In reading some history from back home–Upshur County, WV–I stumbled across an interesting record from April 21, 1862–154 years ago today. That would be during the Civil War and a little more than a year before West Virginia seceded and became a state.
It would seem there was a meeting at the courthouse that day, “for the purpose of expressing the sentiments of the people against guerrilla raids, &c.”
Officers were appointed along with a committee to draft resolutions for the protection of the people. There were motions, discussions, speeches, and eventually the adjourned with the promise to gather again on Saturday to present the final resolutions. The results would set any author’s heart to pitter-patting. This is the sort of thing that makes me consider writing a Civil War era novel . . .
I didn’t include all eight resolutions, which would make this a really long post, but you’ll get the gist. These folks were on FIRE!
“Whereas, We are now in the midst of an unholy rebellion, inaugurated and prosecuted by those who are known as secessionists, who without the fear of God or love of country, with hearts thirsting for the blood of their neighbors, who stand firm for his country and constitutional liberty—the same country that gave them birth, and to which they once professed to be true, but are now seeking its overthrow, banding themselves together in guerrilla mobs for the purpose of rapine and murder, governed by no law of war, nor by the common decency that should characterize the most degraded of our race. And whereas, we believe that many such as those who fled from their homes without cause, and with malice and cursings in their hearts against those who have stood firm for their country, have banded themselves together, commissioned by that foul traitor who was once Governor of Virginia, and in obedience to his fiendish purposes, are taking the lives and property of the true and loyal citizens: Therefore
“Resolved, That those who are acting as guerrillas, regardless of all law, should perish without law.
“The time has fully come when the chaff must be separated from the wheat, and in view of the objects of this meeting in the suppression of guerrilla mobs, and the restoration of that peace and order which we must and will have, that a Vigilance Committee of twelve true and loyal men of our county be appointed by this meeting, who, in connection with the civil and military powers, shall use all honorable means for the speedy consummation of our determined purposes, and that we, the citizens of the county of Upshur, pledge ourselves, each to the other, with our lives, our fortunes and sacred honor, that guerrilla raids shall be put down.”
After everything was read, there were, “spirited and pointed speeches.” The resolutions were unanimously adopted.
If you want to read the whole thing, check out The Wheeling Intelligencer. Man, good stuff!