L. E. (Lucius Eugene) Chittenden.

Recollections of President Lincoln and his administration online

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regiment had been attacked, and it was assumed, in the
excitement, that a similar attack would be made upon
the few volunteers in Washington. Soon we heard that
the regiment had fought its way through Baltimore,
and was coming, with its dead and wounded, on a train
which would arrive about six o'clock that evening.

I went to the station to await the arrival of the train.
The crowd was large, and in no mood to listen to trea-
sonable observations. I heard one man remark that the
regiment was one of those sent by that d d abolitionist,
Governor Andrew. The next moment he was sprawling
in the gutter. Not a word was spoken by his assailant.

The train arrived. The soldiers left the cars and
formed in two lines on the street. Then a procession of
men, with stretchers, came out of the station. On each
lay a wounded man. I counted seventeen. Their dead
they had left in Baltimore. The wounded were placed
in ambulances and sent to the Washington Infirmary.

Three or four persons in citizen's dress were engaged
in an excited conversation with a number of officers.
They were from Baltimore, and had come to arrest the


soldier who had fired from the train and killed one Davis,
a Baltimore merchant. These officers claimed that they
could identify the soldier, and proposed to arrest him on
the spot. The colonel said that he would interpose no
objection, but he would not assist them in making the
arrest, because the man was cheering for Jeff. Davis
when he Avas shot. lie should leave the matter with his
men. The men, with few words, convinced the officers
that they could not arrest one man unless they were
prepared to arrest the entire regiment, whereupon they
abandoned the undertaking.

A Baltimore acquaintance described the march of the
last one hundred men through the streets as an act of
singular gallantry. They were cut off from the rest of
the regiment, and surrounded by the mob. Forming
into a square, with fixed bayonets, in double-quick time
they drove their way through a howling crowd of a
hundred times their number, and a shower of clubs,
stones, and shots, to the train, without firing a shot in

The rumors flying over the city on Saturday were
numerous, contradictory, and kept every one who gave
them much attention in a flutter of excitement. The
steamers running to Aquia Creek were ordered to
Richmond, but were sent to the navy yard, and taken
possession of by the War Department. The Department
was closed at twelve o'clock, the keys, except of the
vaults, being left in the doors to enable the engineers
and two hundred regulars under their orders to com-
plete the defences of the building. Awkward squads,
belonging to the Department regiments, were being
drilled wherever there was a suitable place.

Sunday morning brought a heavy crop of new rumors,
but no mails or newspapers from the North. The mo-


notony of the day was broken by one incident, which was
both amusing and interesting. After church, I walked
down the avenue in the direction of the Capitol. The
sidewalks were crowded, and I was suddenly thrown
into the carriageway by a person who, with head bowed
down, was rushing madly forwards, apparently desirous
of avoiding observation. Believing that I recognized an
acquaintance, acting in a very strange manner, I over-
took him, and, with some difficulty, identified him. It
proved to be the author of the "Private Libraries of
New York" a native of Virginia, recently domiciled
in New York city. He would not recognize me at first,
but on my insisting, he assumed a position of entreaty
and exclaimed, " Hush, hush ! I must not be known.
For God's sake, tell me how I can get across the river."
I thought he had gone crazy, but he proved to be only
excited. I invited him, and, after much persuasion, in-
duced him, to go to my rooms. But he insisted that he
was pursued that his life was in danger, and he should
not be safe until he could reach Virginia. He was suf-
fering from hunger as well as terror. He was an edu-
cated gentleman, naturally of a nervous temperament,
who really believed the North had gone mad. From
his account of the departure of the Seventh New York,
and the preparations for the great meeting on Saturday,
I began to gain some idea of the great uprising. After
I had persuaded him to take some refreshment, which
somewhat quieted his nerves, I ascertained that he had
come by the way of Annapolis, and might be able to
give some reliable information concerning the New York
Seventh and the Massachusetts Eighth regiments, which
we had last heard from at Philadelphia on Saturday,
where they were taking steamers to come to Washing-
ton, either by way of Annapolis, or up the Potomac


Kiver. He was uncommunicative, until I proposed that
if he would go with me to the Executive Mansion and
give the President all the information he had, I would
procure him a pass across the Potomac into Virginia.
He accepted the offer. I introduced him to the Presi-
dent, who, by a skilful cross-examination, extracted the
few facts in his possession.

