April 4, 1861; Memphis Daily Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

A friend connected with one of the Mississippi regiments of volunteers, writes to us from Mobile under date of the 31st ult., as follows:

“Two regiments of Mississippi troops are now assembled in Mobile under the command of Maj. Gen. Clark, and quartered, some in cotton sheds, others in cotton tents. Our destination is Pensacola, to which place we will proceed by the land route, starting on Wednesday next. Inasmuch as there are five United States vessels of war lying off Fort Pickens, it is deemed imprudent to attempt to reach Pensacola by water.

The election of field officers for the two regiments is postponed until our arrival at Pensacola. The candidates are numerous, and the contest perhaps will be very exciting.

It fills one with singular and pleasant reflections upon the effects of patriotism, to walk around our camps and see the old and young men, wealthy planters, lawyers, doctors, men of all professions, in the red or blue flannel shirts of privates, gathered around the camp fires, and cooking their own meals with an alacrity and earnestness equal only to the use of their muskets. Dangerous fellows these, for abolition hordes to meet!

Brigadier-Generals Motte and Barksdale, army of Mississippi, are in the city. Brigadier-General Griffiths, with his aid, Capt. Brown, passed through this city Monday, bound for Montgomery.”

F. E. W.


April 4, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

It has been suggested that the signers of the Secession Ordinance should have their likenesses painted by some competent artist, either in one large piece, as an historical picture, or as separate individual portraits. It has been suggested, too, that, if possible, a native artist should be engaged in the work. Without intending to disparage others, we would say that there is one native artist in Charleston who is able to undertake and perform such a work to the satisfaction of a discriminating public. Mr. JOHN B. IRVING, jr., has painted much admired historical works, as the people of Charleston all know. And, as a portrait painter of rare skill in taking likenesses that are real likenesses, and also good paintings, we believe he has never had his equal in the city – and we speak from some experience. If it be impracticable to take so many heads in one painting, we doubt not an arrangement might be made for Mr. IRVING to go round the State and paint the portraits of each and all the members, at a moderate figure. Any how, we suggest it.


April 4, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

MONTGOMERY, April 1, 1861.

As you have been apprised by telegraph, the War Department is vigorously concentrating men and munitions of war at the most important points, for the purpose of being prepared for a systematic defence of the Indian frontier. Several competent officers and influential agents have been already appointed at different places upon the border, who are working diligently to make preparations for the troops which will be sent out in a short time to guard the frontier. I am informed that advices have been received today in the State Department that Fort Pickens will not be reinforced, and that it will be given up to the Confederate States within a short time. This was considered positive, and as I make the statement upon the highest authority, it may be believed as true. Without trusting too fully upon the execution of this promise, the work of preparing the siege will go on at Pensacola, and the troops will concentrate at that point. If not given up within one month, or some definite arrangements made between the two governments, Col. BRAGG will commence an attack, which cannot fail to be a successful one.

More troops from this State and from Georgia are on their way to Warrington and the forts. The Cherokee Grays, Capt. CLARE’S Company, consisting of ninety-two men, passed through here today. Another Company of about fifty men left on Friday last. Four hundred of the Alabama troops are at Mount Vernon Arsenal, where a rendezvous has been established.

There is considerable anxiety in this city in regard to South Carolina and the action of her Convention. It is well known here that there are two or three very objectionable clauses in the Constitution, which, considering the general ability of the instrument, were passed lightly by when the States adopted it as the permanent Constitution—the le supremis under which they were to live. In two instances, at least, it has clauses which will seriously cripple the Government in the [click to continue…]


April 4, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

Another suspicious vessel was fired into yesterday. We furnish the following statements, from reliable parties, for the information of our readers:


Yesterday morning, General BEAUREGARD, with his Aids, Captains FERGUSON and CHISOLM, and Governor PICKENS, with his Aid Colonel LUCAS, visited Sullivan’s Island and the batteries there. About half past 2 o’clock, whilst they were standing in the porch of the Moultrie House, a schooner was discovered coming in, with the United States flag flying. They saw the battery fire at the vessel, upon which they think she turned back. The battery, however, continued firing. Major ANDERSON sent a boat with a white flag to the vessel, but what the message was had not at this writing transpired at Headquarters.


