Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Have Pledged My Word To the People of Western Virginia

Today's entry comes from The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I Vol. II part I.

Yesterday (See June 24, "Rebels In Our Midst") I blogged a letter, a letter  from the people of western Virginia imploring the government to send help.  Help was indeed on the way already, and today's entry is General George McClellan's message to the Army of the West, going to the aid of western Virginia.

Grafton, Va., June 25, 1861.
To the Soldiers of the Army of the West:
You are here to support the Government of your country, and to protect the lives and liberties of your brethren, threatened by a rebellious and traitorous foe. No higher and nobler city could devolve upon you, and I expect you to bring to its performance the highest and noblest qualities of soldiers-discipline, courage, and mercy. . . . .

Bear in mind that you are in the country of friends, not of enemies; that you are here to protect, not to destroy. Take nothing, destroy nothing, unless you are ordered to do so by your general officers. Remember that I have pledged my word to the people of Western Virginia that their right in person and property shall be respected. I ask every one of you to make good this promise in its broadest sense. We come here to save, not to upturn. . .

Your enemies have violated every moral law; neither God nor man can sustain them. They have, without cause, rebelled against a mild and paternal Government; they have seized upon public and private property; they have outraged the persons of Northern men merely because they loved the Union; they have placed themselves beneath contempt, unless they can retrieve some honor on the field of battle. You will pursue a different course. You will be honest, brave, and merciful; you will respect the right of private opinion; you will punish no man for opinion's sake. Show to the wold that you differ from our enemies in the points of honor, honesty, and respect for private opinion, and that we inaugurate no reign of terror where we go. 

Soldiers! I have heard that there was danger here. I have come to place myself at your head and to share it with you. I fear now but one thing-that you will not find foemen worthy of your steel. I know that I can rely upon you.
Major-General, Commanding.

Gen. Geo. B. McClellan, Library of Congress Collection, Brady-Handy Photograph Collection

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