September 26, 1861
MASS MEETING AT THE ATHENEUM – A mass meeting was held last evening at the Atheneum. Three or four hundred soldiers from Camp Carlile, together with the most of their officers, were in attendance. The Union Brass band enlivened the assembly with a number of patriotic airs.
On motion of Capt. Stephens, Col. Thoburn was called to the Chair, and Major Krebs acted as Secretary.
The President introduced his Excellency Governor Peirpoint, who, after speaking of the embarrassment in addressing such a large assembly, said the rebellion was only eight months old and yet the rebels had marched their forces into the very verge of the Southern States. The leading object of the rebels was not only to keep their negroes enslaved, but to enslave the whole working classes of the country. He alluded to the opposing forces at the Alleghany Mountains, and to the danger which menaced us. The destruction of this city had been threatened. The war is upon us. We must meet the crisis. There is work for all, and he who hangs back and does nothing is no better than a traitor. There is a class in all countries who must do the fighting. It is those who have stout hearts and strong arms. Not the rich, not the poor, but the strong and brave. Monied men are just as much bound and more, to take part in this war, as the poor men, and since they will not it is their duty to support those who do. If such men will continue to look to cent per cent and to lay up their hordes while the war is at your doors, you would not deserve to be pitied if you lost every cent. Stay at home, count your money, and you’ll all be gone to the devil in six months. [Applause.] If a fund can be raised the First Virginia Regiment will be full in three days. If that is not done the city does not deserve to be defended. And as to the Secessionists he didn’t care what became of them. His own opinion was they ought not to be allowed to stay here. He did not say this in a mob spirit, but they have tried to break up this government and destroy us, and now in our hour of peril how in the name of God do they expect us to protect them. Talk about your habeus corpus and constitutional law as long as the rebellion can be put down by its observance, but when it becomes necessary to walk over constitutions to suppress this thing I am going to walk over them.
Calls for the Hon. John S. Carlile brought that gentleman to the foot-lights. He said all must be satisfied that eventually the armies of the Union must prevail. The rebels never had any hope of success. He believed we were as secure here as we would be in the deepest hollow of the Green Mountain State, but imperishable honor awaited every soldier who joined in the struggle to secure our liberties. With him it had been a consuming thought. He wanted to leave the legacy to his children that he had aided, in his sphere, in the defence of his country. Ritchie county, with seven hundred Union voters, has sent five hundred to the war. Ohio county, with a population of twenty thousand, has not sent as many. You are not afraid of being killed. You stand a greater chance of being killed traveling over this railroad than you do in any battle you may be engaged in. It is a fact, attested at the Crimea, that it takes about a ton of lead to kill a man. War is the very place for a man to go who wants to live forever. If we are afraid of death when our liberties are at stake, we do not deserve liberty. Mr. Carlile said he would pledge his individual responsibility that any man who enlists in the Union army shall have his family supported. All we want is organized effort. Let each minister to-morrow a day of thanksgiving, appoint a committee from the members of his church and thousands will subscribe before sundown. The committees should not pass by our secession friends. Give them a call.
Mr. Carlile concluded by appealing to the secessionists to come out while the door is standing open, and cease their opposition to their neighbors, from whom they have made their all.
While the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return.
Gen. Wheat was called for, and in response, said he was not down on the bills. He said, in reference to the charge of laggardness in the matter of enlistments, that Northwestern Virginia had more men in the field, in proportion to her population, than any other State in the Union.
Gen. Wheat introduced Major McPhail, who responded in an eloquent and stirring address.
The house was crowded with people, and the greatest enthusiasm prevailed.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: September 1861