About three o’clock yesterday afternoon an unknown schooner was seen entering the harbor, with no colors flying. When she came within range of the ‘Star of the West’ battery, it was deemed expedient to fire across her bows in order to force her to show her colors. Two shots were accordingly fired, when she ran up the flag of the United States, but continued to stand in, in defiance of the admonition which she had received. Three more shots were fired, making five in all, when the vessel altered her course and anchored near the bar. It was pretty generally believed she was struck, but some doubts were entertained. Before I left the Island I learned that Major ANDERSON had sent his messenger over there with a message to the effect, that if the vessel had been struck, or if any damage had been done to her, he would feel himself compelled to open his batteries upon us. After that his boats went out to this vessel, and up to the time I left, they were [click to continue…]


April 4, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

WASHINGTON, April 1, 1861.

Northern politicians, not bound hand and foot to the Abolition Juggernaut, begin to decry the indecisive policy of the LINCOLN Administration. It takes strong ground neither on one side nor the other. Cabinet councils are held, and the duration of their sittings is proclaimed with a loud flourish of trumpets; but when you come to the hard, practical question—what has been done, what is to be done, to meet the demands of the country?—you hear only the hollow, unsatisfactory sound which has been heard daily since the 4th March last. Therefore, all men not interested directly or indirectly in official plunder, experience difficulty in restraining their indignation. It is too bad, they say, that the vital interests of the people are to be made subordinate to the vile, sinister intrigues of a faction.

The only explanation yet vouchsafed upon the subject serves to deepen the shade of infamy in which it is enshrouded. What is it? That to accomplish party purposes in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the solution of the Sumter and Pickens difficulty shall be deferred until the elections have taken place. The fact that the alternative, peace or war, appears to hang by a thread over the country, matters not to these miserable leaders of a miserable party. Intent upon calculating only their own chances, they leave the great issue to drift before the wind and tide of a tempestuous sea. They have the wish, but the folly and failure of the attempt are too manifest to warrant it.

Thus, though each day furnishes a full proportion of rumors, you speedily discover that all proceed from the same tainted, unreliable source. The coinage of lies has not even the merit of novelty to recommend. And those whose business it is to visit the departments in search of intelligence, and to make a salaam before the great men of the government, shake their heads sorrowfully when the task of sifting the true from the new is ended.

The common belief that this do nothing system results from Executive incapacity, is, however, repudiated by some [click to continue…]


April 4, 1861; The New York Herald

 WASHINGTON, April 3, 1861.

At last the ball has opened. The corps of Sappers and Miners left here this morning, and today three of the batteries now in this city received orders to leave forthwith, all being required to report at Fort Hamilton, New York. That these troops are destined for Fort Pickens there can be no doubt. In less than a week the country will learn whether we have a government or not. The Home squadron is to be increased and ordered South, and Pensacola and other Southern ports will be blockaded. Fort Pickens is not in need of additional men, but will soon be in want of supplies, which will be furnished forthwith.

It is believed that General Sumner has been ordered to New York, and perhaps South, to direct the movement of the troops, as he left here very suddenly.

General Scott’s private secretary also left yesterday on short notice for New York.

Several interviews have been had today between the President and Secretary of War, and the latter with General Scott.

Orders have been issued today in the Navy Department to the several bureaus to an extent that almost precluded everything else. Every available naval ship will be called home. Those on the Coast of Africa, it is said, cannot be recalled without violating the treaty with England requiring the United States to keep at least eighty guns there.

The Cabinet were in session today for several hours, and Gen. Scott was present. Among the important questions discussed was the recent affair in St. Domingo. The foreign Ministers here express the opinion that the Spanish government will not countenance the course of the Governor General of Cuba in sending troops from Havana to St. [click to continue…]


April 3rd.—I had an interview with the Southern Commissioners to-day, at their hotel. For more than an hour I heard, from men of position and of different sections in the South, expressions which satisfied me the Union could never be restored, if they truly represented the feelings and opinions of their fellow-citizens. They have the idea they are ministers of a foreign power treating with Yankeedom, and their indignation is moved by the refusal of Government to negotiate with them, armed as they are with full authority to arrange all questions arising out of an amicable separation—such as the adjustment of Federal claims for property, forts, stores, public works, debts, land purchases, and the like. One of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, Mr. Campbell, is their intermediary, and of course it is not known what hopes Mr. Seward has held out to him; but there is some imputation of Punic faith against the Government on account of recent acts, and there is no doubt the Commissioners hear, as I do, that there are preparations at the Navy Yard and at New York to relieve Sumter, at any rate, with provisions, and that Pickens has actually been reinforced by sea. In the evening I dined at the British Legation, and went over to the house of the Russian Minister, M. de Stoeckl, in the evening. The diplomatic body in Washington constitute a small and very agreeable society of their own, in which few Americans mingle except at the receptions and large evening assemblies. As the people now in power are novi homines, the wives and daughters of ministers and attaches are deprived of their friends who belonged to the old society in Washington, and who have either gone off to Secession, or sympathize so deeply with the Southern States that it is scarcely becoming to hold very intimate relations with them in the face of Government. From the house of M. de Stoeckl I went to a party at the residence of M. Tassara, the Spanish Minister, where there was a crowd of diplomats, young and old. Diplomatists seldom or never talk politics, and so Pickens and Sumter were unheard of; but it is stated nevertheless that Virginia is on the eve of secession, and will certainly go if the President attempts to use force in relieving and strengthening the Federal forts.


