A Military Genius - Life of Anna Ella Carroll of Maryland
by Sarah Ellen Blackwell
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In September of 1861 Miss Carroll prepared a paper on "the Constitutional powers of the President to make arrests and to suspend the writ of habeas corpus." In December, 1861, she published a pamphlet entitled "The War Powers of the Government." This was followed by a paper entitled "The Relation of Revolted Citizens to the National Government." This was written at the especial request of President Lincoln, approved by him, and adopted as the basis of his subsequent action.

WASHINGTON, January 25, 1861.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

I read the address of Governor Hicks, which gave me great pleasure. I have been overwhelmed with work and anxiety for North Carolina. I franked all the papers you sent me. It is a great matter for the Union that you hold Maryland firm now.

Go on in your great work. I wish you would say a word for S—— in some of your articles; he is doing us good, but needs encouragement.

I wish to talk with you on these matters as soon as I can find a moment.

Respectfully and sincerely your friend,


[Footnote 9: John A. Gilmer was Member of Congress from North Carolina, but a Union man throughout the war.]

* * * * *

WASHINGTON CITY, March 11, 1861.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

I will be pleased to see you to-morrow, any time convenient to yourself, after nine o'clock. I am not seeing any one just yet on the matter to which you refer, but, of course, will see you. You have my grateful thanks for the great and patriotic services you have rendered and are still rendering to the country in this crisis.

I have the honor to be your friend and servant,

S. P. CHASE.[10]

[Footnote 10: Salmon P. Chase was U. S. Senator, Governor of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury, and Chief Judge of the Supreme Court.]

* * * * *

WASHINGTON CITY, April 15, 1862.

My Dear Lady:

I thank you for sending me the last number of your able essays in the New York Times. The President paid you a very handsome compliment in the Cabinet meeting yesterday, in reference to your usefulness to the country. He handed your views on colonization and the proper point to initiate the colony, which he said he had requested of you, to Secretary Smith, and said you had given him a better insight into the whole question than any one beside, and you had, on his inquiry, suggested the Interior Department as proper to look after the matter, and advised the Secretary to get into communication with you. This was no more than your desert, but, coming from the President in Cabinet meeting, it was as gratifying to me to hear as it is now to communicate this to you.

With great regard, your obedient servant,


* * * * *


Miss Carroll:

I send a package by your servant which came here yesterday, I suppose, as I had the honor to frank some of your documents from here. If you will excuse my poor writing I will tell you what Mr. Lincoln said about you last night.

I was there with some seven or eight members of Congress and others, when a note and box came from you with products from Central America. He seemed much delighted and read your letter out to us and showed the contents of the box. He said, "This Anna Ella Carroll is the head of the Carroll race. When the history of this war is written she will stand a good bit taller than ever old Charles Carroll did." I thought you might like to hear this.


* * * * *

WASHINGTON, D. C., September 9, 1863.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

I have read with great pleasure the manuscript left with me. Like all that emanates from your pen, it is profound and able, and I concur with you that its publication would now be timely. As you requested, I forward the package to New York.

Very sincerely and respectfully your friend,


* * * * *

The Hon. B. F. Wade (then President of the United States Senate) writes from Washington:

March 1, 1869.

Miss Carroll:

I cannot take leave of public life without expressing my deep sense of your services to the country during the whole period of our national troubles. Although the citizen of a State almost unanimously disloyal and deeply sympathizing with secession, especially the wealthy and aristocratic class of the people, to which you belonged, yet, in the midst of such surroundings, you emancipated your own slaves at a great sacrifice of personal interest, and with your powerful pen defended the cause of the Union and loyalty as ably and effectively as it ever has been defended.

From my position on the Committee on the Conduct of the War I know that some of the most successful expeditions of the war were suggested by you, among which I might instance the expedition up the Tennessee river.

The powerful support you gave Governor Hicks during the darkest hour of your State history prompted him to take and maintain the stand he did, and thereby saved your State from secession and consequent ruin.

All these things, as well as your unremitted labors in the cause of reconstruction, I doubt not are well known and remembered by the members of Congress at that period. I also well know in what high estimation your services were held by President Lincoln, and I cannot leave this subject without sincerely hoping that the Government may yet confer on you some token of acknowledgment for all these services and sacrifices.

Very sincerely, your friend,


* * * * *

BALTIMORE, September 28, 1869.

I have known Miss Carroll many years; she is a daughter of Governor Carroll, and by birth and education entitled to the highest consideration.

She writes exceedingly well, and during the late war published several pamphlets, etc., which I have no doubt proved most serviceable to the cause of the Union. Her own loyalty was ardent and constant through the struggle.


[Footnote 11: Reverdy Johnson—a distinguished lawyer from Maryland, U. S. Senator, Attorney General in Taylor's Cabinet, and Minister to England during Johnson's Administration.]

* * * * *

DAYTON, Nov. 23, 1869.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

Your letter finds me in the midst of care, labor, and preparation for removal to Washington.

Pardon me, therefore, if I write briefly. You must see me when the session of Congress commences, that I may say much for which there is not space or time on paper. Nobody appreciates more highly than I do your patriotism and your valuable services with mind and pen through so many years.

Yours faithfully and truly,


[Footnote 12: Robert C. Schenck—General through the war, Member of Congress, and Minister to England.]

* * * * *

LONDON, E. C., July 30, 1872.

Dear Miss Carroll:

I have read with pleasure the pamphlet you were so kind as to send me, and am glad to see that your claim is so strongly endorsed—so strongly that it can hardly be ignored by Congress.

Very truly yours,


[Footnote 13: Hugh S. McCulloch was Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln, Johnson, and Arthur.]

* * * * *

WASHINGTON CITY, January 20, 1873.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

I owe you an humble apology for not calling to pay my respects to you, as I intended to do; but I have been so occupied with numerous engagements that the purpose indicated escaped my recollection until I was on the point of leaving for my home in Connecticut, and can only now proffer to you my cordial and heartfelt wishes for your health, prosperity, and happiness.

I have too much respect for your name and character to address you in the accents of flattery, and I presume you will not suspect me of any such purpose when I say that of the many characters, both male and female, of whom I have formed a favorable opinion since I was introduced into public life, there is no one for whom I cherish a higher esteem than Miss Carroll, of Maryland.

May the richest of Heaven's blessings rest upon your ladyship, and may the inappreciable services which you rendered your country in the dark hour of its peril be recognized by your countrymen, and to a just extent rewarded.

I have the honor to be and to remain, my dear Miss Carroll, most faithfully and truly your friend,


[Footnote 14: Truman Smith was a Member of Congress from Connecticut for a long time.]

* * * * *

GREENSBURG, Pa., May 3, 1873.

Miss Carroll:

I do remember well that Mr. Lincoln expressed himself in wonder and admiration at your papers on the proper course to be pursued in legislating for the crisis.

In this connection I know that he considered your opinions sound and, coming from a lady, most remarkable for their knowledge of international law.


[Footnote 15: Edgar Cowan was U. S. Senator from Pennsylvania during the whole war.]

* * * * *

QUINCY, ILLINOIS, Sept. 17, 1873.

Miss A. E. Carroll:

During the progress of the War of the Rebellion, from 1861 to 1865, I had frequent conversations with President Lincoln and Secretary Stanton in regard to the active and efficient part you had taken in behalf of the country, in all of which they expressed their admiration of and gratitude for the patriotic and valuable services you had rendered the cause of the Union and the hope that you would be adequately compensated by Congress. At this late day I cannot recall the details of those conversations, but am sure that the salutary influence of your publications upon public opinion and your suggestions in connection with the important military movements were among the meritorious services which they recognized as entitled to remuneration.

In addition to the large debt of gratitude which the country owes you, I am sure you are entitled to generous pecuniary consideration, which I trust will not be withheld.

With sentiments of high regard, I am,

Your obedient servant,


[Footnote 16: O. H. Browning, of Illinois, was Senator during the war, in confidential relations with President Lincoln and Secretary Stanton.]

* * * * *

WASHINGTON, D. C., May 13, 1874.

