Jun. 23 Proclamation to the People of Western Virginia

Grafton, Va. June 23, 1861.

To the Inhabitants of Western Virginia:

The army of this department, headed by Virginia troops, is rapidly occupying all Western Virginia. This is done in co-operation with, and in support of, such civil authorities of the State as are faithful to the Constitution and laws of the United States. The proclamation issued by me under date of May 26, 1861, will be strictly maintained. Your houses, families, property, and all your rights will be religiously respected; we are enemies to none but armed rebels and those voluntarily giving them aid. All officers of this army will be held responsible for the most prompt and vigorous action in repressing disorder and punishing aggression by those under their command.

To me great retreat I find that enemies of the United States continue to carry on a system of hostilities prohibited by the laws of war among belligerent nations, and of course far more wicked and intolerable when directed against loyal citizens engaged in the defense of the common Government of all. Individuals and marauding parties are pursuing a guerrilla warfare, firing upon sentinels and pickets, burning bridges, insulting, injuring, and even killing citizens because of their Union sentiments, and committing many kindred acts.

I do now, therefore, make proclamation, and warn all persons that individuals or parties engaged in this species of warfare-irregular in every view which can be taken of it-thus attacking sentries, pickets, or other soldiers, destroying public or private property, or committing injuries against any of the inhabitants because of Union sentiments or conduct, will be dealt with in their persons and properly according to the severest rules of military law.

All persons giving information or aid to the public enemies will be arrested and kept in close custody, and all persons found bearing arms, unless of known loyalty, will be arrested and held for examination.

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.