Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
Series II, Vol. 8, pp. 533-34
Wheeling, W. Va., May 5, 1865.
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:
Sir: I respectfully call your attention to the inclosed copy of an order from Lieutenant-General Grant to the commander of the middle Military Division, in which it is said that rebel officers and soldiers who surrender on the same terms that were given to Lee may return to their homes in West Virginia on their parole, while they are not allowed to return to Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, &c., and request your decision thereon so far as it affects West Virginia. From the face of this order I am induced to believe that General Grant was controlled by his decision by the simple fact that Virginia (of which we were a part) passed an ordinance of secession; but in my opinion this fact should not place this State in the category assigned her by this order. I think she is entitled to the same protection that is extended to Maryland, Kentucky, &c. It seems to me that we are entitled to the benefit of Attorney-General Speedís late opinion.
West Virginia has been loyal from the beginning, and has at all times heretofore been treated as such by the Government. In the Presidentís proclamation declaring what was insurrectionary territory, and following this with emancipation and the imposition of various restrictions, she has been excepted. She has furnished her quota of troops under all calls without murmur or complains, and, as you have been pleased to bear public testimony, those troops have done noble service of the country and have reflected honor on their State.
Our situation is a peculiarly unfortunate one. Situated on the border, very many went from here into the rebel army, and now they return, wearing their rebel uniforms, and many of them with as much impudence and insolence as when they went away. The loyal people here feel themselves insulted by the conduct of these rebels, and are only restrained from decided action by their love of law and order and their great respect for the orders of those in authority.
If it shall be decided that these paroled men may come here under the terms of their surrender, is it intended that the war power guarantees this right as against State regulations? I request your early consideration of this matter, and if your opinion is adverse to the return of these rebels that you issue an order to that effect, or authorize me to make your decision public.
I am, very respectfully,
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: May 1865