To direct the production, preservation, collection, and distribution of food for the army required a man of rare capacity and character at the head of the subsistence department. It was our good fortune to have such an one in Colonel L. B. Northrop, who was appointed commissary-general at the organization of the bureaus of the executive department of the Confederate Government. He had been an officer of the United States Army, had served in various parts of the South, had been for some time on duty in the commissariat, and, to the special and general knowledge thus acquired, added strong practical sense and incorruptible integrity. Of him and the operations of the subsistence department I shall have more to say hereafter, when treating of the bureaus of the Confederacy.
Assured of an army as large as the population of the Confederate States could furnish, and a sufficient supply of subsistence for such an army, at least until the chances of war should interfere with production and transportation, the immediate object of attention was the organization, instruction, and equipment of the army.
As heretofore stated, there was a prevailing belief that there would be no war, or, if any, that it would be of very short duration. Therefore the first bill which passed the provisional Congress provided for receiving troops for short periods—as my memory serves, for sixty days. The chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, the heroic Colonel Bartow, who sealed his devotion to the cause with his life's blood on the field of Manassas, in deference to my earnest remonstrance against such a policy, returned with the bill to the House (the Congress then consisted of but one House), and procured a modification by which the term of service was extended to twelve months unless sooner discharged.
I had urged upon him, in our conference, the adoption of a much longer period, but he assured me that one year was as much as the Congress would agree to. On this, as on other occasions, that Congress showed a generous desire to yield their preconceived opinions to my objections as far as they consistently could, and, there being but one House, it was easier to change the terms of a bill after conference with the Executive than when, under the permanent organization, objections had to be formally communicated in a message to that branch of Congress in which the bill originated, and when the whole proceeding was of record.
This first act to provide for the public defense became a law on the 28th of February, 1861, and its fifth section so clearly indicates the opinions and expectations prevailing when the Confederation was formed, that it is inserted here:
"That the President be further authorized to receive into the service of this Government such forces now in the service of said States (Confederate States) as may be tendered, or who may volunteer by consent of their State, in such numbers as he may require for any time not less than twelve months unless sooner discharged."
The supremacy of the States is the controlling idea. The President was authorized to receive from the several States the arms and munitions which they might desire to transfer to the Government of the Confederate States, and he was also authorized to receive the forces which the States might tender, or any which should volunteer by the consent of their State, for any time not less than twelve months unless sooner discharged; and such forces were to be received with their officers by companies, battalions, or regiments, and the President, by and with the advice and consent of Congress, was to appoint such general officer or officers for said forces as might be necessary for the service.
It will be seen that the arms and munitions within the limits of the several States were regarded as entirely belonging to them; that the forces which were to constitute the provisional army could only be drawn from the several States by their consent, and that these were to be organized under State authority and to be received with their officers so appointed; that the lowest organization was to be that of a company and the highest that of a regiment, and that the appointment of general officers to command these forces was confided to the Government of the Confederate States, should the assembling of large bodies of troops require organization above that of a regiment; and it will also be observed that provision was made for the discharge of the forces so provided for, before the term of service fixed by the law. No one will fail to perceive how little was anticipated a war of the vast proportions and great duration which ensued, and how tenaciously the sovereignty and self-government of the States were adhered to. At a later period (March 16, 1861) the Congress adopted resolutions recommending to the respective States to "cede the forts, arsenals, navy-yards, dock-yards, and other public establishments within their respective limits to the Confederate States," etc.
The hope which was early entertained of a peaceful solution of the issues pending between the Confederate States and the United States rapidly diminished, so that we find on the 6th of March that the Congress, in its preamble to an act to provide for the public defense, begins with the declaration that, "in order to provide speedily forces to repel invasion," etc., authorized the President to employ the militia, and to ask for and accept the services of any number of volunteers, not exceeding one hundred thousand, and to organize companies into battalions, battalions into regiments, and regiments into brigades and divisions. As in the first law, the President was authorized to appoint the commanding officer of such brigades and divisions, the commissions only to endure while the brigades were in service.
On the same day (March 6, 1861) was enacted the law for the establishment and organization of the Army of the Confederate States of America, this being in contradistinction to the provisional army, which was to be composed of troops tendered by the States, as in the first act, and volunteers received, as in the second act, to constitute a provisional army. That the wish and policy of the Government was peace is again manifested in this act, which, in providing for the military establishment of the Confederacy, fixed the number of enlisted men of all arms at nine thousand four hundred and twenty. Due care was taken to prevent the appointment of incompetent or unworthy persons to be officers of the army, and the right to promotion up to and including the grade of colonel was carefully guarded, and beyond this the professional character of the army was recognized as follows: "Appointments to the rank of brigadier-general, after the army is organized, shall be made by selection from the army." There being no right of promotion above the grade of colonel in the Army of the United States, selection for appointment to the rank of general had no other restriction than the necessity for confirmation by the Senate. The provision just quoted imposed the further restriction of requiring the person nominated by selection to have previously been an officer of the Army of the Confederate States.
Regarding the Army of the United States as belonging neither to a section of the Union nor to the General Government, but to the States conjointly while they remained united, it follows as a corollary of the proposition that, when disintegration occurred, the undivided personnel composing the army would be left free to choose their future place of service. Therefore, provision was made for securing to officers, who should leave the Army of the United States and join that of the Confederate States, the same relative rank in the latter which they held in the former.
"Be it further enacted that all officers who have resigned, or who may within six months tender their resignations, from the Army of the United States, and who have been or may be appointed to original vacancies in the Army of the Confederate States, the commissions issued shall bear one and the same date, so that the relative rank of officers of each grade shall be determined by their former commissions in the United States Army, held anterior to the secession of these Confederate States from the United States."
The provisions hereof are in the view entertained that the army was of the States, not of the Government, and was to secure to officers adhering to the Confederate States the same relative rank which they had before those States had withdrawn from the Union. It was clearly the intent of the law to embrace in this provision only those officers who had resigned or who should resign from the United States Army to enter the service of the Confederacy, or who, in other words, should thus be transferred from one service to the other. It is also to be noted that, in the eleventh section of the act to which this was amendatory, the right of promotion up to the grade of colonel, in established regiments and corps, was absolutely secured, but that appointments to the higher grade should be by selection, at first without restriction, but after the army had been organized the selection was confined to the army, thus recognizing the profession of arms, and relieving officers from the hazard, beyond the limit of their legal right to promotion, of being superseded by civilians through favoritism or political influence.
How well the Government of the Confederacy observed both the letter and the spirit of the law will be seen by reference to its action in the matter of appointments. It is a noteworthy fact that the three highest officers in rank, and whose fame stands unchallenged either for efficiency or zeal, were all so indifferent to any question of personal interest, that they had received their appointment before they were aware it was to be conferred. Each brought from the Army of the United States an enviable reputation, such as would have secured to him, had he chosen to remain in it, after the war commenced, any position his ambition could have coveted. Therefore, against considerations of self-interest, and impelled by devotion to principle, they severed the ties, professional and personal, which had bound them from their youth up to the time when the Southern States, asserting the consecrated truth that all governments rest on the consent of the governed, decided to withdraw from the Union they had voluntarily entered, and the Northern States resolved to coerce them to remain in it against their will. These officers were—first, Samuel Cooper, a native of New York, a graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1815, and who served continuously in the army until March 7, 1861, with such distinction as secured to him the appointment of Adjutant-General of the United States Army. Second, Albert Sidney Johnston, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1826, served conspicuously in the army until 1834, then served in the army of the Republic of Texas, and then in the United States Volunteers in the war with Mexico. Subsequently he reentered the United States Army, and for meritorious conduct attained the rank of brevet brigadier-general. After the secession of Texas, his adopted State, he resigned his commission in the United States Army, May 3, 1861, and traveled by land from California to Richmond to offer his services to the Confederacy. Third, Robert E. Lee, a native of Virginia, a graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1829, when he was appointed in the Engineer Corps of the United States Army, and served continuously and with such distinction as to secure for him in 1847 brevets of three grades above his corps commission. He resigned from the Army of the United States, April 25, 1861, upon the secession of Virginia, in whose army he served until it was transferred to the Confederate States.
Samuel Cooper was the first of these to offer his services to the Confederacy at Montgomery. Having known him most favorably and intimately as Adjutant-General of the United States Army when I was Secretary of War, the value of his services in the organization of a new army was considered so great that I invited him to take the position of Adjutant-General of the Confederate Army, which he accepted without a question either as to relative rank or anything else. The highest grade then authorized by law was that of brigadier-general, and that commission was bestowed upon him.
