Virginia in the American Civil War
The Commonwealth of Virginia was a prominent part of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. A slave state, a convention was called to act for the state during the secession crisis opened on February 13, 1861, after seven seceding states had formed the Confederacy on February 4. Unionist delegates dominated the convention and defeated a motion to secede on April 4. The convention deliberated for several months, but on April 15 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln called for troops from all states still in the Union in response to the Confederate capture of Fort Sumter. On April 17, the Virginia convention voted to declare secession from the Union, pending ratification of the decision by the voters.With the entry of Virginia into the Confederacy, a decision was made in May to move the Confederate capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, in part because the defense of Virginia's capital was deemed strategically vital to the Confederacy's survival regardless of its political status. Virginians ratified the articles of secession on May 23. The following day, the Union army moved into northern Virginia and captured Alexandria without a fight.Most of the battles in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War took place in Virginia because the Confederacy had to defend its national capital at Richmond, and public opinion in the North demanded that the Union move ""On to Richmond!"" The remarkable success of Robert E. Lee in defending Richmond is a central theme of the military history of the war. The White House of the Confederacy, located a few blocks north of the State Capitol, was home to the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.