Jun. 1 Letter to Lt. Col. E. D. Townsend

Cincinnati, June 1, 1861.

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General:

COLONEL: I had intimated in preceding dispatches an intention of moving on the valley of the Great Kanawha, and had in fact matured my plans for carrying that intention into effect in such a manner as to render all resistance hopeless, with the design of effecting the occupation, as I did that of the Grafton line, without firing a shot.

My view of our course in Kentucky and Western Virginia is that we should not cross the frontier without being fully assured that our assistance is demanded by the Union men, and that our movements should be in such force as to preclude the probability of resistance.

I had a long interview this morning with Judge L. Ruffner and Colonel B. F. Smith, both of the Kanawha Valley. They came accredited by Honorable V. B. Horthon, of Pomeroy, and other reliable men, and are represented as expressing the sentiment of the Union men of that region. My conference with them was full and frank. I told them that I did not believe it to be the will of the General Government to force assistance on the Union men where there was good ground to believe that they were able and willing to take care of themselves; that should I learn that any force from Eastern Virginia had entered their valley I could promptly drive them out; that they might count upon our aid whenever demanded, and that it is necessary for them to make up their minds to take a decided stand.

They stated that the Union feeling (shown to be decidedly preponderant by the late elections) is rapidly increasing; assert their ability to keep the secessionists under; say that they will not allow themselves to be forced into the Southern Confederacy, and deprecate sending any troops there at present. I have therefore thought it prudent to submit the matter to General Scott, the more especially as I think no ill effects can follow from some delay, for I have information which satisfies me that there are no Eastern Virginians nor Confederate troops in that region, and that they cannot move them there at present. These Kanawha gentleman approve of the Grafton movement, and I have determined, until I receive further instructions from the General, to modify my original plan so as to accomplish the same result in a manner that will not be obnoxious.

Learning that the rebels who abandoned Grafton were this morning at Philippi I have ordered and advance on that point in two columns from Grafton and Clarksburg, with instructions to drive them beyond Beverly, and hold the latter place. I propose also gradually to advance on Elizabeth and Weston, in order to encourage the Union sentiment and to induce the Kanawha people to take a more decided course. I think they are not yet fully up to the mark, and need careful nursing. By driving the rebels beyond Beverly I think we shall free almost the whole of Western Virginia from their influence.

I have already informed you that I have placed the operations in Western Virginia under Brigadier General T. A. Morris, of the Indiana volunteers, a graduate of West Point, and a cool, deliberate man.

I would be glad to have some cavalry at my disposal as soon as possible. There are two companies organizing in Indiana, as many in this State, and some in Illinois, under the State laws. I presume they will be received into the regiment to be raised in this department. We should have at least a couple of companies in Western Virginia. I am watching Beauregard’s movements closely, and am glad that he is to be my antagonist.

I received a detailed report of the condition of the Illinois troops to-day. With the exception of those at Cairo and Caseyville it was unsatisfactory. It would be well if efficient general officers could be promptly assigned to the troops of this department, as well as a greater number of adjutants-general, quartermasters, and commissaries. The absence of all military information in this region is very lamentable. It is a very rare thing to find any one who knows even the elements of squad drill.

The Michigan Battery will be here to-morrow. I have ordered it to Camp Dennison for the present, and will probably retain it there until it is ready for the field.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General, U.S. Army, Commanding Department


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. II. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.