The Civil War, Day by Day

General J.E.B. Stuart

Virginia Secedes

It was the scene of more than half of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the state with the highest white population in the Confederacy, the home of the Confederate capital (Richmond), and the native state of General Robert E. Lee.

Before the war began, Virginia had originally favored compromise. When the slavery issue began to seriously threaten the Union, Virginia’s Governor John Letcher said, “it is monstrous to see a government like ours destroyed merely because men cannot agree about a domestic institution.”

Lee had also hoped for a peaceful solution to the conflict between the states. A Lieutenant Colonel with an outstanding reputation, Lee was offered the command of the entire Union Army…but resigned to join the Confederacy as head of the Virginia armed forces. Saddened that the nation was torn apart by war, Lee made this decision strictly out of loyalty to his home state. However, his loyalty was not shared by the state’s western region, which moved to establish the separate state of West Virginia.

Despite this division within its boundaries, Virginia was a significant gain for the Confederacy - and a devastating loss to the Union in its time of greatest need.

Mort Künstler painted this portrait of General J.E.B. Stuart, a Virginian, in front of the Virginia flag.

May's Archived Features:

Monday May 1, 2023
Tuesday May 2, 2023
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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.