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Roane County, WV

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The Civil War in Spencer

Written by Dr. John Hildreth, edited by Jim McCulty

This account is primarily taken from:
Mylott, James P. (1984) "A Measure of Prosperity, A History of Roane County" Mountain State Press, Charleston, WV,1984.

Additional information was obtained from:
Bishop, William H. (1927) "History of Roane County West Virginia" 1927.

H. H. Hardesty (1884) "Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia" H. H. Hardesty & Co., New York, 1884

"The Civil War Battlefield Guide, Second Edition" Frances Kennedy ed., Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1998.

A majority of the delegates to the Virginia General Assembly considered themselves loyal to the Union when it convened in January 1861 and believed a compromise could be reached to save the Union. A committee was formed and tasked with opening negotiations between the Federal Government and the Confederate States. However, President Lincoln refused to acknowledge any legitimacy of the Confederate States. This, coupled with the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 and the Union's forceful response, caused many delegates to shift loyalty.

Virginia Governor Letcher summoned a special convention in February 1861, and on April 18, 1861, four days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, a Secession Ordinance was approved. In accordance with the Virginia State Constitution, the ordinance was to be approved by the voters before taking effect. A statewide election was scheduled for May 23, 1861.

Upon approval of the Secession Ordinance by the Virginia General Assembly, the pro-Union leaders in northwestern Virginia met in April at Clarksburg to denounce the secessionist movement and initiate separation of western Virginia, forming a new, pro Union state. A call was issued to Unionists in the area to attend what later became known as the First Wheeling Convention to be held on May 13-15, 1861, to organize opposition to the secessionist movement. Plans were made for a Second Wheeling Convention in the event secession was approved, as anticipated.