Robert Johnston to Governor John Letcher, May 9, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.
Robert Johnston, of Clarksburg in Harrison County, reported to the governor from the western mountains on May 9, 1861, on "a wide spread and earnest movement here to detach North Western Va from the other part of the State." Johnston wrote, "We have formed and organized a Volunteer Company here but are without arms, Uniforms &c.," in part because "The old companies have almost all been broken up by party differences." In Harrison County in February 1861, the voters had elected two opponents of secession to represent them in the Virginia Convention, and in the May 23 referendum on secession 614 voted for secession and 1,691 voted against. Johnston advised the governor to provide for the defense of politically divided western Virginia where, he wrote, "Our intercourse is almost entirely with the West and the North, we have none with the Central and eastern portions of Virginia. We are not Slaveholders, many of us are of Northern birth, We read almost exclusively Northern newspapers and books, and listen to Northern preachers."