The Last of the State of Virginia

May 30, 1867


Listed are the demands that the military headquarters in Virginia be respected under the military rule of the Union in Virginia during Reconstruction.Military rule will be applied to everyone.


The Last of the State of Virginia. The following order speaks for itself. It is another proof that we have no rights which our conquerors are bound to respect. The record must be made up for the judgment of mankind now, and of posterity; and so we commit this order to print. It ought to have at least one good effect -- namely, that of convincing the most obdurate passivist that reconstruction upon the terms of the Sherman - Shellabarger acts is imperatively demanded by the circumstances in which we are placed: Headq'rs First Military District, State of Virginia Richmond, Va., May 28, 1867. General Orders No. 31. For the purpose of giving adequate protection to all persons in their rights of person and property, in cases where the civil authorities may fail, from whatever cause, to give such protection, and to insure the prompt suppression of insurrection, disorder, and violence, military commissioners, to be selected from the officers of the army and of the Freedmen's Bureau, will be appointed and given jurisdiction over sub-districts, to be defined in the orders appointing them, with sufficient military force to execute or secure the execution of their orders. For the purpose of suppressing insurrection, disorder, or violence, the military commissioners are given command of the police of cities and the power of counties, in addition to the troops that may be placed at their disposal; and all police officers, sheriffs, constables, and other persons, are required, in such cases, to obey and execute the orders of the military commissioners. For the purpose of protecting individuals in their rights of person and property, and of bringing offenders to justice, the military commissioners are clothed with all the powers of justices of a county or police magistrates of a city, and will be governed in the discharge of their duties by the laws of Virginia, so far as the same are not in conflict with the laws of the United States or orders issued from these headquarters. The military commissioners will make a prompt report to these headquarters of each case of which they may take jurisdiction, and the disposition made of such case. Where parties are held for trial, either in confinement or under bail, such full statement will be made of the facts in each ease as will enable the commanding general to decide whether the case shall be tried by a military commission or be brought before a civil court. Trial by the civil courts will he preferred in all cases where there is satisfactory reason to believe that justice will be done. But until the orders of the commanding general are made known in any case, the paramount jurisdiction assumed by the military commissioners will be exclusive. All persons, civil officers and others, are required to obey and execute the lawful: orders of the military commissioners to the same extent as they are required by law to obey and execute writs issued by civil magistrates. Any person who shall disobey or resist the lawful orders or authority of a military commissioner shall be tried by a military commission, and upon conviction shall be punished by time and imprisonment, according to the nature and degree of the offence. This order will not be construed to excuse civil officers in any degree front the faithful discharge of their duties. It is intended to aid the civil authorities, and not to supersede them except in cases of necessity. By command of Brigadier and Brevet Major-General J. M. Schofield, United Slates army. S. F. Chalkin, Assistant Adjutant-General.
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“The Last of the State of Virginia,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed March 29, 2023,