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"Virginia has three grand divisions,.viz.: the Eastern Section, extending from tide-water up to the Blue Ridge Mountains; the Great Valley bet ween the Blue Ridge and the Alleghanies; Western Virginia, stretching from the Great Valley to the Ohio river.
The contest between the people of the eastern and western portions of the State-for supremacy had been one of long duration, dating back for many years. Internal improvements appear to have been the cause of this dissension—Western Virginia claiming that the East had enjoyed and been benefitted by them hitherto exclusively. In this jealousy the inhabitants of the Valley sympathized, and the completion of the James River and Kanawha Canal to the Ohio aroused a feeling of such bitter rivalry, that even the Governor favored the project of a division of the State. Added to this was the complaint of unequal taxation. The eastern portion being the large slaveholding district, paid per capita, without regard to value, while the wealth of the western, consisting of land and stock, was taxed ad valorem. This strife, of necessity, was carried from the people into the Legislature, and stormy debates followed. The feeling of the West on the slavery question, also, "added fuel to the flame, and the loyalty of that section was attacked.
In the State Convention which passed the ordinance of secession, the western delegates took a firm and bold stand against it. When the Act was about to be consummated, great excitement prevailed in regard to the action of the western members, both inside and out of the Convention, and some of them were obliged to leave Richmond. In May, when the ordinance was submitted to the people, the northwestern counties voted largely against it.
A Convention assembled at Wheeling, and a committee was appointed, which called a General Convention to convene at the same place on the 11th of June. Forty counties were represented there, and an ordinance was passed for the reorganization of the State Government, every officer to be obliged to swear allegiance anew to the United States, and to repudiate the Richmond Convention. A Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and other State officers were elected, and the Legisla. ture was summoned "to assemble at the "United States District Courtroom in the city of Wheeling, at noon, on the first day of July, 1861." Both houses met and organized. The Governor's Message was sent intogether with a document from Washington, officially recognizing the new Government. The message recommended an energetic co-operation with the Federal Government. United States Senators were then elected.
On the 20th of August, the Convention passed an ordinance creating a new State, to be called " Kanawha." It included thirty-nine counties, and provision was made for the admission of other adjoining counties, if a majority of the people of each desired it. The question of forming a separate State was submitted to the popular vote on the 24th of October, and resulted in favor of the proposition by a large majority, Since that time other counties have signified a desire to be admitted.
Western Virginia, became the scene of military operations directly after the war broke out, following in close order upon the occupation of Alexandria. On the 30th of May Colonel Kelly took possession of Grafton, and the occupation of Phillipi followed but a few days subsequently. Federal troops also crossed the Ohio and entered Parkersburgh. General McClellan had command of this portion of the State, it being included in the Ohio district, and issued his proclamation to the Union men of Virginia.
A series of offensive and defensive events now followed each other in rapid succession, exhibiting bravery and determination unparalleled in history—individual heroism and uncomplaining endurance of suffering— rapid marches and brilliant charges, that shine in letters of fire upon the pages of our war history, and threw the prestige of early victory about fche northern arms. It was here that McClellan won his first laurels— here that chivalric 'Lander met a soldier's death—here that Kelly, was wounded, till for weeks and weeks his life was despaired of. In fact, Western Virginia is covered with victorious Union battle-fields. She has indeed, given tboir greenest laurels to many of our generals.
The military department of Ohio, in which Western Virginia was included, was organized on the tenth of May, and Major-General George B. McClellan appointed to the command. His headquarters were at Cincinnati. On the 2Gth of the same month he issued his first proclamation, declaring that his mission was one of fraternity, union, and protection, and called upon all patriotic men to aid him in his endeavors to accomplish this holy purpose. The proclamation produced a marked effect. Colonel Kelly, of Wheeling, Virginia, had prior to that date organized a regiment for the defence of the Union, known as. the " First Virginia Volunteers."
On Friday, the 24th of May, about twelve hundred rebels had assembled and marched from Harper's Ferry to Grafton, a town on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and forced many citizens to abandon their homes and fly for safety, leaving their property to be pillaged by the enemy. About one hundred of the fugitives reached Morgantown. The inhabitants of that place, warned of their danger, immediately flew to arms and prepared for a vigorous defence. Finding that they were not to be molested, and burning for revenge, they marched, 1000 strong—their ranks having been swelled by frieuds from Pennsylvania—towards Grafton.
The rebels became alarmed and fled to Philippi, in Bourbon county, about 17 miles southward. On Monday, the 27th, detachments of Ohio and Indiana troops crossed the Ohio river at Wheeling and at Marietta, on their way, also, to Grafton. Simultaneously, Colonel Kelly's regiment of Virginians moved forward in the same direction, but the bridges having been destroyed, their march was delayed. At every point, and especially at Mannington and Fairniount, they were received with great enthusiasm and hailed as deliverers.
BATTLE OP PHILLIPI..
Brigadier-General Thomas A. Morris arrived at Grafton on the evening of Jilue 1st, and took command of the Union forces. An expedition was immediately organized to surprise and attack the rebels at Philippi, under the command of Colonel Porterfield. The troops left in two divisions. The First Virginia regiment, part of the Ohio Sixteenth, and the Seventh Indiana, under Colonel Kelly, m6ved eastward, by rail to Thornton, a distance of five miles, and from.there marched on twenty-two miles , to Phillipi, reaching the town on the lower side. The second division, consisting of the Sixth and Seventh Indiana, the Fourteenth Ohio, and a section of artillery under Lieutenant-Colonel Sturgis, met by detachments at Webster, on the North-western Virginia railroad, and marched twelve miles to Phillipi. The combined forces were commanded by Colonels Dumont and Lander, and at eight o'clock on the night of the 2d of June marched forward through one of the most overwhelming storms known to our country that year. Lander had been detailed to a special command by General Morris, and in the terrible march that followed, through darkness, mud and rain he led the way, sometimes exploring the route three miles ahead of his forces, in the midst of profound darkness, and through mud so deep and tenacious that every forward step was a struggle.' The men followed, bravely toiling through the miry soil, staggering forward in thick darkness, and pelted by the rain so violently that they could not have seen the road had it been daylight. Still, not a murmur was heard. Against the whole force of the elements the brave fellows struggled on, eager for the storm of fire which was soon to follow the deluge that poured upon them. Now and then Lander's majestic form, seated upon his charger, would loom upon them through the darkness, returning from his scouting duty to cheer them with his deep, sympathetic voice, which aroused them like a trumpet. Thus they moved on, supported by one stern purpose, through woods, across valleys, and over hills, the storm drowning their approach till they drew up on the edge of the town