Roxbury Norfolk County Journal, June 1, 1861
It seems evident now that, if fighting begins at all at present, it must be upon the soil of Virginia. This is both fitting and fortunate,—fitting, because by its meanness and treachery this State has richly deserved to encounter war's devastation and horrors;—fortunate, because under no circumstances could government better avail itself of its own resources than in this locality.
Virginia has had it in her power, from the first, if not to avert the war altogether, at least to make its continuance of shorter duration and its strife less deadly. When she first declared for the Union, insincere and deceptive as was her attitude, the North chose not to question the honesty of her intentions. It made haste to give her credit for patriotism and sisterly devotion; deferred to her wishes more than once against its better judgment; and met her in convention at her own suggestion on her own terms. Every thing was done in this convention that could be done to conciliate her. One of her own sons was made its president; she had more than the weight that her population and strength entitled her to in its counsels; no act of deference or courtesy was omitted to be shown her opinions and wishes.
Yet through the whole of these proceedings, she was false and hollowhearted.—With fair intentions on the lips of the men whom she sent to consult with the North, she was really colluding, all the time, with Southern traitors. Her politicians never meant to continue in the Union on terms which the other section could with honor accept. They had no intention of perpetuating the government on the basis of the constitution made by the fathers. They went into consultation with our delegates solely in the interest of the seceded States—to force the North into humiliating concessions, if possible, but, if this could not be accomplished, by a deceptive attitude, made up of false professions of loyalty, to gain time for the rebels and traitors whose voluntary tools they were, to perfect the nefarious designs they were fostering.
In this they succeeded all too well. But the time came when the mask could be worn no longer. When it did arrive, Virginia was found to be one of the most malignant, bitter, and unscrupulous of the band of traitors. She has surrendered the control of her public affairs into the hands of the most violent and disloyal of her sons; she has shut the mouth of every friend of the Union in her eastern section, and only lacks the power—to establish a reign of terror in her western borders; she has stolen the national property and assaulted the national flag every where within her limits; and finally she has invited the concentration on her soil of the main army of the rebels for the purpose of assailing the nation in the seat of government itself.
Under these circumstances, no true patriot will regret the fate which seems impending over her. If the blow must fall any where, surely here will it fall most fittingly. And judgment is to be executed speedily.—The rebel forces have already rioted upon her soil, and ate out her substance. But this is but the beginning of her woes. She is soon to know what it is to become the theatre of actual conflict. Her fields are to be trampled by armed squadrons; her land is to be ploughed with cannon; her industry is to be paralyzed; her animated property is to be confiscated; her people are to flee in terror before the hosts which are set among them in deadly conflict. All the necessary and terrible concomitants of war are to be felt within her borders. She is to writhe under a scourge from which a whole generation will scarcely afford her time to recover.
This fate she has brought upon herself. The General Government wished not her injury in the slightest feature. She had it in her power to avert each and all of these calamities. But her heart was set for rebellion, and she has invoked upon her head the penalty.
The advantages to the government, in beginning the contest here, are too obvious to need pointing out. The climate of Virginia is more favorable than any other portion of country in rebellion; the State is traversed by railroads communicating with the base of its operations; it stands in the nearest possible contiguity to our own sources of supply; it has an extended seacoast to give access to our vessels; and we hold, with an ample and reliable garrison, its single great fortification. What Southern troops are sent there seem almost given into our hands, if anything like an energetic course is pursued by the government. So palpable are these advantages, that it is probable Jeff. Davis would never have invited the conflict here, had it not been to transfer the horrors of war from his own immediate neighborhood. It is only a continuation of the plan of which the State has all along been a willing dupe and victim. The rebels are using poor, degenerated, fallen Virginia, to the ruin of her fame and her material prosperity, in every stage of the contest.