April.—We seem to have come to a sad, sad time. The Bible says, “A man’s worst foes are those of his own household.” The whole United States has been like one great household for many years. “United we stand, divided we fall! ” has been our watchword, but some who should have been its best friends have proven false and broken the bond. Men are taking sides, some for the North, some for the South. Hot words and fierce looks have followed, and there has been a storm in the air for a long time.



Another pleasant cool day, fire in office during the forenoon. The work is pretty well “up” in our room altho we have no 2nd assistant yet. I am now performing the clerical duties in addition to my usual routine of work. Walked with Juliet this evening, got her pr Boots on 7th Street, and then we went through the upper part of the City. I did not go to the Ave and of course did not get the NY papers. Read “Williams on Heat” till 11, and am off to bed.


The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of  Congress.


April 3d,—Met the lovely Lucy Holcombe, now Mrs. Governor Pickens, last night at Isaac Hayne’s. I saw Miles now begging in dumb show for three violets she had in her breastpin. She is a consummate actress and he well up in the part of male flirt. So it was well done.

“And you, who are laughing in your sleeves at the scene, where did you get that huge bunch?” “Oh, there is no sentiment when there is a pile like that of anything!” “Oh, oh!”

To-day at the breakfast table there was a tragic bestowal of heartsease on the well-known inquirer who, once more says in austere tones: “Who is the flirt now?” And so we fool on into the black cloud ahead of us. And after heartsease cometh rue.


FORT SUMTER, April 3, 1861.

Maj. ROBERT ANDERSON, First Artillery, U. S. Army,
Commanding Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor:

MAJOR: In obedience to your directions, we visited Cummings Point and the schooner, bearing the United States flag, which was fired into by the batteries on Morris Island, and respectfully present the following statement concerning the affair:

The commanding officer on Morris Island, Lieut. Col. W. G. De Saussure, stated that a schooner with the United States flag at her peak endeavored to enter the harbor this afternoon about 3 o’clock; that in accordance with his orders to prevent any vessel under that flag from entering the harbor, he had fired three shots across her bows, and this not  causing her to heave to, he had fired at her, and had driven her out of the harbor; that he thought one or two shots had taken effect, and that if he had a boat that could live to get out to her he would send and see if she were disabled, and inform Major Anderson at once, but that he had no proper boat, as the schooner was at anchor in a very rough place; that the revenue cutter had gone out to examine her condition. We ascertained the schooner to be the Rhoda H. Shannon, Joseph Marts, master, of Dorchester, N.J., bound from Boston to Savannah with a cargo of ice, having left the former place on March 26. On account of unfavorable weather, the master had obtained but one observation, and that was an imperfect one on yesterday. On his arrival off Charleston Bar, supposing himself to be off Tybee and seeing a pilot-boat, he directed one of his men to hold the United States flag in the fore rigging as a signal for a pilot. As none came, the flag was taken down in a few minutes, and the master undertook to bring his vessel into the harbor without a pilot. He did not discover that he was not in Savannah Harbor until he had crossed the bar and had advanced some distance in the harbor. As he was passing Morris Island, displaying no flag, a shot was fired from a battery on shore across the bows of the schooner. The master states that he thought they wished him to show his colors, and that he displayed the United States flag at his peak. One or two shots were then fired across the schooner’s bows, but he did not know what to do or what the people on shore wished him to do; that he kept the vessel on her course until they fired at her, and one shot had gone through the mainsail, about two feet above the boom, when he put her about and stood out to sea, anchoring his vessel in the Swash Channel, just inside of the bar; that the batteries kept on firing at his vessel for some time after he had turned to go out to sea.

The master of the schooner stated that before leaving Boston, he had learned how affairs stood in Charleston Harbor, and that Fort Sumter was to be given up in a few days; that they had established a new confederacy down South.

