March 23, 1863
Military Officers and Soldiers in the Limits of the Proposed New State of West Virginia.
I have learned within a few days past, that certain parties who are opposed to the formation of the New State of West Virginia, are industriously circulating a report that it will be dangerous for those opposed to the New State to vote at the coming election, on account of apprehended violence from the soldiers who may be at the different precincts. This report is intended for mischief, and is circulated by politicians, who, a short time since, supposed they could defeat this great measure so long and ardently desired by the people of West Virginia. But when those politicians went among the people they found such great unanimity of sentiment in favor of the NEW STATE that they abandoned the contest—and to cover an inglorious retreat—put the above report into circulation, to excite in the minds of a few disloyal among us a deeper hatred, if possible, against the patriotic Union soldiers who are defending their families and property from rebel violence.
Now lest any person may be misled by those persons, I hereby inform the people there shall be a fair and unmolested election held for the purpose of taking the vote on the “Amended Constitution” of the New State, at the time appointed by the Convention.
To secure this end, I earnestly ask the Commandants of Posts, where soldiers are stationed, where elections are to be held, to take great care that all who desire to vote on the day of election, may have the privilege unembarrassed from any source.
From the uniform courtesy with which I have heretofore been treated by the Commandants of the United States forces, from officers of all grades, I make this request with great confidence that it will receive prompt attention. I am also confident that the soldier who has given the earnest of his attachment for liberty and free institutions by going into the Union army, will most gladly protect every free man in the enjoyment of his franchise, instead of intimidating him.
F. H. Peirpoint, Governor.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: March 1863