Arrest of a Militia Officer – An Indignant Virginian.
One of the persons arrested at Charlestown on Friday for venturing within the lines, turned out to be Colonel Baylor, the very man who commanded the Harper’s Ferry militia in the attack against Brown. He was highly incensed at the indignity, and when the officer of the guard learned who he was, and directed that he should be set at liberty, he declined to take his liberty, and insisted upon being brought to headquarters, and on receiving from the General a written order of discharge, his indignation found vent in a very free and open expression of his private sentiments in regard to the whole military array. He denounced it as a disunion movement, got up, by Henry A. Wise, who wanted to be President of a Southern Confederacy. “It is a vile political scheme,” said he, “to destroy this Union. The command is given to a near relative of Wise’s; many of the officers are related to him, and nine out of every ten men here are his political supporters. The object is to increase the excitement.
“After I was superseded in command, he told me to hold myself in readiness for orders. I answered that I would hold myself in readiness to obey Gov. Letcher’s orders, but not his. He could not deprive me of my commission, except by court martialing me, and that he dare not do.”
I do not pretend to give Colonel Baylor’s precise language, but I give the substance of it. He appeared to be considerably excited, and said that though there were more slaves owned by his family than by any other in Virginia, he would rather that slaves, and John Brown and all should escape, than that this Union should be destroyed. His grandfather had fought and bled in the Revolution, and he was not willing to see the government overthrown for the political advancement of any man. He saw nothing but treason in all this movement. He had heard that white-haired old man, Edmund Ruffin, make a treasonable harangue in the street to-day, and had gone up and told him that the was protected by his white hairs and by the military; but that if he came here a month hence and made a similar speech, he would be taken down to “the run” and well ducked, and then driven out of town.