"At the Service of the State"
Daily Richmond Enquirer, April 18, 1861.
Militia companies in many parts of Virginia formed or reorganized following John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859. In the spring of 1861 many of them mustered and offered their services to the governor in the event Virginia seceded and civil war began. During the latter half of April and early in May 1861, Governor John Letcher also received several offers from owners to slaves to allow enslaved laborers to be employed in defensive work, and some reports circulated in the press that free African Americans were also willing to take part in defending Virginia in the event of civil war.