New York, he said, was ablaze with excitement.
Nothing favorable to the South was permitted to be
published or spoken. All the Southerners had been
notified to leave the city within ten hours on pain of
death ; all their property had been seized, and several
had been hung to the lamp-posts. He saw the Seventh
Eegiment depart. The whole city was out to see them
off. They had left Philadelphia on Saturday with a
Massachusetts regiment on separate steamers, and had
not since been heard of. The bridges on the railroads
had been burned ; he saw some of them burning. He
was, or claimed to be, unable to tell by what route he
came. One prevailing idea filled his mind. The whole
North was already on the way to the invasion and de-
struction of the South ! They were coming down like
an avalanche. General B. F. Butler was to be the leader
of the invading army.

The information extorted from the doctor scarcely
paid for the trouble. He received his pass, however,
and disappeared, making rapid speed in the direction of
the Long Bridge across the Potomac Kiver.



ON Saturday, April 20th, Washington was detached
from the loyal states. We had no mails from the North,
no communication by railroad or telegraph with Phila-
delphia, Harrisburgh, or places north or west of either
city. For news we had only rumor, which informed
us that bridges had been burned on all the railroads
running into Baltimore; that the steam ferry-boat at
Havre-de-Grace had been sunk, and that no regiments
on the way could reach the capital.

For outside information we were served with the
Baltimore Sun. That rebel sheet declared that " Yes-
terday the best blood of Maryland was spilled by North-
ern mercenaries." It demanded that " not another sol-
dier from the North shall desecrate the soil of Maryland."
It reported a public meeting of citizens of Baltimore,
one of whom, Carr by name, was " ready to shoulder his
musket for the defence of Southern homes," and who
demanded to be immediately informed, " whether the
minions of Lincoln should cross the soil of Maryland, to
subjugate our sisters of the South." And the citizens
answered by unanimous shouts, " No ! never !"

There has been so much written that is wrong touch-
ing the action of the officers and people of Maryland on
and after the 19th of April, that I feel justified in con-
tributing some definite facts to the literature of the sub-
ject. Maryland never seceded. Her governor, and the


members of her Legislature were elected as Union men.
Baltimore was a Secessionist city. With the exception
of a small minority of true and daring Republicans, her
people were disunionists. When the call for seventy-
five thousand men was issued, for the general service of
the government, Governor Hicks had undertaken to say
that " no troops would be sent from Maryland unless it
may be for the defence of the national capital;" and
the mayor of Baltimore had joyously exclaimed "Amen !"
In fact, the governor, instead of boldly placing himself
on the side of the Union, had practically surrendered
his authority to the officials of Baltimore.

Accordingly, no preparations were made to protect
the Northern regiments, and the second one that passed
through Baltimore had to fight its way through a mob
of ten times its number of ruffians, who knew they had
the moral support of the authorities. The newspapers
said that only three soldiers were killed and eight wound-
ed, when more than twenty, with seriouS injuries, were
lying in the Washington Infirmary. The mayor of the
city forthwith despatched to the President a committee
" to explain the fearful condition of affairs," and to in-
form him that " the people are exasperated to the highest
degree by the passage of troops, and the citizens are
universally decided that no more troops should be or-
dered to come ;" also that " the authorities of the city
did their best to prevent a collision, and, but for their
efforts, a fearful slaughter would have occurred." Gov-
ernor Hicks fully concurred in all that was said by the
mayor in the above communication. " A public meet-
ing of citizens," continued the mayor, " has been called,
and the troops of the state and the city have been called
out to preserve the peace. They will be enough." The
governor, the mayor, and the police board telegraphed


the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to
"send back the troops from Rhode Island and Massa-
chusetts to the borders of Maryland," and President
Garrett " most cordially approved the advice, and gave
the necessary order."

