A fine day but a little cool, had a fire in the office nearly all day. One of the principal Examiners, A B Little was removed today, other removals are expected this week. Went after dinner with Mr John Vansantvoord to see [Preston?] King. We also called upon Gov Seward at his home and upon Mssrs Beach and Wales at the “National.” The crowd at the Hotels is getting rather less in numbers but apparently more anxious. The time of their waiting has grown long while their purses have grown short and they look impatient.


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.


CINCINNATI, April 2, 1861.

DEAR UNCLE:—Before this reaches you, you will no doubt learn that the Union-saving avalanche has overtaken us, and that my little potato patch went down with the rest. To prevent a general break-up of the Fusion, both wings agreed as far as possible, to vote an open ticket without scratching. By the aid of oceans of money and a good deal of sincere patriotism in behalf of Union, the plan was carried out with perfect success. It did not in the least disappoint me.

Now, what to do next and how to begin? My term expires next Monday. I shall keep my eyes open, and meditate making you a short visit before finally settling. I have enough cash on hand, or available, to support me for a year, even if I should fail to get business enough to do it, which I do not anticipate. Nothing unpleasant has occurred in the whole course of the canvass. I am quite as well content as one who has drawn a blank ever is, or can be.





WASHINGTON, April 2, 1861.

Hon. ROBERT TOOMBS, Montgomery, Ala.:

The war wing presses on the President; he vibrates to that side. He has conferred with several officers, and naval engineer, supposed to be in regard to Sumter; perhaps to collecting revenue at New Orleans.

Commodore Pendergrast is not at Key West but at Norfolk; could not therefore land troops. Senator Dixon conversed fully with Chase on Saturday ; found him much moderated and strongly inclined to peace policy.

Their form of notice to us may be that of the coward, who gives it when he strikes. Watch at all points. It is said the Pawnee sailed from this place this evening with three companies of artillery.




Montgomery, April 2, 1861.

Brig. Gen. G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Commanding Charleston Harbor, Charleston, S. C.:

SIR: The Government has at no time placed any reliance on assurances by the Government at Washington in respect to the evacuation of Fort Sumter, or entertained any confidence in the disposition of the latter to make any concession or yield any point to which it is not driven by absolute necessity, and I desire that you will govern yourself generally with strict reference to this as the key to the policy of the Government of the Confederate States.

You are specially instructed to remit in no degree your efforts to prevent the re-enforcement of Fort Sumter, and to keep yourself in a state of the amplest preparation and most perfect readiness to repel invasion, acting in all respects–save only in commencing an assault or attack, except to repel an invading or re-enforcing force—precisely as if you were in the presence of an enemy contemplating to surprise you.

The delays and apparent vacillations of the Washington Government make it imperative that the further concession of courtesies such as have been accorded to Major Anderson and his command, in supplies from the city, must cease; and, in general terms, the status which you must at once re-establish and rigidly enforce is that of hostile forces in the presence of each other, and who may at any moment be in actual conflict; but as past conditions have allowed this Government to continue thus far courtesies of personal convenience to Major Anderson and his officers, it is proper now, as these courtesies are required to be determined by the necessities of your position, that you signify in respectful terms to Major Anderson that all communication with the city from the fort and with the fort from the city, for any purpose of supply is absolutely inhibited; and after having so notified that gentleman at the very earliest moment practicable you will make your surveillance of the harbor and the enforcement of the rule of instruction indicated in the notice to the commander of Fort Sumter as rigid as all the means at your command and the most watchful vigilance can secure.

Until the withdrawal of the Commissioners of this Government from Washington–an event which may occur at any moment–no operations beyond what is indicated in the foregoing would be admissible. Promptly, however, on the receipt by this Government of the intelligence of such withdrawal the Department will transmit to you specific instructions for your guidance.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of War.


April 2, 1861; The New York Herald

The election for State officers and members of Congress in Connecticut took place yesterday. From the returns published in another column it is pretty evident that the republicans have carried the State, and by an increased majority over the last election. Like several of his predecessors, President Lincoln has been unable to withstand the wear and tear upon his physical and mental powers consequent upon his official duties. He is reported as being quite ill—so much so as to debar him from all intercourse with visitors. Even the most pressing official business was postponed yesterday on account of his indisposition. The three Confederate States envoys to the European courts are now en route. Mr. Dudley Mann sailed from this port on Saturday, on board the Arago, while Messrs. Yancey and Rost sailed from New Orleans yesterday for Havana, where they will embark on board the British West India mail steamer for Europe. The United States Ambassadors will be despatched abroad with as little delay as possible. An outline of the instructions of the State Department to the last mentioned functionaries is given among our Washington despatches this morning. The Morrill tariff went into operation yesterday, and created trouble, confusion and annoyance among the merchants, brokers, clerks &c. A graphic account of the scenes at the Custom House will be found in another column, and will repay perusal.