Miss A. E. Carroll:

I am gratified to have the opportunity of expressing my knowledge and appreciation of the valuable services rendered by you to the cause of the Union at the beginning of and during the late war. Being a Marylander and located officially in Baltimore in 1861, 1862, 1863, and 1864, I can speak confidently of the important aid contributed by you to the Government in its struggle with the rebellion. I recollect very distinctly your literary labors, the powerful productions of your pen, which struck terror into the heart of the rebellion in Maryland and encouraged the hopes and stimulated the energies of the loyal sons of our gallant State. Especially do I recall the eminent aid you gave to Governor Hicks, and the high esteem he placed upon your services. Indeed, I have reason to know he possessed no more efficient coadjutor, or one whose co-operation and important service he more justly appreciated. I can say with all sincerity I know of no one to whom the State of Maryland—I may say the country at large—is more indebted for singleness of purpose, earnestness, and effectiveness of effort in behalf of the Government than to yourself.

A failure to recognize these service will indicate a reckless indifference to the cause of true and unfaltering patriotism, to which I cannot think a just Government will prove ungrateful.

I am, dear Miss Carroll, always most sincerely and truly yours,


[Footnote 17: Christopher C. Coxe held many offices of trust throughout the war, was quite eminent as a poet and man of letters, and was pension agent at Baltimore.]

* * * * *

PETERSBORO', N. Y., May, 1874.

Miss Anna Ella Carroll:

Surely nothing more can be needed than your pamphlet, entitled "Miss Carroll's Claim before Congress," to insure the prompt and generous payment of it. Our country will be deeply dishonored if you, its wise and faithful and grandly useful servant, shall be left unpaid.


[Footnote 18: Gerritt Smith was a noted philanthropist, Member of Congress, one of the first so-called Abolitionists, and a man of immense wealth.]

* * * * *

WASHINGTON, D. C. June 5, 1874.

Dear Miss Carroll:

I did not receive your polite note and the pamphlet in relation to your claim till this morning. The statement of your case is very strong, both as to the clear proof of "value received" from you by the Government, and on which was founded its promise to pay, and as to the favorable opinions of your literary and military services expressed by leading men. I know of no instance in which a woman not born to sovereign sway has done so much to avert the impending ruin of her country, and that not by cheap valor, like Joan of Arc, but by rare mental ability. As a Marylander, I am proud that the "Old Maryland line" was so worthily represented by you in the struggle for the Union.

You would have had your substantial reward long ago but for the very absurd opinion that by some fixed, mysterious law of nature the labor done by women is worth less than precisely similar work done by men. You should persist in your just claim, if only to establish the principle that the value of work should be estimated according to its merits and not with reference to the worker; but, whatever may be the fate of your demand on the Government, you cannot fail to receive the thanks of the people.

Very respectfully,


* * * * *

PRINCESS ANNE, Md., August 22, 1874.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

I have read with interest and gratification the publication respecting your claim now pending before Congress.

I well remember that you were an earnest supporter of the Union in the hour of its trial, and that you did much by word and pen to encourage and sustain those who battled against the rebellion, and for such services you are entitled to high consideration and reward. The proofs adduced are very full and direct. I don't see how its payment can be resisted without impeaching the evidence of Mr. Scott, the late Assistant Secretary of War, and of Judge Wade, Chairman of the Committee on the Conduct of War—an alternative which their official and personal characters forbid, even in cases where their personal interests were involved.

With, my best wishes, I have the honor to be very truly yours, &c.,


[Footnote 19: J. W. Crisfield was a Representative from Maryland during the war.]

* * * * *

CUMBERLAND, Md., August 25, 1874.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

You may feel assured that I read with exceeding interest everything from your pen and every reference in the press to yourself and interests. I have no doubt your contribution to the history of Maryland at the eventful crisis referred to will be a most valuable and interesting one.

H. W. HOFFMAN.[20]

[Footnote 20: Hoffman was a Representative from Maryland, lawyer, and Member of the House of Representatives.]

* * * * *

LIMA, PERU, September 12, 1874.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

It affords me great pleasure to have an opportunity to testify to the valuable assistance rendered by yourself to the cause of the Union at the commencement and during the progress of the late war. Your private conversations and your publications in the newspapers and pamphlets all tended to inspire that ardent patriotism which a grave crisis in public affairs imperatively demanded. Every Marylander who felt called upon to support the endangered Government of the United States must have been encouraged and cheered in the discharge of a painful duty by that earnest enthusiasm which was at that time displayed by yourself in support of the measures forced upon the Government by the rebellion. I am gratified to hear that you propose to publish a book that will do justice to the memory of the late Governor Hicks; and offering my best wishes for the success of your undertaking and for your personal health and happiness,

I am sincerely your friend,


[Footnote 21: Francis Thomas was a Member of Congress from Maryland, Governor of Maryland, and Minister to Peru under Grant.]

* * * * *

NEWARK, Sept. 28, 1874.

Dear Miss Carroll:

I have carefully read your pamphlet, and I do not hesitate to say your claim is a strong one. You could not have a better witness than Colonel Scott, a man of the highest character. His testimony is clear and unequivocal, and if your claim is rejected I can attribute it to but one cause—you are a woman—a relic of barbarism against your sex; but still I believe you will succeed. I am satisfied that a large majority of the members of both Houses are fair-minded, honorable men, disposed to do what is right.

I should be glad to meet you and talk with you about your proposed life of Governor Hicks. There are several matters I should be pleased to discuss with you.

Very truly your friend,

WM. H. PARNELL, President Delaware College.

* * * * *

CHESTERTOWN, Md., Oct. 9, 1874.

My friend Miss Carroll has two claims against the Government growing out of services rendered to the country during the civil war—the one of a literary and the other of a military character. Miss Carroll is a daughter of the late Hon. Thomas King Carroll, one of the best men Maryland has ever produced.


* * * * *

PRINCETON, October 13, 1874.

Miss Carroll:

I thank you for your letter of the 19th ultimo and for the two pamphlets that accompanied it, which I read with great interest. I think they clearly establish your claim on the gratitude of the country and on a suitable remuneration by Congress by proving that you rendered the Government very important service during the crisis of the late war. As that service involved great labor and sacrifice on your part and saved the country a great amount of useless expenditure in men and money, justice as well as gratitude demands that it should be liberally rewarded.

Hoping that those in authority will recognize the debt which the country owes you,

I am very respectfully yours,

CHARLES HODGE, President of Theological Seminary.

* * * * *

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 16, 1874.

Dear Miss Carroll:

I have not the vanity to suppose that my commendation can add to the high estimate placed by all upon your services to the Union in the late war; but as you have done me the honor to ask a candid expression of my opinion I venture to say that any statesman or author of America might be justly proud of having written such papers as the able pamphlets produced by you in support of the Government at that critical period.

As to your military services in planning the Tennessee campaign, you hold and have published too many proofs of the validity of your claim to require further confirmation.

I shall rejoice in your success in procuring a formal recognition of your labors if only it will aid in establishing the just rule that equal services, whether performed by man or woman, must always command equal recognition and reward.

As a Marylander, I am proud that in the war of the rebellion "the Old Maryland line" was so worthily represented by you.


* * * * *

The letters of eminent men in admiration of Miss Carroll's papers, published and unpublished, would fill a volume. These are only a portion of those published by order of Congress.

Senator Jacob Howard, of the Military Commission appointed to inquire into Miss Carroll's services, in his report of the 42d Congress, states—

"She did more for the country than all the military generals. She showed where to fight and how to strike the rebellion on the head, possessing withal judicial learning so comprehensive and concise in its style of argument that the Government gladly sat at her feet to learn the wisdom of its powers."

This allusion to military services leads us to a still more remarkable record of Miss Carroll's work.



Early in the fall of 1861 a gunboat fleet was under preparation to descend the Mississippi. It was a time of extreme peril, when the continuance of the Union depended on immediate military success. The Union armies had met with repeated reverses. The Confederates were exultant and the European nations were expectant of the approaching downfall of the United States Government. France had already put forth her hand to control Mexico, and although in England the Union had warm friends who still hoped for its success, the general impression was that its defeat might be considered a foregone conclusion. Financial ruin also seemed inevitable. The Northern army was costing the nation two million dollars a day. The Hon. Mr. Dawes, in a speech in Congress, had declared it "impossible for the United States to meet this state of things sixty days longer." "An ignominious peace," he predicted, "was upon the country and at its very doors."

