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.