Jefferson County Men Enlist: Face Each Other 1861-1865 – The Men of Color in Blue

https://web.archive.org/web/20140122195247/https://civilwarscholars.com/2013/06/union-soldiers-who-were-jefferson-county-african-americans-source-documents/

VIDEO: Jefferson County Men Enlist: Face Each Other 1861-1865 – TRT: 2:09

Casualties (died fighting or disease)
No casualties found for the ___ white Union enlistees from Jefferson County

AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN FROM JEFFERSON COUNTY IN THE BLUE UNIFORM

Same as Thornton Rolling
U.S. Colored Troop enlistees from Charles Town, Va.
U. S. Colored Troop enlistees from Harper’s Ferry, Va.

Strother Grieves the End of His Country – April 18-19, 1861 Harpers Ferry

574 words

VIDEO: Strother Grieves The End of His Country – TRT: 4:58

David Hunter Strother

But the more skillful presently guessed the truth and concluded that the officer in command had set fire to the arsenals and abandoned the town. With the ashes of the arsenal cooling, Strother perceived in the light of the next day, the enormity of the events: I must confess that I felt this morning like a man wandering in a maze. . . So, .it seemed that the sudden gust of emotion, excited by the lowering of our starry flag, had swept away the mists of speculation and revealed in its depth and breadth the abyss of degradation opened by secession. Yesterday I was a citizen of the great American republic. My country spanned a continent. Her northern border neared the frigid zone while her southern limit touched the tropics. Her eastern and her western shores were washed by the two great oceans of the globe. Her commerce covering the most remote seas, her flag honored in every land. The strongest nation acknowledged her power, and the most enlightened honored her attainments in art, science, and literature. Her political system, the cherished ideal toward whose realization the noblest aspirations and efforts of mankind have been directed for ages. The great experiment which the pure and wise of all nations are watching with trembling solicitude and imperishable hope. It was something to belong to such a nationality. This was yesterday. To-day, what am I? A citizen of Virginia. Virginia, a petty commonwealth with scarcely a million of white inhabitants. What could she ever hope to be but a worthless fragment of the broken vase? A fallen and splintered column of the once glorious temple. But I will not dwell longer on the humiliating contrast. Come – harness up the buggy and let us get out of this or I shall suffocate.

More. . .

April 18, 1861 – On that fateful night after Virginia’s conditioned vote to secede from the United States, many local militiamen were already en route to Harper’s Ferry to take control of the federal arsenal, basing their action on a word-of-mouth understanding that their action was legal and officially sanctioned. The acting militia commander, a 31-year-old, professionally-trained officer from Summit Point named James Allen, was confronted and cautioned by locally born but ardent Unionist, David Hunter Strother. As the local militia moved towards Harper’s Ferry at the urgings of Turner Ashby on the night of April 18th, Strother, a lifelong friend of those present, intervened arguing that no formal, written order had been produced to authorize the militias to move on the Federal arsenal in the lower town and capture its estimated 16,000 weapons and weapons-making equipment. (In fact, the vote by the popularly-elected Virginia Secession Convention had occurred the previous day in Richmond voting 85-55 to secede, BUT only after the results were known of a referendum scheduled for the following month). Just as Col. Allen was taking Strother’s point to heart and ordered his militia only so far east as Halltown pending the substantiation of his orders, when there erupted from the lower town out of their line-of-sight. Strother saw: flashes and detonations several times repeated; then a steadier flame was seen rising from two distinct points silently and rapidly increasing in volume until each rock and tree on the Loudoun and Maryland Heights were distinctly visible and the now over-clouded sky was ruddy with the sinister glare. This occurred I think between nine and ten o’clock. Some thought they heard artillery. But the more skillful presently guessed the truth and concluded that the officer in command had set fire to the arsenals and abandoned the town.

George Koonce – “Mr. Jefferson County, West Virginia” – 1861

3,492 words

Chapter 14 – The War Storm Breaks

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimsurkamp/albums/72157686959874654 Click on right/left arrows

(Under construction)

“Mr. George Koonce. a man of great activity and personal courage, and Mr. Wilson, who is also a man of great nerve, were very prompt in volunteering their aid to Lieutenant Jones, and the latter put great confidence in them.” – Joseph Barry

That night of April 17th, 1861 Constable George Koonce, his family back home, led armed townsmen and some of the forty-five federal men from the armory, up the steep hill from Harper’s Ferry and the arsenal with its 20,000 new weapons – to face an enemy at Smallwood’s hill. who they believed was as many as three thousand.

Earlier around noon, Koonce watched as excited words spilled out of the mouth of Alfred Barbour, who, en route, had given his resignation in Washington D.C., as the armory and arsenal’s superintendent, and came on to Harpers Ferry to announce to everyone the certain seizure of the arsenal – all this barely before the ink had dried on the Ordinance of Secession in Richmond. The vote was taken as former Governor Henry Wise waved his dueling pistol over his head to menace the delegates against rebelling. The vote was taken and western Virginia delegates who opposed seceding rushed away for their lives to catch a train. Men were prowling their hotel with lynching rope.

Secessionist John Imboden described – an informal meeting, organized by Henry Wise, for 7 PM April 16th at Exchange Hotel Richmond. They agreed to a movement to capture Harper’s Ferry, beginning the next day, the 17th.

After midnight early the morning of the 17th, Imboden led some of the group to Virginia Governor John Letcher’s house and woke him up, “arousing him from his bed” and warmly sought his support for their plan to capture the Harper’s Ferry armory, its arms and the machinery. Imboden advised him to make sure the vote would take place as scheduled for later that day and that he would agree to sign off on it with its implications.