At that time there was nothing in the attitude of the Union cause very strongly to appeal to English sympathy. It was openly set forth that the war was not waged for the extermination of slavery. Devotion to the Union could not excite especial interest in any but an American. On the contrary, the prevalent opinion in England was that the United States was a dangerous and rather unscrupulous power, and that it would be for the interests of humanity that it should be divided; consequently the general sympathy was largely with the Confederates and the desires of the governing classes for their success openly avowed. After the emancipation proclamation it was different. The Union cause had thereafter the incalculable advantage of a well-defined moral position—a position always keenly felt by the English masses. The desires of the governing class at that period and the dangers of the position from a military point of view are well indicated in extracts given by Miss Carroll in her successive memorials from the English journals and from diplomatic correspondence.

In an extract from the London Times, brought to the notice of the Senate by Mr. Howe, the command of the waters of the southwest is pointed out as the essential matter, and it is stated by Mr. Grimes that "the British Government has sent over into all the British colonies of North America some thirty thousand men."

* * * * *

[London Times, September 27, 1861.]

"Whatever may be the assertions of the Northerners, they must look upon the permanent separation of the Southern States and the formation of a second republic as at least highly probable, and in the action of England and France toward Mexico Mr. Lincoln, perhaps, only sees an intervention in the affairs of a country which is soon to be divided from his own by the territory of a rival. * * It is said the three European powers have taken advantage of the dissensions of the American Union to carry out plans upon a violation of the Monroe doctrine."

* * * * *

[London Shipping Gazette, February 1, 1862.]

"A semi-official note is sent by Napoleon to the British Government respecting the blockade, to the effect that the Emperor cannot longer allow French commerce to be injured."

* * * * *


Jan. 24, 1862.

"Prince Gortchakoff expresses his fears should any reverse happen to us that England would at once make common cause with the South, acknowledge her independence, and finally break down the power of the Republic. I must confess I very much fear England's influence. My first impression is not weakened, but rather strengthened. Nothing but great and decisive success will save us from foreign war. I would prepare for war with England as an essential means to prevent the independence of the South before the first of April."

[Footnote 22: Cassius M. Clay, Minister to St. Petersburg during the Civil War, has been from first to last one of Miss Carroll's warm supporters. He says, "Be that as it may, your case stands out unique, for you towered above all our generals in military genius, and it would be a shame upon our country if you were not honored with the gratitude of all and solid pecuniary reward." (See p. 132 of batch of memorials.)]

* * * * *


Jan. 27, 1862.

* * * "You see our army and our fleet are at Cairo. You see another army and another fleet are behind Columbus, which alone is relied upon to close the Mississippi against us on the north. Though you may not see it, another army and another fleet are actually on their way to New Orleans."

* * * * *

At this time of intense anxiety it was suggested to Miss Carroll by the War Department that she should go West and endeavor to form an opinion as to the probable result of the proposed descent of the Mississippi by the gunboats, upon the success of which the continuance of the Union depended. Accordingly she went to St. Louis, and remaining for a month or more at the Everett House, in that city, by means of maps and charts procured from the Mercantile Library she made careful study of the topography of the proposed line of advance. She became convinced that this intended expedition would result in disaster, and that the Tennessee river, not the Mississippi, would be the true pathway to success.

Again we will turn to Miss Carroll's able account in the Congressional Records of the military position at that time.

"It became evident, in the autumn of 1861, that if the unity of the United States could be maintained by military force, the decisive blow upon the Confederate power must be delivered within sixty or ninety days. To that period the tide of battle had been steadily against the Union, and the military operations had not met the expectations of the country. Nothing is more certain than that this rebel power was able to resist all the power of the Union upon any of the lines of operation known to the Administration; for operating on any safe base, on any of these known lines, the Union armies were not numerically strong enough to reach the vital point in the Confederate power. The enemy were in strong force on a line extending from the Potomac, westward through Bowling Green, to Columbus, on the Mississippi, and was complete master of all the territory to the Gulf. Kentucky and Missouri had been admitted formally into the Confederacy, and they had resolved to move the Capital to Nashville and extend their battle lines to the northern limits of those States, and the Secretary of War, after a tour of inspection, reported that these States had not sufficient force to hold them to the Union.

The war had then been waged seven months, and between 700,000 and 800,000 men had been mustered in the field; the public debt aggregated over $500,000,000; and the daily average expenses of maintaining the army was upward of $2,000,000, besides the hundreds of precious lives which were being daily sacrificed.

Thus, while the two armies were confronting each other in sight of Washington, events were rapidly pressing in the Southwest which, if unchecked, would change the destiny of the American people for ages to come.

Thus, in that ominous silence which preceded the shock and storm, the two sections stood, each watching and awaiting the movements of the other. Both were confident; the South greatly strengthened from her successes and impregnable position; the North strong in its large excess of numbers, wealth, and the justice of its cause.

The Army of the Potomac and the Army of the West were the two expeditions on which the Administration relied.

All others were auxiliary to these great movements. The first named, though seeming to the country of such signal moment, occupied a position of comparative insignificance when contrasted with the army of the Southwest, and had chance thrown Richmond under national control at an earlier day it could not have materially affected the destiny of the war. Capitals in an insurgent and unrecognized power can have but very little strategic value, and from the geographical position of Richmond it had none at all, and they were ready to move it any day.

They could have surrendered all the Atlantic States to Florida and yet maintained their independence; indeed, it was upon this theory that the disunion party had ever based its expectations of separate and independent nationality. Could the Confederates have held their power over the Mississippi Valley but a few more months they would have so connected themselves with France through Texas and with England through the States of the great northwest as not only to have made good their own independence but to have dwarfed the United States to the area of their old thirteen and taken the lead as the controlling political power on this continent.

With the Mississippi in their possession to the mouth of the Ohio, the presence of the English and French fleets at New Orleans would have brought about that result.

The Army of the Potomac, after having been put upon a scale of the rarest magnificence consistent with mobility, and with several changes of commanders, took three years and a half to reach Richmond, and was not then half way to a decisive point, and never would have been strong enough had the expedition to open the Mississippi been executed on the plan as originally devised.

Strategically an invasion always leads to deep lines of operations which, on account of the difficulty of maintaining communications with its base, are always dangerous in a hostile country, and every mile the national armies advanced, every victory they gained, carried them farther from their base, and required an increase of force to protect their communications; while every retreat of the enemy brought him nearer to his resources, and it is mathematically certain that he would soon have reached the point on that line where he would have been the superior power. Nothing but the results of the Tennessee campaign prevented Lee from recruiting his army and extorted from him his sword at Appomatox Court-House.

The Mississippi expedition was designed by the aid of the one from the Gulf to clear the river to the mouth, etc. Could it succeed? Could it open the Mississippi to its mouth? These momentous questions and the military delay were weakening the confidence of the people and confirming foreign powers in the belief that the Government had neither the strength nor the ability to conquer the rebellion. And even could the expedition have opened the river, was there any point on that river where a decisive blow could have been dealt the Confederacy? The Memphis and Charleston railroad, the only complete interior line of communication, would not necessarily have been touched. So long as the Confederacy could maintain its interior lines of communication complete, the United States could neither destroy its armies in the east nor open the Mississippi river. The National Government could only escape annihilation by reaching the center of the Confederate power and striking a fatal blow upon its resources. Geographically, there was but one mode of attack by which this could be accomplished, and this was unthought of or unknown to all connected with the prosecution of the war.

Mr. Lincoln saw from the beginning the vital importance of regaining the Mississippi and controlling the resources of its great valley, and therefore reserved to himself the direction of this expedition as Commander-in-chief. He was fully alive to the perils that now environed the Government, and he and his advisers looked imploringly to the army for relief as the agency absolutely essential to the nation's life. This and this only could strike the blow that must then be struck, if ever.

No display of military genius could have extorted from Lee his sword so long as his resources were unwasted. No valor on the part of our navies and armies could have opened the Mississippi so long as the Confederates could keep open the lines of communication. The Memphis and Charleston railroad was their only complete bond of connection between their armies of the east and the armies of the Mississippi Valley. There was but one avenue by which this bond could be reached and effectually severed, and that was the Tennessee river. The people had responded grandly; their uprising in behalf of their endangered Government had astonished the world. It now remained for the army to supplement by its valor in the field what the Administration and the people had done at home.

Never was the stress and strain of a nation more severe; never when another defeat would have been so perilous and a victory so desirable as then. So long as the Confederates were undisturbed in the possession of the southwest, and men and munitions of war sent uninterruptedly to the east, the Army of the Potomac could not advance. Something had to be done to cripple or engage the rebel armies in that section.