When General Albert Sidney Johnston reached Richmond he called upon me, and for several days at various intervals we conversed with the freedom and confidence belonging to the close friendship which had existed between us for many years. Consequent upon a remark made by me, he asked to what duty I would assign him, and, when answered, to serve in the West, he expressed his pleasure at service in that section, but inquired how he was to raise his command, and for the first time learned that he had been nominated and confirmed as a general in the Army of the Confederacy.
The third, General Robert E. Lee, had been commissioned by the State of Virginia as major-general and commander of her army. When that army was transferred, after the accession of Virginia to the Confederate States, he was nominated to be brigadier-general in the Confederate Army, but was left for obvious reasons in command of the forces in Virginia. After the seat of government was removed from Montgomery to Richmond, the course of events on the Southern Atlantic coast induced me to direct General Lee to repair thither. Before leaving, he said that, while he was serving in Virginia, he had never thought it needful to inquire about his rank; but now, when about to go into other States and to meet officers with whom he had not been previously connected, he would like to be informed upon that point. Under recent laws, authorizing appointments to higher grades than that of his first commission, he had been appointed a full general; but so wholly had his heart and his mind been consecrated to the public service, that he had not remembered, if he ever knew, of his advancement.
In organizing the bureaus, it was deemed advisable to select, for the chief of each, officers possessing special knowledge of the duties to be performed. The best assurance of that qualification was believed to be service creditably rendered in the several departments of the United States Army before resigning from it. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel A. C. Myers, who had held many important trusts in the United States Quartermaster's Department, was appointed Quartermaster-General of the Confederacy, with the rank of colonel.
Captain L. B. Northrop, a gallant officer of the United States Dragoons, and who, by reason of a wound disabling him to perform regimental duty, had been employed in the subsistence department, was, after resigning from the United States Army, appointed Commissary-General of the Confederate States Army, with the rank of colonel. I have heretofore alluded to the difficult task thus imposed on him, and the success with which he performed it, and would be pleased here to enter into a fuller recital, but have not the needful information in regard to his administration of that department.
Surgeon L. P. Moore, an officer of recognized merit in the United States Medical Department, from which he had resigned to join the Confederacy, was appointed the Surgeon-General of the Confederate States Army. As in the case of other departments, there was in this a want of the stores requisite, as well for the field as the hospital.
To supply medicines which were declared by the enemy to be contraband of war, our medical department had to seek in the forest for substitutes, and to add surgical instruments and appliances to the small stock on hand as best they could.
It would be quite beyond my power to do justice to the skill and knowledge with which the medical corps performed their arduous task, and regret that I have no report from the Surgeon-General, Moore, which would enable me to do justice to the officers of his corps, as well in regard to their humanity as to their professional skill.
In no branch of our service were our needs so great and our means to meet them relatively so small as in the matter of ordnance and ordnance stores. The Chief of Ordnance, General Gorgas, had been an ordnance officer of the United States Army, and resigned to join the Confederacy. He has favored me with a succinct though comprehensive statement, which has enabled me to write somewhat fully of that department; but, for the better understanding of its operations, the reader is referred to the ordnance report elsewhere.
Commissioners to purchase Arms and Ammunition.—My Letter to Captain Semmes.—Resignations of Officers of United States Navy.—Our Destitution of Accessories for the Supply of Naval Vessels.—Secretary Mallory.—Food-Supplies.—The Commissariat Department.—The Quartermaster's Department.—The Disappearance of Delusions.—The Supply of Powder.—Saltpeter.—Sulphur.— Artificial Niter-Beds.—Services of General G. W. Rains.— Destruction at Harper's Ferry of Machinery.—The Master Armorer.—Machinery secured.—Want of Skillful Employees.— Difficulties encountered by Every Department of the Executive Branch of the Government.
On the third day after my inauguration at Montgomery, an officer of extensive information and high capacity was sent to the North, to make purchases of arms, ammunition, and machinery; and soon afterward another officer was sent to Europe, to buy in the market as far as possible, and, furthermore, to make contracts for arms and munitions to be manufactured. Captain (afterward Admiral) Semmes, the officer who was sent to the North, would have been quite successful but for the intervention of the civil authorities, preventing the delivery of the various articles contracted for. The officer who was sent to Europe, Major Huse, found few serviceable arms upon the market; he, however, succeeded in making contracts for the manufacture of large quantities, being in advance of the agents sent from the Northern Government for the same purpose. For further and more detailed information, reference is made to the monograph of the Chief of Ordnance.
My letter of instructions to Captain Semmes was as follows:
"Montgomery, Alabama, February 21, 1861.
"Dear Sir: As agent of the Confederate States, you are authorized to proceed, as hereinafter set forth, to make purchases, and contracts for machinery and munitions, or for the manufacture of arms and munitions of war.
"Of the proprietor of the —— Powder Company, in ——, you will probably be able to obtain cannon- and musket-powder—the former to be of the coarsest grain; and also to engage with him for the establishment of a powder-mill at some point in the limits of our territory.
"The quantity of powder to be supplied immediately will exceed his stock on hand, and the arrangement for further supply should, if possible, be by manufacture in our own territory; if this is not practicable, means must be sought for further shipments from any and all sources which are reliable.
"At the arsenal at Washington you will find an artisan named ——, who has brought the cap-making machine to its present state of efficiency, and who might furnish a cap-machine, and accompany it to direct its operations. If not in this, I hope you may in some other way be able to obtain a cap-machine with little delay, and have it sent to the Mount Vernon Arsenal, Alabama.
"We shall require a manufactory for friction-primers, and you will, if possible, induce some capable person to establish one in our country. The demand of the Confederate States will be the inducement in this as in the case of the powder-mill proposed.
"A short time since, the most improved machinery for the manufacture of rifles, intended for the Harper's Ferry Armory, was, it was said, for sale by the manufacturer. If it be so at this time, you will procure it for this Government, and use the needful precaution in relation to its transportation. Mr. —— ——, of the Harper's Ferry Armory, can give you all the information in that connection which you may require. Mr. Ball, the master armorer at Harper's Ferry, is willing to accept service under our Government, and could probably bring with him skilled workmen. If we get the machinery, this will be important.
"Machinery for grooving muskets and heavy guns is, I hope, to be purchased ready made. If not, you will contract for its manufacture and delivery. You will endeavor to obtain the most improved shot for rifled cannon, and persons skilled in the preparation of that and other fixed ammunition. Captain G. W. Smith and Captain Lovell, late of the United States Army, and now of New York City, may aid you in your task; and you will please say to them that we will be happy to have their services in our army.
"You will make such inquiries as your varied knowledge will suggest in relation to the supply of guns of different calibers, especially the largest. I suggest the advantage, if to be obtained, of having a few of the fifteen-inch guns, like the one cast at Pittsburg.
"I have not sought to prescribe so as to limit your inquiries, either as to object or place, but only to suggest for your reflection and consideration the points which have chanced to come under my observation. You will use your discretion in visiting places where information of persons or things is to be obtained for the furtherance of the object in view. Any contracts made will be sent to the Hon. L. P. Walker, Secretary of War, for his approval; and the contractor need not fear that delay will be encountered in the action of this Government.
"Very respectfully yours, etc.,
(Signed) "Jefferson Davis."
Captain Semmes had also been directed to seek for vessels which would serve for naval purposes, and, after his return, reported that he could not find any vessels which in his judgment were, or could be made, available for our uses. The Southern officers of the navy who were in command of United States vessels abroad, under an idea more creditable to their sentiment than to their knowledge of the nature of our constitutional Union, brought the vessels they commanded into the ports of the North, and, having delivered them to the authorities of the United States Government, generally tendered their resignations, and repaired to the States from which they had been commissioned in the navy, to serve where they held their allegiance to be due. The theory that they owed allegiance to their respective States was founded on the fact that the Federal Government was of the States; the sequence was, that the navy belonged to the States, not to their agent the Federal Government; and, when the States ceased to be united, the naval vessels and armament should have been divided among the owners. While we honor the sentiment which caused them to surrender their heart-bound associations, and the profession to which they were bred, on which they relied for subsistence, to go, with nothing save their swords and faithful hearts, to fight, to bleed, and to die if need be, in defense of their homes and a righteous cause, we can but remember how much was lost by their view of what their honor and duty demanded. Far, however, be it from their countrymen, for that or any other consideration, to wish that their fidelity to the dictates of a conscientious belief should have yielded to any temptation of interest. The course they pursued shows how impossible it was that they should have done so, for what did they not sacrifice to their sense of right! We were doubly bereft by losing our share of the navy we had contributed to build, and by having it all employed to assail us. The application of the appropriations for the Navy of the United States had been such that the construction of vessels had been at the North, though much of the timber used and other material employed was transported from the South to Northern ship-yards. Therefore, we were without the accessories needful for the rapid supply of naval vessels.
