Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
December 1861

Richmond Daily Dispatch
December 13, 1861

Northwestern Virginia.

--In Cameron's new scheme of partitioning Virginia, he has been good enough to annex us to Maryland, and to permit no portion of the State to retain the name of Virginia, but the largest, most populous, and richest portion of it, which lies west of the Blue Ridge.

If the Northern Secretary of War, or any other moon-struck Yankee expects that Virginia will surrender one acre, one foot, or one inch of her soil to any other power on the face of the earth, they labor under a delusion to which that of the most raving maniac of the lunatic asylums is the height of reason and moderation. We shall neither give up the smallest pebble in our Western mountains; nor the tiniest grain of sand in Northampton or Accomac to any power but to that mighty hand which fashioned the mountains and the sea. The mountains themselves will be sunk into plains and the ocean be dried up in its bed.--"dust to dust and ashes to ashes" will be counted over the tomb of every Virginian before Virginia will permit the partition of the smallest particle of her sacred soil. This great Commonwealth is "one and indivisible" by any power short of the power of Heaven.

It is true that Northwestern Virginia and the Eastern Shore have been overrun by a detested enemy, but it is an occupation no more permanent than the ship has of the water beneath its keel. It is in vain, that these lying Yankees report that both these sections are now loyal to the Union. We know it to be a lie. Eastern Virginia can be imposed upon by no such fabrication of the most mendacious and unprincipled wretches that ever lived. Though in the West and on the Eastern Shore, as in Maryland, the utterance of true and loyal men may for a time be stiffed, it is but for a time, and when the hour comes, their voice will be heard, and their arms be felt, and their hearts be found as faithful and determined as any that beat in human bosom. If they are still now, it is because hope is left them; but, if the enemy should seek to rivet their chains and make his occupation permanent, they will prefer death to bondage, and write the charter of their deliverance in the blood of their oppressors, even if it be a deliverance from existence itself as well as from oppression.

Even now we discover, from the doleful complaints of a correspondent of the New York Times, that Western Virginia is no bed of roses to the invaders. He draws a graphic and tragic picture of the ambushes, traps, and pitfalls laid for the Federals by detached parties of the Secessionists; of the hidden death that suddenly starts out upon them from some ravine, or bush, or mountain chasm; of the deadly rifle that is aimed from some mountain cliff upon an unsuspecting band below, and which never fails. It is believed that as many of the enemy have been killed in Northwestern Virginia in guerrilla warfare as have fallen in some of the regular battles. The account of the Times correspondent is confirmed by an intelligent gentleman of this State, who informs us that there are many men in the West who have each, with an old fashioned Virginia rifle, killed at least fifteen Yankees. There is now in our city one of these famous rifleman who has bagged his eighteen, and intends to keep up his hunting expeditions till the end of the war. The occupation of Northwestern Virginia, thus far, has done anything but strengthen the Federal cause. Whereas nearly half of these counties gave secession majorities, it is believed that now, if the public enemy were out, nearly all, with the exception of four or five; would vote to go for the South.

The wealth in that section, as well as the majority of numbers, is on the secession side, and one of the arguments used against us there by the Unionists is, that if the Yankees retain possession the wealth of the rich would be divided among the poor. It is really a modest expectation of Mr. Cameron that we should give up a country at present paralyzed, it is true, like the Eastern Shore, by the presence of an invading army, but the great majority of whose people are loyal, and whose mineral and agricultural treasures are incalculable. In the thirty- five counties now unrepresented in the Virginia Legislature, there is a population of three hundred thousand white persons. There are in that district numerous oil wells, producing an article which the Confederacy so much needs at the rate of over five hundred barrels daily, enough to supply the United States and all Europe. There are the Kanawha Salt Works, producing, at 25 or 30 cents a bushel, that invaluable article, which is now selling in Richmond at $28 a sack, and which has yielded annually ten millions of dollars' worth of salt, Two hundred and fifty thousand head of cattle and over four hundred and fifty thousands hogs and sheep were the product of the same section last year.

It is believed that twenty-five millions of dollars is a small estimate for the interest of Northerners in the oil, lands, salt, and iron establishments of Western Virginia. If Mr. Cameron or any other man ever expects to wrest such a region from Virginia, he will have to wait till every mother's son in Virginia has bit the dust, and closed his eyes forever to such infamous spoliations and intolerable shame.

Virginia ought to take such measures at once as will give assurance to the world of her determination to hold intact every foot of her soil, and to adjust the action of her Government to every damaged part, as quickly as it can be restored to its original condition. The thought should not be tolerated for a moment of permitting the enemy to retain his foothold among our grand and beautiful mountains. The Legislature should provide for the representation of all parts of the Commonwealth in the General Assembly.

By adopting a comprehensive and courageous policy, the Northwestern Virginians with timely and proper aid from the Confederate authorities, will be able themselves not only to keep down the factions Unionists, but drive the invaders into the Ohio. With less than one half the Confederate force already sent there, judiciously disposed, and with an adequate supply of arms, we believe that twenty thousand troops, among the best the world ever saw, could be raised in Northwestern Virginia alone, who would prove their loyalty and devotion with the best blood of their hearts.

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

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