The mayor and his committees met the President and
General Scott on the 20th and 21st, and reported that
the President recognized the good faith of the city and
state authorities ; that his sole object in concentrating
troops was the defence of the capital ; that he protested
that none of the troops brought through Maryland were
intended for any purpose "aggressive as against the
Southern states," and that, while insisting that troops
were necessary for the defence of the capital, both the
President and General Scott agreed that they would
bring them around the city, and not irritate the people
by marching them through Baltimore. The report is
too long for insertion here, but in substance it repre-
sented the President as satisfied with the conduct of the
Baltimore authorities ; that he was conscious that the
" people of all classes were fully aroused, and that it was
impossible for any one to answer for the consequences
of the presence of Northern troops anywhere within the
borders of Maryland."

Had these statements been true, had the President and
General Scott been in the temper of mind here repre-
sented, Washington would have been in rebel hands
within forty-eight hours. There were many official acts
of President Lincoln which seem to have exerted a pow-
erful influence upon the fortunes of the republic, but there
was none more beneficial in its results, or which more
clearly shows his cool judgment, than his dealing with
the Secessionists of Baltimore at this time of universal
excitement, almost at the beginning of his official career.


When he gave these gentlemen his answer, he knew
of some events of which they were ignorant. He knew
that his call for men had already been approved by the
loyal nation ; that more men than he had called for had
been tendered by a single state ; that there had been a
great uprising of the people which rendered the insolent
answers of some rebel governors pitiful by contrast ; that
every hamlet, as well as every city, from Maine to Ore-
gon, was alive with the work of preparation, and that
choice regiments from Massachusetts and New York, the
advance guard of the legions to follow, were already
within the waters of Maryland.

No ; Abraham Lincoln did not take that moment to
bargain with Secessionists. It is not impossible that these
gentlemen were deceived by his apparent unconcern. In
the account given by himself to Baltimore Republicans
of his interview with the mayor and his friends, he said
that he told them that he would do all in his power to
prevent bloodshed, and that the service, for which the
regiments were called, was expressed in the call itself.
It was " to repossess the forts, places, and property which
have been seized from the Union." He said that the
defence of the capital was first to be provided for, and
that the routes by which the regiments came were mat-
ters with which he had nothing to do. They concerned
General Scott and his subordinates. What he was anx-
ious about was to have the regiments get here. Vir-
ginia had now seceded ; it was reported that she would
close the Potomac River by her batteries. Maryland
bounded Washington on the north and west. These
regiments could not fly over her in a balloon or dig un-
der her by a tunnel. How were they to get here with-
out crossing Maryland ? Those who objected to the way
proposed must find some other !


The Baltimore delegation admitted the difficulties.
They could not remove them, and did not come for that
purpose. They proposed to relieve themselves from the
responsibility for bloodshed. The Marylanders were a
proud and sensitive people ; the sight of these Northern
invaders was offensive to them. They would not permit
them to pass through Baltimore, probably not to enter
the state. They would rise as one man, and defend
their state from such an invasion !

The final answer of the President was that he regret-
ted such a conclusion, and that he would have to refer
them to General Scott. He supposed the War Depart-
ment, like all other departments, was much engaged just
then in preparing for the defence of the capital against
the disloyal persons, with whom the people of Maryland
were apparently in sympathy. But if the condition of
public opinion in Maryland was accurately represented
by the committee, he was quite certain that some means
would be found of informing the people of that state
that "" there was no piece of American soil too good to
be pressed by the foot of a loyal soldier on his march to
the defence of the capital of his country."

Such was President Lincoln's account of his interviews
with the mayor of Baltimore and his associates. It dif-
fers materially from the versions made public by them
immediately afterwards. It was accepted by the loyal
friends of the Union. It certainly had the probabilities
in its favor.