Skipping the Secession vote for the morrow, Barbour left by train post-haste to Harper’s Ferry with Virginia government official John Seddon with his proclamation of secession.

The vote was taken in secret session so the world wouldn’t know at once.

https://secession.richmond.edu/

p. 111

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/111/mode/1up?view=theater

Delegate John S. Burdett wrote later:

The ordinance was passed on the 17th of April, and we recalcitrants lit out on first trains we could catch — some twelve or fifteen of us — Carlisle, Clemens, Dent and others. A dispatch from Governor Letcher failed to arrest us at Fredericksburg. When we got to Washington, some went North. I came to my home on the Baltimore & Ohio, and John Seddon and Alfred Barbour sat in my front, with bottles of whiskey. When they saw me, they said: “Burdett, you seceded at Richmond, did you?” They were members and on the way to Harper’s Ferry to grab the armory and open up revolutionary devilment. Barbour was a member from Jefferson County, in which Harper’s Ferry is situated.

John Goode stopped off at Washington with Alf. Barbour, so Barbour could resign the office of Superintendent of the Armory at Harper’s Ferry.

Once at Harper’s Ferry, Barbour, stepped off the train and said something and up went a tumultuous shout. I stepped off and said: “Barbour, what did you say?” He did not reply, and to avoid arrest I stepped back on the train and guessed he was there to grab the arsenal and steal all its valuable and costly machinery. It turned out that way. Revolutionary devilment took the locks off our mouths.

Hall, Granville Davisson (1901). “The Rending of Virginia.”  Mayer & Miller: Chicago, IL

pp. 543, 545

https://books.google.com/books?id=nbAS9MDpsrUC&pg=PA543&lpg=PA543&dq=John+Seddon+and+Alf.+Barbour+sat+in+my+front,+with+bottles+of+whiskey.+When+they+saw+me,+they+said:+%22Burdett,+you+seceded+at+Richmond,+did+you?%22+They+were+members+and+on+the+way+to+Harper%27s+Ferry+to+grab+the+armory+and+open+up+revolutionary+devilment.&source=bl&ots=QjNfks-YiW&sig=ACfU3U2Vm68xPpCp97C1tBu6ewFXFp4BdA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjZnY2Nwt7zAhXBmHIEHcNGDy0Q6AF6BAgCEAM#v=onepage&q=John%20Seddon%20and%20Alf.%20Barbour%20sat%20in%20my%20front%2C%20with%20bottles%20of%20whiskey.%20When%20they%20saw%20me%2C%20they%20said%3A%20%22Burdett%2C%20you%20seceded%20at%20Richmond%2C%20did%20you%3F%22%20They%20were%20members%20and%20on%20the%20way%20to%20Harper’s%20Ferry%20to%20grab%20the%20armory%20and%20open%20up%20revolutionary%20devilment.&f=false

p. 115 map of lower Harper’s Ferry post- Civil War

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/114/mode/1up?view=theater

Imboden later wrote:

About noon the 17th Alfred Barbour reached Harpe’rs Ferry from Washington after submitting his resignation: collecting mechanics in groups and informing them that the place would be captured within 24 hours by Virginia troops. He urged them to protect the property and join the Southern cause. Federal Lieutenant Roger Jones, commanding 45 men, at once took measures to destroy the place

p. 117

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/117/mode/1up?view=theater

That evening of the 17th, coming from Charles Town were local militias under James Allen, heading towards Harper’s Ferry, stopping short at Halltown where argument ensued with to-be Union man, David Hunter Strother. 

Then Seddon who had arrived on the train with Barbour produced written proof of their incursion’s legitimacy.

“I was so stunned by these revelations that I had scarcely breath to utter the usual and appropriate ejaculation of astonishment – ‘The Devil’”

They only had 340 men including the cavalry and some artilleries with an old iron six-pounder not Turner Ashby’s number of 3,000 men “acomin’.” Their commander Col. Allen, a local man too, ordered his men, virtually all local, to not make another step forward. He’d gotten word that townsmen, such as Koonce and arriving U.S. troops would be there to defend the town, the arsenal, the armory and their contents.

While the Virginia militia officers were thus discoursing, and looking toward the town, there was a sudden flash that illuminated for miles around the romantic gorge where the rivers meet. Then followed a dull report, reverberating from mountain to mountain until it died away in a sullen roar.

The flashes and detonations were several times repeated; then a steadier flame was seen rising from two distinct points silently and rapidly increasing in volume until each rock and tree on the Loudoun and Maryland Heights were distinctly visible and the now over-clouded sky was ruddy with the sinister glare. This occurred I think between nine and ten o’clock. Some thought they heard artillery. But the more skillful presently guessed the truth and concluded that the officer in command had set fire to the arsenals and abandoned the town.Jones:

p. 124 image Roger Jones

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/111/mode/1up?view=theater

Roger Jones’ written remembrance of April 17th at the Ferry to the editors of Battles & Leaders:

Finally, shortly after nine o’clock when troops from Halltown had advanced to within less than a mile from the armory – in time less than five minutes – the torch was applied, and before I could withdraw men from the village, two arsenal buildings with about a 20,000 stand of rifles were ablaze.

