It’s impossible to tell the complete story of the opening months of the Civil War in Virginia without citing the papers and telegrams of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who organized the first expedition into Virginia after the outbreak of hostilities.
Most of this correspondence can be found in the venerable tomes of The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, but historian Stephen W. Sears has published these alongside letters and telegrams in The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan: Selected Correspondence, 1860-1865.
There’s a lot to get to, but so far I’ve posted the following:
- May 24 Telegram to Gen. Winfield Scott
- May 26 Address to the Soldiers of the Expedition
- May 26 Instructions to Brigadier General T. A. Morris
- May 26 Instructions to Colonel B. F. Kelley, First Virginia Infantry
- May 26 Instructions to Colonel J. B. Steedman, Fourteenth Regiment Ohio Infantry
- May 26 Instructions to Colonel J. Irvine, Sixteenth Ohio Infantry
- May 26 Proclamation to the People of Western Virginia
- May 27 Report of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan
- May 27 Telegram to Gen. Winfield Scott
- May 30 Report to Lt. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND, A.A.G.
- Jun. 3 Report of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan
- Jun. 10 Report of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan
These cover the burning of the B&O Railroad bridges, the movement of Union troops (and loyal Virginia forces) into northwestern Virginia, and the skirmish at Philippi. I hope to post McClellan’s complete correspondence regarding the Western Virginia Campaign in the coming weeks.