Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 21, 1862 (Saturday): Subduing Fairfax and Loudon

General James S. Wadsworth

June 21, 1862. 

Captain S. P. REMINGTON, Scott's Cavalry.
    SIR: You will proceed with your command to the north part of Fairfax County and Loudon County, and having carefully ascertained the names and residences of the leading secessionists you will seize their horses and mules to the number of 100. You will not take the horse or any Union man, and when you are in doubt as to the loyalty of a citizens you will not disturb his property. You will avoid taking the property of families in reduced circumstances, and unless in the case of a disloyal citizens of ample means you will not take all the horses belonging to the family.
    You will arrest any of the justices who recently met with General Asa Rogers to hold a county court whom you may meet with. You will procure your subsistence from disloyal citizens. You will keep a careful record of your proceedings and report to these headquarters on your return.

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series II., Vol. 4, Part 1, Page 50.

Wadsworth might have argued he was not violating Articles III and IV of the Constitution since Virginia was in rebellion.  But, according to the theory under which war was being waged, Virginia remained a state and Virginians would have been entitled to all of the Constitution's protections.  Such was the nature of this most peculiar war.  In 1863 the Lieber Code would codify the most aggressive aspects of the Union war effort regarding civilians.  Prior to this date, such questions were dealt with largely at the discretion of individual commanders.

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