Then, the undisciplined hothead, Ashby – much revered later by Virginia sentimentalists but who as a soldier was stupid and reckless beyond belief – leaving bodies of the enemy mutilated; advising his men that the best protection against artillery shells was to “sit perfectly still in your saddle;” and costing Stonewall Jackson his only defeat at Kernstown by giving him grossly wrong estimates of the enemy — he simply ignored Allen and galloped with his unruly bunch towards town.

Jones:

But very few arms were saved for the constantly recurring explosions of powder kept the crowd aloof. p. 125

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/125/mode/1up?view=theater

George Koonce’s men, however, saw Ashby coming  with the object of saving as much weapons and machinery he could and, however, also knew that Jones and the Federals,  after setting the blaze and explosions that they just heard – were skedaddling over the river and by rail into Maryland and points beyond.

So, threatened ahead and abandoned behind, Koonce and all his men scattered every which a way.

James Henry Burton, one of their inventors, made sure the machinery created with the revolutionary ideas of John Hall –  making the parts all made to be interchangeable with one another – these interconnected machines were successfully taken south and Burton would later oversee the armories of the Confederacy.

In the next few days, Koonce’s home was seized by Ashby, just as Ashby, the self-appointed local enforcer seized the home of Union man, MacQuilkin in Berkeley both under the charge of “treason.”

But Koonce sided with all those who hated Virginia’s secession, as something forced on them, first, by the first act of aggression by the South Carolinians at Fort Sumter, causing Lincoln to call for 75,000 Federal volunteers – the two actions that turned the vote around in Richmond in favor of secession. This egregious turn to secession fever forgot that the Virginia’s electors, in a very recent, calmer moment the previous November, wanted the opposite: a majority of Virginia’s voters voted for John Bell – the non-secession candidate.

Those men who fled Richmond, just with their lives and enraged by the injustice from a virtual coup – began meeting in their home areas where secession was reviled and arms were taken up against it.

In time, the life of George Koonce out-shone the example of Turner Ashby. Koonce would live to a ripe old age in his home county. The hapless, relentless, chest-beating Ashby died long ago with a bullet in his heart charging at, and shouting “Follow me men!”  a clutch of Pennsylvania sharpshooters, and he was armed only with a saber and a dead horse.

Koonce took the train to Washington in 1861 – and stayed. While there, he likely met with Lincoln’s Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a fierce warrior against the secessionists – these childhood playmates in Steubenville Ohio. They both agreed how there had to be – in order to protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, that ran clear to Wheeling in a fraction of the time it took before 1852 and very crucially with part of its double track dipping listlessly like loose string into and through the eastern Panhandle, Virginia. If no corrective action was taken, the B&0 would be controlled by a hostile, foreign country. Berkeley and Jefferson HAD, for the sake of the B&O and the Federal war effort, be in a state that was part of the United States.

That pro-Union Virginia jurisdiction was  being worked on hours, days and nights with a group of western Virginians, many escaping from the Richmond debacle.

J.W. Paxton of Ohio County submitted the following

pp. 87-88

https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10797632_000/page/92/mode/2up?q=Wheeling+daily+intelligencer&view=theater

Resolved That a the people of Northwestern Virginia have long and patiently borne the position of political inferiority forced upon them by unequal representation in the State Legislature and by unjust, oppressive and unequal – but that the so-called ordinance of secession, passed by the Convention, which met in Richmond on the 13th of February last, is the crowning act of infamy which has aroused them to a determination to resist all injustice and oppression, and to assert and forever maintain their rights and liberties in the Union and under the Constitution of the United States.

In considering matters that before us for action here, it is very difficult, but very important that we all realize the actual existence of war – civil war. We must not forget, sir, that we are now engaged in a struggle for the nation’s very existence, that our differences are not now being settled as heretofore at the ballot box, peacefully and quietly, but by the bayonet, and at the cannon’s mouth. You, sir, and I and every American citizen this day are parties to this struggle on one side of the other.

And when they took votes towards that end all through that summer of 1861 in Wheeling and Clarksburg, George Koonce (Koontz) was there in the proceedings casting his vote in the name of Jefferson County four times.

On June 20, 1863 WV was declared, with Jefferson County within its domain. A Union-controlled, wartime Jefferson County voted for admission into the new state, disallowing any voice votes of those who could not or would not first take the loyalty oath. The new state’s Governor accepted the published results and signed his concurrence stating that Jefferson County elected “by a substantial majority” to be part of West Virginia.

Koonce was back in Harper’s Ferry with his second wife — once the Union re-occupied the town in late July, 1861. But, he left again for Washington in early September as Lee’s large army crossed the Potomac starting his fateful Maryland Campaign climaxed with the bloodiest day, the battle of Antietam.

Wrote his wife Bettie Brittian Koonce  in her diary:

“Harper’s Ferry, Sept. 5th 1862. Friday – George left. After leaving him on the street, I went up on the Hill at the Powder House to see if I could see him go over the Ravine. After some time I thought I recognized but did not know whether it was or not, watched him with streaming eyes until I could see him no more. Came to the House. Had some trouble with soldiers who were at the Pear tree. Attended to my Household duties and went to my room between 8 and 9 o’clock – and shall I portray the agonies of the night- left alone, alone, alone to endure again those horrid hours of never easing pain, grief, and feelings that are understood but by those only that truly love and enjoy the society of the Husband;”

Koonce was able to be home regularly in the late fall of 1862 and thereafter, running his store in his new state – the one that he help to make – a state that outlawed handling and harming a fellow human being as if they were just property. Ever a challenge and a concern.

