HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO,
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 lines 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. I call upon the officers of every grade to enforce the strictest discipline, and I know that those of all grades, privates and officers, will display in battle cool, heroic courage, and will know how to show mercy to a disarmed enemy.
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. I do not appeal to the fear of punishment, but to your appreciation of the sacredness of the cause in which we are engaged. Carry with you into battle the conviction that you are right, and that God is on your side.
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.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
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.