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In Virginia the vote upon secession resulted in a large majority in its favor. In the north-western part of the State the vote was largely in favor of the Union. A Convention of the Western Counties convened at Wheeling on the 13th of May, at which resolutions were passed pronouncing the ordinance of secession'null and void. The Convention adjourned to meet on'the 11th of June.
The position of Missouri was similar to that of Kentucky. The State endeavored to avoid taking part in the war. Troops had been organized with hostile designs against the Government. These were forced to surrender by Captain Lyon, (afterward appointed General). At St. Louis an attack was made by the populace, on the 1 Oth of May, upon the United States volunteers; they returned the fire, killing some twenty; an emeute on the next day resulted in the loss of several lives. General Harney, who had been put in command of this district, entered into an agreement with the State authorities, that was disapproved by the Government, and he relieved from the command, which was then given to General Lyon.
• The attitude assumed by the great powers of Europe in relation to the American war was important. That of England, indicated by the royal proclamation issued on the 14th of May a determination to maintain a strict neutrality in the contest between the contending parties. The proclamation went on to forbid all British subjects from taking part in any way in the contest, by enlisting in the army or navy of either party; by fitting out or arming any vessel; by breaking any lawfully established blockade, or carrying to either, troops or any articles contraband of war. This proclamation, taken in connection with the explanations of the Ministers and the speeches in Parliament, had an unfriendly aspect toward the United States, recognizing, as it did, the Confederate States as belligerents, and, by implication, entitled equally to the right of carrying prizes into the ports of Great Britain. In the House of Commons, Lord John Russell said that the character of belligerency was not so much a principle as a fact; that a certain amount of force and consistency acquired by any mass of population engaged in war entitled them to be treated as a belligerent. A power or a community which was at war with another, and which covered the sea with its cruizers, must either be acknowledged as a belligerent or dealt with as a pirate. The Government had come to the opinion that the Southern Confederacy, according to those principles which were considered just, must be treated as belligerent. In this critical condition was the country when the Government prepared to advance its armies into Virginia.
OCCUPATION 0P ALEXAKDEIA, Va.
ASSASSINATION OF COLONEL ELLSWORTH.
The defenders of the Union had been gathering at Washington and in its vicinity for more than a month, in answer to the call for troops, that rang through the land clear as clarion notes. The arduous labor of providing for and disciplining the larga number of untrained recruits, collected iu such haste, had been met with energy and perseverance by the officers of the government. Very much had been accomplished, notwithstanding all the embarrassments incident to an extensive and untried field of labor.
The heart of the country was beating restively at delay, and popular feeling, as it found its voice through the press, thundered anathemas, and clamored for a forward movement. Nothing but prompt and decisive action would satisfy the people that the government was sturdily bending its whole energies to strangle the monster treason in its youth. The people had not yet learned the first great secret of success—how to wait. They saw the .ship of state struggling fiercely amid the rocks of an untried ocean, and worshiping the flag at her mast-head, grew clamorous for its protection. Every newspaper, and almost every household, had its own ideas of how this was to be accomplished. The government, unused to war, and anxious to gratify the spirit of patriotism that had supported it so nobly, was ready to answer the rash clamor; and so this long, loud cry of ignorant impatience became words of fate, and ended in giving us the defeat of Bull Run.
The people, the generous loyal people, ever dissatisfied with anything but lightning speed, in peace or war, clamored for action, and must be appeased. Under this pressure, events forced each other on, culminating in action.
Though an act of secession had been passed by a State Convention, held at Richmond on the 17th of April, it was professedly to be submitted to the people of the State of Virginia for their approval on the 23d of May; and though it had been determined by the United States Government to take possession of, and fortify the Virginia hills, in front of the capital, it was deemed advisable to await that event before making any military movement into that State which could be interpreted into an attempt to influence or control the popular vote. The conspirators, however, without waiting for any ratification of their secession act by the people, immediately made a conveyance of the State to the Confederate government, and claimed its protection; thus effectually leaving the "mother of States" to associate with the disobedient daughters.
In consequence of the action of Governor Letcher, Confederate troops from Georgia, Mississippi, and other Southern States, were sent rapidly into Virginia, and located at various points, where it was deemed that they could be of the most use, and best serve the interests of the Confederacy. The result of this movement could easily have been foretold. The election was held under military regime and terrorism, and loyal men, having been warned of the penalty of voting against secession, either feared to do so, or neglected to vote altogether; a majority was secured for the ordinance, and Virginia, "mother of Presidents," had. taken her second grand step in the downward path of disunion.
The people of the city of ^Alexandria were generally infected with disloyalty, and rebel flags floated boldly from many of the principal buildings. A detachment of Confederate troops was at all times quartered within its limits, and with the hope of capturing them and their supplies, it was determined to occupy the city by a surprise movement. The result of the election clearly foreshadowed, arrangements were made for action—prompt and decisive action—to follow immediately upon the closing of the polls, where disunionists had played a mere farce, and disloyal bayonets had fettered the freedom of the ballot-box.