After satisfying ourselves that the vessel was uninjured, and as she was lying in a very rough place, we advised the master to move his vessel–either to stand out to sea and go on to Savannah, or to come into the harbor and anchor.

On our return we stopped at Cummings Point, and stated the facts to Lieutenant-Colonel De Saussure. He said that the vessel would not be molested if she came into the harbor.

The schooner weighed anchor a short time after we left, and stood in towards Morris Island for some distance, but finally turned about and went to sea.

Respectfully submitted.


Captain, First Artillery.


Lieutenant of Engineers.


WASHINGTON, April 3, 1861.

Hon. ROBERT TOOMBS, &c., Montgomery, Ala.:

Much activity to-day in the War and Navy Departments. It is said the Minnesota, at Boston, has been ordered to the mouth of the Mississippi. Powhatan suddenly put in commission to sail next week. Four companies now here–three artillery, one sappers and miners–ordered to New York. Report says these movements have reference to the San Domingo question. Pawnee will not be ready for sea until Saturday.

Our intermediary says they dare not deceive him, as they know we do not rely upon them but upon HIM.





—Despatches were received in Washington to-day, confirming the reported reinforcement of Fort Pickens; and the Cabinet held a long session, without coming to any definite conclusion in regard to the long-mooted evacuation of Fort Sumter. One company of artillery left Washington for Fort Hamilton, and two more are to follow to-morrow. Unwonted activity also prevails in the navy, several vessels being rapidly fitted for service.—World, April 4.

—The mortar batteries on Morris’ Island, Charleston harbor, fired into an unknown schooner. She displayed the stars and stripes, and put to sea. A boat from Sumter with a white flag went out to her; nobody hurt. A shot had gone through her.—(Doc. 49.)

—All officers of the Southern Confederate army, on leave of absence, were ordered to their respective commands.—Times, April 5.

—The South Carolina Convention ratified the Constitution of the Confederate States, by a vote of 114 to 16.—Tribune, April 6.

—The Charleston correspondent writes: “By the by, let us never surrender to the North the noble song, the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.’ It is southern in its origin; in sentiments, poetry and song; in its association with chivalrous deeds, it is ours; and the time, I trust, is not remote, when the broad stripes and brilliant stars of the confederate flag of the South will wave triumphantly over our capitol, Fortress Monroe, and every fort within our borders.”—Richmond Examiner.


April 3rd, 1866.—As soon as they could pull themselves together after the war, the women of the South organized The Southern Woman’s Memorial Association. We all belong to it and a call has been made on the members to get to work and prepare for a fair, to be held in Tallahassee. This Fair is to raise money to erect a monument to our heroes. The plan is for each section of the State to have in readiness the best of the productions of that section, and in December we will have the Fair and the call is for as many as possible to be present.

It was made so far ahead that the housekeepers and those who embroider might have time enough to prepare their wares. Only in this way can we erect a monument. Our people are ruined by the war; few have enough left to provide for daily needs. Some wealthy ones still have a little left but I fear they, too, will come to want, as they do not realize the conditions which confront us. It is so natural to spend when you can get the money, with no thought for the future. Anyway, we must have that monument.


April 3, 1861; Tri-Weekly Alamo Express (San Antonio)

We wish our neighbor of the Herald to understand that ‘our flag’ is that glorious old banner invented by Washington, and raised in 1776 and confirmed by congress in 1777; that was carried triumphantly through three glorious wars and will continue to wave while a true American lives. We claim no new fangled banner no bastard imitation of the banner of Washington.


April 3, 1861; The New York Herald

The struggle for supremacy, commercial and political, between the two confederacies, North and South, may be said to have fairly commenced, and we recognize the opening of the battle in three or four events which have come to pass within the last few days. First, in the inauguration of the Morrill tariff on Monday last; second, in the tone of the English press upon that measure, as demonstrated by the papers which arrived here yesterday by the Borussia and New York; third, in the instructions said to have been imparted to our representatives going abroad by Mr. Seward; and fourth, in the circular addressed by Mr. Chase to the Collectors of Customs at the North, prohibiting entries of goods in bond about to be shipped to the ports of the seceded States.

Let us treat these incidents seriatim, and endeavor to arrive at the inevitable result to the future of both confederacies.

