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Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
Undated
May 1861


Richmond Daily Dispatch
May 6, 1861

Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.

Affairs at Harper's Ferry Loyalty of Western Virginia, &c.

Martinsburg,Va., May 1, 1861.

I left Washington and arrived here on the 22d of last month, and since that time have visited Harper's Ferry for two or three days, with the view of ascertaining what amount of damage the Federal troops did to the Armory before evacuating it. The buildings, with but few exceptions, are as good as ever they were at the " Musket Works." The "Rifle Works " were not disturbed at all, but the arsenal, with perhaps 13,000 stand of arms, was entirely consumed, although the lock plates and hammers of most of the guns can, by proper mechanical care, be made fit for use, and the barrels, with other limbs of the gun, by the use of the forge, can be worked over, and will make the best material for making gun-barrels.

Through the assistance of the late " Brown raid " on Harper's Ferry, the geographical position and the topographical defences of that place were rendered so very plain by the different presses throughout the country, that it makes it useless for me to attempt to describe them. But I will say, that if the Massachusetts regiment that I saw in Washington is a fair representation of the Lincoln army, the band of Virginians stationed at this place, and so well fortified as they are, would defy ten times their number in the Gibraltar of America. All entrances to the town must breast the mouths of anxious and hungry batteries, always ready and willing to belch forth their howling and destructive contents into the ranks of the invading foe.

I think it is nonsense and idle talk, from what I have seen and heard since here, for any one to entertain such an idea as that " Western Virginia is not loyal to the State. " Of the troops at Harper's Ferry, not one is from the Eastern part of the State. I have conversed freely with many of them, and the unanimous voice seems to be, we are for our State, " right or wrong, " though many were strong Union men until Lincoln compelled their native State to be no longer a part of that " glorious Union" that was.

The majority of the citizens of Harper's Ferry, I am sorry to say, are disloyalists; some went so far as to go to Washington and request the so-called Government there to send more Federal troops to the former place to protect the Armory from the army of Secessionists, and also told the said Government that, " if Virginia did secede, Harper's Ferry would not. "One of these very men shouldered his Sharp's Rifle and called upon the citizens to come out and resist the State troops, stating that he had been assured at Washington that if they would stand by the Federal troops stationed there, the Lincoln Government would stand by them. Another one said he had "twenty good Union men at the Rifle works to resist the mob, " (State authorities,) and said, "Can't I get twenty more to assist Lieut. Jones?" Such were the feelings then, and I am sure they are not much changed now; but with the exception of that rotten, contemptible, and which has always been a disgraceful, hole, this section of the State will, on the 4th Thursday in May, prove itself truly loyal to the "Old Commonwealth." Rex.


Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: May 1861

West Virginia Archives and History