“Three Cheers for the Southern Flag!”
The State of Virginia, having been eminently conservative, did not at once follow the lead of the impulsive State of South Carolina; but chose rather to first exhaust every means of settling the difficulties which had arisen and restoring harmony. At the election of members to the State Convention, the Union candidates—generally representing their opponents as “unconditional secessionists” and themselves as not adverse to such a measure after exhausting all honorable means of restoring good feeling, succeeded in carrying a large majority of the counties.1
On the 12th of April, 1861, General [Pierre G. T.] Beauregard, commanding at Charleston, opened on Fort Sumter at 4 a.m.. Edmund Ruffin, Sr., of Virginia., fired the first gun.2 On the 14th this stronghold surrendered. On the same day the President of the United States called out by proclamation the militia of “the loyal states” to the number of 75,000; and in the same proclamation, called upon all persons in arms against the United States to disperse, and return to their homes within twenty days.
Virginia could no longer remain inactive. She had to fight somebody and, choosing rather to fight the Yankees who had been making war upon the South for thirty years, than her sister slave states, between whom and herself there had always been perfect cordiality and sympathy, she passed an Ordinance of Secession from the United States on the 17th of April, 1861.3 Immediately the whole state became a great military camp. Colonel Robert E. Lee, having resigned his commission in the U.S. Army, was appointed by the Virginia Convention General-in-Chief of the Virginia forces; and Governor John Letcher was directed to place at