While attempting whatever was practicable at home, we sent a competent, well-deserving officer of the navy to England to obtain there and elsewhere, by purchase or by building, vessels which could be transformed into ships of war. These efforts and their results will be noticed more fully hereafter.
It may not be amiss to remark here that, if the anticipations of our people were not realized, it was not from any lack of the zeal and ability of the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Mallory. As was heretofore stated, his fondness for and aptitude in nautical affairs had led him to know much of vessels, their construction and management, and, as chairman of the Committee on United States Naval Affairs, he had superadded to this a very large acquaintance with officers of the United States Navy, which gave him the requisite information for the most useful employment of the instructed officers who joined our service.
At the North many had been deceived by the fictions of preparations at the South for the war of the sections, and among ourselves were few who realized how totally deficient the Southern States were in all which was necessary to the active operations of an army, however gallant the men might be, and however able were the generals who directed and led them. From these causes, operating jointly, resulted undue caution at the North and overweening confidence at the South. The habits of our people in hunting, and protecting their stock in fields from the ravages of ferocious beasts, caused them to be generally supplied with the arms used for such purposes. The facility with which individuals traveled over the country led to very erroneous ideas as to the difficulties of transporting an army. The small amount of ammunition required in time of peace gave no measure of the amount requisite for warlike operations, and the products of a country, which insufficiently supplied food for its inhabitants when peaceful pursuits were uninterrupted, would serve but a short time to furnish the commissariat of a large army. It was, of course, easy to foresee that, if war was waged against the seceding States by all of those which remained in the Union, the large supply of provisions which had been annually sent from the Northwest to the South could not, under the altered circumstances, be relied on. That our people did not more immediately turn their attention to the production of food-supplies, may be attributed to the prevailing delusion that secession would not be followed by war. To the able officer then at the head of the commissariat department, Colonel L. B. Northrop, much credit is due for his well-directed efforts to provide both for immediate and prospective wants. It gives me the greater pleasure to say this, because those less informed of all he did, and skillfully tried to do, have been profuse of criticism, and sparing indeed of the meed justly his due. Adequate facilities for transportation might have relieved the local want of supplies, especially in Virginia, where the largest bodies of troops were assembled; but, unfortunately, the quartermaster's department was scarcely less provided than that of the commissary. Not only were the railroads insufficient in number, but they were poorly furnished with rolling stock, and had been mainly dependent upon Northern foundries and factories for their rails and equipment. Even the skilled operatives of the railroads were generally Northern men, and their desertion followed fast upon every disaster which attended the Confederate arms. In addition to other causes which have been mentioned, the idea that Cotton was king, and would produce foreign intervention, as well as a desire of the Northern people for the return of peace and the restoration of trade, exercised a potent influence in preventing our agriculturists from directing at an early period their capital and labor to the production of food-supplies rather than that of our staple for export. As one after another the illusions vanished, and the material necessities of a great war were recognized by our people, never did patriotic devotion exhibit brighter examples of the sacrifice of self-interest and the abandonment of fixed habits and opinions, or more effective and untiring effort to meet the herculean task which was set before them. Being one of the few who regarded secession and war as inevitably connected, my early attention was given to the organization of military forces and the procurement and preparation of the munitions of war. If our people had not gone to war without counting the cost, they were, nevertheless, involved in it without means of providing for its necessities. It has been heretofore stated that we had no powder-mills. It would be needless to say that the new-born Government had no depots of powder, but it may be well to add that, beyond the small supply required for sporting purposes, our local traders had no stock on hand. Having no manufacturing industries which required saltpeter, very little of that was purchasable in our markets. The same would have been the case in regard to sulphur, but for the fact that it had been recently employed in the clarification of sugar-cane juice, and thus a considerable amount of it was found in New Orleans. Prompt measures were taken to secure a supply of sulphur, and parties were employed to obtain saltpeter from the caves, as well as from the earth of old tobacco-houses and cellars; and artificial niter-beds were made to provide for prospective wants. Of soft wood for charcoal there was abundance, and thus materials were procured for the manufacture of gunpowder to meet the demand which would arise when the limited quantity purchased by the Confederate Government at the North should be exhausted.
It was our good fortune to secure the services of an able and scientific soldier, General G. W. Rains, who, to a military education, added experience in a large manufacturing establishment, and to him was confided the construction of a powder-mill, and the manufacture of powder, both for artillery and small-arms. The appalling contemplation of the inauguration of a great war, without powder or a navy to secure its importation from abroad, was soon relieved by the extraordinary efforts of the ordnance department and the well-directed skill of General Rains, to whom it is but a just tribute to say that, beginning without even instructed workmen, he had, before the close of the war, made what, in the opinion of competent judges, has been pronounced to be the best powder-mill in the world, and in which powder of every variety of grain was manufactured of materials which had been purified from those qualities which cause its deterioration under long exposure to a moist atmosphere.
The avowed purpose and declared obligation of the Federal Government was to occupy and possess the property belonging to the United States, yet one of the first acts was to set fire to the armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, the only establishment of the kind in the Southern States, and the only Southern depository of the rifles which the General Government had then on hand.
What conclusion is to be drawn from such action? To avoid attributing a breach of solemn pledges, it must be supposed that Virginia was considered as out of the Union, and a public enemy, in whose borders it was proper to destroy whatever might be useful to her of the common property of the States lately united.
As soon as the United States troops had evacuated the place, the citizens and armorers went to work to save the armory as far as possible from destruction, and to secure valuable material stored in it. The master armorer, Armistead Ball, so bravely and skillfully directed these efforts, that a large part of the machinery and materials was saved from the flames. The subduing of the fire was a dangerous and difficult task, and great credit is due to those who, under the orders of Master Armorer Ball, attempted and achieved it. When the fire was extinguished, the work was continued and persevered in until all the valuable machinery and material had been collected, boxed, and shipped to Richmond, about the end of the summer of 1861. The machinery thus secured was divided between the arsenals at Richmond, Virginia, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, and, when repaired and put in working condition, supplied to some extent the want which existed in the South of means for the alteration and repair of old or injured arms, and finally contributed to increase the very scanty supply of arms with which our country was furnished when the war began. The practice of the Federal Government, which had kept the construction and manufacture of the material of war at the North, had consequently left the South without the requisite number of skilled workmen by whose labor machinery could at once be made fully effective if it were obtained; indeed, the want of such employees prevented the small amount of machinery on hand from being worked to its full capacity. The gallant Master Armorer Ball, whose capacity, zeal, and fidelity deserve more than a passing notice, was sent with that part of the machinery assigned to the Fayetteville Arsenal. The toil, the anxiety, and responsibility of his perilous position at Harper's Ferry, where he remained long after the protecting force of the Confederate army retired, had probably undermined a constitution so vigorous that, in the face of a great exigency, no labor seemed too great or too long for him to grapple with and endure. So, like a ship which, after having weathered the storm, goes down in the calm, the master armorer, soon after he took his quiet post at Fayetteville, was "found dead in his bed."
The difficulties which on every side met the several departments of the executive branch of the Government one must suppose were but little appreciated by many, whose opportunities for exact observation were the best, as one often meets with self-complacent expressions as to modes of achieving readily what prompt, patient, zealous effort proved to be insurmountable. In the progress of this work, it is hoped, will be presented not only the magnitude of the obstacles, but the spirit and capacity with which they were encountered by the unseen and much undervalued labors of the officers of the several departments, on whom devolved provision for the civil service, as well as for the armies in the field. Already has the report of General St. John, Commissary- General of Subsistence, of the operations of that department, just before the close of the war, exposed the hollowness of many sensational pictures intended to fix gross neglect or utter incapacity on the Executive.
The hoped-for and expected monograms of other chiefs of bureaus will silence like criticisms on each, so far as they are made by those who are not willfully blind, or maliciously intent on the circulation of falsehood.