Following the war, Koonce became active in politics once again, serving as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates (1865-1867) and a member of the West Virginia Senate (1870-1871), running on the Radical ticket. He was also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Koonce died at 90 in Halltown, WVa, in 1908.

*****

The Correspondence of Bettie Brittian Koonce, September 1862:

Bettie Koonce was the second wife of George Koonce, who was a prominent resident of Jefferson county before, during, and after the Civil War.

In June 1861, Koonce represented Jefferson County at the Second Wheeling Convention to vote on the secession of western Virginia. Both George and Bettie were express Unionists, which was the minority in Jefferson County at the time. Following the war, Koonce served as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1865 to 1867 and a member of the West Virginia Senate from 1870-1871.

In September of 1862, George Koonce was away in Washington, D.C. for 16 days- being the same time that Confederate troops under Stonewall Jackson defeated the Union troops under the command of Colonel Dixon S. Miles in Harper’s Ferry. This battle was fought just before Sharpsburg and Antietam and was key in helping the Confederacy regain control of the B&O Railroad and the C&) Canal.

The letters here (just a few of the collection), attached to pictures, take the form of a diary and were written on letter paper with pro-Union sentiments. When George Koonce died in 1908, Bettie continued to support herself according to the 1910 census. She is remembered by her family as an artist, sculptor and musician, dying in 1920 at the age of 83.

Letter transcription and article courtesy of the Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society,December 2005

Bettie Koonce

Harper’s Ferry, Sept. 5th 1862. Friday – George left. After leaving him on the street, I went up on the Hill at the Powder House to see if I could see him go over the Ravine. After some time I thought I recognized but did not know whether it was or not, watched him with streaming eyes until I could see him no more. Came to the House. Had some trouble with soldiers who were at the Pear tree. Attended to my Household duties and went to my room between 8 and 9 o’clock – and shall I portray the agonies of the night- left alone, alone, alone to endure again those horrid hours of never easing pain, grief, and feelings that are understood but by those only that truely love and enjoy the society of the Husband; how much I need his protection. I cannot describe this feeling I have when he is gone – only as a dull aching void, it seems as if a part of my Body had been taken for a time, and I am yearning for its return, cannot possibly exist without it, and so secure did I feel in his affections that do as I would, he would be the last to censure. But, oh, he cannot but feel that he has avenged me. My God, strengthen me in this trying Hour; though I try to appear calm. Oh how I suffer- imprudent he may deem me, but how dear to my soul is the knowledge of my innocence even in thought, but I must cease writing for my feelings over power me; May he reach a place of safety will be my constant prayer.

12 o’clock —-

2 o’clock – how wretched. Oh I cannot sleep; it is a beautiful moonlight night; how I wish George was here.

The strange story of Harper’s Ferry, with legends of the surrounding country

by Barry, Joseph, 1828?-1905

Publication date 1903

Topics Harper’s Ferry (W. Va.) — History, Harper’s Ferry (W. Va.) — History John Brown’s Raid, 1859

Publisher Martinsburg, W. Va., Thompson brothers

https://archive.org/details/strangestoryofha00barr

Lewis, Virgil Anson. (1909), “How West Virginia was made. ; Proceedings of the first Convention of the people of northwestern Virginia at Wheeling, May 13, 14 and 15, 1861, and the journal of the second Convention of the people of northwestern Virginia at Wheeling, which assembled, June 11th 1861 …” [Charleston, W. Va. : News-Mail Co., Public Printer]

https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10797632_000/page/7/mode/2up?q=Wheeling+daily+intelligencer

Koontz listed as the delegate for Jefferson Cunty

pp. 79-80

https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10797632_000/page/84/mode/2up?q=Wheeling+daily+intelligencer&view=theater

Aug. 8 afternoon Koontz vote

pp. 192-193

https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10797632_000/page/198/mode/2up?q=Wheeling+daily+intelligencer&view=theater

Aug. 17th Koontz vote

pp. 276-277

https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10797632_000/page/198/mode/2up?q=Wheeling+daily+intelligencer&view=theater

Aug 20th Koontz

pp. 292-293

https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10797632_000/page/298/mode/2up?q=Wheeling+daily+intelligencer&view=theater

Aug. 20th again Koontz vote

pp. 294-295

https://archive.org/details/ldpd_10797632_000/page/300/mode/2up?q=Wheeling+daily+intelligencer&view=theater

p. 87

J.W. Paxton

Resolved That a the people of Northwestern Virginia have long and patiently borne the position of political inferiority forced upon them by unequal representation in the State Legislature and by unjust, oppressive and unequal – but that the so-called ordinance of secession, passed by the Convention, which met in Richmond on the 13th of February last, is the crowning act of infamy which has aroused them to a determination to resist all injustice and oppression, and to assert and forever maintain their rights and liberties in the Union and under the Constitution of the United States.

In considering matters that before us for action here, it is very difficult, but very important that we all realize the actual existence of war – civil war. We must not forget, sir, that we are now engaged in a struggle for the nation’s very existence, that our differences are not now being settled as heretofore at the ballot box, peacefully and quietly, but by the bayonet, and at the cannon’s mouth. You, sir, and I and every American citizen this day are parties to this struggle on one side of the other.

And when they took votes towards that end all through that summer of 1861 in Wheeling and Clarksburg, George Koonce (Koontz) was there in the proceedings casting his vote in the name of Jefferson County four times.