As the weary months of October and November wore away, the darkness grew more and more intense and the anxiety more oppressive. A blow had to be inflicted quickly that would be sharp and mortal, to ward off intervention and invasion by European powers, to smother the spirit of secession in southern Illinois and Indiana, and to prevent financial bankruptcy, which of itself must destroy the nation.

And yet neither Mr. Lincoln nor his generals knew or had in mind any plan other than that of forcing a passage down the Mississippi, bristling with batteries that frowned from its bluffs, while swamps and bayous skirted and pierced its banks, affording defenses in the rear little less formidable and forbidding.

And thus the nation stood as in the hush that precedes the storm or the crash of battle, apprehending not so much any particular movement of the Confederate armies as the threatening elements generally with which the air seemed surcharged, and knowing not how or when or where the blow would fall. Military success was of all things most desired; military delay of all things most dreaded. With the South to stand still was their strength; time was power, and every day's delay increased the thickening dangers that were closing around the Union cause. With the North not to advance was to recede; not to destroy was to be destroyed. The exigencies of the situation made it imperative that the decisive blow should be struck thus early in the war. How to make that advance and deliver that fatal blow was the great problem to be solved. Omniscience only was then able to know whether the last sun had set to rise no more on the Union of these States. The country was clamorous for military successes, but not half so troubled as was Mr. Lincoln and his advisers, for the people did not know, as they did, how much depended thereon; how the beam trembled in the balance and what irremediable evils were involved in delay.

Congress met; the Committee on the Conduct of the War was at once created. How great were the dangers which at that supreme moment made the continued existence of the Government a question of doubt, and the fact that the military successes in the West which followed were not achieved a day too soon is made evident by the speeches of many of the most distinguished statesmen of that period, in both houses of Congress, some of them occupying positions on the most important committees connected with the prosecution of the war and necessarily possessed of the most reliable information. The utterances in the halls of Congress sustain every fact as here described."

In this same Congressional document of 1878 Miss Carroll thus describes her inception of the plan of the Tennessee campaign:

"In the autumn of 1861 my attention was arrested by the confidence expressed by Southern sympathizers in the southwest, that the Mississippi could not be opened before the recognition of Southern independence. I determined to inform myself what the pilots thought of the gunboat expedition then preparing to descend the river. On inquiry I was directed to Mrs. Scott, then in the hotel, whose husband was a pilot, and learned from her that he was then with the expedition that had moved against Belmont; and the important facts she gave me increased my wish to see Mr. Scott. On his arrival in St. Louis I sent for him. He said that it was his opinion, and that of all the pilots on these waters, that the Mississippi could not be opened by the gunboats. I inquired as to the navigability of the Cumberland and the Tennessee. He said at favorable stages of water the gunboats could go up the former as high Nashville, and the latter, at all stages, as high as the Muscle Shoals in Alabama. The moment he said the Tennessee was navigable for gunboats the thought flashed upon me that the strongholds of the enemy might be turned at once by diverting the expedition in course of preparation to open the Mississippi up the Tennessee; and having had frequent conversations with Judge Evans on the military situation, I left the room to communicate this thought—as he had just then called at the hotel—and asked him if it would not have that effect. He concurred that it would, and that it was the move if it was a fact that the Tennessee afforded the navigation; and he accompanied me to interrogate Mr. Scott, to be satisfied as to the feasibility of the Tennessee. The interview was prolonged some time. At the close I told Mr. Scott it was my purpose to try and induce the Government to divert the Mississippi expedition up the Tennessee, and asked him to give me a memorandum of the most important facts elicited in the conversation, as I wished them for this object. I further stated my intention to pen the history of the war, and requested him to write from time to time all the valuable information he might be able, and I would remember him in my work. The same day I wrote again to Assistant Secretary of War Thomas A. Scott,[23] to whom I had promised to communicate the result of my observations while in the West, and also to Attorney General Bates; to both of whom I urged the importance of a change of campaign."

[Footnote 23: Thomas A. Scott was the great railroad magnate, was Assistant Secretary of War when Stanton was Secretary, and was sent by Stanton to inaugurate the Tennessee campaign which saved the Union.]

A letter from Judge Evans, who chanced to be in St. Louis on other business, at the time gives a precisely similar account of this interview with the pilot, and the ideas then suggested by Miss Carroll uttered, as he relates, "in a very earnest and animated manner!"

Even though it involves some repetition, we will here give also an account written by Miss Carroll in the winter of 1889. It will possess an especial interest, as it may be the last literary exertion that the invalid authoress will ever be asked to make.

It was called forth by a wish expressed by a leading magazine to have a fresh account written directly by Miss Carroll. With fingers lamed by paralysis the following account was written, showing the clearness of Miss Carroll's memory in her seventy-fifth year.

"In the beginning of the rebellion public opinion gave the victory to the Southern cause, and no one shared in this conviction to a greater extent than President Lincoln and the War Department. The first effort made by me was in an unpretentious pamphlet, which fell into the hands of Mr. Lincoln and so pleased him (it did not appear with my name) that he suggested its adoption as a war measure, and the satisfaction it gave was so general that Governor Bates, then Attorney General, urged that I should continue to write in the interest of the Government. Fired by enthusiasm in a noble cause, I accepted the suggestion, and followed soon with what some have considered my best work, "The War Powers of the Government," and other pamphlets. About this time I had thought of visiting St. Louis, and mentioned my intention to Col. Thomas A. Scott, Assistant Secretary of War. He urged me to go, asking me to write him fully of every point and fact investigated. These facts I communicated as requested, both to him and to Governor Bates.

The clouds were dark and lowering. Despair had well nigh possession of the bravest hearts. After my arrival I soon saw and felt that the sentiment of the West was decidedly against the Union, or rather in favor of the Southern cause.

I visited the various encampments en route and in St. Louis and found but little difference among leading minds as to the result anticipated. All in a measure believed the struggle useless.

Finding the sentiment prevalent that the Union must fall and feeling in my soul that it must not fall, I began revolving an escape from the threatened doom. Just then, while I was in St. Louis, the battle of Belmont was fought. When I saw the dead and dying as they lay upon that field and witnessed the sad sight of the ambulance wagons bearing the wounded to the hospitals, my heart sank within me. The future of the war with these awful scenes repeated was a picture not to be endured, and my anxiety as to the result grew still more intense.

In reflecting upon the dangers of the proposed expedition it came upon me, as by inspiration, that the sailors—the pilots—might offer some suggestion. I knew that the military leaders would never avail themselves of this humble source of information. I thought the pilots, of all others, should know the strategic points. Sending for the proprietor of the hotel where I was stopping, I asked him how I could get into contact with any of these men. He told me that the wife of a pilot named Scott was then in the house. I called on her at once and, finding her well informed, I questioned her as to the harbors, coast defenses, etc. Mrs. Scott was just about to leave the city, but she promised to send her husband to me. I could not wait for this chance, but wrote to him for the information I desired. He called upon me in response, and during our conversation he said it would be "death to every man who attempted to go down the Mississippi." Yet no other route had been dreamed of. I then asked him, "What about the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers;" whether they were fordable for gunboats? He replied, "Yes, the Tennessee especially." Of course, he did not at first know of any ulterior purpose in the questions which I was asking, other than the information of an ardent lover of our country. As he mentioned the Tennessee it flashed upon me with the certainty of conviction that I had seen my way to the salvation of my country.

I left the pilot and sent immediately for Judge Evans, of Texas, who was stopping at the same hotel. I was almost overcome with excitement and shall never forget the moment that I rushed to him exclaiming, "What do you think of diverting the army from the Mississippi to the Tennessee!"[24]

[Footnote 24: Judge Evans himself, describing this eventful scene, said "that for a moment it seemed as if a halo of glory surrounded Miss Carroll, and that she looked like one transfigured." One hesitates in these matter-of-fact days to repeat such words as these, but as my reliable informant, to whom they were addressed, assures me that such were his words it seemed worth while to record them. In all times it has seemed that the human countenance wholly possessed by a great idea could assume a radiance only to be described by the spectator by some such words as these, and the fact was so symbolized in ancient art. The human soul is no less potent in these days than in the times of old.]