The Proclamation for Seventy-five Thousand Men by President Lincoln further examined.—The Reasons presented by him to Mankind for the Justification of his Conduct shown to be Mere Fictions, having no Relation to the Question.—What is the Value of Constitutional Liberty, of Bills of Rights, of Limitations of Powers, if they may be transgressed at Pleasure?—Secession of South Carolina.—Proclamation of Blockade.—Session of Congress at Montgomery.—Extracts from the President's Message.—Acts of Congress.—Spirit of the People.—Secession of Border States.—Destruction of United States Property by Order of President Lincoln.
If any further evidence had been required to show that it was the determination of the Northern people not only to make no concessions to the grievances of the Southern States, but to increase them to the last extremity, it was furnished by the proclamation of President Lincoln, issued on April 15, 1861. This proclamation, which has already been mentioned, requires a further examination, as it was the official declaration, on the part of the Government of the United States, of the war which ensued. In it the President called for seventy-five thousand men to suppress "combinations" opposed to the laws, and obstructing their execution in seven sovereign States which had retired from the Union. Seventy-five thousand men organized and equipped are a powerful army, and, when raised to operate against these States, nothing else than war could be intended. The words in which he summoned this force were these: "Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are, opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law: Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, by virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and laws," etc.
The power granted in the Constitution is thus expressed: "The Congress shall have power to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions." It was to the Congress, not the Executive, to whom the power was delegated, and thus early was commenced a long series of usurpations of powers inconsistent with the purposes for which the Union was formed, and destructive of the fraternity it was designed to perpetuate.
On November 6, 1860, the Legislature of South Carolina assembled and gave the vote of the State for electors of a President of the United States. On the next day an act was passed calling a State Convention to assemble on December 17th, to determine the question of the withdrawal of the State from the United States. Candidates for membership were immediately nominated. All were in favor of secession. The Convention assembled on December 17th, and on the 20th passed "an ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled 'The Constitution of the United States of America.'" The ordinance began with these words: "We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain," etc. The State authorities immediately conformed to this action of the Convention, and the laws and authority of the United States ceased to be obeyed within the limits of the State. About four months afterward, when the State, in union with others which had joined her, had possessed herself of the forts within her limits, which the United States Government had refused to evacuate, President Lincoln issued the above-mentioned proclamation.
The State of South Carolina is designated in the proclamation as a combination too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law. This designation does not recognize the State, or manifest any consciousness of its existence, whereas South Carolina was one of the colonies that had declared her independence, and, after a long and bloody war, she had been recognized as a sovereign State by Great Britain, the only power to which she had ever owed allegiance. The fact that she had been one of the colonies in the original Congress, had been a member of the Confederation, and subsequently of the Union, strengthens, but surely can not impair, her claim to be a State. Though President Lincoln designated her as a "combination," it did not make her a combination. Though he refused to recognize her as a State, it did not make her any less a State. By assertion, he attempted to annihilate seven States; and the war which followed was to enforce the revolutionary edict, and to establish the supremacy of the General Government on the ruins of the blood-bought independence of the States.
By designating the State as a "combination," and considering that under such a name it might be in a condition of insurrection, he assumed to have authority to raise a great military force and attack the State. Yet, even if the fact had been as assumed, if an insurrection had existed, the President could not lawfully have derived the power he exercised from such condition of affairs. The provision of the Constitution is as follows: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature can not be convened), against domestic violence." So the guarantee availed not at all to justify the act which it was presented to excuse—the fact being that a State, and not an "unlawful combination," as asserted, was the object of assault, and the case one of making war. For a State or union of States to attack with military force another State, is to make war. By the Constitution, the power to make war is given solely to Congress. "Congress shall have power to declare war," says the Constitution. And, again, "to raise and support armies." Thus, under a perverted use of language, the Executive at Washington did that which he undeniably had no power to do, under a faithful observance of the Constitution.
To justify himself to Congress and the people, or, rather, before the face of mankind, for this evasion of the Constitution of his country, President Lincoln, in his message to Congress, of July 4, 1861, resorted to the artifice of saying, "It [meaning the proceedings of the Confederate States] presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic or democracy—a government of the people by the same people—can, or can not, maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes?"
The answer to this question is very plain. In the nature of things, no union can be formed except by separate, independent, and distinct parties. Any other combination is not a union; and, upon the destruction of any of these elements in the parties, the union ipso facto ceases. If the Government is the result of a union of States, then these States must be separate, sovereign, and distinct, to be able to form a union, which is entirely an act of their own volition. Such a government as ours had no power to maintain its existence any longer than the contracting parties pleased to cohere, because it was founded on the great principle of voluntary federation, and organized "to establish justice and insure domestic tranquillity." Any departure from this principle by the General Government not only perverts and destroys its nature, but furnishes a just cause to the injured State to withdraw from the union. A new union might subsequently be formed, but the original one could never by coercion be restored. Any effort on the part of the others to force the seceding State to consent to come back is an attempt at subjugation. It is a wrong which no lapse of time or combination of circumstances can ever make right. A forced union is a political absurdity. No less absurd is President Lincoln's effort to dissever the sovereignty of the people from that of the State; as if there could be a State without a people, or a sovereign people without a State.
But the question which Mr. Lincoln presents "to the whole family of man" deserves a further notice. The answer which he seems to infer would be given "by the whole family of man" is that such a government as he supposes "can maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes." And, therefore, he concluded that he was right in the judgment of "the whole family of man" in commencing hostilities against us. He says, "So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the war power of the Government." That is the power to make war against foreign nations, for the Government has no other war power. Planting himself on this position, he commenced the devastation and bloodshed which followed to effect our subjugation.
Nothing could be more erroneous than such views. The supposed case which he presents is entirely unlike the real case. The Government of the United States is like no other government. It is neither a "constitutional republic or democracy," nor has it ever been thus called. Neither is it a "government of the people by the same people"; but it is known and designated as "the Government of the United States." It is an anomaly among governments. Its authority consists solely of certain powers delegated to it, as a common agent, by an association of sovereign and independent States. These powers are to be exercised only for certain specified objects; and the purposes, declared in the beginning of the deed or instrument of delegation, were "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
The beginning and the end of all the powers of the Government of the United States are to be found in that instrument of delegation. All its powers are there expressed, defined, and limited. It was only to that instrument Mr. Lincoln as President should have gone to learn his duties. That was the chart which he had just solemnly pledged himself to the country faithfully to follow. He soon deviated widely from it—and fatally erroneous was his course. The administration of the affairs of a great people, at a most perilous period, is decided by the answer which it is assumed "the whole family of man" would give to a supposed condition of human affairs which did not exist and which could not exist. This is the ground upon which the rectitude of his cause was placed. He says, "No choice was left but to call out the war power of the Government, and so to resist force employed for its destruction by force for its preservation."
"Here," he says, "no choice was left but to call out the war power of the Government." For what purpose must he call out this war power? He answers, by saying, "and so to resist force employed for its destruction by force for its preservation." But this which he asserts is not a fact. There was no "force employed for its destruction." Let the reader turn to the record of the facts in Part III of this work, and peruse the fruitless efforts for peace which were made by us, and which Mr. Lincoln did not deign to notice. The assertion is not only incorrect, in stating that force was employed by us, but also in declaring that it was for the destruction of the Government of the United States. On the contrary, we wished to leave it alone. Our separation did not involve its destruction. To such fiction was Mr. Lincoln compelled to resort to give even apparent justice to his cause. He now goes to the Constitution for the exercise of his war power, and here we have another fiction.
On April 19th, four days later, President Lincoln issued another proclamation, announcing a blockade of the ports of seven confederated States, which was afterward extended to North Carolina and Virginia. It further declared that all persons who should under their authority molest any vessel of the United States, or the persons or cargo on board, should be treated as pirates. In their efforts to subjugate us, the destruction of our commerce was regarded by the authorities at Washington as a most efficient measure. It was early seen that, although acts of Congress established ports of entry where commerce existed, they might be repealed, and the ports nominally closed or declared to be closed; yet such a declaration would be of no avail unless sustained by a naval force, as these ports were located in territory not subject to the United States. An act was subsequently passed authorizing the President of the United States, in his discretion, to close our ports, but it was never executed.