The operation of the Morrill tariff, as manifested in the New York Custom House of the past two days, and as we have described it in our columns, verifies all that has been predicted of the ruinous complication and confusion with which it was certain to surround the importing interests of this city; and, as regards its effect upon the revenue, there can be no doubt, from the present proceedings, that although for a month or so the receipts of the Custom House may increase—that is to say, while the merchants are taking out of bond those articles upon which the duties are lowered—after that time the revenue will fall off immensely, in proportion to the decrease of importations. On the first day of the operation of the new tariff $50,000 worth of sugar and molasses was withdrawn, and so with other goods upon which the duty is lessened, and which were rushed into bond in large quantities since the tariff was passed. When this spasmodic influx of money to the treasury declines, as it soon will, the government at Washington will find an alarming decrease in the revenue to be the consequence of the Morrill tariff. Many importations yet to arrive will be subject to much confusion. Of the steamers which arrived here from Europe yesterday, two of them bring cargoes, a portion of which must be levied upon under the old tariff, and a portion under the new. For instance, it is provided that all [click to continue…]


April 3, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

We understand the liberal supplies heretofore permitted to Major ANDERSON, will shortly be cut off. Yesterday a despatch was received from the Commissioners to Washington, advising a change of policy. In their opinion, no more roast beef—no more barrels of potatoes—in short, no more supplies of any description, should be suffered to reach Fort Sumter. A decision has been reached here. Fort Sumter must shortly provision itself. Tomorrow the garrison must fall back upon its own stores. Its licensed intercourse with the city must cease. But there is something more to be mentioned. A despatch has been sent to President DAVIS, in which immediate action is not indirectly hinted at. No reply has yet been received, but a telegraphic reply is hardly to be looked for. The mail will undoubtedly bring an answer. Our citizens, we are aware, are excited in regard to these matters. Patience with them, however, has become a cardinal virtue. Let them exercise it.


April 3, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

The readers of THE MERCURY have already learned that the President has made a requisition upon Georgia for one thousand men, to serve in Florida. Already the note of preparation is sounding in many parts of that gallant State, but so far as our observation goes, the Augusta Volunteers are the first who have actually taken the field. This is not surprising, however, when it is recollected that the citizens of Augusta have always displayed an ardent patriotism. They were among the first, if not the first, to volunteer for the Florida war, and more recently the Mexican war. On Monday last the Ogelthorpe Infantry, Capt. J. O. CLARKE, and the Walker Light Infantry, Capt. S. H. CRUMP, left Augusta for Macon, the place of rendezvous for the troops ordered on this campaign. Their combined force numbers 130 men. They were escorted to the depot by the celebrated Clinch Rifles, and other military organizations, together with a number of citizens, so large that the Chronicle and Sentinel feels diffident about furnishing an estimate. Of the volunteers themselves, that journal is not so sparing, for it says that if the day comes when they shall be obliged to meet a hostile army, will not be found wanting in all that constitutes brave and efficient soldiers. We wish these volunteers all that brave soldiers ever fought, died or hoped for.


April 3, 1861; Daily Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

 Yesterday, the 2nd of April, the flag of the Confederate States of America was for the first time run up to the top of the flag staff at the Barracks at Baton Rouge. When it unfolded its gay colors to the soft April breeze, seven loud reports from the cannon’s throat announced the intelligence to the surrounding neighborhood. It is a thing of beauty and of life. Long may it wave over the homes of the brave and noble people whose rights and whose honor it was intended to protect and preserve.


April 3, 1861; Tri-Weekly Alamo Express (San Antonio)

The fashionable patriotism among secessionists is to claim the State in which they were born as their country. The great pity is, that this doctrine is only demonstrated by natives of the revolting States. By a review of the names of the conventionites or “Evergreens,” we see that a large portion of them were born in conservative portions of the country, to wit: Virgina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and we even see Massachusetts, the British Provinces and Germany represented. This kind of patriotism is too small, too contracted, to be held by any true American. When love of country becomes sectional, then farewell to national greatness. From a love of one particular section and dislike of another it will narrow down to the smallest limit possible to contain a mean selfish spirit.