I waited breathlessly for his reply. It came in measured tones. "It may be so. I had never thought of it."

That night I wrote to Governor Bates, who had planned the Mississippi gunboat scheme. He presented the letter at once to the Acting Secretary of War, Mr. Scott. They both opposed it at first as impracticable. I returned immediately to Washington, prepared a paper on that basis and took it to Mr. Scott, who was really Acting Secretary of War, General Cameron's time being largely consumed in Cabinet meetings. After reading my plan and hearing my verbal arguments, Mr. Scott's countenance brightened and he exclaimed, "Miss Carroll, I believe you have solved the question." He hurried at once, with the plan in his hands, to the White House and with much excitement gave it to the President. Mr. Lincoln read it with avidity, and when he had finished it Mr. Scott told me that he had never witnessed such delight as he evinced.

General McClellan was then in command. He opposed the plan, but Mr. Lincoln quietly gave the orders himself for a change of base as soon as possible. Up to that time no plan for the close of the struggle, except down the Mississippi, had ever occurred to the mind of any living man or woman, as far as known; but from that moment Mr. Lincoln thought of nothing else. He hastened to send Mr. Scott to investigate, and went himself at once to St. Louis to aid in putting the plan in motion.

Just after the fall of Fort Henry I called at the War Department and saw Mr. Tucker, then Assistant Secretary of War. He told me that Mr. Scott stated to him on leaving for the West, "This is Miss Carroll's plan, and if it succeeds the glory is hers."

General Wade, then chairman of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, was consulted in the matter. He recognized it at once as the right move and openly and boldly approved the plan. Every effort was made to hasten the completion of the gunboats. As soon as they were finished, which was not until February, action was commenced on the Tennessee line. Mr. Wade at the same time, made it known to Hon. Wm. Pitt Fessenden, chairman of the Finance Committee in the Senate, that there was then a movement on foot, to be executed as soon as the gunboats, then building at St. Louis, were ready, which would satisfy the entire country and astound the world; and he so reassured the Senate that they calmly waited until the time arrived for the execution of the plan.

Colonel Thomas A. Scott was sent to the West to make all things ready and expedite the movement.

He gave his orders from one point to another, so that when General Halleck, who was then in military command, was notified by Mr. Lincoln that the whole force was to be moved from the Mississippi up the Tennessee river he stood ready for the movement. In February, 1862, the armies moved up the Tennessee, then to Fort Donelson, and then back up the Tennessee to Hamburgh, and two miles from there they fought the battle of Pittsburgh Landing, as pointed out in my plan. Had the movement been strictly carried out from the foot of the Muscle Shoals, in Alabama, Vicksburgh could have been reduced, or Mobile, and the whole thing ended in the spring of 1862 as easily as in 1865, and with the same result. In a recent publication General Sherman has admitted this fact. At the fall of Fort Henry the country was thoroughly aroused as it never had been before. It was clearly seen that the end was approaching. Richmond was then within reach through Tennessee. For this General McClellan had been waiting. Before this no power on earth could have captured Richmond, and no one knew this better than General McClellan. When the National armies had penetrated into the heart of the South, within two miles of the Memphis and Charleston railroad, the result was plain to every mind.

The old flag displayed in the presence of a million of slaves, who had before been necessarily on the side of their owners, made the fact doubly secure. All hearts were jubilant, and Roscoe Conkling then offered his celebrated resolutions in the House of Representatives to ascertain who it was that had designed these military movements so fruitful in great results; whether they came from Washington or elsewhere; by whom they were designed and what they were intended to accomplish. Judge Olin replied that if it was Mr. Conkling's design to find out who had done this work he could learn by inquiring at the War Department, for certainly the Secretary of War or the President must know all about it; but it was sufficient for the present to know that some one had designed these movements, and that the country was now in the enjoyment of the blessings that had resulted from them. Hon. Thaddeus Stevens moved that the resolutions of Mr. Conkling, making inquiry, be referred to the Military Committee of the House. During the discussion the plan was attributed to one person and another, but no satisfactory proof could be given on any side. I was present through it all and could at any moment have satisfied Congress and the world as to the authorship of the plan, but from prudential reasons I refrained from uttering a word. It was decided to refer the question to the Military Committee of the House, and there the matter slept."

It is worth while to pause for a moment in our narration to introduce upon the scene one of the most useful and remarkable men of the time, who became one of Miss Carroll's principal coadjutors; this was Senator Wade, of Ohio. He was successively justice of the peace, prosecuting attorney, State senator, judge of the circuit court, and United States Senator for three terms; he was also Acting Vice-President of the United States after Lincoln's death. If President Johnson's impeachment had been carried through he would have been the President for the rest of the term, and it was feared by his opponents that in that case he would have secured the Chicago nomination for the coming term, of which he was one of the candidates.

The first encounter of the Union army, a crowd of raw, undisciplined recruits, under new and inexperienced officers, with the better prepared Confederate army naturally resulted in a tremendous panic. Two carriages were present on the battlefield; one contained Senators Wade, Chandler, and Brown, Sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, and Major Eaton; in the other was Tom Brown, of Cleveland, Blake, Morris, and Riddle, of the House. Near the extemporized hospital, Ashley's Black Horse sweeping down on the recruits caused the panic. One of the gentlemen present thus described the scene. (The description can be met with in Coxe's Three Decades and in Riddle's Life of Wade, a work that should be more widely published.)

"It seemed as if the very devils of panic and cowardice had seized every mortal officer, soldier, teamster, and citizen. No officer tried to rally a soldier or do anything but spring and run toward Centerville. There was never anything like it for causeless, sheer, absolute, absurd cowardice—or rather panic—on this miserable earth before. Off they went, one and all—off down the highway, across the fields, towards the woods, anywhere, everywhere, to escape. The further they ran the more frightened they grew, and though we moved as fast as we could the fugitives passed us by scores. To enable themselves better to run they threw away their blankets, knapsacks, canteens, and finally their muskets, cartridge-boxes—everything. We called to them; told them there was no danger; implored them to stand. We called them cowards; denounced them in the most offensive terms; pulled out our heavy revolvers, threatened to kill them—in vain. A cruel, crazy, hopeless panic possessed them and infected everybody, front and rear."

The two carriages were blocked up in the awful gorge of Cub's Run and were for a time separated. When they again met, Mr. Wade shouted, "Boys, we'll stop this damned runaway!"

They found a good position, where a high wall on one side and a dense impassable wood secured the other side. The eight gentlemen leaped from their carriages and put Mr. Wade in command. Mr. Wade, with his hat well back and his famous rifle in his hand, formed them across the pikes all armed with heavy revolvers and facing the onflowing torrent of runaways, who were ghastly sick with panic, and this little band, worthy of the heroes of Thermopylae, actually kept back the runaway army, so that "for the fourth of an hour not a man passed save McDowell's bearer of dispatches, and he only on production of his papers. The rushing, cowardly, half-armed, demented fugitives stopped, gathered, crowded, flowed back, hedged in by thick-growing cedars that a rabbit could scarcely penetrate. The position became serious. A revolver was discharged, shattering the arm of Major Eaton, from the hand of a mounted escaping teamster" (who had cut loose from his wagon).

"At that critical moment the heroic old Senator and his friends were relieved and probably saved by Colonel Crane and a part of the Second New York, hurrying toward the scene of the disaster, and then the party proceeded. Naturally the exploit of Mr. Wade in stopping a runaway army caused much talk at Washington and increased the great confidence and admiration with which he was already regarded.[25]

[Footnote 25: A few days ago the present writer was conversing with one of the survivors of the party and received from him a detailed account of this singular episode.]

"In consequence of this disaster and the following one at Ball's Bluff, it was evident that both soldiers and officers would have to be created, and that we were without a military commander competent to direct so vast a war. This led to the formation by Congress of a Committee for the Conduct of the War. It consisted of seven members, three from the Senate and four from the House; Wade, Chandler, and Andrew Johnson from the Senate; Julian, Covode, Gooch, and Odell from the House. (Johnson seems never to have acted.) Nobody but Wade was thought of for chairman. Mr. Wade was absolutely fearless, physically and morally; absolutely regardless of self; absolutely devoted to his country. All parties agreed in boundless admiration and confidence in the heroic old Senator. "It is said that Wade seldom missed a session of the committee. The most conscientious of known men; never ill; he never neglected a duty; failed of an engagement; was never waited for, and never failed to meet his foe, one or many."

