Benjamin Franklin Gravely to Christopher Yancy Thomas, April 19, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, 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. Governor John Letcher and the governors of most of the other Southern states, except Maryland Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks, refused to comply with Lincoln's request. Benjamin Franklin Gravely, of Henry County, en route to Baltimore, advised Christopher Yancy Thomas, a member of the Senate of Virginia and the brother-in-law of his uncle, Peyton Gravely, to arrange for Union men to take command of the volunteers from the county. "Whatever may have been the differences of Opinion existing heretofore," he wrote, "as to the course to be pursued, in reference to our unfortunate political complications, there now seems to be but one Opinion, and that is resistance to Lincolns war policy." Gravely included in his letter a considerable amount of misinformation that was then circulating, but his information about violence in Maryland was generally accurate. He probably did not yet know that the Virginia Convention had voted for secession on April 17, 1861.