B&L Vol 1

John Imboden: 7 PM April 16th at Exchange Hotel organized by Henry Wise

agreed that a movement to capture Harper’s Ferry would begin the next day the 17th.

after midnight early the morning of the 17th went to Lethcher and woke him up. “arousing him from his bed” and warmly sought his support for their plan

p. 111

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/111/mode/1up?view=theater

About noon the 17th Alfred Barbour reached Harpers Ferry from Washington after submitting his resignation: collecting mechanics in groups and informing them that the place would be captured within 24 hours by Virginia troops. He urged them to ptoect the property and join the Southern cause. But Lieutenant Roger Jones commanding 45 men at once took measures to destroy the place

p. 117

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/117/mode/1up?view=theater

p. 124 image Roger Jones

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/111/mode/1up?view=theater

Roger Jones written remembrance of April 17th at the Ferry to the editors:

Finally, shortly after nine o’clock when troops from Halltown had advanced to within less than a mile from the armory – in time less than five minutes – the torch was applied, and before I could withdraw me men from the village two arsenal buildings with about 20,000  stand of rifles were ablaze. But very few arms were saved for the constantly recurring explosions of powder kept the crowd aloof. 

p. 125

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/125/mode/1up?view=theater

A committee, of which I was chairman, waited on Governor Letcher after midnight, and, arousing him from his bed, laid the scheme before him. He stated that he would take no step till officially informed that the ordinance of secession was passed by the convention. He was then asked if contingent upon the event he would next day order the movement by telegraph. He consented. On returning to the hotel and reporting Governor Letcher’s promise, it was decided to telegraph the captains of companies along the railroads mentioned to be ready next day for orders from the governor.

So we secured only the machinery and the gun and pistol barrels and locks, which, however, were sent to Richmond and Columbia, South Carolina, and were worked over into excellent arms.

Henry A. Wise

B&L Vol. 1

p. 138

https://archive.org/details/battlesleadersof01cent/page/138/mode/1up?view=theater

Dennis Frye – Rebels Set to Leave Harper’s Ferry – late May-early June 1861

889 words

VIDEO: Dennis Frye – Rebels Set to Leave Harper’s Ferry late May-early June 1861 TRT: 6:06.

Dennis Frye

Well, by the end of May, Harper’s Ferry had become one of the largest garrison, confederate positions in all the South. There were almost 10,000 men there under Colonel Jackson. Now, keep in mind that a transition is occurring in Virginia. Virginia is transitioning from the state of Virginia to the state of Virginia in the Confederate States of America. So, when Jefferson Davis and the confederate government arrive in Richmond and they look at the map and they see the Virginia forces and other confederate southern forces scattered along the Virginia frontier and they look at Harper’s Ferry. Jefferson Davis says: “We can’t have a colonel in charge there. We need a general there. We need someone there who has general’s credentials; even better, someone who was previously a general. So, he looks around in his cadre of men who had seceded from the United States Army and come south and he selects Joseph E. Johnston. Joseph E. Johnston, a former general in the United States Army outranked Robert E. Lee. Johnston is given his very first field assignment of the Civil War and it is Harper’s Ferry. So, on May the 23rd 1861, Johnston arrives in the town. Jackson himself hasn’t received the orders that placed Johnston in charge. So, a day or so goes by before the formal orders are communicated that Joe Johnston is here, now, to take command at Harper’s Ferry and represent the confederate leadership at Harper’s Ferry. Now, you’ll remember that Jackson determined to defend Harper’s Ferry with everything he had. He had sent troops to Maryland. He had occupied and fortified the heights. He was defending the railroad approaches. He was ready to make a stand there. Johnston arrives, spends a few days doing reconnaissance, reconnoitering around the Harper’s Ferry area. Of course, talking with Jackson, learning what Jackson had done and Johnston sends a message to Robert E. Lee in Virginia at Richmond and basically says: “I can’t hold this place. This place is indefensible. I can’t stay here,” – completely the opposite point of view of Thomas Jackson.

Now, Lee became alarmed because, remember, Lee had set up this defensive parameter around Richmond and Lee knew about the strategic importance of Harper’s Ferry. Remember, Lee had been in Harper’s Ferry during the John Brown raid. Lee had captured Brown with United States marines. Lee had helped escort Brown to Charlestown. He was familiar with the Shenandoah Valley. He knew about the importance of the valley. He knew about the proximity of the valley to Maryland and Pennsylvania and he knew that the Shenandoah Valley was a natural corridor of invasion for the United States forces. He also knew that Patterson was collecting an army in Hagerstown and was only about 10-12 miles from coming into the valley and invading Virginia. So, Lee felt that the defense of Harper’s Ferry was tantamount to the defense of Virginia. He must stand and hold and that’s what he said to Johnston. Well, Johnston just was relentless in his communications back to Richmond saying: “I’ve got to get out of here and then even went to the point where Lee said: “Look: if you leave Harper’s Ferry, it will be depressing to the cause of the South.” That’s exactly how Lee phrased it – “depressing to the cause of the South.” Basically, it would be the very first retreat of the confederate army and there’s no battle that’s even occurred. You see, Johnston’s thinking strategically, about moving somewhere else. Johnston wants to move from Harper’s Ferry to Winchester, deeper in the interior. He wants to lull the federal army into the valley and he believes that, because Winchester is a crossroads that also is a place where he can easily maneuver from one place to another. So, Johnston sees that army at Harper’s Ferry as an army that’s both defensive and offensive: one that can hold, but one that can move whereas; Jackson definitely saw his army only in a position of defense, holding the Harper’s Ferry area. Well, Lee still was very demanding that Harper’s Ferry be held. Johnston just refused to give up and he would say: “Is it not better to leave Harper’s Ferry and preserve the army, protect the army, than to make a stand here and possibly lose the army?” Well, eventually Lee was so exacerbated he couldn’t answer the question. So, he sent it all the way up to the highest authority of the confederate government: Jefferson Davis and Jefferson Davis wanted to hold Harper’s Ferry for the same reasons Lee did: to protect the Shenandoah Valley and to not have a psychological blow. But, even Jefferson Davis gave Johnston discretionary authority to retire, if he felt it necessary and it wasn’t because of Patterson – but (Patterson’s army) it was way out in the Ohio river area. As federal troops began to move into far northwestern Virginia where Johnston would use that as the excuse to abandon Harper’s Ferry and move his troops from Harper’s Ferry to Winchester. That would occur June 14-15, 1861. The rebel army would abandon Harper’s Ferry. So, the very first fight that was expected in the Harper’s Ferry region would not occur because Joe Johnston unilaterally moved his army to Winchester; and that then beckoned a new strategy by the federals. 889 words

