GRAFTON, VA., May 16, 1861.
Colonel R. S. GARNETT,
Adjutant-General Virginia Army, Richmond, Va.:
COLONEL: In my last report I stated that I would first get possession of the arms consigned to Major Goff, and then try to collect a force and occupy this place. I accordingly sent a messenger to Major Goff, at Beverly, about fifty miles distant, and proceeded to ascertain what force I could get, its condition, and the sentiment of the people in the counties of Taylor, Barbour, and Harrison. I also sent orders to the captains of companies, supposed to be armed, in the surrounding counties, to bring their companies immediately to a designated point, near Grafton, and there await my orders. The messenger from Beverly returned with the reply that nothing had been heard of the rifles, nor had Major Goff been informed that they were to be sent to him. This is a serious disappointment. Several companies in this vicinity are organizing and expecting to be furnished at once with arms and ammunition. I found a company organizing at Pruntytown, in this county, which will be ready to receive arms in a day or so. There is another at Philippi, in Barbour County, awaiting arms, and another in Clarksburg which will soon be ready. I have seen the officers of these companies. There are other companies forming in the surrounding counties, but all without arms and uniformed. This force, when received, will not for some months be more effective than undisciplined militia. There are but two companies in this vicinity known to be armed. One of these, Captain Bogges', at Weston, about forty-five miles distant, had the old flint-lock musket, in bad order, and no ammunition. The other, Captain Thompson's, at Fairmont, twenty miles from this place, has a better gun, and some ammunition. These companies are now marching towards this point; are ordered to do so, at least. This is the only force on which I have to depend, and it is very weak, compared with the strength of those in this section who, I am assured, are ready to oppose me.
I have found great diversity of opinion and much bitterness of feeling among the people of this region. They are apparently upon the verge of civil war. A few bad men have done much mischief by stirring up rebellion among the people, and representing to them the weakness of the State, and its inability or indisposition to protect them, the power of the Government at Washington, and their willingness to give any aid required to resist the State authorities. I am too credibly informed to entertain doubt that they have been and will be supplied with the means of resistance. They and their accomplices have also threatened the property and persons of law-abiding citizens with fire and the sword. Their efforts to intimidate have had their effect, both to dishearten one party and encourage the other. Many good citizens have been dispirited, while traitors have seized the guns and ammunition of the State, to be used against its authority. Arms in the hands of disbanded volunteer companies have been retained for the same avowed purpose. The force in this section will need the best rifles. Those at Harper's Ferry, which not be the same use for the bayonet in these hills as elsewhere, and the movements should be of light infantry and rifle, although the bayonet, of course, would be desirable.
I have the honor to be, yours, very respectfully,
GEORGE A. PORTERFIELD,
Colonel, Virginia Volunteers.