The scheme of blockade was resorted to, and a falsehood was asserted on which to base it. Mr. Seward writes to Mr. Dallas: "You will say (to Lord John Russell) that, by our own laws and the laws of nature and the laws of nations, this Government has a clear right to suppress insurrection. An exclusion of commerce from national ports which have been seized by insurgents, in the equitable form of blockade, is a proper means to that end." This is the same doctrine of "combinations" fabricated by the authorities at Washington to serve as the basis of a bloody revolution. Under the laws of nations, separate governments when at war blockade each other's ports. This is decided to be justifiable. But the Government of the United States could not consent to justify its blockade of our ports on this ground, as it would be an admission that the Confederate States were a separate and distinct sovereignty, and that the war was prosecuted only for subjugation. It, therefore, assumed that the withdrawal of the Southern States from the Union was an insurrection.
Was it an insurrection? When certain sovereign and independent States form a union with limited powers for some general purposes, and any one or more of them, in the progress of time, suffer unjust and oppressive grievances for which there is no redress but in a withdrawal from the association, is such withdrawal an insurrection? If so, then of what advantage is a compact of union to States? Within the Union are oppressions and grievances; and the attempt to go out brings war and subjugation. The ambitious and aggressive States obtain possession of the central authority which, having grown strong in the lapse of time, asserts its entire sovereignty over the States. Whichever of them denies it and seeks to retire, is declared to be guilty of insurrection, its citizens are stigmatized as "rebels," as if they had revolted against a master, and a war of subjugation is begun. If this action is once tolerated, where will it end? Where is the value of constitutional liberty? What strength is there in bills of rights—in limitations of power? What new hope for mankind is to be found in written constitutions, what remedy which did not exist under kings or emperors? If the doctrines thus announced by the Government of the United States are conceded, then, look through either end of the political telescope, and one sees only an empire, and the once famous Declaration of Independence trodden in the dust as a "glittering generality," and the compact of union denounced as a "flaunting lie." Those who submit to such consequences without resistance are not worthy of the liberties and the rights to which they were born, and deserve to be made slaves. Such must be the verdict of mankind.
Men do not fight to make a fraternal union, neither do nations. These military preparations of the Government of the United States signified nothing less than the subjugation of the Southern States, so that, by one devastating blow, the North might grasp for ever that supremacy it had so long coveted.
To be prepared for self-defense, I called Congress together at Montgomery on April 29th, and, in the message of that date, thus spoke of the proclamation of the President of the United States: "Apparently contradictory as are the terms of this singular document, one point is unmistakably evident. The President of the United States calls for an army of seventy-five thousand men, whose first service is to be the capture of our forts. It is a plain declaration of war, which I am not at liberty to disregard, because of my knowledge that, under the Constitution of the United States, the President is usurping a power granted exclusively to Congress."
I then proceeded to say that I did not feel at liberty to disregard the fact that many of the States seemed quite content to submit to the exercise of the powers assumed by the President of the United States, and were actively engaged in levying troops for the purpose indicated in the proclamation. Meantime, being deprived of the aid of Congress, I had been under the necessity of confining my action to a call on the States for volunteers for the common defense, in accordance with authority previously conferred on me. I stated that there were then in the field, at Charleston, Pensacola, Forts Morgan, Jackson, St. Philip, and Pulaski, nineteen thousand men, and sixteen thousand more were on their way to Virginia; that it was proposed to organize and hold in readiness for instant action, in view of the existing exigencies of the country, an army of one hundred thousand men; and that, if a further force should be needed, Congress would be appealed to for authority to call it into the field. Finally, that the intent of the President of the United States, already developed, to invade our soil, capture our forts, blockade our ports, and wage war against us, rendered it necessary to raise means to a much larger amount than had been done, to defray the expenses of maintaining independence and repelling invasion.
A brief summary of the internal affairs of the Government followed, and, notwithstanding frequent declarations of the peaceful intentions of the withdrawing States had been made in the most solemn manner, it was deemed not to be out of place to repeat them once more; and, therefore, the message closed with these words: "We protest solemnly, in the face of mankind, that we desire peace at any sacrifice, save that of honor. In independence we seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we have lately been confederated. All we ask is to be let alone—that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms. This we will, we must, resist to the direst extremity. The moment that this pretension is abandoned, the sword will drop from our grasp, and we shall be ready to enter into treaties of amity and commerce that can not but be mutually beneficial. So long as this pretension is maintained, with a firm reliance on that Divine Power which covers with its protection the just cause, we must continue to struggle for our inherent right to freedom, independence, and self-government."
At this session Congress passed acts authorizing the President to use the whole land and naval force to meet the necessities of the war thus commenced; to issue to private armed vessels letters of marque; in addition to the volunteer force authorized to be raised, to accept the services of volunteers, to serve during the war; to receive into the service various companies of the different arms; to make a loan of fifty millions of dollars in bonds and notes; and to hold an election for officers of the permanent Government under the new Constitution. An act was also passed to provide revenue from imports; another, relative to prisoners of war; and such others as were necessary to complete the internal organization of the Government, and establish the administration of public affairs.
In every portion of the country there was exhibited the most patriotic devotion to the common cause. Transportation companies freely tendered the use of their lines for troops and supplies. Requisitions for troops were met with such alacrity that the number offering their services in every instance greatly exceeded the demand and the ability to arm them. Men of the highest official and social position served as volunteers in the ranks. The gravity of age and the zeal of youth rivaled each other in the desire to be foremost in the public defense.
The appearance of the proclamation of the President of the United States, calling out seventy-five thousand men, was followed by the immediate withdrawal of the States of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and their union with the Confederate States. The former State, thus placed on the frontier and exposed to invasion, began to prepare for a resolute defense. Volunteers were ordered to be enrolled and held in readiness in every part of the State. Colonel Robert E. Lee, having resigned his commission in the United States cavalry, was on April 22d nominated and confirmed by the State Convention of Virginia as "Commander-in-Chief of the military and naval forces of the Commonwealth."
Already the Northern officer in charge had evacuated Harper's Ferry, after having attempted to destroy the public buildings there. His report says: "I gave the order to apply the torch. In three minutes or less, both of the arsenal buildings, containing nearly fifteen thousand stand of arms, together with the carpenter's shop, which was at the upper end of a long and connected series of workshops of the armory proper, were in a blaze. There is every reason for believing the destruction was complete." Mr. Simon Cameron, the Secretary of War, on April 22d replied to this report in these words: "I am directed by the President of the United States to communicate to you, and through you to the officers and men under your command at Harper's Ferry Armory, the approbation of the Government of your and their judicious conduct there, and to tender you and them the thanks of the Government for the same." At the same time the ship-yard at Norfolk was abandoned after an attempt to destroy it. About midnight of April 20th, a fire was started in the yard, which continued to increase, and before daylight the work of destruction extended to two immense ship-houses, one of which contained the entire frame of a seventy-four-gun ship, and to the long ranges of stores and offices on each side of the entrance. The great ship Pennsylvania was burned, and the frigates Merrimac and Columbus, and the Delaware, Raritan, Plymouth, and Germantown were sunk. A vast amount of machinery, valuable engines, small-arms, and chronometers, was broken up and rendered entirely useless. The value of the property destroyed was estimated at several millions of dollars.
This property thus destroyed had been accumulated and constructed with laborious care and skillful ingenuity during a course of years to fulfill one of the objects of the Constitution, which was expressed in these words, "To provide for the common defense" (see Preamble of the Constitution). It had belonged to all the States in common, and to each one equally with the others. If the Confederate States were still members of the Union, as the President of the United States asserted, where can he find a justification of these acts?
In explanation of his policy to the Commissioners sent to him by the Virginia State Convention, he said, referring to his inaugural address, "As I then and therein said, I now repeat, the power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess property and places belonging to the Government." Yet he tendered the thanks of the Government to those who applied the torch to destroy this property belonging, as he regarded it, to the Government.
How unreasonable, how blind with rage must have been that administration of affairs which so quickly brought the Government to the necessity of destroying its own means of defense in order, as it publicly declared, "to maintain its life"! It would seem as if the passions that rule the savage had taken possession of the authorities at the United States capital! In the conflagrations of vast structures, the wanton destruction of public property, and still more in the issue of lettres de cachet by the Secretary of State, who boasted of the power of his little bell over the personal liberties of the citizen, the people saw, or might have seen, the rapid strides toward despotism made under the mask of preserving the Union. Yet these and similar measures were tolerated because the sectional hate dominated in the Northern States over the higher motives of constitutional and moral obligation.
[Footnote 169: Constitution of the United States, Article I, section 8.]
[Footnote 170: Constitution of the United States, Article IV, section 4.]
[Footnote 171: Article I, section 8.]
[Footnote 172: Ibid.]
[Footnote 173: Constitution of the United States, preamble.]
[Footnote 174: Diplomatic correspondence, May 21, 1861.]
