Letter from Morgan County.
December 17, 1863
Letter from Morgan County.
Cacapon Depot, B. & O. R. R.,
Dec. 14, 1863.
The first Circuit Court for Morgan county, under the new State regime, was held on the 10th inst., the Hon. John W. Kennedy, of Jefferson, Judge.
Details were made from several companies of our regiment (16th) for the purpose of remaining at Bath during Court to maintain the dignity of the Court, as well against evil disposed individuals as armed parties instigated by the Devil from the so-called Confederate States of America. We were assisted by a detachment of the 20th Ia. cavalry. Fortunately, we were not needed, and the Court proceeded as in olden time.
The people of this Judicial district have been very fortunate to secure Kennedy as Judge of their Circuit Court. He is not only learned in law, but has had much experience. His energy and courage fit him for the peculiarly hazardous duties he will be compelled to discharge. It is a fact well known that his district has been and is yet one of the worst infested by partizan rangers and bushwhackers in the State. While he possesses determination sufficient to open Court at any point in the circuit, he is one of the most sociable men to be found in his profession.
His charge to the Grand Jury is one that will not soon be forgot; nor will its influence cease with them. It encouraged those who have been most zealous for the "restoration" of civil law, and hushed all taunts from the rebels that taxes could not be collected.
Judge Kennedy says he will not have others than those of the most unimpeachable loyalty in any office. At this juncture nothing better could be done to put our new system into operation than to have none but the faithful as officials. If the same rule is adopted in other counties as Judge Kennedy has established in Morgan, our new State will prosper beyond our most sanguine anticipations. Let not the rule be relaxed to suit the tender sensibilities of the most fastidious neutrals, and we will have no more Old Virginia fogyism to contend with hereafter.
The citizens of the Western counties of our State have been under a wrong impression as regards the feeling in the Eastern section. In the East the New State movement, from the beginning, had many supporters; they were, if possible, more anxious to be disenthralled than those on the Northern and Western borders. They had no Press to speak for them, hence the unmerited taunts thrown at them. This section has mostly been occupied by troops from other States, who are with us in the great common cause, but who do not feel as we do as regards the welfare of our own State. The continued petty raids made by Imboden and other notorious guerrillas contributed much to hinder organization in several counties. Their power is broken. Judge not too harshly of our Eastern brethren. They are faithful, and will not be found wanting. Ere the next six months shall have passed, all the counties of the Eastern division of West Virginia will be under the rule of civil laws.
It will ever be a pleasant duty for the Volunteers from West Virginia to assist in restoring quiet and peace in every section of the State. They are determined to have a State, the opinion of any man, or any set of men, in or out of Congress, "to the contrary notwithsta[n]ding."
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: December 1863