Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
THIS PAGE HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Union or Secession
  • "Union Meeting—Organization of Military Companies."
On April 15, 1861, opponents of secession formed a "Union Guard" in the northwestern city of Wheeling.
« Return to Lincoln Calls out the Militia

"Union Meeting—Organization of Military Companies."

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, April 16, 1861.

On April 15, 1861, two days after the surrender of Fort Sumter in South Carolina and two days before the Virginia Convention adopted the Ordinance of Secession, a Union meeting in the northwestern city of Wheeling voted to form "a Union Guard." The men "Resolved, that it is our unalterable determination to stand by the stars and stripes at all hazards," and about thirty young men pledged to join the guard. 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.

Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, April 16, 1861.

UNION MEETING—ORGANIZATION OF MILITARY COMPANIES.— A meeting was held at the American Hall last night for the purpose of forming a Union Guard.— Mr. Henry Sharp was called to the chair and H. H. Weedon appointed Secretary.
The chairman stated the object of the meeting, when a committee was appointed to draw up resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting. The committee retired for the purpose.
On motion the Secretary was requested to draw up a roll which he did.
Mr. Weedon and others, being called upon entertained the crowd with brief speeches. The committee returning reported the following, which were unanimously adopted.
We, the undersigned committee appointed to draft resolutions and suggest a plan for the purpose of organizing a Union Club, would submit the following: That a committee of five be appointed to draft a constitution and by laws for the government of the Club.
Whereas, our beloved country is threatened with dismemberment by a band of traitors, and believing our first allegiance due to the Federal Government,
Resolved, that it is our unalterable determination to stand by the stars and stripes at all hazards.
Resolved, Our banner must bear the motto the "Union and the Constitution must and shall be preserved," and for the enforcement of that motto, we declare ourselves willing to sacrifice, if necessary, our fortunes and our lives.
Mr. Henry Echols being called upon made a patriotic speech. He said he had lived under this government for sixty four years, and enjoyed its benefits and blessings, and was in favor of maintaining it at all hazards. He said he had volunteered the last time we whipped the mother country, but before he reached the point to which his company had been ordered, a peace was announced. He didn't know whether his starting was the cause of the peace or not, but so it was. He spoke in earnest denunciation of the leaders of the Secession movement, and said they ought to meet the doom of traitors. He believed that the policy which the government had inaugurated, would be the best thing that could happen to us all, if the treason could be checked, and that the disunionists themselves, when they came to realize what a splendid fabric they tried to tear down, would bless the government for preventing them. His speech was heartily cheered.
John Trimble, J. A. Holliday, James Armstrong, Wm. Leonard and H. H. Weldon, were appointed to draw up a Constitution and By Laws for the government of the Club.
A resolution was also adopted, earnestly recommending the other Wards of the city to form similar companies.
Some thirty young men then signed their names, pledging themselves to become members of the Company.
On motion, the meeting adjourned to assemble at the call of the Committee.