Maryland first approached by Northern Invasion.—Denies to United States Troops the Right of Way across her Domain.—Mission of Judge Handy.—Views of Governor Hicks.—His Proclamation.—Arrival of Massachusetts Troops at Baltimore.—Passage through the City disputed.—Activity of the Police.—Burning of Bridges.—Letter of President Lincoln to the Governor.—Visited by Citizens.—Action of the State Legislature.—Occupation of the Relay House.—The City Arms surrendered.—City in Possession of United States Troops.—Remonstrances of the City to the Passage of Troops disregarded.—Citizens arrested; also, Members of the Legislature.—Accumulation of Northern Forces at Washington.—Invasion of West Virginia by a Force under McClellan.—Attack at Philippi; at Laurel Hill.—Death of General Garnett.
The border State of Maryland was the outpost of the South on the frontier first to be approached by Northern invasion. The first demonstration against State sovereignty was to be made there, and in her fate were the other slaveholding States of the border to have warning of what they were to expect. She had chosen to be, for the time at least, neutral in the impending war, and had denied to the United States troops the right of way across her domain in their march to invade the Southern States. The Governor (Hicks) avowed a desire, not only that the State should avoid war, but that she should be a means for pacifying those more disposed to engage in combat.
Judge Handy, a distinguished citizen of Mississippi, who was born in Maryland, had, in December, 1860, been sent as a commissioner from the State of his adoption to that of his birth, and presented his views and the object of his mission to Governor Hicks, who, in his response (December 19, 1860), declared his purpose to act in full concert with the other border States, adding, "I do not doubt the people of Maryland are ready to go with the people of those States for weal or woe." Subsequently, in answer to appeals for and against a proclamation assembling the Legislature, in order to have a call for a State convention, Governor Hicks issued an address, in which, arguing that there was no necessity to define the position of Maryland, he wrote: "If the action of the Legislature would be simply to declare that Maryland was with the South in sympathy and feeling; that she demands from the North the repeal of offensive, unconstitutional statutes, and appeals to it for new guarantees; that she will wait a reasonable time for the North to purge her statute-books, to do justice to her Southern brethren; and, if her appeals are vain, will make common cause with her sister border States in resistance to tyranny, if need be, it would only be saying what the whole country well knows," etc.
On the 18th of April, 1861, Governor Hicks issued a proclamation invoking them to preserve the peace, and said, "I assure the people that no troops will be sent from Maryland, unless it may be for the defense of the national capital." On the same day Mayor Brown, of the city of Baltimore, issued a proclamation in which, referring to that of the Governor above cited, he said, "I can not withhold my expression of satisfaction at his resolution that no troops shall be sent from Maryland to the soil of any other State." It will be remembered that the capital was on a site which originally belonged to Maryland, and was ceded by her for a special use, so that troops to defend the capital might be considered as not having been sent out of Maryland. It will be remembered that these proclamations were three days after the requisition made by the Secretary of War on the States which had not seceded for their quota of troops to serve in the war about to be inaugurated against the South, and that rumors existed at the time in Baltimore that troops from the Northeast were about to be sent through that city toward the South. On the next day, viz., the 19th of April, 1861, a body of troops arrived at the railroad depot; the citizens assembled in large numbers, and, though without arms, disputed the passage through the city. They attacked the troops with the loose stones found in the street, which was undergoing repair, and with such determination and violence, that some of the soldiers were wounded, and they fired upon the multitude, killing a few and wounding many.
The police of Baltimore were very active in their efforts to prevent conflict and preserve the peace; they rescued the baggage and munitions of the troops, which had been seized by the multitude; and the rear portion of the troops was, by direction of Governor Hicks, sent back to the borders of the State. The troops who had got through the city took the railroad at the Southern Depot and passed on. The militia of the city was called out, and by evening quiet was restored. During the night, on a report that more Northern troops were approaching the city by the railroads, the bridges nearest to the city were destroyed, as it was understood, by orders from the authorities of Baltimore.
On the 20th of April President Lincoln wrote in reply to Governor Hicks and Mayor Brown, saying, "For the future, troops must be brought here, but I make no point of bringing them through Baltimore." On the next day, the 21st, Mayor Brown and other influential citizens, by request of the President, visited him. The interview took place in presence of the Cabinet and General Scott, and was reported to the public by the Mayor after his return to Baltimore. From that report I make the following extracts. Referring to the President, the Mayor uses the following language:
"The protection of Washington, he asseverated with great earnestness, was the sole object of concentrating troops there, and he protested that none of the troops brought through Maryland were intended for any purposes hostile to the State, or aggressive as against the Southern States.... He called on General Scott for his opinion, which the General gave at great length, to the effect that troops might be brought through Maryland without going through Baltimore, etc.... The interview terminated with the distinct assurance, on the part of the President, that no more troops would be sent through Baltimore, unless obstructed in their transit in other directions, and with the understanding that the city authorities should do their best to restrain their own people.
"The Mayor and his companions availed themselves of the President's full discussion of the questions of the day to urge upon him respectfully, but in the most earnest manner, a course of policy which would give peace to the country, and especially the withdrawal of all orders contemplating the passage of troops through any part of Maryland."
The Legislature of the State of Maryland appointed commissioners to the Confederate Government to suggest to it the cessation of impending hostilities until the meeting of Congress at Washington in July. Commissioners with like instructions were also sent to Washington. In my reply to the Commissioners, dated 25th of May, 1861, I referred to the uniform expression of desire for peace on the part of the Confederate Government, and added:
"In deference to the State of Maryland, it again asserts in the most emphatic terms that its sincere and earnest desire is for peace; but that, while the Government would readily entertain any proposition from the Government of the United States tending to a peaceful solution of the present difficulties, the recent attempts of this Government to enter into negotiations with that of the United States were attended with results which forbid any renewal of proposals from it to that Government.... Its policy can not but be peace—peace with all nations and people."
On the 5th of May, the Relay House, at the junction of the Washington and Baltimore and Ohio Railroads, was occupied by United States troops under General Butler, and, on the 13th of the same month, he moved a portion of the troops to Baltimore, and took position on Federal Hill—thus was consummated the military occupation of Baltimore. On the next day, reenforcements were received; and, on the same day, the commanding General issued a proclamation to the citizens, in which he announced to them his purpose and authority to discriminate between citizens, those who agreed with him being denominated "well disposed," and the others described with many offensive epithets. The initiatory step of the policy subsequently developed was found in one sentence: "Therefore, all manufacturers of arms and munitions of war are hereby requested to report to me forthwith, so that the lawfulness of their occupations may be known and understood, and all misconstruction of their doings avoided."
There soon followed a demand for the surrender of the arms stored by the city authorities in a warehouse. The police refused to surrender them without the orders of the police commissioners. The police commissioners, upon representation that the demand of General Butler was by order of the President, decided to surrender the arms under protest, and they were accordingly removed to Fort McHenry.
Baltimore was now disarmed. The Army of the United States had control of the city. There was no longer necessity to regard the remonstrance of Baltimore against sending troops through the city, and that more convenient route was henceforth to be employed. George P. Kane, Marshal of the Police of Baltimore, who had rendered most efficient service for the preservation of peace, as well in the city of Baltimore as at Locust Point, where troops were disembarked to be dispatched to Washington, was arrested at home by a military force, and sent to Fort McHenry, and a provost-marshal was appointed by General Banks, who had succeeded to the command. The excuse given for the arrest of Marshal Kane was that he was believed to be cognizant of combinations of men waiting for an opportunity to unite with those in rebellion against the United States Government. Whether the suspicion were well or ill founded, it constituted a poor excuse for depriving a citizen of his liberty without legal warrant and without proof. But this was only the beginning of unbridled despotism and a reign of terror. The Mayor and Police Commissioners, Charles Howard, William H. Gatchell, and John W. Davis, held a meeting, and, after preparing a protest against the suspension of their functions in the appointment of a provost-marshall, resolved that, while they would do nothing to "obstruct the execution of such measures as Major-General Banks may deem proper to take, on his own responsibility, for the preservation of the peace of the city and of public order, they can not, consistently with their views of official duty and of the obligations of their oaths of office, recognize the right of any of the officers and men of the police force, as such, to receive orders or directions from any other authority than from this Board; and that, in the opinion of the Board, the forcible suspension of their functions suspends at the same time the active operations of the police law." The Provost-Marshal, with the plenary powers conferred upon him, commenced a system of search and seizure, in private houses, of arms and munitions of every description.
