“The reign of terror in Loudoun, Va.”
The following comes from the July 24, 1861 issue of Hagerstown, Maryland’s Herald of Freedom and Torch Light:
A gentleman from Waterford, Loudoun county, Virginia, of a party of twelve Union men who escaped across the Potomac on Sunday night and reached here yesterday, represents the reign of terror in that county as unprecedented. The Union men are largely in the majority, but are totally unarmed and defenceless, and were all to be drafted in the militia yesterday by order of Gov. Letcher, and sent to Manassas. The river is closely guarded by pickets to prevent their escape, and a party of fifty were driven back on Saturday.
The party with which our informant crossed came over an old abandoned ford below the Point of Rocks, the existence of which was not generally known, and were each armed with such weapons as they could procure, determined to resist to the death.
Immediately on crossing they were arrested by the Federal pickets, and marched to the camp, much to their gratification, assuring them that they were just where they wanted to be. The[y] were well received, and furnished with provisions, and made as comfortable as possible. Passes were then given them, and a portion proceeded to join friends in Washington, whiles others came to Baltimore.
The people of Loudoun are not allowed to know what is going on in the country except through Secession sources, all newspapers being vigorously excluded from them. They have been robbed of the produce of their farms, and many hundreds of them would have made their escape long since were it not for the daily hope they entertained of being relieved of their oppresions by the arrival of Federal troops.
The election on the Secession ordinance is represented to have been a farce. A regiment from South Carolina was in the county on that day and the members voted, whilst the Secessionists voted as they choosed. it would have been at the risk of life for the Union men generally to have turned out, though they brought up a few to vote to make it appear that that there was no restriction upon Union voters.
The drafting for the militia that was progressing embraced every one that was able arms, including members of the Society of Friends and those known to be devoted Union men. The “coercion” principle was being carried out by the anti-coercionists to its fullest extent.