April 2, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

In passing by the jewelry store of Messrs. HAYDEN & WHILDEN yesterday evening, our attention was attracted by a splendid flag which has been made for the First Regiment of Infantry, Col. MAXCY GREGG, commanding. The ground is of blue silk, six and a half feet fly, and six feet on the pike. There is a white silk embroidered Palmetto tree in the centre, with an embroidered wreath of oak and olive around it, and a white silk crescent in the centre. There is also a heavy white silk fringe and tassels all around the flag. The pike is surmounted by a silver spear. There are also two guidons, or markers, of white silk, trimmed with gold fringe, bearing on each side the inscription, ‘First Regiment, S.C.V.’ Messrs. HAYDEN & WHILDEN have gotten up no less than twelve different banners, or flags, during the last three months. The one of which we now make mention, will be on exhibition at their store during the day, and will amply repay a visit.


WILMINGTON, N. C., April 2, 1861.

General Jos. G. TOTTEN, Chief Engineer, Washington, D.C.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to report my return from Fort Clinch, and my performance of the duty assigned to me by your order of the 18th ultimo, so far as I have been able to perform it.

I have paid off all the employes mentioned in Captain Whiting’s letter of the 8th ultimo, and discharged all not before discharged except the fort keeper, Mr. J. A. Walker, and two laborers. I thought it best to retain the services of these two laborers, partly because the sand embankments inside the fort require constant attention, and partly because I was not able to sell any of the public property.

After I had paid off the accounts, Colonel Butler, commanding the Florida militia at Fernandina, very politely informed me that the authorities of that State had virtually taken possession of Fort Clinch, and that any sale of its property by the United States would be regarded as illegal and that he thought it his duty to resist such sale if necessary. After some conversation, finding myself unable to change his resolution, I was, of course, compelled to yield.

The State of Florida, or the Confederate States, will probably soon take formal possession of Fort Clinch.

I have told Mr. Walker that while things remain as they are he may regard himself and his two assistants as in the service of the United States, at least until he shall be officially informed to the contrary, but that whenever the property or the fort shall be actually seized the United States will be no longer responsible for services.

There are some small accounts for supplies and for services still unpaid. As soon as I receive them I will forward them to the Department for your decision.


Captain, Engineers.



Respectfully referred to the honorable Secretary of War for his instructions as to the course to be pursued in regard to the care of the Government property at Fort Clinch.

It will be perceived from the within report that while this property is nominally in the possession of the United States, it is actually under the control of the Florida authorities, as is shown by their refusal to permit the sale of the same.

Should the United States, therefore, continue its expenditures for the care of the fort and the property thereat? Unless the Government designs  taking actual possession of and holding this work and property, I would recommend their being at once abandoned.

Brevet Brigadier-General, and Colonel Engineers.

APRIL 10, 1861.

Let the work cease for the present.


Secretary of War.


April 2, 1861; The Spectator (Staunton, Virginia)

Having steadfastly adhered to the doctrine that civil war, or danger of constant collision between the Border, Free and Slave States, could only be averted by a peaceful settlement in the Union of our present troubles, and that it was really the interest of the Border Slave States to maintain their present relations with the Free States on our border, and with the whole Union if possible, we have deduced therefrom a difference between our condition and that of the Gulf States. Nothing that has occurred, therefore, has served to change or even shake the conviction, that we have interests in the Union that are paramount–interests that the Cotton States have not; and that therefore we should not rashly imperil them through any fancied identity of interest with the States that have left us for weal or for woe, to work out our own destiny as best we may. We have maintained that it is neither our interest to go with them, nor really essential to our interest that we should. We are glad, therefore, to find so respectable a journal in one of the seceded States, as the Milledgeville (Geo.) Recorder, supporting the views we have advocated. In the issue of that journal of the 12th inst., we find the case thus strongly stated, as follows: “If the line of the Southern Confederacy touched that of the Free States, there being to law or treaty for the rendition of fugitives from labor between foreign Powers, the mischief would be such, practically, that a collision of arms would be unavoidable, unless the Slave States receded altogether from the claims on which they insisted while in the Union, of having their property returned to them under the plain behest of the Constitution and the acts of Congress to carry it into effect. In the simple matter of convenience and expediency, therefore, we believe that the Border States will be of more advantage in their present position to the Southern Confederacy, a wall of defence against Northern aggression, than if they were to become members of it, with all their frontier exposed to fanatical hatred and pillage. We should then have to try an experiment which otherwise we might be under the necessity of making with the Free States, and which no amount of wisdom or valor may contemplate with indifference. If slaves from the Border States are stolen or enticed away by the abolitionists, the game would become vastly interesting in the absence of any stipulations recognizing slaves as property, which we have reason to believe could never be obtained. Outrage would follow outrage in rapid succession, and on a scale of such magnitude that war would be the only mode of redress.” Ought not this candid avowal, from a source entitled to credit, induce the people of the Border Slave States to make every effort compatible with their honor (and we would not have them do more) to avert the catastrophe, before they rush into the vortex of secession? This word, with us, has a deeper signification than it can have in the Gulf States. We trust our people will do nothing rashly.


