How many folks say that their ancestors joined the Confederate army because Lincoln made the call for 75,000 troops? Just curious, but, how many of those ancestors actually enlisted in the spring and early summer of 1861? Also, while the idea of coercion did stir the blood (and/or concern) of many a Southerner… how many had already made up their mind to fight, well before Lincoln’s call for troops… given the first opportunity? And, yes, with or without coercion? How many were saying… “just say the word”?
How many, indeed?
From the Richmond Dispatch, April 15, 1861…
On the Surrender of Fort Sumter
The Surrender of Fort Sumter – Great Rejoicing among the People – Unparalleled Excitement. – The interest of our citizens in the exciting events lately occurring in the neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina, always intense, as manifested by the crowds that have thronged around the bulletin boards of the different newspapers during the past week, culminated on Saturday evening on the reception of the news of the surrender of Fort Sumter, in one of the wildest, most enthusiastic and irrepressible expressions of heartfelt and exuberant joy on the part of the people generally, that we have ever known to be the case before in Richmond. Nothing else was talked of, or thought of, save the great triumph achieved by the heroic troops of the glorious Southern Confederacy in obliterating one of the Illinois ape’s standing menaces against the assertion of Southern rights and equality. – So far as the opinion of the people is concerned, it would have been more to the old rail-splitter’s credit had he ordered Anderson to leave Fort Sumter, as an untenable and undesirable place, than to attempt, as he and his coadjutors did, to make the undoubtably gallant Major did the scapegoat of his insidious and damnable views. We repeat, that had wise counsels prevailed, the old ape would have had all the credit between a graceful leave taking and an ignominious expulsion at the cannon’s mouth.
As soon as the news was ascertained to be undoubtedly true, crowds of citizens assembled on the different street corners, and by sundown the advocates of Southern rights had resolved to celebrate the momentous event by an appropriate salute of cannon. The services of the Fayette Artillery were procured, and amid the shouts of several thousand people, ladies and gentlemen included, one hundred rounds were fired with a will, judging from the regularity of the discharges and their loudness. Afterwards, the cannon were discharged in battery of the whole, producing a grand climax to the noise of the single guns.
About twenty-five hundred persons were congregated on the Square, and patriotic and soul-stirring addresses were delivered by Messrs. J. B. Sheffey, W. M. Ambler, C. Irving, Jno. M. Patton, Jr., G. L. Gordon, and B. R. Wellford, Jr. The reception accorded to the speakers was but the echo of that sentiment of loyalty to section, which is the distinguishing characteristic of the true Southron everywhere, under all circumstances, in evil as well as good report.
A resolution offered by Capt. Patton, as follows:
Resolved: That we rejoice with high, exultant, heartfelt joy at the triumph of the Southern Confederacy over the armed Government at Washington, in the capture of Fort Sumter, was responded to by one mighty aye.
An entrance was effected into the Capitol, and several impulsive gentlemen making their way to the top of the structure, soon had the glorious emblem of Southern independence waving in the breeze. We understand, though he will not vouch for the truth of the assertion, that it was afterwards taken down by Gov. Letcher’s order.
During Saturday evening the raising of a Southern Confederacy flag at the Tredegar Iron Works was made the occasion of a pleasant re-union of many friends of the Southern cause. The flag was saluted with seven guns, and one big one was fired in honor of Virginia, in hopes that her representatives will soon do their duty. Speeches, sparkling with talent and wit, and all aglow with the instincts of true patriotism, were delivered by, Attorney General, and L. S. Hall, Esq., the able delegate of Wetzel county in the State Convention. These gentlemen urged immediate secession, and they had in their hearers an appreciative audience.
Saturday night the offices of the Dispatch, Enquirer and Examiner, the banking house of Enders, Sutton & Co., the Edgmont House, and sundry other public and private places, testified to the general joy by brilliant illuminations.
Hardly less than ten thousand persons were on Main street, between 8th and 14th, at one time. Speeches were delivered at the Spotswood House, at the Dispatch corner, in front of the Enquirer office, at the Exchange Hotel, and other places. Bonfires were lighted at nearly every corner of every principal street in the city, and the light of beacon fires could be seen burning on Union and Church Hills. The effect of the illumination was grand and imposing. The triumph of truth and justice over wrong and attempted insult was never more heartily appreciated by a spontaneous uprising of the people. Soon the Southern wind will sweep away with the resistless force of a tornado, all vestige of sympathy or desire of co-operation with a tyrant who, under false pretenses, in the name of a once glorious, but now broken and destroyed Union, attempts to rivet on us the chains of a despicable and ignoble vassalage. Virginia is moving.
To-night, in order to give further expression to the general joy, there will be a grand torchlight procession. Parties desiring to unite therein are requested to meet at the City Hall, at 8½ o’clock, with their transparencies. The line of march will be headed by Smith’s First Regiment Band and will move up Broad to 1st street, cross to Franklin, down Franklin to 5th street, cross to Main street, down Main to 17th street, and up Franklin to the Exchange Hotel. Let all turn out, and a glorious time may be expected.
In connection with the above we may remark that Hons. Wm. Ballard Preston, Alex. H. H. Stuart and Geo. W. Randolph, who were appointed Commissioners by the State Convention to visit Lincoln and ascertain his intentions towards the seceded States, returned on Saturday from Washington. His reply leaves no doubt of his intention to attempt the subjugation of all the States who may oppose his Government. The Commissioners are said to be disgusted with the arrogance of the Baboon of Illinois.
Just as the cannon were being fired on the Southern plateau of the Square, the sound of martial music was heard, and shortly thereafter a large body of men, headed by Smith’s Band, made their appearance at the Western gate, and crossing the Square entered that leading to the residence of Gov. Letcher. In front of the Gubernatorial mansion the crowd halted, when the band proceeded to play the Marseilles Hymn and Dixie, after which loud calls were made for the Governor, who, after a time, appeared at the door, looking as if he did not know exactly whether to regard the call a complimentary one, or something its exact reverse.
The Governor said, in substance, that any citizen must appreciate the compliment bestowed upon him, but he must acknowledge that he did not understand the character of the present demonstration, as he had received no previous intimation of it. Having said this, he thought he had gone about far enough, but he would add, that whenever the rights or honor of Virginia were assailed he would be found ready to defend them, cost what it might. He bowed and withdrew.
Strange… and yet no mention of a call for troops. Why? Because it had not yet been learned in Richmond. Yet, take another look at this article… there seems to be plenty of folks ready in Richmond, with nothing more than the news of the fall of Sumter, to throw down! Now, hold on a second… coercion… hmmm… who fired the first shot, again?
*Keep in mind, of course, compared to the western counties (and, no, not just the ones that became part of West Virginia), the eastern part of Virginia was far more committed to secession (… and, why?), well ahead of the day Sumter fell.