On the night of May 23d, orders were given for an advance to the troops designed for this expedition, numbering in all about 13,000, and at ten o'clock an advance guard of picked men moved cautiously over the bridge. Sent to reconnoitre, their commands were imperative that if assaulted they were to signalize for reinforcements, which would be speedily furnished by a corps of infantry and a battery. At twelve o'clock the regiment of infantry, the artillery and the cavalry corps began to muster, and as fast as they were prepared, proceeded to the Long Bridge, the portion of the force then in Washington being directed to take that route. The troops quartered at Georgetown, comprising the Fifth, Eighth, Twenty-eighth and Sixty-ninth New York, also proceeded across the Chain Bridge, under the command of General McDowell.
At half-past one o'clock, six companies of District Volunteers, including the National Rifles, and Turners, stepped from the Long Bridge upon Virginia soil. To capture the enemy's patrols by the means of boats had been the original plan, but the bright moonlight prevented it. This vanguard was commanded by Inspector-General Stone, under whom Captain Smead led the centre, Adjutant Abbott the left, and Captain Stewart the right wing. When within half a mile of Alexandria, they halted and awaited the arrival of the main body.
The remainder of the army crossed in the following order: The Twelfth and Twenty-fifth New York, First Michigan, and First, Second, Third, and Fourth New Jersey; two regular cavalry corps of eighty men each, and Sherman's two batteries; next and last came the New York Seventh. General Mansfield directed the movements of the troops. At a quarter to four the last of the forces left, and fifteen minutes later Major-General Sanford, accompanied by his staff, proceeded to Virginia to assume the command.
The famous Sixty-ninth New York, after crossing the river below Georgetown, took position on the Orange and Manassas Gap railroad, and surrounded and captured the train from Alexandria, with a large number of passengers, of which a few, known to be violent secession partizans, were retained as prisoners.
As the Michigan regiment, accompanied by two guns of Sherman's renowned battery, and a company of regular cavalry, marched into the town, a detachment of thirty-five rebel horsemen were found preparing to mount. The battery came up the street towards them like a whirlwind, and they soon surrendered.
The New York Fire Zouaves, under the command of Colonel E. E. Ellsworth, were conveyed in steamers, and as the day was dawning their dashing uniform and fearless faces flashed upon the citizens of Alexandria. Not until they had landed did the jebel sentinels discover them, and then, after firing their muskets as a signal of warning, they hastened to alarm the sleeping city.
Little need had those brave and untameable "fire fighters " of directions. The master spirit of all their movements had imbued them with feelings akin to his own. They knew their duty, and men trained as they had been in a severe school of danger, could never be backward in performing it. Ellsworth, who, as it might seem, with the shadows of death already gathering around him, could sit calmly down in the dim midnight, after addressing his men in a brief and stirring speech, announcing the orders to march on Alexandria, closing with the well remembered words, "Now boys, go to bed and wake up at two o'clock for a sail and a skirmish;" and after arranging the business of his regiment, pen letters that seemed "as if the mystical gales from the near eternity must have breathed for a moment over his soul, freighted with the odor of amaranths and asphodels "—needed none to tell him of his duty or to urge him to its even rash fulfilment.
In the early light of morning he entered the rebel town. A secession flag waved defiantly from the Marshall House, and with the fiery enthusiasm of his nature, Ellsworth rushed to tear down the hated emblem of enmity to the Union he loved so well. With his own hand he tore the flag from its fastening, and descending the stairs flushed with the pride of success, came upon his fate. A musket in the hands of the proprietor, J. W. Jackson, pealed his death-knell, and he scaled the glories of that too well remembered morning, with his heart's blood.
Brownell, a name now linked with Ellsworth's in all history, waa his prompt avenger, and the blood of patriot and assassin ran commingled, a ghastly stream. Both will be long remembered—will stand shadowed forth to the future from the past—one a brave, tender, chivalric heart; and the other, reckless in his courage, vindictive in his passions, and terrible in his cruelty.
And the morning of that day, now lined upon the page of history with letters of blood, that never to be forgotten 24th of May, re-awoke the enthusiasm and stern resolve of Sumter—caused the finest strings of a nation's heart to vibrate with sorrow, and hosts that never before unsheathed a sabre, shouldered a gun or helmeted their brows, had never marched beneath a banner, or given a thought to the glories of war, leaped forth, Minerva-like, fully armed for the strife. Swift vengeance, indeed, followed the death of Ellsworth, but what was that compared to the iron hate of such hearts?
Not here, truly, is the proper place to write the life-history of EriiRAisi Elmer Ellsworth, but this much it is fitting—necessary almost to recapitulate. Born in the little village of Mechanicsville, on tho banks of the Hudson, on the 23d of April, A.d. 1837, he, after passing