April 2nd.—The following day I started early, and performed my pilgrimage to “the shrine of St. Washington,” at Mount Vernon, as a foreigner on board called the place. Mr. Bancroft has in his possession a letter of the General’s mother, in which she expresses her gratification at his leaving the British army in a manner which implies that he had been either extravagant in his expenses or wild in his manner of living. But if he had any human frailties in after life, they neither offended the morality of his age, or shocked the susceptibility of his countrymen; and from the time that the much maligned and unfortunate Braddock gave scope to his ability, down to his retirement into private life, after a career of singular trials and extraordinary successes, his character acquired each day greater altitude, strength, and lustre. Had his work failed, had the Republic broken up into small anarchical states, we should hear now little of Washington. But the principles of liberty founded in the original Constitution of the colonies themselves, and in no degree derived from or dependent on the revolution, combined with the sufferings of the Old and the bounty of nature in the New World to carry to an unprecedented degree the material prosperity, which Americans have mistaken for good government, and the physical comforts which have made some States in the Union the nearest approach to Utopia. The Federal Government hitherto “let the people alone” and they went on their way singing and praising their Washington as the author of so much greatness and happiness. To doubt his superiority to any man of woman born, is to insult the American people. They are not content with his being great—or even greater than the great: he must be greatest of all;—”first in peace, and first in war.”‘ The rest of the world cannot find fault with the assertion, that he is “first in the hearts of his countrymen.” But he was not possessed of the highest military qualities, if we are to judge from most of the regular actions, in which the British had the best of it; and the final blow, when Cornwallis surrendered at York Town, was struck by the arm of France, by Rochambeau and the French fleet, rather than by Washington and his Americans. He had all the qualities for the work for which he was designed, and is fairly entitled to the position his countrymen have given him as the immortal czar of the United States. His pictures are visible everywhere—in the humblest inn, in the Minister’s bureau, in the millionaire’s gallery. There are far more engravings of Washington in America than there are of Napoleon in France, and that is saying a good deal.

What have we here? The steamer, which has been paddling down the gentle current of the Potomac, here a mile and more in breadth, banked in by forest, through which can be seen homesteads and white farm-houses, in the midst of large clearings and corn-fields — has moved in towards a high bluff, covered with trees, on the summit of which is visible the trace of some sort of building—a ruined summer-house, rustic temple— whatever it may be; and the bell on deck begins to toll solemnly, and some of the pilgrims uncover their heads for a moment. The boat stops at a rotten, tumbledown little pier, which leads to a waste of mud, and a path rudely cut through the wilderness of briars on the hillside. The pilgrims, of whom there are some thirty or forty, of both sexes, mostly belonging to the lower classes of citizens, and comprising a few foreigners like myself, proceed to climb this steep, which seemed in a state of nature covered with primaeval forest, and tangled weeds and briars, till the plateau, on which stands the house of Washington and the domestic offices around it, is reached. It is an oblong wooden house, of two stories in height, with a colonnade towards the river face, and a small balcony on the top and on the level of the roof, over which rises a little paltry gazebo. There are two windows, a glass door at one end of the oblong, and a wooden alcove extending towards the slave quarters, which are very small sentry-box huts, that have been recently painted, and stand at right angles to the end of the house, with dog-houses and poultry-hutches attached to them. There is no attempt at neatness or order about the place; though the exterior of the house is undergoing repair, the grass is unkempt, the shrubs untrimmed,—neglect, squalor, and chicken feathers have marked the lawn for their own. The house is in keeping, and threatens to fall to ruin. I entered the door, and found myself in a small hall, stained with tobacco juice. An iron railing ran across the entrance to the stairs. Here stood a man at a gate, who presented a book to the visitors, and pointed out the notice therein, that “no person is permitted to inscribe his name in this book who does not contribute to the Washington Fund, and that any name put down without money would be erased.” Notwithstanding the warning, some patriots succeeded in recording their names without any pecuniary mulct, and others did so at a most reasonable rate. When I had contributed in a manner which must have represented an immense amount of Washingtoniolatry, estimated by the standard of the day, I was informed I could not go upstairs as the rooms above were closed to the public, and thus the most interesting portion of the house was shut from the strangers. The lower rooms presented nothing worthy of notice — some lumbering, dusty, decayed furniture; a broken harpsichord, dust, cobwebs — no remnant of the man himself. But over the door of one room hung the key of the Bastille.[1] The gardens, too, were tabooed; but through the gate I could see a wilderness of neglected trees and shrubs, not unmingled with a suspicion of a present kitchen-ground. Let us pass to the Tomb, which is some distance from the house, beneath the shade of some fine trees. It is a plain brick mausoleum, with a pointed arch, barred by an iron grating, through which the light penetrates a chamber or small room containing two sarcophagi of stone. Over the arch, on a slab let into the brick, are the words: “Within this enclosure rest the remains of Gen. George Washington.” The fallen leaves which had drifted into the chamber rested thickly on the floor, and were piled up on the sarcophagi, and it was difficult to determine which was the hero’s grave without the aid of an expert, but there was neither guide nor guardian on the spot. Some four or five gravestones, of various members of the family, stand in the ground outside the little mausoleum. The place was most depressing. One felt angry with a people whose lip service was accompanied by so little of actual respect. The owner of this property, inherited from the “Pater Patriae,” has been abused in good set terms because he asked its value from the country which has been so very mindful of the services of his ancestor, and which is now erecting by slow stages the overgrown Cleopatra’s needle that is to be a Washington monument when it is finished. Mr. Everett has been lecturing, the Ladies’ Mount Vernon Assocation has been working, and every one has been adjuring everybody else to give liberally; but the result so lately achieved is by no means worthy of the object. Perhaps the Americans think it is enough to say— “Si monumentum quæeris, circumspice.” But, at all events, there is a St. Paul’s round those words.