FORT SUMTER fell on Saturday. On Monday, April
15th, the President called for seventy-five thousand men.
On Thursday Pennsylvania sent her first regiment into
"Washington. On Friday, at noon, the Sixth Massachu-
setts was fighting its way through the Baltimore mob.
When it reached the capital, all the railroads through
Maryland were broken, and the state for all practical
purposes was under Rebel control

At the hour when the Sixth was fighting the Seces-
sionist rabble, the Eighth Massachusetts was speeding
southward to the defence of Washington on an express
train through New Jersey. A few hours later the Em-
pire State had sent her choicest regiment, the gallant
Seventh, one thousand strong, with like speed on the
same errand. At Philadelphia these regiments learned
that the railroad bridges had been burned, and that the
steam ferry-boat, Maryland, the only means of crossing
the Susquehanna, had been sunk. Ordinary men would
have gone into camp and awaited the opening of the rail-
road ; but General Butler pushed on to Havre-de-Grace,
where he found the Maryland still afloat, and, placing
his regiment on board, he started for Annapolis. Colonel
Lefferts chartered the first steamer he could find, the
Seventh boarded her in Philadelphia, and on Sunday
morning was on the ocean outside the capes of Dela-


ware. Turning into the capes of Virginia, he sailed up
the bay, and, hearing that the Potomac was commanded
by rebel batteries, turned northward, and at dawn on
Monday dropped anchor in the harbor of Annapolis.
The Maryland was already there ; but, in towing the old
Constitution out of danger of rebel seizure, by the treach-
ery of the pilot she had been run aground with the regi-
ment on board. After laboring in vain all day to get
her off, just at evening the regiments were landed, disre-
garding the protests of the mayor and citizens, that their
appearance would cause bloodshed, Colonel Lefferts ob-
serving that, if they were "let alone, they would dis-
turb nobody."

The railroad from Annapolis to Annapolis Junction,
with the main line from Baltimore to Washington, was
torn up, and many of the rails were carried away and sunk
in deep water. The locomotives had been dismantled, and
bodies of rebels were lurking about the vicinity ready to
attack the regiments if opportunity offered. Massachu-
setts soldiers reconstructed the engines, placed cannon
and men to serve them on a platform-car in front, the
baggage of the two regiments was loaded on cars in the
rear, and, with the train thus made up, they took up their
march, rebuilding the railroad as they advanced. Com-
panies were detailed to forage and cook, for they lived
on the country. Their progress was slow, but on Thurs-
day morning they reached Annapolis Junction. Learn-
ing that a party of twelve or fifteen thousand rebels
was preparing to attack them, the Massachusetts regi-
ment remained at the junction to meet them. The
Seventh New York took a train for Washington, where
they arrived at noon on Thursday, April 23d, a little
more than five days after their departure from New


As already mentioned, Baltimore had for some years
bred a new variety of the human species called the
" Plug-Ugly " a hybrid of slavery and brutality, first
developed for political purposes. Its representatives
had no reason for existence, no visible means of support.
They were idle, vicious, muscular, sensual brutes, who
subsisted upon whiskey and crime. They were very bold
in the presence of the weak, and very cowardly in con-
tact with brave men. Their numbers had enormously
multiplied with the growth of secession. Washington
had caught the overflow, attracted by the hope of pos-
sible plunder when the rebellion should break out. Its
postponement had made them hungry and desperate.
Now that war was inevitable, they thought their time
had come. They had a rude sort of organization, which
enabled them to collect in great numbers at a given
point on short notice.

To the " Plug-Uglies" was assigned the congenial task
of burning the bridges, breaking up the railroads, and fall-
ing upon and destroying the new and inexperienced regi-
ments on their way to Washington. They professed
great contempt for the "counter-jumpers" and "kid-
gloved darlings " who constituted these regiments, and
regarded their destruction as a pleasant pastime.

As soon as they knew that communication was to be
attempted from Annapolis, they selected the junction of
the branch railroad with the main line as the best place at
which to fall upon the Yankees. It was central, their
friends could come by rail from Baltimore and Washing-
ton, and it was a good point at which to concentrate the
bands scattered over the state. They arranged to collect
there a force of fifteen thousand, and widely proclaimed
that Annapolis Junction was the selected field for the
destruction of the Northern invaders.


