William Mahone to Governor John Letcher, January 2, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.
On January 2, 1861, railroad president William Mahone, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, offered his services to Governor John Letcher in the event that "the honor of Virginia is likely to call her Sons to arms." Mahone wrote from Norfolk, "I am not anxious to engage in any Conflict of arms," but " I shall be ready at your summons." Two days later the governor noted on the back of the letter, "Return Mahone thanks for his tender of service." Mahone was the founder of what later became the Norfolk and Western Railroad and served as a brigadier general during the Civil War.