In this March 12, 1861, letter, George H. Thomas—at that time a major in the United States Army but on furlough recovering from a severe back injury—turns down a position offered to him to serve as Chief of Ordnance for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In order to accept the post Thomas would have had to resign from the U.S. Army, and in a letter to Governor John Letcher he writes that "it is not my wish to leave the Service of the United States, as long as it is honorable for me to remain in it." Virginia was then caught up in the secession crisis, and Thomas goes on to write, "as long as my native State Va. remains in the Union it is my purpose to remain in the Army, unless required to perform duties alike repulsive to honor and humanity." Despite his sympathy for Virginia, when the Civil War erupted Thomas remained committed to the Union. After the surrender of Fort Sumter at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, on April 14, he was called back to active service and he immediately reported for duty.