Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
September 1861

Richmond Daily Dispatch
September 12, 1861

Our correspondence.

Northwestern Virginia--an encouraging view of its present condition.

Camp Bartow, Sept. 7, 1861.

Northwestern Virginia has brought grief and shame to the State and to the South by her woful defection; but by none is this felt more keenly than by those sons of that section who have left their homes, and, in many instances, their wives and little ones, to battle for the right. They hear jeers and sneers thrown out even at themselves, and endure them with apparent patience, but with an inward resolve to testify on the battle-field their fidelity to their country's cause.

The local position of the Northwest, jutting up as it does in an acute angle between Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad company, with its 4,000 employees, and its track affording the , easiest means of access to the heart of our region, the dilatory policy of the Virginia Government in permitting our people to sink into despair of assistance from the East--a despair deepened and confirmed by the miserable pretence of military display which a picayune policy caused the unfortunate Porterfield to exhibit all these, and other causes very palpable to the slightest observer, produced this lamentable defection of that valuable corner of the Old Dominion. Believe me, the patriotism of Northwestern Virginia sleeps, but is not dead. It will yet awake from its slumbers, and, if need be, her sons will do works meet for repentance.

Remember this is an anomalous war that, under the circumstances, it is not strange that this exposed border should hesitate much before consenting to war, or measures likely to produce it. As a race, they are proverbially more difficult to provoke to a fight than Eastern Virginians; yet, when aroused, they will conquer or die. I make no plea for such vile traitors as Carlile, Pierpont and others those wretched corruptor of our honest masses. Judge not the latter by those base leaders, many of whom, however, were born and educated east of the Alleghanies and Blue Ridge. In the sequel, by these same masses such men will be gibbeted. Infamy will cling to their very names. On the Alleghany line there is one regiment and one special battalion of Northwestern Virginians. The former commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Wm. L. Jackson, and the latter by Lieutenant Colonel G. W. Hansbrough--in all about one thousand men. Praise to men as full of earnest determination to regain liberty and independence for their native land, is too idle a thing to afford them pleasure. Still the truth should be stated so far as to say, that never have they shirked danger, hardship or privation during this arduous and unfortunate campaign. Never have they failed to fill the minds even of superior officers, before prejudiced against them, with perfect reliance on their courage and fidelity. Never have they done otherwise than exhibit, even under trying circumstances, a discipline the example whereof would have benefited regiments making greater pretensions. And yet, outside of the army, they have received little credit.

A short time since the bold and restless Rust, of the 12th Arkansas Regiment, undertook a daring and difficult enterprise, the nature of which, for military reasons, cannot here be explained. His force was composed wholly of volunteers--520 Arkansians and Georgians, and 250 Northwestern Virginians, under Lt. Col. Hansbrough. Let the result be what it may, it may be safely said that the latter bore themselves most gallantly, and not only overcome their leader's preconceived opinions, but caused him to declare that with an army of such men he could fear no opposition. Yet your correspondent spoke of the expedition as one undertaken by "Arkansians, Georgians and North Carolinians," ignoring the very existence of my unfortunate comrades.

We are lying all but idle here, burning with impatience to push forward to our homes in Harrison, Marion, &c. The tidings brought to us by our co-patriots who come and join us by stealth, is full of encouragement. Our people are at length aroused by their utter hopelessness of safety to their lives or property, save in success of Southern arms.--Guerilla warfare is now incessant among them. Yankees are in perpetual dread of "the crack of the squirrel guns." Prominent Unionists dare not venture into the country. No money could bribe Carlile, Pierpont and many others to risk their precious lives in their old haunts, though the same be occupied by Yankee mercenaries. Numbers of formerly strong Union men are now in the mountains with rifles, side by side with Secessionists. Yankees have plundered the houses and insulted the families of all alike. Though parties of Unionists are springing up, many say they were too hasty in taking sides, and regret their course most deeply. Companies are organized and organizing secretly, even in the Pan Handle. Judge Thompson, long bitterly against secession, now writes that he "sees no hope for constitutional liberty save in the success of the arms of the Southern Confederacy." By excellent authority, I am assured that this feeling is gaining ground most rapidly in that section. The Unionists are alarmed. They keep their "things packed," ready to leave at the first intelligence of Lee's approach. Pierpont is full of guilty fears even in Wheeling, and has not slept in that "loyal city" for four weeks, but goes out every evening on the Hempfield Railroad, to Washington, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Editor, I cannot close this already long communication without bearing testimony to the entire confidence this army feels in the ability and vigilance of its Generals Lee, Loring, and the amiable and accomplished Jackson. Northwest.

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

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