"The committee, by Mr. Wade, omitting Mr. Johnson's name, made their first report soon after the close of the 37th Congress, in April, 1863, which made three heavy volumes of over 2,000 printed pages.

Their second report was made May 22, 1865, a trifle more in bulk, six volumes in all." (Very valuable for future historians.)—Life of Benjamin F. Wade by A. G. Riddle.

President Lincoln, as Commander-in-Chief, with the assistance of this committee, thereafter directed the movements of the war, all the generals being subordinate and only enlightened step by step as to the accepted plan of campaign, great secrecy being, as Mr. Wade testifies, necessary or the plan would have been frustrated.



List of Miss Carroll's papers sent into the War Department in her own handwriting and signed with her name, originally on file at the War Department; all in the first division relating to the Tennessee campaign; sent on various occasions to the Capital to be examined by military committees, and printed by order of Congress in successive memorials and reports from 1870 to 1881.

The papers marked with a star are now on file at the War Department. With the permission of the Secretary of War, these were seen by me and carefully examined March 7th, 1891. They were sent by Robert Lincoln to the Court of Claims in 1885, and copies were put on file in the office of the Attorney General, the original documents being returned to the War Department. One of these original documents at the War Department is now incomplete, but must have been in good order in 1885, as the copies then made are complete and in excellent condition. They were verified as true copies by the Secretary of War. These also were examined by me at the office of the Attorney General March 23, 1891. The absence of the other documents from the War Office is accounted for by the remarkable testimony of Benjamin F. Wade and Samuel Hunt (keeper of the records), as given on page 30, 45th Congress, 2d session, Mis. Doc. 58, both testifying that the papers were abstracted from the desk of the Secretary when the Military Committee were considering Miss Carroll's claim, in 1871. As Miss Carroll possessed the original draft of these letters, she quickly reproduced them. The papers having been already examined by the Committee and by Mr. Hunt, the copies were accepted in place of the missing file and printed "by order of Congress," and thus guaranteed they became, to all intents and purposes, the same thing as the original documents; but apparently they were not sent to the War Office, not being the original documents sent from there. On March 20, 1891, I examined the files of the 41st Congress, 2d session, at the Secretary's office of the U. S. Senate, at the Capitol, and there I found Miss Carroll's first memorial, 1870, with the "plan of campaign" attached, just as described by Thomas A. Scott.



A paper usually designated as the "plan of campaign."

When given in at the War Office to Thomas A. Scott it was accompanied by a military map; the paper in Miss Carroll's own handwriting and signed with her name, the map unsigned.

1. November 30, 1862. 2. January 5, 1862. 3. March 26, 1862. 4. May 2, 1862.* 5. May 14, 1862.* 6. May 15, 1862.* 7. Following Monday, 1862. 8. September 9, 1862.* 9. October ——, 1862.

The letter to Stanton is on file at the office of the Attorney General, certified as copied from the documents furnished by the War Department in 1885.

(The letter of October, 1862, was also accompanied by a military map, "approved and adopted by the Secretary of War and the President and immediately sent out to the proper military authority." See letter of B. F. Wade, page 24, Mis. Doc. 58, of Memorial, May 18, 1878.)


August 25, 1862. January 31, 1863. October 7, 1863. January 11, 1864. —— ——, 1865.

A letter, on file from Robert Lincoln, states that the papers of the second division were returned to Miss Carroll, March 10, 1869.

* * * * *

Miss Carroll's first paper, addressed to the War Department, for a campaign on the Tennessee river and thence south, placed in the hands of Hon. Thomas A. Scott, Assistant Secretary of War, the 30th of November, 1861, with accompanying map, is as follows:

"The civil and military authorities seem to be laboring under a great mistake in regard to the true key to the war in the southwest. It is not the Mississippi, but the Tennessee river. All the military preparations made in the West indicate that the Mississippi river is the point to which the authorities are directing their attention. On that river many battles must be fought and heavy risks incurred before any impression can be made on the enemy, all of which could be avoided by using the Tennessee river. This river is navigable for middle-class boats to the foot of the Muscle Shoals, in Alabama, and is open to navigation all the year, while the distance is but two hundred and fifty miles, by the river, from Paducah, on the Ohio. The Tennessee offers many advantages over the Mississippi. We should avoid the almost impregnable batteries of the enemy, which cannot be taken without great danger and great risk of life to our forces, from the fact that our boats, if crippled, would fall a prey to the enemy by being swept by the current to him and away from the relief of our friends; but even should we succeed, still we will only have begun the war, for we shall then fight for the country from whence the enemy derives his supplies.

"Now an advance up the Tennessee river would avoid this danger, for if our boats were crippled, they would drop back with the current and escape capture; but a still greater advantage would be its tendency to cut the enemy's lines in two by reaching the Memphis and Charleston railroad, threatening Memphis, which lies one hundred miles due west, and no defensible point between; also Nashville, only ninety miles northeast, and Florence and Tuscumbia, in North Alabama, forty miles east.

"A movement in this direction would do more to relieve our friends in Kentucky and inspire the loyal hearts in East Tennessee than the possession of the whole of the Mississippi river. If well executed it would cause the evacuation of all these formidable fortifications upon which the rebels ground their hopes for success; and in the event of our fleet attacking Mobile, the presence of our troops in the northern part of Alabama would be material aid to the fleet.

"Again, the aid our forces would receive from the loyal men in Tennessee would enable them soon to crush the last traitor in that region, and the separation of the two extremes would do more than one hundred battles for the Union cause.

"The Tennessee river is crossed by the Memphis and Louisville railroad and the Memphis and Nashville railroad. At Hamburg the river makes the big bend on the east, touching the northeast corner of Mississippi, entering the northwest corner of Alabama, forming an arc to the South, entering the State of Tennessee at the northeast corner of Alabama, and if it does not touch the northwest corner of Georgia comes very near it.

"It is but eight miles from Hamburg to the Memphis and Charleston railroad, which goes through Tuscumbia, only two miles from the river, which it crosses at Decatur, thirty miles above, intersecting with the Nashville and Chattanooga road at Stevenson. The Tennessee river has never less than three feet to Hamburg on the shoalest bar, and during the fall, winter, and spring months there is always water for the largest boats that are used on the Mississippi river.

"It follows, from the above facts, that in making the Mississippi the key to the war in the West, or rather in overlooking the Tennessee river, the subject is not understood by the superiors in command."

Extracts from a second paper, January 5, 1862, giving additional particulars for the advance up the Tennessee:

"Having given you my views of the Tennessee river on my return from the West, showing that this river is the true strategical key to overcome the rebels in the southwest, I beg again to recur to the importance of its adoption. This river is never impeded by ice in the coldest winter, as the Mississippi and the Cumberland sometimes are. I ascertained, when in St. Louis, that the gunboats then fitting out could not retreat against the current of the western rivers, and so stated to you; besides, their principal guns are placed forward and will not be very efficient against an enemy below them. The fighting would have to be done by their stern guns—only two; or if they anchored by the stern they would lose the advantage of motion, which would prevent the enemy from getting their range. Our gunboats at anchor would be a target which the enemy will not be slow to improve and benefit thereby.

"The Tennessee river, beginning at Paducah fifty miles above Cairo, after leaving the Ohio, runs across south-southeast, rather than through Kentucky and Tennessee, until it reaches the Mississippi line directly west of Florence and Tuscumbia, which lie fifty miles east, and Memphis, one hundred and twenty-five miles west, with the Charleston and Memphis railroad eight miles from the river. There is no difficulty in reaching this point at any time of the year, and the water is known to be deeper than on the Ohio.

"If you will look on the map of the Western States you will see in what a position Buckner would be placed by a strong advance up the Tennessee river. He would be obliged to back out of Kentucky, or, if he did not, our forces could take Nashville in his rear and compel him to lay down his arms."

Testimony of Thomas A. Scott, Assistant Secretary of War, to Hon. Jacob M. Howard, chairman of the Military Committee, to consider the claim presented by Miss Carroll in 1870:

PHILADELPHIA, June 24, 1870.