So successfully had they spread this proclamation that
a battle at the junction was regarded as inevitable. It
would have taken place if General Butler and Colonel
Lefferts with their regiments could have been persuaded
to wait a week or ten days longer. But they would not
wait. These regiments expected to fight that was the
purpose of their coming. Many messengers had been
sent from Washington to inform them of the rebel prepa-
rations. One or two of them escaped capture, and
brought contradictory advices. Col. Landers, the last,
brought such an account of the anxiety of General Scott
for the safety of "Washington, that Colonel Lefferts
determined to push forward, though he expected to
meet with a loss of a portion of his men. Annapolis
Junction had been reached. The Massachusetts regi-
ment halted there to await the promised attack, and the
Seventh started for Washington without coming within
musket-shot of an armed rebel.

The Eighth Massachusetts, after waiting some hours
for the attack, came to the Capitol, and were comforta-
bly quartered under its dome before the Secessionists as
near as Baltimore could be convinced that they had
passed the junction. Farther South they refused to
credit the collapse of the plan so elaborately prepared
for a victory at Annapolis Junction. A Baltimore paper
of the 25th published the report, as coming from " three
or four different sources," " that the Seventh had been
cut to pieces at Annapolis." "It was probably true,
but it would be well to wait for further confirmation."

The papers of Charleston and other cities put no such
restraint upon their exultation. For some hours they gave
free rein to their wild delight. They announced in bold
head -lines, " Glorious news ! The crack regiment of
New York cut to pieces between Annapolis and Marl-


boro ! Three times three cheers for the brave Mary-
landers !"

While the seceded states were giving this ludicrous
exhibition of their joy over a victory before the battle
was fought, I was an eye-witness of a different picture.
The Seventh New York was marching between two
mighty waves of cheers from the masses of loyal citi-
zens which filled the broad streets of the capital. The
regiment halted near the open space, west of the Na-
tional Hotel. That space contained the "Washington
contingent of the species described, which their sympa-
thizers supposed was at the junction. They had infested
the streets since the previous February, and were readily
recognized. For the first time I passed through them
without insult. They appeared depressed. Sorrow was
on their faces and blasphemy on their lips. As the
Seventh halted I stood on a corner and saw that vil-
lainous multitude melt away. It was their last appear-
ance, they were visible for the last time. That night
there was a flight into the Egypt of secession of a most
unholy family. The species became extinct in Washing-
ton, and everywhere north of the Potomac excessively

As a frost cuts down the noxious weeds which choke the
sprouting corn, so did the tread of these two regiments,
as they landed upon her shores, arrest and deaden the
rank growth of secession in Maryland. In one week
from the time of the President's call, they had formed
the front rank of the great column from the loyal states,
had burst their way through rebel obstructions, and
stood almost two thousand strong within the shadow
of the dome of the Capitol. It was afterwards said that
the President seemed pleased with their appearance;
that he was very cordial to them without distinction of


rank. Could they have seen him a day or two before,
when his countenance wore that peculiar expression, I
think the saddest ever shown upon the face of man,
they would have more perfectly comprehended his esti-
mate of the value of their services.

The citizens of Washington would have made these
soldiers their guests. They felt hurt because discipline
required the men to go into camp and sleep under can-
vas. There was not one instance in which a private of
either regiment was guilty of the slightest excess or in-
subordination. They were gentlemen always as well as
soldiers. They were overwhelmed with civilities and
comforts, which they divided with less-favored regiments.
A private of the Seventh lost his life by an accident. The
whole city mourned his loss, and hundreds sent expres-
sions of sympathy. Having been selected for the pro-
tection of the President and to lead the march into Vir-
ginia, the work of this regiment was accomplished. They
offered to re-enlist at the expiration of their term of ser-
vice, but were finally discharged with this statement, that

Online LibraryL. E. (Lucius Eugene) ChittendenRecollections of President Lincoln and his administration → online text (page 9 of 35)