1. Dr. Dawne Burke – May 27, 1861 Fortress Monroe – the “Contraband” Loophole

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VIDEO: Dr. Dawne Burke – May 27, 1861 Fortress Monroe – the “Contraband” Loophole
TRT: 15:38

Dr. Dawn Burke

On May 23 1861, General Charles K. Mallory, confederate general, loaned three of his slaves for a construction project for a confederate battery near Hampton, Virginia. Those three slaves, their names were Shepherd Mallory; they were Frank Baker and James Townsend. When the three slaves boarded the john boat on the river, they left with the intention of going to the construction site. Interestingly enough, the three slaves bypassed the construction site and crossed the Chesapeake Bay near Sewell’s Point in order to reach a peninsula stronghold which was known as Fortress Monroe. When the three slaves arrived at the stronghold at Fortress Monroe, they struck up a conversation with the picket guards who were guarding the fort. The guards reported the incident immediately to their newly assigned commander of the Department of Virginia, who was General Benjamin Franklin Butler.

General Butler, newly assigned to Fortress Monroe, was originally from Deerfield, New Hampshire. When he was five months old, his father died of yellow fever. Due to the economic circumstances at that time, he and his siblings were dispersed to other family members until such time as they could rejoin their mother in Lowell, Massachusetts where the mother at that time was operating a boarding house.

Butler had attended Colby College which was, at that time, referred to as Waterville College and he also wanted to attend West Point, but never did. Later on, in the civil war, the fact that he did not receive formal militaristic training may come back to haunt General Butler. However, Butler goes on to study law and become an attorney in Massachusetts and was accepted at the bar in Massachusetts in 1840.

Butler goes on to become a very successful criminal attorney. Butler was 5’4, he was

barrel-chested, had red hair and was also cross-eyed. So, I can only imagine how even by today’s standards General Butler, as a child, may have been what we refer to today as bullyated (sic). But it is his art of argument and critical thought process that would later come in handy at Fortress Monroe.

While back at Fortress Monroe, the three slaves – Butler consented to give them provisional and temporary aid for that night of May 23rd, told them that they could stay in the fort, and the following morning on May 24th, the three, at this point in time, they’re now fugitive slaves. They’re in direct violation of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, but Butler does give them audience. So, they are arraigned in front of Butler the following morning. The three slaves go on and proceed to tell General Butler that the reason why they bypassed the work site that they were to attend to was because they were going to be sold down south.

Now during that time period, the Civil War scholar in California, Kenneth Stamp wrote “That Peculiar Institution” and, in his book, he states that the state of Virginia and the state of South Carolina had a nice little domestic slave trade operation ongoing. So, the slaves were being bred in the state of Virginia and then they were being shipped down south to work in the fields in South Carolina. That is of particular note for us here in this region of the Shenandoah valley, given the fact that those slaves were brought to this county. Jefferson county, Virginia, at that time, and they were held here in this county until such time as they were loaded into boxcars and shipped south for those labor fields. So, Butler hears their story. He is probably a little bit sympathetic. Just as he’s having this conversation with the three slaves, Butler is interrupted by one of his staff officers who claims that there is someone standing outside the fort who claims to be Major John B. Cary, who is a confederate major and he is coming to Fortress Monroe in order to talk to General Butler about these three slaves because General Mallory would like to have his property back. Acting as Mallory’s proxy this major begins to have this, probably, a heated discussion with General Butler about these three slaves and Butler rightly tells him – now here’s the point at which Butler’s legalistic mind and argumentative acumen comes into play: Butler turns to Cary and he says: “I am under no obligation to honor this request promptly because,” and Butler goes on to name four reasons why it is he refuses to turn the slaves back over to the confederate.

He says:  “Just last week on May 17th (ratified May 23, 1861-ED), the state of Virginia decided to secede from the union. That, then, clearly makes the statement that Virginia sees itself as an autonomous state sovereignty. As such, the third point is: you’re in direct violation of the United States Constitution and then Virginia” (proceeds to the fourth point he makes is) “you have formed an illegal coalition with other confederate states.”