On or about the 30th of November, 1861, Miss Carroll, as stated in her memorial, called on me, as the Assistant Secretary of War, and suggested the propriety of abandoning the expedition which was then preparing to descend the Mississippi, and to adopt instead the Tennessee river, and handed to me the plan of campaign, as appended to her memorial; which plan I submitted to the Secretary of War, and its general ideas were adopted. On my return from the southwest in 1862 I informed Miss Carroll, as she states in her memorial, that through the adoption of this plan the county had been saved millions, and that it entitled her to the kind consideration of Congress.


* * * * *

To the Military Committee, appointed for that purpose in 1872:

Hon. JACOB M. HOWARD, of the Military Committee of the United States Senate.


PHILADELPHIA, May 1, 1872.

My Dear Sir:

I take pleasure in stating that the plan presented by Miss Carroll in November, 1861, for a campaign upon the Tennessee river and thence south, was submitted to the Secretary of War and President Lincoln, and after Secretary Stanton's appointment I was directed to go to the Western armies and arrange to increase their effective force as rapidly as possible. A part of the duty assigned me was the organization and consolidation into regiments of all the troops then being recruited in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, for the purpose of carrying through this campaign, then inaugurated. This work was vigorously prosecuted by the army, and as the valuable suggestions of Miss Carroll, made to the Department some months before, were substantially carried out through the campaigns in that section, great success followed, and the country was largely benefited in the saving of time and expenditure.

I hope Congress will reward Miss Carroll liberally for her patriotic efforts and services.

Very truly yours,


* * * * *

Letter from the Hon. Benjamin F. Wade, appended to the report of General Bragg, of the Military Committee, of March 3, 1881:

Dear Miss Carroll:

I had no part in getting up the Committee [on the Conduct of the War]. The first intimation to me was that I had been made the head of it; but I never shirked a public duty, and at once went to work to do all that was possible to save the country. We went fully into the examination of the several plans for military operations then known to the Government, and we saw plainly enough that the time it must take to execute any of them would make it fatal to the Union.

We were in the deepest despair, until just at this time Colonel Scott informed me that there was a plan already devised which, if executed with secrecy, would open the Tennessee and save the national cause. I went immediately to Mr. Lincoln and talked the whole matter over. He said he did not himself doubt that the plan was feasible, but said there was one difficulty in the way; that no military or naval man had any idea of such a movement, it being the work of a civilian, and none of them would believe it safe to make such an advance upon only a navigable river, with no protection but a gunboat fleet, and they would not want to take the risk. He said it was devised by Miss Carroll, and military men were extremely jealous of all outside interference. I pleaded earnestly with him, for I found there were influences in his Cabinet then averse to his taking the responsibility, and wanting everything done in deference to the views of McClellan and Halleck. I said to Mr. Lincoln: "You know we are now in the last extremity, and you have to choose between adopting and at once executing a plan which you believe to be the right one and save the country, or defer to the opinions of military men in command and lose the country." He finally decided he would take the initiative; but there was Mr. Bates, who had suggested the gunboat fleet, and wanted to advance down the Mississippi, as originally designed; but after a little he came to see that no result could be achieved on that mode of attack, and he united with us in favor of the change of expedition as you recommended.

After repeated talks with Mr. Stanton I was entirely convinced that, if placed at the head of the War Department, he would have your plan executed vigorously, as he fully believed it was the only means of safety, as I did. Mr. Lincoln, on my suggesting Stanton, asked me how the leading Republicans would take it; that Stanton was fresh from the Buchanan Cabinet, and many things were said of him.[26] I insisted he was our man withal, and brought him and Lincoln into communication, and Lincoln was entirely satisfied. But so soon as it got out, the doubters came to the front. Senators and members called on me. I sent them to Stanton and told them to decide for themselves. The gunboats were then nearly ready for the Mississippi expedition, and Mr. Lincoln agreed, as soon as they were, to start the Tennessee movement. It was determined that as soon as Mr. Stanton came into the Department, then Colonel Scott should go out to the Western armies and make ready for the campaign in pursuance of your plan, as he has testified before committees. It was a great work to get the matter started; you have no idea of it. We almost fought for it. If ever there was a righteous claim on earth, you have one. I have often been sorry that, knowing all this as I did then, I had not publicly declared you as the author; but we were fully alive to the importance of absolute secrecy. I trusted but few of our people; but to pacify the country I announced from the Senate that the armies were about to move, and inaction was no longer to be tolerated. Mr. Fessenden, head of the Finance Committee, who had been told of the proposed advance, also stated in the Senate that what would be achieved in a few more days would satisfy the country and astound the world.

As the expedition advanced, Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Stanton, and myself frequently alluded to your extraordinary sagacity and unselfish patriotism, but all agreed that you should be recognized for your most noble service and properly rewarded for the same.

The last time I saw Mr. Stanton he was on his deathbed; he was then most earnest in his desire to have you come before Congress, as I told you soon after, and said that if he lived he would see that justice was awarded you. This I have told you often since, and I believe the truth in this matter will finally prevail.


[Footnote 26: Stanton had been the bitterest of Democrats. The Republicans then knew nothing certainly of his course in Buchanan's Cabinet. His appointment surprised the Senate. Wade knew and endorsed him there. That was sufficient.—Riddle's Life of Wade.]

* * * * *

JEFFERSON, OHIO, July 27, 1876.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

Yours of the 22nd is at hand and its contents noticed, but I cannot perceive, myself, that it is necessary for you to procure any further testimony to prove to all unprejudiced minds that you were the first to discover the importance of the Tennessee river in a military point of view, and was the first to discover that said river was navigable for heavy gunboats; and to ascertain these important facts you made a journey to that region, and with great labor and expense, by examination of pilots and others, and that with these facts you drew up a plan of campaign which you, I think, first exhibited to Colonel Scott, who was then Assistant Secretary of War, which was shown to the President and Mr. Stanton, which information and plan caused the immediate change of the campaign from the Mississippi to the Tennessee river, and this change, with all the immense advantages to the national cause, was solely due to your labor and sagacity. I do not regard it as an impeachment of the military sagacity of the officers on either side that they had not seen all this before, but I suppose none of them knew or believed the Tennessee river to be navigable for such craft, for had the Confederate officers known all this it would have been easy for them to have so fortified its banks as to have made such an expedition impossible.

Now all the above facts are proved beyond doubt, unless the witnesses are impeached; but all should bear in mind that when the Government had concluded to make this important change from the Mississippi to the Tennessee the utmost secrecy was absolutely necessary or the whole plan might have been frustrated by the enemy, and it was so kept that even members of Congress and Senators never could ascertain who was entitled to the honor of the plan, as can be seen by their endeavors to find out by consulting the Congressional Globe, etc. * * * Where is Judge Evans and how is his health? I am anxious to hear from him, whom I regard as one of the best of men. Give him my best respects.

Truly yours,


* * * * *


LONDON, November 29, 1875.

My Dear Miss Carroll:

I remember very well that you were the first to advise the campaign on the Tennessee river in November, 1861. This I have never heard doubted, and the great events which followed it demonstrated the value of your suggestions. This will be recognized by our Government, sooner or later, I cannot doubt. On reaching home I hope to shake you by the hand once more.

Sincerely your friend,


* * * * *

Discussions in Congress Showing the Critical Nature of the Situation.

IN THE HOUSE, January 7, 1862.

Mr. KELLEY: I think the condition of this Capital to-day invites war. It is environed within a narrow circle of two hundred thousand men in arms, and yet, sir, that short river which leads to the Capital of a great and proud country, thus defended and encircled by patriot troops, is so thoroughly blockaded by rebels that the Government, though its army has not an adequate supply of forage, cannot bring upon it a peck of oats to feed a hungry horse. * * * Call it what you may, it is a sight at which men may well wonder. We have six hundred thousand men in the field. We have spent I know not how many millions of dollars, and what have we done? What one evidence of determined war or military skill have we exhibited to foreign nations, or to our own people? * * * We have been engaged in war for seven months. * * * England does respect power. * * * Let her hear the shouts of a victorious army, and England and the powers of the continent will pause with bated breath. Sir, it was said yesterday the last days had come. My heart has felt the last day of our dear country was rapidly approaching. Before we have reached victory we have reached bankruptcy. We are to-day flooding the country with an irredeemable currency. In ninety days, with the patriotism of the people paralyzed by the inaction of our great army, the funded debt of the country will depreciate with a rapidity that will startle us. In ninety days more the nations of the world will, I fear, be justified in saying to us, "You have no more right to shut up the cotton fields of the world by a vain and fruitless effort to reconquer the territory now in rebellion than China or Japan has to wall themselves in", and in the eyes of international law, in the eyes of the world, and, I fear, in the eyes of impartial history, they will be justified in breaking our blockade and giving to the rebels means and munitions of war. * * * But, sir, in less than ninety days, to come back to the point of time, we shall be advancing in the month of April, when Northern men will begin to feel the effects of heat in the neighborhood of Ship Island and the mouth of the Mississippi. Looking at the period of ninety days, I say it is not a double but a triple edged sword approaching, perhaps, the single thread of destiny upon which the welfare of our country hangs. Bankruptcy and miasmatic pestilence are sure to come within the lapse of that period, and foreign war may add its horror to theirs.

