First Federal Occupation of Winchester Broadside
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Broadside describing the first occupation of Winchester, Virginia, during the Civil War. [CIVIL WAR].
Broadside, signed in type by Colonel William D. Lewis, Winchester, Virginia, April 17, 1862, 1 p. 12½ x 11 in.
Commander of the Post,
Winchester, Va., April 17, 1862.
CITIZENS OF WINCHESTER:
Upon me has devolved the duty of commanding this Post. My wish and my duty is to afford you all the liberty and protection, due to fellow citizens. The Government I represent, is the same our forefathers established to form a more perfect Union. . . promote the general welfare and secure to us and our posterity, the blessing of Liberty. We mean truly to represent its impartial Justice.
But no one can expect the privileges of a citizen and behave as an enemy. No one can expect kindness . . . who does not extend it to others.
Citizens are reminded that the troops now stationed here, are those of their own Government, and are lawfully here on their country’s soil. . . they are here for the protection of their fellow citizens and for the prosecution of their Country’s Enemies the ‘Rebels.’ Those persons Male or Female engaged in circulating flying rumors and creating false excitements are particularly warned.
Our soldiers are to support the Rights of all, and were I to permit flying reports and insulting remarks to be made the means of mischief, annoyance and insult to the service or its servants, they would provoke retaliations and lead to much useless suffering.
I trust, Fellow Citizens, you will understand and appreciate the justice of these principles, and by your conduct obviate the necessity for harsh measures”
Colonel William D. Lewis issues a warning to the citizens of Winchester, Virginia, imploring them to submit to his occupation or face “harsh measures.” This was the first official occupation of a town that would change hands nearly seventy times during the war. Union General Nathaniel Banks entered the Shenandoah Valley in March 1862, occupied Winchester on March 12 and defeated the Confederates at the battle of Kernstown on March 23. On May 25 Union forces were defeated by Stonewall Jackson at the first battle of Winchester and forced to withdraw from the town towards Harper’s Ferry, thus ending the first Federal occupation of Winchester.