The argument that Butler creates says very clearly to the major that Butler views both Mallory and Cary and this whole incident, there is enemy collusion in General Butler’s mind. So, Butler then goes on to proclaim that the Old Dominion, then, is a foreign body on federal soil. So, he intends to then treat this incident, as such, that they are now – Virginia is a foreign body in due process of federal occupation. So, then Butler very sagaciously – his word choice here is so very, very, very important – he refers to the slaves, not as property to be returned – and Butler assuredly was not going to remand those slaves to the welfare or aid of any foreign entity, but he refers to those slaves as “contraband of war.” Now, this is very important – his word choice is extremely important here. Because of his word choice at that moment in time, the positive social fallout from that, the positive social trends that would follow – that the essence of the use of that term here, particularly in the lower Shenandoah valley, is very important, the culmination of those events up to that point.

The three fugitive slaves, in combination with General Butler’s response to Major Cary, really is a pivotal point and I argue that in my book entitled in “American Phoenix” that Butler’s critical legalistic abilities at that time came together so that he could create an effective argument with the confederates.

So, the combination of those events: the following morning when Butler awakes, he wakes up to such numbers – exponential numbers of slaves, runaways, freedmen, vagabonds who were seeking sustenance and protection at Fortress Monroe.

I can’t imagine what it might be like for us to go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow morning and when we look out the window of our homes, we would see people just standing all around in mass numbers – 10, 12 as much as probably 75 feet deep – you know? – they were coming and gathering around the fort (and) had been coming all night long through the night.

Because of this situation and these circumstances and Butler is also still confronted with this issue of property. He dispatches several messengers to Washington D.C to get the opinion and directives from his supervisors. Butler had been deferred. He was not getting a response.

So, because of this, he did receive some immediate aid from an organization that was organized in Albany, New York in 1846 (that) called itself the American Missionary Association. Now, there were several organizations that were helping during this war effort. The American Missionary Association was one. There was the United States Christian Commission, the United States Sanitation Commission, but it’s the AMA that responds to General Butler’s request.

The AMA having been organized in ’46 was automatically for the elimination of slavery. This organization was also for education educating the dispossessed and the disenfranchised the organization also worked for the promotion of civility and most assuredly for the dissemination of Christian values.

The AMA is responsible for either directly founding or assisting with the founding of over 500 colleges and universities throughout the United States, some of which are Hampton Institute, Atlanta, Dillard, Talladega, just to mention a few. They also, with the help of the Freedmen’s Bureau – and they often worked in concert also with the Freedmen’s Bureau – they also founded Howard University in our nation’s capital. Howard University was named for General Oliver Otis Howard because it was General Howard that directly managed the operations for all of the activities of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

So, consequently, when the AMA arrives back at Fortress Monroe, they hear Butler’s call and they answer that call. Counted among their numbers was a New England denomination commonly and collectively referred to as New Lights and or, Separatist and or, Free Wills.

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2. Dr. Dawne Burke Discusses the 2 Awakenings and George Whitefield

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VIDEO: Dr. Burke on the 2 Great Awakening and George Whitfield TRT: 9:35

Dr. Dawne Burke author “American Phoenix”

In this four-part series, we learned that General Benjamin Franklin Butler refused to remand the fugitive slaves to General Mallory in Virginia in 1861. Virginia was, at that time, in General Butler’s mind considered to be a foreign entity, having chosen to secede from the Union. To understand the contributions of the New Light Separatist Free Wills that came to the help and aid of General Butler through and with the American Missionary Association during the time when Butler would have had this property dispute with the fugitive slaves and General Mallory, the American Missionary Association came to the valley to help General Butler with the mass exodus of slaves. The slaves were coming overnight and so General Butler really needed some help with clean water, with helping house slaves, and provide food and sustenance for them. But in order to understand how it was the Free Will Baptist viewed the circumstances at that time, we need to understand the larger theological discourse that was associated with that period in time.

The Great Awakening, as it was called or the First Great Awakening, with the implication that there would be a Second Awakening as there was, but the First Great Awakening was really a movement to arouse people from their states of complacency. You see, on the Baptist continent, the Age of Enlightenment and Age of . .Reason were the back wave of that was flowing across the Atlantic ocean to colonial America. Among Baptist and American colonial protestants then there was an awakening movement ongoing. This awakening was really steeped in revivalism. Revivalism was understood in the context of what had happened in prior centuries, meaning that early monks who would have had duties and church responsibilities, they were on a mission to encourage and build physical structures, such as churches whereby congregations could be organized. Some of the characteristics of the Great Awakening would have been a detachment from church polity, a detachment from church – I guess, more or less, what I want to say is a detachment from the formalities that, up until that time, had been associated with church. Also, there was an interest in self-introspection (that) was incorporated at this time. So, we have the old Revivalist and the new Revivalist, much like the old Lights and new Lights and just as Newton’s third law predicts one is an equal and opposite reaction or response to the other. So this theological evolutionary process is ongoing as a result of the Age of Enlightenment on the Baptist continent where it started; but then was brought across the Atlantic ocean.

An Anglican minister had arrived on the scene in colonial America. This Anglican minister was most recognized for his speaking abilities. He was very persuasive. This preacher’s name was George Whitefield.

George Whitefield was quite persuasive. Even his own biographer, Arnold Dallimore, says that in his hometown Whitefield is a British citizen and he comes to colonial America to bring this these notions of enlightenment through this Great Awakening to arouse people from their complacency.

