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Civil War Begins

Union or Secession
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  • John P. Pleasants and Sons to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, May 13, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "We are now short of Cash"
  • Samuel Ayres and Son to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, May 18, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "No more licorice"
  • <em>Charleston (S.C.) Mercury</em>, June 1, 1861, reprinting two paragraphs from the lost issue of the Norfolk <em>Argus</em>, May 31, 1861.,
    "Federal troops marched into Hampton"
  • Two paragraphs from a lost issue of the Woodstock <em>Tenth Legion</em>, printed in Harrisonburg <em>Rockingham Register</em>, June 7, 1861.,
    "Virginia Invaded"
  • <em>Staunton Vindicator</em>, June 7, 1861.,
    "Our North Western border"
  • Article reprinted from the <em>Staunton Spectator</em> in the <em>Warrenton Flag of '98</em>, June 27, 1861.,
    "The heroic conduct of these ladies"
  • Pattie B. Cowles to George S. Bernard, June 28, 1861, George S. Bernard Papers, Acc. 31760, Library of Virginia.,
    "You are subject to all these hardships"
  • Christopher. L. Wingfield to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, July 8, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "We have commenced drilling"
  • Unsigned letter to the editor, dated at Clarksville on July 14, 1861, and printed in the Clarksville <em>Tobacco Plant</em>, July 19, 1861.,
    "A capital fortification"
  • "Fight at Bull Run,"  1861, Broadside, 1861 .F47 FF, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.,
    Sanguinary battle at Bull Run
  • William T. Sutherlin to Benjamin Franklin Gravely, July 22, 1861, Gravely Family Papers, Acc. 34126, Library of Virginia.,
    "We have at great cost won a victory at Manassas"
  • "In Memory of William E. Woodward. . . .," 1861, Broadside, 1861 .I35 FF, Special Collections, Library of Virginia.,
    In Memory of William E. Woodward
  • Leesburg <em>Democratic Mirror</em>, July 23, 1861.,
    "The Yankees Repulsed and Driven From the Field"
  • Governor Francis H. Pierpont to President Abraham Lincoln, September 3, 1861, Letter Book (1861–1864), 31–32, Executive Papers of Governor Francis H. Pierpont, 1861–1865, Acc. 36928, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.,
    To call out the militia in West Virginia
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Civil War Begins

On April 19, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that created a naval blockade of the ports of states that had seceded, and on April 27 he extended the proclamation to include Virginia and North Carolina. One of the stated purposes was to enforce federal revenue laws in the Southern ports, but the principal purpose was to stop trade between those ports and foreign nations and to capture or sink ships of war employing Southern ports as bases for action against the United States or the commerce of its citizens.

United States Army troops reinforced Fort Monroe, at the mouth of Hampton Roads, on May 22, 1861, and a few days later took possession of the city of Alexandria, near Washington, D.C. On June 3, Virginia volunteers fought a small battle against Ohio and Indiana volunteers in Philippi, in Barbour County. The defeated Virginians fled the scene, earning the engagement the nickname of the Philippi Races. Six days later at Bethel Church, near Newport News in eastern Virginia, another and larger battle took place, and during the remainder of June several other engagements occurred in Virginia.

The first large battle in western Virginia took place on July 11 at Rich Mountain, as the state's defense forces unsuccessfully attempted to secure the northwestern portion of the state from the United States Army. The largest battle during the first months of the war took place on July 21, 1861, the day after the Provisional Confederate Congress first met in the Capitol in Richmond. At the Manassas railroad junction in northeastern Virginia, a large and highly motivated army of Confederates routed a large and poorly organized Union army, which fled back toward Washington, D.C., in a panic. The First Battle of Manassas, also known as the First Battle of Bull Run, demonstrated that the sectional division would not be settled by one quick battlefield victory.

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