On the 1st of July, General Banks announced that, "in pursuance of orders issued from the headquarters at Washington for the preservation of the public peace in this department, I have arrested, and do detain in custody of the United States, the late members of the Board of Police—Messrs. Charles Howard, William H. Gatchell, Charles D. Hinks, and John W. Davis." If the object had been to preserve order by any proper and legitimate method, the effective means would palpably have been to rely upon men whose influence was known to be great, and whose integrity was certainly unquestionable. The first-named of the commissioners I knew well. He was of an old Maryland family, honored for their public services, and himself adorned by every social virtue. Old, unambitious, hospitable, gentle, loving, he was beloved by the people among whom his long life had been passed. Could such a man be the just object of suspicion, if, when laws had been silenced, suspicion could justify arrest and imprisonment? Those who knew him will accept as a just description:
"In action faithful, and in honor clear, Who broke no promise, served no private end, Who gained no title, and who lost no friend."
Thenceforward, arrests of the most illustrious became the rule. In a land where freedom of speech was held to be an unquestioned right, freedom of thought ceased to exist, and men were incarcerated for opinion's sake.
In the Maryland Legislature, the Hon. S. Teacle Wallis, from a committee to whom was referred the memorial of the police commissioners arrested in Baltimore, made a report upon the unconstitutionality of the act, and "appealed in the most earnest manner to the whole people of the country, of all parties, sections, and opinions, to take warnings by the usurpations mentioned, and come to the rescue of the free institutions of the country."
For no better reason, so far as the public was informed, than a vote in favor of certain resolutions, General Banks sent his provost-marshal to Frederick, where the Legislature was in session; a cordon of pickets was placed around the town to prevent any one from leaving it without a written permission from a member of General Banks's staff; police detectives from Baltimore then went into the town and arrested some twelve or thirteen members and several officers of the Legislature, which, thereby left without a quorum, was prevented from organizing, and it performed the only act which it was competent to do, i.e., adjourned. S. Teacle Wallis, the author of the report in defense of the constitutional rights of citizens, was among those arrested. Henry May, a member of Congress, who had introduced a resolution which he hoped would be promotive of peace, was another of those arrested and thrown into prison. Senator Kennedy, of the same State, presented a report of the Legislature to the United States Senate, reciting the outrage inflicted upon Maryland in the persons of her municipal officers and citizens, and, after some opposition, merely obtained an order to have it printed. Governor Hicks, whose promises had been so cheering in the beginning of the year, sent his final message to the Legislature on December 3, 1861. In that, referring to the action of the Maryland Legislature at its several sessions before that when the arrest of its members prevented an organization, he wrote, "This continued until the General Government had ample reason to believe it was about to go through the farce of enacting an ordinance of secession, when the treason was summarily stopped by the dispersion of the traitors...." After referring to the elections of the 13th of June and the 6th of November, he says, the people have "declared, in the most emphatic tones, what I have never doubted, that Maryland has no sympathy with the rebellion, and desires to do her full share in the duty of suppressing it." It would be more easy than gracious to point out the inconsistency between his first statements and this last. The conclusion is inevitable that he kept himself in equipoise, and fell at last, as men without convictions usually do, upon the stronger side.
Henceforth the story of Maryland is sad to the last degree, only relieved by the gallant men who left their homes to fight the battle of State rights when Maryland no longer furnished them a field on which they could maintain the rights their fathers left them. This was a fate doubly sad to the sons of the heroic men who, under the designation of the "Maryland Line," did so much in our Revolutionary struggle to secure the independence of the States; of the men who, at a later day, fought the battle of North Point; of the people of a land which had furnished so many heroes and statesmen, and gave the great Chief-Justice Taney to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Though Maryland did not become one of the Confederate States, she was endeared to the people thereof by many most enduring ties. Last in order, but first in cordiality, were the tender ministrations of her noble daughters to the sick and wounded prisoners who were carried through the streets of Baltimore; and it is with shame we remember that brutal guards on several occasions inflicted wounds upon gentlewomen who approached these suffering prisoners to offer them the relief of which they so evidently stood in need.
The accumulation of Northern forces at and near Washington City, made it evident that the great effort of the invasion would be from that point, while assaults of more or less vigor might be expected upon all important places which the enemy, by his facilities for transportation, could reach. The concentration of Confederate troops in Virginia was begun, and they were sent forward as rapidly as practicable to the points threatened with attack.
It was soon manifest that, besides the army at Washington, which threatened Virginia, there was a second one at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, under Major-General Patterson, designed to move through Williamsport and Martinsburg, and another forming in Ohio, under the command of Major-General McClellan, destined to invade the western counties of Virginia.
This latter force, having landed at Wheeling on May 26th, advanced as far as Grafton on the 29th. At this time Colonel Porterfield, with the small force of seven hundred men, sent forward by Governor Letcher, of Virginia, was at Philippi. On the night of June 2d he was attacked by General McClellan, with a strong force, and withdrew to Laurel Hill. Reenforcements under General Garnett were sent forward and occupied the hill, while Colonel Pegram, the second in command, held Rich Mountain. On July 11th the latter was attacked by two columns of the enemy, and, after a vigorous defense, fell back on the 12th, losing many of his men, who were made prisoners. General Garnett, hearing of this reverse, attempted to fall back, but was pursued by McClellan, and, while striving to rally his rear guard, was killed. Five hundred of his men were taken prisoners. This success left the Northern forces in possession of that region.
The difficult character of the country in which the battle was fought, as well from mountain acclivity as dense wood, rendered a minute knowledge of the roads of vast importance. There is reason to believe that competent guides led the enemy, by roads unknown to our army, to the flank and rear of its position, and thus caused the sacrifice of those who had patriotically come to repel the invasion of the very people who furnished the guides to the enemy. It was treachery confounding the counsels of the brave. Thus occurred the disaster of Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill.
General Robert Garnett was a native of Virginia, and a graduate of the United States Military Academy. He served in Mexico, on the staff of General Z. Taylor, and was conspicuous for gallantry and good conduct, especially in the battles of Monterey and Buena Vista. Recognizing his allegiance as due to the State of Virginia, from which he was appointed a cadet, and thence won his various promotions in the army, he resigned his commission when the State withdrew from the Union, and earnestly and usefully served as aide-de-camp to General R. E. Lee, the commander-in-chief of the Army of Virginia, until she acceded to the Confederacy.
When Western Virginia was invaded, he offered his services to go to her defense, and, relying confidently on the sentiment, so strong in his own heart, of devotion to the State by all Virginians, he believed it was only needful for him to have a nucleus around which the people could rally to resist the invasion of their country. How sadly he was disappointed, and how bravely he struggled against adverse fortune, and how gallantly he died in the discharge of his duty, are memories which, though sad, bear with them to his friends the consolation that the manner of his death was worthy of the way in which he lived, and that even his life was an offering he was not unwilling to make for the welfare and honor of Virginia.
He fell while commanding the rear guard, to save his retreating army, thus exemplifying the highest quality of man, self-sacrifice for others, and such devotion and fortitude as made Ney the grandest figure in Bonaparte's retreat from Moscow.
[Footnote 175: "Annual Cyclopaedia," vol. i, p. 443.]
[Footnote 176: "Baltimore American," June 28, 1861.]
[Footnote 177: New York "World", August 6, 1861.]
Removal of the Seat of Government to Richmond.—Message to Congress at Richmond.—Confederate Forces in Virginia.—Forces of the Enemy.—Letter to General Johnston.—Combat at Bethel Church.—Affair at Romney.—Movements of McDowell.—Battle of Manassas.
The Provisional Congress, in session at Montgomery, Alabama, on the 21st of May, 1861, resolved "that this Congress will adjourn on Tuesday next, to meet again on the 20th day of July at Richmond, Virginia." The resolution further authorized the President to have the several executive departments, with their archives, removed at such intermediate time as he might determine, and added a proviso that, if any public emergency should "render it impolitic to meet in Richmond," he should call the Congress together at some other place to be selected by him.
The hostile demonstrations of the United States Government against Virginia caused the President, at an early day after the adjournment of Congress, to proceed to Richmond and to direct the executive departments, with their archives, to be removed to that place as soon as could be conveniently done.
In the message delivered to the Congress at its meeting in Richmond, according to adjournment, I gave the following explanation of my conduct under the resolution above cited: "Immediately after your adjournment, the aggressive movement of the enemy required prompt, energetic action. The accumulation of his forces on the Potomac sufficiently demonstrated that his efforts were to be directed against Virginia, and from no point could necessary measures for her defense and protection be so effectively decided as from her own capital."