But Arnold Dallimore says that when London’s population was nearing 700,000, that Whitefield himself had the capacity to keep spellbound 20,000 people in a single audience. Well, George Whitefield was one of the first itinerant ministers. Now, what I mean by itinerant is Whitefield believed that all the world was his parish house. Now during this – Whitefield’s kind of a bridge character between the First Awakening and the Second Awakening and during the First Awakening, the concentration was with forming a church membership inside the church. They were building within. But when the Second Awakening comes along, they’re moving outside of the church, to work toward non-members to convert people who may not have had the ability to make it to a formal church structure, to belong to a certain religious sect. So, Whitefield as an itinerant minister preacher he is able to move from town-to-town, from village-to-village and he does not have to acquire the approval of the church officials. He doesn’t have to ask their permission. So, Whitefield is quite popular. He was perhaps the most recognized by name and understood to be the most elite of these itinerant ministers. He was in today’s terms he was truly a celebrity.

Whitefield was known for his theological elocution and discourse. He over-enunciated and was quite charismatic. It’s interesting – a sidebar here if I may – Whitefield, too, as we heard in the first segment: General Butler was cross-eyed. So is George Whitefield and Whitefield has such a capacity to imbue an audience with such spirituality that what he would do, prior to speaking in any town or village, Whitefield would send men in advance to disseminate broadsides.

Even his own sermons were published in local newspapers. He was quite popular, even our own Benjamin Franklin for whom I might say that Benjamin Franklin Butler was named.

Franklin being on the Baptist continent, having been ambassador to France, was aware of this enlightenment and this idea of critical reasoning and logical applications and critical questioning.

Benjamin Franklin was quite the skeptic when he heard that George Whitefield was arriving in Philadelphia. Nonetheless, Franklin gathered himself together and went downtown to the where Whitefield was speaking in order to make his own observations, to scrutinize this media event.

As Franklin was standing there, it is interesting historians report that Franklin came up with a mathematical theory, whereby he could calculate the number of people standing in a square foot and then project the audience population where Whitefield was speaking.

Franklin was most impressed by George Whitefield. I would imagine it would have been quite hard to impress Dr. Franklin.

So, Whitefield is moving around through the American colonies. He crossed the Atlantic 13 times with seven of those trips, specifically designated for colonial America. During one of those Atlantic crossings, he headed toward New Hampshire. While Whitefield is speaking in New Hampshire, there is a young gentleman standing in the audience who, too, was a skeptic of Whitefield, but was quite captivated by Whitefield’s even state of presence, as Whitefield stood atop a tree stump to speak to this audience. That young gentleman’s name was Benjamin Randall. Benjamin Randall is a part of this New Light Separatist development that is ongoing. However, Randall has issue with the idea of infant baptism and then additionally with predestination. So Randall confronts and challenges the idea of predestination. 1139 words

Dallimore, Arnold A. (1980). George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival. Vol. II. Edinburgh or Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust.

Dallimore, Arnold A. (2010) [1990]. George Whitefield: God’s Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Enlightened Century. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books.

3. Dr. Dawne Burke: Benjamin Randal(l) and The Free Will Baptists’ Impact on Civil War in Virginia

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VIDEO: Dr. Dawne Burke – Benjamin Randall and The Free Will Baptists’ Impact on Civil War in Virginia TRT: TRT: 4:44

Dr. Dawne Burke author of “American Phoenix”

After Benjamin Randall hears Whitefield – Randall has been a part of this New Light Separatist development, he has a difference with the concepts of infant baptism and predestination. Benjamin Randall, because of this new enlightenment, this idea of asking empirical intellectual and rational questions – Benjamin Randall goes on to make the following statement. I’d like to read it in its entirety.

Randall says: “Yet good men of different persuasions, have different views of the meaning of the scriptures, and are naturally apt to put such construction on them as will best serve their favorite systems, and promote their favorite objects. The partisans of all denominations proclaim that the scriptures are in unison with their doctrines and go so far as to convince the general public by any mode of allegation without any regard to their connections, put them in such order as to make them appear to prove some daring doctrine which they may affect to hold under any pretext whatever, they will even dare to affirm that all the bible goes to prove their system.”

So, we see where Benjamin Randall, the founder of what now I’m going to refer to in this segment – the remainder of this segment and the next segment – the Free Will Baptists, he has issues with infant baptism and predestination.  Randall’s critical questioning prompts him to think of salvation as an artificial cycle. At that time, there was penitence; there was confession, atonement, redemption, and salvation. In Randall’s mind, “if we are predestined to heaven or hell, why affect the effort to move through the five stations of salvation?”

So, Randall – it’s at this point in time that Randall and the Free Will Baptists understand that choice and free will are concepts to be understood from a deeper dimension, meaning that a God consciousness would have provided the idea of choice and free will. So, that we as Christians can actually affect our potentiality while also realizing its utility.

So, the Free Will Baptists arrived with the American Missionary Association at Fortress Monroe, and they helped General Butler. It’s this humanitarian denomination that is predisposed in toward these universal values of choice and free will. In the next segment, I discuss how it is that the Free Will Baptists’ influence these concepts of choice and free will. They influence the social trends here in the lower Shenandoah valley. As one Free Will Baptist wrote, particularly after General Butler’s quote happy “application” of the word “contraband” unquote. 417 words

Benjamin Randall portrait- Internet Archive- from Life and Influence of the Rev. Benjamin Randall by Frederick L. Wiley
frontispiece
https://archive.org/details/lifeinfluenceofr00wile

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Randall#Break_with_Calvinism

Buzzell, John, (1827).”The Life of Elder Benjamin Randal: principally taken from documents written by himself
Limerick [Me.] : Hobbs, Woodman & Cco.
pp. 90-91
https://archive.org/details/lifeofelderbenja00buzz