June 18, 1861
Speech of Mr. Summers,
Editors of the Richmond Enquirer:
Charleston, Kanawha Co., Va., June 8th, 1861
Gentlemen: I am just in from the parade ground, where I went to hear Hon. Geo. W. Summers make a speech to the militia on parade to day. He commenced by saying that this was the first time he had ever been called upon to make a speech on horseback. That he was no military man, but believed a military speech must be short---it is the business of a soldier to act, not to talk. He spoke of the act of Secession, and of the vote of the people upon it. Although the returns are not all in, yet enough is known to know that it is carried by a very large majority—and it is now the duty of every man in Virginia to stand by her, and to defend her honor and her integrity to the last. He spoke of his own love, nay, veneration for the Union, and of his efforts to maintain it, so long as there was a Union to maintain; but that is gone; and of his efforts against secession—but that question is now settled by the solemn voice of Virginia, and that is now a past issue. These issues are gone by, and new ones are upon us. The State is threatened with invasion—is already invaded in the eastern portion, and in some portions of the west; and this beautiful valley of ours may soon be invaded also. Under these circumstances, it is every man’s duty to forget past differences and issues, and unite as one man, with one heart, to defend old Virginia until every invader is driven from her soil. He advised the militia to hold themselves in readiness, by all the means in their power, to defend their homes and their firesides—and he read to them Governor Letcher’s late proclamation on this subject.
He spoke of the divisions heretofore among us, said they ought all be banished—that those who have been Union men were so conscientiously, as well as those who were Secessionists, and that neither should claim to be better patriots than the other. He claimed for himself as much patriotism as he awarded to others, and no more; spoke of his loved to the Union—that was gone, and now he went to Virginia, against whatever may be brought against her; said he was in no way connected, directly, or indirectly, with the scheme for dividing the old State—never.
He said he had expressed the same sentiments upon his return from the Convention, so plainly, he thought, that none could fail to understand him but those who were determined to understand him.
Messrs Editors, I was gratified to see that when the honorable gentleman spoke of the unity of the State, and of the defence of the State it elicited great applause. Would to God there were the same spirit in the extreme northwest. The division, treason, seems to meet with very little sympathy here.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: June 1861