On the return of the steamer I visited Fort Washington, which is situated on the left bank of the Potomac. I found everything in a state of neglect—gun carriages rotten, shot piles rusty, furnaces tumbling to pieces. The place might be made strong enough on the river front, but the rear is weak, though there is low marshy land at the back. A company of regulars were on duty. The sentries took no precautions against surprise. Twenty determined men, armed with revolvers, could have taken the whole work; and, for all the authorities knew, we might have had that number of Virginians and the famous Ben McCullough himself on board. Afterwards, when I ventured to make a remark to General Scott as to the carelessness of the garrison, he said: “A few weeks ago it might have been taken by a bottle of whisky. The whole garrison consisted of an old Irish pensioner.” Now at this very moment Washington is full of rumors of desperate descents on the capital, and an attack on the President and his Cabinet. The long bridge across the Potomac into Virginia is guarded, and the militia and volunteers of the district of Columbia are to be called out to resist McCullough and his Richmond desperadoes.

[1] Since borrowed, it is supposed, by Mr. Seward, and handed over by him to Mr. Stanton. Lafayette gave it to Washington, he also gave his name to the Fort which has played so conspicuous a part in the war for liberty—”La liberté des deux mondes,” might well sigh if he could see his work, and what it has led to.


April 2d.—Governor Manning came to breakfast at our table. The others had breakfasted hours before. I looked at him in amazement, as he was in full dress, ready for a ball, swallow-tail and all, and at that hour. “What is the matter with you?” “Nothing, I am not mad, most noble madam. I am only going to the photographer. My wife wants me taken thus.” He insisted on my going, too, and we captured Mr. Chesnut and Governor Means.¹ The latter presented me with a book, a photo-book, in which I am to pillory all the celebrities.

Doctor Gibbes says the Convention is in a snarl. It was called as a Secession Convention. A secession of places seems to be what it calls for first of all. It has not stretched its eyes out to the Yankees yet; it has them turned inward; introspection is its occupation still.

Last night, as I turned down the gas, I said to myself: “Certainly this has been one of the pleasantest days of my life.” I can only give the skeleton of it, so many pleasant people, so much good talk, for, after all, it was talk, talk, talk à la Caroline du Sud. And yet the day began rather dismally. Mrs. Capers and Mrs. Tom Middleton came for me and we drove to Magnolia Cemetery. I saw William Taber’s broken column. It was hard to shake off the blues after this graveyard business.

The others were off at a dinner party. I dined tête-à-tête with Langdon Cheves, so quiet, so intelligent, so very sensible withal. There never was a pleasanter person, or a better man than he. While we were at table, Judge Whitner, Tom Frost, and Isaac Hayne came. They broke up our deeply interesting conversation, for I was hearing what an honest and brave man feared for his country, and then the Rutledges dislodged the newcomers and bore me off to drive on the Battery. On the staircase met Mrs. Izard, who came for the same purpose. On the Battery Governor Adams² stopped us. He had heard of my saying he looked like Marshal Pelissier, and he came to say that at last I had made a personal remark which pleased him, for once in my life. When we came home Mrs. Isaac Hayne and Chancellor Carroll called to ask us to join their excursion to the Island Forts to-morrow. With them was William Haskell. Last summer at the White Sulphur he was a pale, slim student from the university. To-day he is a soldier, stout and robust. A few months in camp, with soldiering in the open air, has worked this wonder. Camping out proves a wholesome life after all. Then came those nice, sweet, fresh, pure-looking Pringle girls. We had a charming topic in common—their clever brother Edward.

