Thursday, May 26, 2011

McClellan orders Advance into Virginia

Map of Virginia in 1860, showing slave population
150 years ago today McClellan ordered his army to invade Virginia. Gen.McClellan commanded the army in Ohio, and Winfield Scott, his commander, had approved plans for him to invade what is now West Virginia. The Northwest part of Virginia had opposed secession, and McClellan hoped that they would welcome him. Therefore he published a proclamation to them:
Virginians! The General Government has long enough endured the machinations of a few factious rebels in your midst. ... The General Government has heretofore carefully abstained from sending troops across the Ohio, or even from posting them along its banks, although frequently urged to do so by many of your prominent citizens.  ... You have now shown under the most adverse circumstances that the great mass of the people of Western Virginia are true and loyal to that benificent [sic] government under which we and our fathers have lived so long.  ... The General Government cannot close its ears to the demand you have made for assistance. I have ordered troops to cross the Ohio river. They come as your friends and brothers, as enemies only to the armed rebels who are preying upon you. Your homes, your families, and your property are safe under our protection. All your rights shall be religiously respected, notwithstanding all that has been said by the traitors to induce you to believe that our advent among you will be signalized by interference with your slaves. ... I call upon you to fly to arms and support the general government, sever the connection that binds you to traitors, proclaim to the world that the faith and loyalty so long boasted by the Old Dominion are still preserved in Western Virginia, and that you remain true to the stars and stripes.


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