requirement was thus complied with. The other part was complied with when Congress, on the 31st of December, gave its consent to the transaction.

at midsummer, 1863, Virginia presented a curious political aspect. Its deposed Governor, Letcher, at Richmond, claimed jurisdiction over all the State. Governor Pierpont, at Alexandria, rightfully claimed authority over the whole State, excepting the fifty-one counties that composed the New State; and Governor Boreman, at Wheeling, legitimately exercised authority in that New State.

25 the above picture represents the lesser seal of West Virginia, which bears the same words and devices as the great seal. The latter is two inches and one-half in diameter. On one side are the words, “State of West Virginia,” and “Montana Semper Liberi” --that is to say, “mountaineers are always free.” in the center of the seal is seen a rock, on which ivy is growing, symbolizing stability and continuance, and bearing the inscription, “June 20, 1863,” the date of the organization and foundation of the State. On the right of the rock is seen a farmer dressed in the hunting-shirt worn in that region, his right hand resting on a plow-handle, and on his left is reposing a woodman's ax, indicating the great business of the people to be the clearing of the forest and cultivating the soil. There is also a sheaf of wheat and a corn-stalk near. On the left of the rock is seen a miner with his pickax, with barrels and lumps of minerals at his feet. An anvil and sledge-hammer are also seen, typical of the mechanic arts. Two rifles lie in front, their junction covered by the Phrygian hood, or Cap of Liberty, indicating that the independence of the State was won and will be maintained by arms.

26 Indiana's Roll of honor: by David Stevenson, Librarian of Indiana, page 89.

27 report of Colonel Dumont to General Morris, June 4, 1861; Grafton correspondent of the Wheeling Intelligencer, June 3, 1861; sketch of the life of Brigadier-General B. F. Kelley; by Major John B. Frothingham, Topographical Engineers, serving on his staff.

28 for the purpose of intimidating the inhabitants and suppressing all Union manifestations, Porterfield had reported his force to be twenty-five hundred in number. It did not exceed fifteen hundred, according to the most authentic estimates.

29 among the prisoners captured by Kelley's command was Captain J. W. Willey, on whom papers of considerable importance were found. The flag captured at Philippi was taken by men of Captain Ferry's company of the Seventh Indiana, and the National flag of that regiment, presented by the women of Aurora, was hoisted in its place.

30 his commission as brigadier was dated May 17, 1861, or sixteen days earlier than the battle in which his gallantry won the reward.

31 this village is situated among the hills, with the most picturesque scenery around it. Here the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, leading to Parkersburg, on the Ohio River, and the Northwestern Railway, leading to Wheeling, have a connection. It was an important military strategic point.

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