A letter from Eliza B., who is in Montgomery: “Mrs. Mallory got a letter from a lady in Washington a few days ago, who said that there had recently been several attempts to be gay in Washington, but they proved dismal failures. The Black Republicans were invited and came, and stared at their entertainers and their new Republican companions, looked unhappy while they said they were enchanted, showed no ill-temper at the hardly stifled grumbling and growling of our friends, who thus found themselves condemned to meet their despised enemy.”

I had a letter from the Gwinns to-day. They say Washington offers a perfect realization of Goldsmith’s Deserted Village.

Celebrated my 38th birthday, but I am too old now to dwell in public on that unimportant anniversary. A long, dusty day ahead on those windy islands; never for me, so I was up early to write a note of excuse to Chancellor Carroll. My husband went. I hope Anderson will not pay them the compliment of a salute with shotted guns, as they pass Fort Sumter, as pass they must.

Here I am interrupted by an exquisite bouquet from the Rutledges. Are there such roses anywhere else in the world? Now a loud banging at my door. I get up in a pet and throw it wide open. “Oh!” said John Manning, standing there, smiling radiantly; “pray excuse the noise I made. I mistook the number; I thought it was Rice’s room; that is my excuse. Now that I am here, come, go with us to Quinby’s. Everybody will be there who are not at the Island. To be photographed is the rage just now.”

We had a nice open carriage, and we made a number of calls, Mrs. Izard, the Pringles, and the Tradd Street Rutledges, the handsome ex-Governor doing the honors gallantly. He had ordered dinner at six, and we dined tête-à-tête. If he should prove as great a captain in ordering his line of battle as he is in ordering a dinner, it will be as well for the country as it was for me to-day.

Fortunately for the men, the beautiful Mrs. Joe Heyward sits at the next table, so they take her beauty as one of the goods the gods provide. And it helps to make life pleasant with English grouse and venison from the West. Not to speak of the salmon from the lakes which began the feast. They have me to listen, an appreciative audience, while they talk, and Mrs. Joe Heyward to look at.

Beauregard³ called. He is the hero of the hour. That is, he is believed to be capable of great things. A hero worshiper was struck dumb because I said: “So far, he has only been a captain of artillery, or engineers, or something.” I did not see him. Mrs. Wigfall did and reproached my laziness in not coming out.

Last Sunday at church beheld one of the peculiar local sights, old negro maumas going up to the communion, in their white turbans and kneeling devoutly around the chancel rail.

The morning papers say Mr. Chesnut made the best shot on the Island at target practice. No war yet, thank God. Likewise they tell me Mr. Chesnut has made a capital speech in the Convention.

Not one word of what is going on now. “Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh,” says the Psalmist. Not so here. Our hearts are in doleful dumps, but we are as gay, as madly jolly, as sailors who break into the strong-room when the ship is going down. At first in our great agony we were out alone. We longed for some of our big brothers to come out and help us. Well, they are out, too, and now it is Fort Sumter and that ill-advised Anderson. There stands Fort Sumter, en evidence, and thereby hangs peace or war.

Wigfall† says before he left Washington, Pickens, our Governor, and Trescott were openly against secession; Trescott does not pretend to like it now. He grumbles all the time, but Governor Pickens is fire-eater down to the ground. “At the White House Mrs. Davis wore a badge. Jeff Davis is no seceder,” says Mrs. Wigfall.

Captain Ingraham comments in his rapid way, words tumbling over each other out of his mouth: “Now, Charlotte Wigfall meant that as a fling at those people. I think better of men who stop to think; it is too rash to rush on as some do.” “And so,” adds Mrs. Wigfall, “the eleventh-hour men are rewarded; the half-hearted are traitors in this row.”


¹ John Hugh Means was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1850, and had long been an advocate of secession. He was a delegate to the Convention of 1860 and affixed his name to the Ordinance of Secession. He was killed at the second battle of Bull Run in August, 1862.

² James H. Adams was a graduate of Yale, who in 1832 strongly opposed Nullification, and in 1855 was elected Governor of South Carolina.

³ Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was born in New Orleans in 1818, and graduated from West Point in the class of 1838. He served in the war with Mexico; had been superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point a few days only, when in February, 1861, he resigned his commission in the Army of the United States and offered his services to the Confederacy. (Actually, according to correspondence between Senator Slidell and President Buchanan, Beauregard was relieved of command.)

† Louis Trezevant Wigfall was a native of South Carolina, but removed to Texas after being admitted to the bar, and from that State was elected United States Senator, becoming an uncompromising defender of the South on the slave question. After the war he lived in England, but in 1873 settled in Baltimore. He had a wide Southern reputation as a forcible and impassioned speaker.

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