Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/470

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

itary Academy at West Point until 1855, when he was promoted and assigned to the Second Cavalry, under Col. Albert Sidney Johnston. He was engaged with this regiment fighting the Indians on the frontier of Texas and Mexico from 1856 to 1861, except that in October, 1859, he was temporarily at Washington during the John Brown raid at Harpers Ferry, and was sent by the President to suppress that movement, a duty promptly discharged by him. He was in command of the Department of Texas in 1860-61, when the Southern States began to secede from the Union, and was called to Washington about the date of the inauguration of President Lincoln. When it became known that war was to follow, he was offered high position in the United States Army, and was the choice of General Scott for the chief command. When told by a prominent gentleman, who was speaking for the President, that he could have the command of the Army, he replied that, "though opposed to secession and deprecating war, he would take no part in the invasion of the Southern States." Promptly — that is, within three days — after his State, Virginia, passed her ordinance of secession, he resigned his commission in the Army, as he said he felt conscientiously bound by the act of his State. In a letter to his sister, written then, he said: "We are now in a state of war which will yield to nothing. The whole South is in a state of revolution into which Virginia, after a long struggle, has been drawn; and though I recognize no necessity for this state of things, and would have forborne and pleaded to the end for the redress of grievances, real or supposed, yet in my own person I had to meet the question whether I should take part against my native State. With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and, save in defense of my native State — with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed — I hope I may never be called upon to draw my sword."

April 23, 1861, he was made commander in chief of the Virginia State forces, and began the work of organization for the State's defense. On April 25 he said: "No earthly power would give me as much pleasure as to restore peace to my country, but I fear it is now out of the power of man, and in God alone must be our