Mr. WRIGHT: We are gasping for life. This great Government is upon the brink of a volcano, which is heaving to and fro, and we are not certain whether we exist or no.

Mr. F. A. CONKLING: In this crisis of our history, when the very existence of the Republic is threatened, when in all human probability the next thirty days will decide forever whether the Union is to maintain its place among the powers of the earth or whether it is to go down and constitutional liberty is to perish. * * *

* * * * *

IN THE HOUSE, January 20, 1862.

Mr. WRIGHT: There is one great abiding and powerful issue to-day, and that is the issue whether the country and the Constitution shall be saved or whether it shall be utterly and entirely annihilated. With Pennsylvania it is a question of national existence, of life or death. * * * The great heart of Pennsylvania is beating to-day for the cause of the Union. * * * It is to decide the great question whether the liberty which has been handed down to us by our fathers shall be permitted to remain in the land, or whether chaos or desolation shall blot out the country and Government forever.

* * * * *

IN THE SENATE, January 22, 1862.

Mr. WADE: But, sir, though the war lies dormant, still there is war, and it is not intended that it shall stay in this quiescent state much longer. The committee to which I belong are determined * * * that it shall move with energy. If the Congress will not give us, or give themselves, power to act with efficiency in war, we must confide everything to the Executive Government and let them usurp everything. If you would not fix your machinery so that you might advise with me and act with me, * * * I would act independent of you, and you might call it what you please. This is for the suppression of the rebellion, and the measures that we are to sit in secrecy upon look to that end and none other. No measure rises in importance above that connected with the suppression of the rebellion. * * * We stand here for the people and we act for them. * * * There is no danger to be apprehended from any secrecy which, in the consideration of war measures, we may deem it proper to adopt. It is proper for us, as it is for the general in the field, as it is for your Cabinet ministers, to discuss matters in secret when they pertain to war.

* * * * *

IN THE HOUSE, January 22, 1862.

Mr. THADDEUS STEVENS: * * * Remember that every day's delay costs the nation $1,500,000 and hundreds of lives. * * * What an awful responsibility rests upon those in authority; their mistakes may bring mourning to the land and sorrow to many a fireside. * * * If we cannot save our honor, save at least the lives and the treasure of the nation.

* * * * *

About this time Miss Carroll was spoken of by those conversant with her plans as "the great unrecognized member of Lincoln's Cabinet." But, glorious as was the success, Miss Carroll's plans were not fully carried out, to the great after regret of the War Department, who recognized that the war, which might then have been brought to a speedy termination, had been greatly prolonged through the omission.

Miss Carroll continued her communications to the War Department, endeavoring to rectify mistakes.

* * * * *

Extract from Miss Carroll's letter to the Department on the reduction of Island No. 10, and pointing out the advantages of the immediate seizure of the Memphis and Charleston railroad, March 26, 1862.

"The failure to take Island No. 10, which thus far occasions much disappointment to the country, excites no surprise in me. When I looked at the gunboats at St. Louis and was informed as to their power, and considered that the current of the Mississippi at full tide runs at the rate of five miles per hour, which is very near the speed of our gunboats, I could not resist the conclusion that they were not well fitted to the taking of batteries on the Mississippi river if assisted by gunboats perhaps equal to our own. Hence it was that I wrote Colonel Scott from there that the Tennessee was our strategic point, and the successes at Fort Henry and Donelson established the justice of these observations. Had our victorious army, after the fall of Fort Henry, immediately pushed up the Tennessee river and taken a position on the Memphis and Charleston railroad, between Corinth, Mississippi, and Decatur, Alabama, which might easily have been done at that time with a small force, every rebel soldier in Western Kentucky and Tennessee would have fled from every position to the south of that railroad; and had Buell pursued the enemy in his retreat from Nashville, without delay, into a commanding position in North Alabama, on the railroad between Chattanooga and Decatur, the rebel government at Richmond would have necessarily been obliged to retreat to the cotton States. I am fully satisfied that the true policy of General H——is to strengthen Grant's column by such force as will enable him at once to seize the Memphis and Charleston railroad, as it is the readiest means of reducing Island 10 and all the strongholds of the enemy to Memphis."

Letter written from St. Louis, military headquarters for the Southwest:

[27]ST. LOUIS, May 2, 1862.

"I think the war on the approaches to the Tennessee river has ended. I think the enemy will retreat to the Grand Junction, some sixty miles nearer Memphis; and when our forces approach him there, he will go down the Central Mississippi railroad to Jackson, and if there is another great battle in the West it will be there. I think they will try to postpone anything serious until after the pending battles in Virginia. If they make the attempt now every leader would be taken in the event of defeat, without fail, whilst if it is postponed until after the fate of Virginia is decided the leaders can bring what troops they have left and, joining them to what they have here, make one last struggle for life, and if defeated they can escape across the Mississippi into Arkansas, and through that into Texas and Mexico. You may rest assured the leaders will not be caught if they can get away with life; and as to property, they have that secured already. The only way this plan can be frustrated is to occupy Memphis and Vicksburg strongly, particularly the latter, and send one or more of our gunboats up the Yazoo river to watch every creek and inlet, so that they may be unable to get across the swamps by canoes and skiffs.

"I have heard that all the skiffs and canoes have been taken from Memphis and Vicksburg to some point up the Yazoo river and fitted up, for what purpose I do not know, but I can think there is no other than what I name, for one night's ride from Jackson will carry a man to the edge of the Yazoo river swamps, where it would be impossible to follow unless equally well acquainted and with boats like theirs. From there their escape would be easy, as they would have 400 miles of the river to strike, at any part of which they would find friends to assist them over to the Arkansas side of the river, and from there pursuit would be useless."

[Footnote 27: Copied by me on March 23, 1891, from the file at the office of the Attorney General.


[28]Letter from Miss Carroll to Secretary Stanton:

[Footnote 28: Written to recommend Pilot Scott for information given.]

May 14, 1862.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

It will be the obvious policy of the rebels, in the event of Beauregard's defeat, to send a large column into Texas for the purpose of holding that country for subsistence, where beef and wheat abound. Now, all this can be defeated by strongly occupying Vicksburg and plying a gunboat or two on the Yazoo river. I would also suggest a gunboat to be placed at the mouth of the Red and Arkansas rivers. Whether the impending battle in North Mississippi should occur at Corinth or within the area of a hundred miles, a large part of the enemy's forces will retreat by the Yazoo river and by the railroad to Vicksburg, on the Mississippi, and will then take the railroad through Louisiana into Texas. I handed Honorable Mr. Watson on Monday a letter giving information that the canoes, skiffs, and other transports had been sent up the Yazoo river from Memphis and Vicksburg for the purpose, undoubtedly, of securing the rebels' retreat from our pursuing army.

This information I obtained from Mr. Scott, a pilot on the Memphis, which conducted the retreat of the soldiers at the battle of Belmont, and had been with the fleet in the same capacity up the Tennessee river. Until June last he resided in New Orleans, and for twenty years or more has been in his present employment. His wife stated this to me, and with a view of obtaining facts about that section of country I requested her to introduce him to me. I was surprised at his general intelligence in regard to the war, and from the facts I derived from him and other practical men I satisfied myself that the Tennessee river was the true strategic point, and submitted a document to this effect to Hon. Thomas A. Scott, dated the 30th of November, 1861, which changed the whole programme of the war in the Southwest, and inured to the glory of our arms in that section and throughout the land. The Government is not aware of the incalculable service rendered by the facts I learned from this pilot, and I therefore take the present occasion to ask his promotion to the surveyorship of New Orleans, for which I should think him well suited in this crisis.

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