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Union or Secession
  • "Virginians can never fight our southern breathren"
  • "Virginians can never fight our southern breathren"
  • "Virginians can never fight our southern breathren"
James C. Taylor, of Christiansburg, in Montgomery County, wrote on April 15, 1861, that "Virginians can never fight our southern breathren."
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"Virginians can never fight our southern breathren"

James C. Taylor to Governor John Letcher, April 15, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.

Following the surrender of Fort Sumter, in South Carolina, on April 13, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln requested 75,000 militiamen, including 2,340 officers and men from Virginia, to put down the Southern rebellion. James C. Taylor, of Christiansburg, in the southwestern county of Montgomery, informed the governor two days later that "Our Community, has been thrown into the most intense excitement" and that "Virginians can never fight our southern breathren." Governor John Letcher refused to comply with Lincoln's request. On April 16, Montgomery County's delegate, William Ballard Preston, who had been unanimously elected as an opponent of secession, introduced an ordinance of secession in the Virginia Convention. On April 17, 1861, the convention adopted Preston's ordinance by a vote of 88 to 55. During the climactic weeks of April and May 1861, men in Virginia joined military companies, some to fight for the United States and others to fight for Virginia or the South.

James C. Taylor to Governor John Letcher, April 15, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.

Christiansburg
April 15th 1861.
Hon. Sir:
Our Community, has been thrown into the most intense excitement by the news here, that Lincoln has made a requisition upon Va. for Nine Thousand soldiers, to fight our southern brethren.
Virginians can never fight our southern breathren, and whilst we will do all in our power to render to you our support and to defend you and your family from assaults. Please do not ask us to Join a northern army to fight our southern friends, neighbors, fathers & brothers. It will not it shall not be so. I hold my self in readiness dear governor to march my men to your support and to your defence, but not to support Lincoln nor to his defence.
When ever you want me for the purposes above indicated—Or whenever you wish my services in upholding the honor of our proud old mother let me hear from your end, I think, I mistake not when I assure you, that we of the south west will notify you that we are worthy to be numbered among the gallant Sons of old Virginia.
What will be the end of the foolish course persued by Lincoln?
Yr truly your friend
JAS C TAYLOR