On my arrival in Richmond, General R. E. Lee, as commander of the Army of Virginia, was found there, where he had established his headquarters. He possessed my unqualified confidence, both as a soldier and a patriot, and the command he had exercised over the Army of Virginia, before her accession to the Confederacy, gave him that special knowledge which at the time was most needful. As has been already briefly stated, troops had previously been sent from other States of the Confederacy to the aid of Virginia. The forces there assembled were divided into three armies, at positions the most important and threatened: one, under General J. E. Johnston, at Harper's Ferry, covering the valley of the Shenandoah; another, under General P. G. T. Beauregard, at Manassas, covering the direct approach from Washington to Richmond; and the third, under Generals Huger and Magruder, at Norfolk and on the Peninsula between the James and York Rivers, covering the approach to Richmond from the seaboard.
The first and second of these armies, though separated by the Blue Ridge, had such practicable communication with each other as to render their junction possible when the necessity should be foreseen. They both were confronted by forces greatly superior in numbers to their own, and it was doubtful which would first be the object of attack. Harper's Ferry was an important position, both for military and political considerations, and, though unfavorably situated for defense against an enemy which should seek to turn its position by crossing the Potomac above, it was desirable to hold it as long as was consistent with safety. The temporary occupation was especially needful for the removal of the valuable machinery and material in the armory located there, and which the enemy had failed to destroy, though he had for that purpose fired the buildings before his evacuation of the post. The demonstrations of General Patterson, commanding the Federal army in that region, caused General Johnston earnestly to insist on being allowed to retire to a position nearer to Winchester. Under these circumstances, an official letter was addressed to him, from which the following extract is made:
"Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office,
"Richmond, June 13, 1861.
"To General J. E. Johnston, commanding Harper's Ferry, Virginia.
"Sir: ... You had been heretofore instructed to exercise your discretion as to retiring from your position at Harper's Ferry, and taking the field to check the advance of the enemy.... The ineffective portion of your command, together with the baggage and whatever else would impede your operations in the field, it would be well to send, without delay, to the Manassas road. Should you not be sustained by the population of the Valley, so as to enable you to turn upon the enemy before reaching Winchester, you will continue slowly to retire to the Manassas road, upon some of the passes of which it is hoped you will be able to make an effective stand, even against a very superior force. To this end, it might be well to send your engineer to make a reconnaissance and construct such temporary works as may be useful and proper.... For these reasons it has been with reluctance that any attempt was made to give you specific instructions, and you will accept assurances of the readiness with which the freest exercise of discretion on your part will be sustained.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
(Signed) "S. Cooper,
"Adjutant and Inspector-General."
The earliest combat in this quarter, and which, in the inexperience of the time, was regarded as a great battle, may claim a passing notice, as exemplifying the extent to which the individuality, self-reliance, and habitual use of small-arms by the people of the South was a substitute for military training, and, on the other hand, how the want of such training made the Northern new levies inferior to the like kind of Southern troops.
A detached work on the right of General Magruder's line was occupied June 11, 1861, by the First Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers and three hundred and sixty Virginians under the command of an educated, vigilant, and gallant soldier, then Colonel D. H. Hill, First Regiment North Carolina Volunteers, subsequently a lieutenant-general in the Confederate service. He reports that this small force was "engaged for five and a half hours with four and a half regiments of the enemy at Bethel Church, nine miles from Hampton. The enemy made three distinct and well-sustained charges, but were repulsed with heavy loss. Our cavalry pursued them for six miles, when their retreat became a total rout."
On the other side, Frederick Townsend, colonel of Third Regiment of the enemy's forces, after stating with much minuteness the orders and line of march, describes how, "about five or six miles from Hampton, a heavy and well-sustained fire of canister and small-arms was opened upon the regiment," and how it was afterward discovered to be a portion of their own column which had fired upon them. After due care for the wounded and a recognition of their friends, the column proceeded, and the Colonel describes his regiment as moving to the attack "in line of battle, as if on parade, in the face of a severe fire of artillery and small-arms." Subsequently, the description proceeds, "a company of my regiment had been separated from the regiment by a thickly-hedged ditch," and marched in the adjoining field in line with the main body. Not being aware of the separation of that company, the Colonel states that, therefore, "upon seeing among the breaks in the hedge the glistening of bayonets in the adjoining field, I immediately concluded that the enemy were outflanking, and conceived it to be my duty to immediately retire and repel that advance."
Without knowing anything of the subsequent career of the Colonel from whose report these extracts have been made, or of the officers who opened fire upon him while he was marching to the execution of the orders under which they were all acting, it is fair to suppose that, after a few months' experience, such scenes as are described could not have occurred, and these citations have been made to show the value of military training.
In further exemplification of the difference between the troops of the Confederate States and those of the United States, before either had been trained in war, I will cite an affair which occurred on the upper Potomac. Colonel A. P. Hill, commanding a brigade at Romney, in Western Virginia, having learned that the enemy had a command at the twenty-first bridge on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, decided to attack it and to destroy the bridge, so as to interrupt the use of that important line of the enemy's communication. For this purpose he ordered Colonel John C. Vaughn, of the Third Tennessee Volunteers, to proceed with a detachment of two companies of his regiment and two companies of the Thirteenth Virginia Volunteers to the position where the enemy were reported to be posted.
Colonel Vaughn reports that on June 18, 1861, at 8 P. M., he moved with his command as ordered, marched eighteen miles, and, at 5 A. M. the next morning, found the enemy on the north bank of the Potomac in some strength of infantry and with two pieces of artillery. He had no picket-guards.
After reconnaissance, the order to charge was given. It was necessary, in the execution of the order, to ford the river waist-deep, which Colonel Vaughn reports "was gallantly executed in good order but with great enthusiasm. As we appeared in sight at a distance of four hundred yards, the enemy broke and fled in all directions, firing as they ran only a few random shots.... The enemy did not wait to fire their artillery, which we captured, both guns loaded; they were, however, spiked by the enemy before he fled. From the best information, their number was between two and three hundred."
Colonel Vaughn further states that, in pursuance of orders, he fired the bridge and then retired, bringing away the two guns and the enemy's flag, and other articles of little value which had been captured, and arrived at brigade headquarters in the evening, with his command in high spirits good condition.
Colonel A. P. Hill, the energetic brigade commander who directed this expedition, left the United States Army when the State, which had given him to the military service of the General Government, passed her ordinance of secession. The vigilance and enterprise he manifested on this early occasion in the war of the States gave promise of the brilliant career which gained for him the high rank of a lieutenant-general, and which there was nothing for his friends to regret save the honorable death which he met upon the field of battle.
Colonel Vaughn, the commander of the detachment, was new to war. His paths had been those of peace, and his home in the mountains of East Tennessee might reasonably have secured him from any expectation that it would ever be the theatre on which armies were to contend, and that he, in the mutation of human affairs, would become a soldier. He lived until the close of the war, and, on larger fields than that on which he first appeared, proved that, though not educated for a soldier, he had endowments which compensated for that disadvantage.
The activity and vigilance of Stuart, afterward so distinguished as commander of cavalry in the Army of Virginia, and the skill and daring of Jackson, soon by greater deeds to become immortal, checked, punished, and embarrassed the enemy in his threatened advances, and his movements became so devoid of a definite purpose that one was at a loss to divine the object of his campaign, unless it was to detain General Johnston with his forces in the Valley of the Shenandoah, while General McDowell, profiting by the feint, should make the real attack upon General Beauregard's army at Manassas. However that may be, the evidence finally became conclusive that the enemy under General McDowell was moving to attack the army under General Beauregard. The contingency had therefore arisen for that junction which was necessary to enable us to resist the vastly superior numbers of our assailant; for, though the most strenuous and not wholly unsuccessful exertions had been made to reenforce both the Armies of the Shenandoah and of the Potomac, they yet remained far smaller than those of the enemy confronting them, and made a junction of our forces indispensable whenever the real point of attack should be ascertained. For this movement we had the advantage of an interior line, so that, if the enemy should discover it after it commenced, he could not counteract it by adopting the same tactics. The success of this policy, it will readily be perceived, depended upon the time of execution, for, though from different causes, failure would equally result if done too soon or too late. The determination as to which army should be reenforced from the other, and the exact time of the transfer, must have been a difficult problem, as both the generals appear to have been unable to solve it (each asking reenforcements from the other).