December 31, 1862
Milroy knows how to play the despicable Tyrant if not the manly General. The only exploit he has performed in the latter capacity, was in beating General Jackson in a foot race. We have before us, however, a “General Order” in which he shows that he is as valiant as the Beast Butler against females and unarmed men. It is in these words:
Whereas loyalty to the government of the United States is the highest and first duty of all citizens of that government, and when not voluntarily yielded must be enforced, and subordinate to this is the obligation of loyalty to the State in which they live;
And whereas, the Congress of the United States has recently recognized and admitted the State of West Virginia as one of the States of the Union;
And whereas, the said State of West Virginia has avowed and demonstrated her loyalty to the General Government of the United States by sending nearly 26,000 troops for [unreadable]of that government to assist in the suppression of the present unjust rebellion, and is, therefore, entitles to the sincerest loyalty of all citizens, with the said State;
Therefore, it is ordered that all citizens, male and female, who are now or may hereafter be residents within the lines of this command, while within the limits of said State of West Virginia shall, when called upon so to do by any Provost Marshal or other officer of this Division, take an oath of allegiance to the Government of the United States and to the State of West Virginia, and upon failure to do so, when so called upon, he or she shall forfeit all right to the protection of the Cheat Mountain division of the United States army or any part thereof.
By order of
John O. Cravens, Lieut. [unreadable]
Appended to the above order, and of same date, we have also “General Orders No. 2,” from “J. Warren Keifer, Colonel commanding” Post at Moorefield, Va., requiring “all citizens of Moorefield and vicinity, “desiring the protection of the United States for their property and persons to call at these headquarters and take an oath of allegiance to the Government of the United States and the State of West Virginia.” He adds:
“All persons refusing or neglecting to comply with this order will be called upon to furnish supplies of provisions and forage for the use of the United States army; their property will be used to quarter troops for government store rooms.” & c.
We have also orders of Dec. 11th and 12th assessing contributions upon the citizens of Moorefield by order of Milroy “as a punishment for the aid given to Capt. McDonald.” 1,200 pounds of beef, 700 pounds of pork, 1150 pounds of flour, and 1,200 pounds of corn meal, to be furnished by 4 P.M., was the draft this made upon the villagers.
The orders of Milroy and Keifer mean something more than lies on their face—They are the orders of Beast Butler. The license which he proclaimed in New Orleans through malice, these proclaim in the mountain villages and neighborhoods of Western Virginia as an instrument of proselytism.—Our informant says that the scene in Moorefield when they were proclaiming there, was heartrending. The brutal Hessians made their boasts of intended lust and robbery. The terror-stricken population were in an agony of wretchedness at being coerced to an oath which their souls loathed, under pain of surrender of persons and property to the mercy of such fiends incarnate. Talk of the rack and the stake as instruments of conversion! These are gentle refinements compared with Milroy’s expedients! It has remained for Milroy to eclipse immeasurably all the horrors of the Inquisition, by the infernal agency which he lets loose to win Virginia citizens to “unionism.” The oath which he thus extorts from the last terrors of unprotected females, he compels them as in bitter mockery to say is given freely and without reserve!
We deeply deplore the situation to which our suffering fellow-citizens are thus reduced. Let them endure their cruel wrongs with the fortitude of patriots. To Milroy it can avail nothing. The oath extorted by intimidation is no oath. It comes only from the lips.—The soul remains unconquered and defiant. Their real allegiance is untouched and unaffected.
But is there not some hand in all that region that shall strike down the despicable tyrant? The bears and wolves that prowl our mountains are gentle lambs compared with this worse than wild beast who has invaded them.
Let us press operations against Milroy. If the fortunes of war place him in our power, where he is met, there let him receive the outlaw’s fate. It would be an insult to the chivalry of war to take that man a prisoner. Let not the Government be troubled with proofs and trials, where crime is so enormous and notorious, and the punishment deserved is greater than man can inflict.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: December 1862