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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
October 17, 1861


The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, Volume 3
By Frank Moore
(New York: G. P. Putnam, 1862), p. 206

Doc. 95.

COLONEL GUTHRIE’S PROCLAMATION

AT CHARLESTON, VA., OCTOBER 17, 1861

As commander of this post, and a friend of the Union, the Constitution, and the laws made in pursuance of them, and particularly as a friend of the citizens of Charleston, with whom I have lived for more than two months, and anxious only to promote your happiness, security, and liberty, in obedience and harmony with law, and apprehending that you may have conceived that a permanent military authority is intended to be established above the civil powers; your enemies (the enemies of the great Republic) charging that you have been subjugated, and that the military law alone prevails; now, I deem it my duty, and I discharge it with pleasure, to advise you, to urge you, at the earliest possible moment, to organize your municipal government. You have your character, you know the mode; and when it is so organized by your free suffrages, you will find myself and the soldiers under my command as obedient to it as the most humble citizen, and so long as we stay among you, acting only to, and when called upon to, execute its mandates and uphold its authority – always provided that the officers who compose it are elected under the provisions of the loyal Government of the State as reorganized at the city of Wheeling, the only Government of the State acknowledged by the Congress of the United States. You have seen the happy influence of the District Court of the United States now sitting here, executing the sovereign law in its peaceful and accustomed mode, we, the military, subordinated, and willingly so, to its superior claims and authority. You have seen how it has infused firmness and hope into the minds of citizens, and compelled by moral force alone obedience from all, the military serving only as a posse comitatus to its marshal, and holding itself prepared to protect its judge and jury.

I found you here without either municipal, State, or United States law. You have seen the authority of the nation exercised in your behalf; first, by its military power driving out or punishing invaders, and now you witness the civil law of the General Government executed with as much security in apprehending and punishing traitors in Charleston as in New York. I now solicit you to organize, and come back at once to the sweet paths of industry and peace. Fear not, nay, doubt not, but feel perfectly secure. These enemies of mankind, who so recently devastated your smiling valleys and desolated your homes, are powerless against the nation. Your own right arms, if you give a hearty support to the General and State Governments, will, unaided by any others than the brave people of Western Virginia, defy the power of those who design the overthrow of your liberties, and the destruction of your property. Organize, then, immediately, and assert the supremacy and sufficiency of the civil law. Therefore, I earnestly solicit the citizens of Charleston to meet at the Court House on Saturday, October 19, at three o’clock P. M., to take necessary steps for said organization.

And may God crown your efforts to restore law and order to our bleeding and beloved country.

J. V. GUTHRIE,
Colonel Commanding.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: October 1861

West Virginia Archives and History