Friday, June 21, 1861
Union General-in-Chief Winfield Scott already had a plan of operation in mind when he asked Generals McDowell and Patterson to submit their ideas to him. He wanted the Rebels swept from Leesburg and a coordinated assault between the two Generals.
After a night of contemplation, General Patterson, with troops near Hagerstown and Williamsport, Maryland, submitted his ideas.
First, he wanted to occupy Maryland Heights, opposite Harpers Ferry, with a brigade of 2,100 men and Col. Abner Doubleday’s artillery. Secondly, he wished to move his supplies through Frederick rather than Hagerstown. This would allow direct access to Harpers Ferry via the Jefferson Pike [modern US 340 – basically]. The final suggestion was to send everyone else to Leesburg where he would meet up with Col. Stone of the Rockville Expedition. From there, he would operate as the circumstances evolved.
So far, this wasn’t much more than a rewording of Scott’s plan. He wished that Maryland Heights be occupied with an eye to the artillery and for Leesburg to be swept of Rebels. The only addition was Frederick, which, if moving from Harpers Ferry to Leesburg, just made sense.
With both Scott and Patterson in some sort of agreement, this only left General McDowell to submit his ideas, which he would do in a few days.1
To begin the consolidation of this forces, Patterson called the 11th Indiana under Col. Lew Wallace to him. Wallace’s regiment was technically under General McClellan in western Virginia, but since he was closer to Patterson and there were 3,000 Rebel troops under A.P. Hill to his west, he would move east, hopefully without incident.2
The New Commonwealth of Virginia
In Wheeling, the Convention to reestablish a new state of Virginia had elected a Governor and Lt. Governor the day before. On this day, they resolved that a General Assembly (state legislature), when organized, would meet in Wheeling, the new capital, to elect an Auditor, Treasurer, and Secretary of the Commonwealth.
A Treasury was to be established in Wheeling using the Merchants’ and Mechanics’ Bank of Wheeling or one of its convenient branches in Point Pleasant, Clarksburg or Morgantown. Along with another western Virginia bank, the Bank of the Old Dominion in Alexandria could also be used to the credit of The Treasury of Virginia.
The Convention was not establishing a separate, western, state, but taking over the existing commonwealth (as much as they could). They realized that the bulk of their support would come from west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but they hoped that pockets of Unionists throughout the rest of the state would join in.
With that in mind, the Convention wished for a Union recruiting office to be located in every county of western Virginia.3
The new Governor of (western) Virginia, Francis H. Pierpont, wrote to President Lincoln that “large numbers of evil-minded persons have banded together in military organizations with intent to overthrow the government of the State, and for that purpose have called to their aid like-minded persons from other States, who, in pursuance of such call, have invaded this commonwealth.”
Lincoln, of course, already knew about such things. The Confederate Armies of the Northwest and Kanawha were actively operating in western Virginia, the latter having some luck with recruiting.
“They are pressing citizens against their consent into their military organizations,” Pierpont continued, “and seizing and appropriating their property to aid in the rebellion.” This was nearly the same thing that Col. Stone had reported happening a few days ago in Martinsburg.
Because Pierpont did not have “sufficient military force to suppress this rebellion and violence,” he found it his duty “as governor of this commonwealth, to call on the Government of the United States for aid to suppress such rebellion and violence.”4
Lincoln was already on this, as Pierpont knew. General McClellan had arrived in Parkersburg by train from Cincinnati this morning and was preparing to establish his headquarters in Grafton.5
What Pierpont really seemed to be saying was that he was now the Governor of Virginia. Whether or not this would impress Lincoln remained to be seen.
- A Narrative of the Campaign in the Valley of the Shenandoah, in 1861 by Robert Patterson, 1865. [↩]
- Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 2, p715. [↩]
- Proceedings of the Second Wheeling Convention, June 21, 1861. [↩]
- Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 2, p713. [↩]
- Campaign in Western Virginia by George B. McClellan. [↩]