April 2, 1861; The Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania“There is scarcely an individual or an interest in any community throughout what is left of the Union and that portion which has placed itself in belligerent attitude to the prestige and power of the government, but what feels and is affected by the awful crisis which has prostrated the energies and divided the sympathies of the American people. As well feel it now, and as we are now arrested in our development and progress, the whole civilised world must sooner or later come within the influences of the raid which now seeks to plunge this hemisphere into civil war of the most unrelenting and bloody consequences. Those who have provoked the strife are those who seek to transfer its responsibility to the people, because they have, in the exercise of their rights and judgments, elevated to power men of tried moral worth and patriotic incentives. The triumph of the Republican party is made the excuse for the treason at the South by the men at the North who have lost an ally in every Southern traitor – while the leaders of the revolution themselves boldly declare that the election of Abraham Lincoln has nothing to do with their usurpation or their felonies. They claim the right of revolution and they have exercised such a right. On this claim they rest the justification of their acts, and by their success they illustrate either their own promises and power, or the instability and inefficiency of the Constitution and laws of the land. Since 1833 the secession movement of the South has been gaining strength with every successive triumph of the Democratic Party, until it has culminated in the success of its leaders so far as they have been able to entrench themselves behind their defiance of the legitimate government of the country. The idea that the treason of Jeff Davis was induced by present causes is as foolish as the assertion that South Carolina went out of the Union to vindicate a right or redress any real wrong. The actual motive of both was revenge. The true cause of the secession movements, the disappointment of those who have instigated it, in maintaining their positions in power, and covering up the corruptions which have disgraced their rule from the hour they gained possession of the government. The enormity of these corruptions has to often startled the nation to be repeated by us – and as there is a God to punish the crimes and the excesses of nations as well as men, we need to be surprised that he has suffered the American people to go astray in their pursuits of peace and prosperity. The corruption of our government has indeed become unparalleled in history or [click to continue…]


April 2, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

WASHINGTON, March 28, 1861. It is fair to assume that Mr. LINCOLN has no inclination to be separated from his party. His first act as President was to reiterate his adherence to the Chicago platform, and from then till now he has in everything paid homage to the Black Republican idols. In the absence of explicit avowals on his part, then, he may—and, indeed, must—be judged in the light reflected by his friends and adherents in the Senate; for though he has been silent, Republican Senators have spoken; though he has studiously concealed his policy, Senators have done much toward an exposition of its nature. Negatively, at any rate, the closing days of the Senate have taught an instructive lesson. We are at least permitted to know what shall not be done. We have been enabled to take measure of the sincerity of the peace professions current in certain Republican quarters, and to estimate the worth of the overtures with which the Submissionists in the Border States would fain be satisfied. How and with what result? Three notable points compose the answer: First, the Republican Senators, being a majority, have refused to affirm the adoption of any change in the purposes of their party. They have refused to declare the slightest modification of their views and plans in relation to the exclusion of slavery from the Territories, virtually admitting, therefore, that the non-insertion of WILMOT Proviso in the territorial acts of the recent session, resulted from confidence in the power of the Executive to adapt the territorial institutions to the abolition standard, and not from any disposition to meet the issue presented by the Southern movement. Second, they have stubbornly resisted every attempt to elicit an authoritative explanation of the course marked out by Mr. LINCOLN in reference to the Southern Confederacy. Third, without having manliness enough to avow their partiality for coercive measures, they have crushed successive efforts to throw the weight of the Senate’s counsel into the scale of peace. To some extent, perhaps, the Republican Senators are entitled to credit. They have at least abstained from hypocrisy. They have not mocked the South with conciliatory pretences, nor insulted it by gratuitous lying. If they declined to proclaim themselves enemies, it was not, because they were eager to affect the air of friends. HALE and FESSENDEN, and TRUMHULL and SUMNER, were granted free scope, and were glorified. There was no rebuke for Abolition ;’no patting on the back for oily .’The DOUGLASES and JOHNSONS of the body were [click to continue…]


April 2, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

The military authorities about Charleston harbor have persistently refused facilities to the press of the city, always urging the importance of silence in reference to the state of the military preparations and defences. Although these are matters of great desire to our readers, and completely within our reach, yet we have readily acquiesced in the policy, sacrificing interest from a regard to the public weal. But we had a right to expect, and did expect, that care would be taken to exclude the reporters of other papers, and particularly of Northern papers. The Floating Battery was a great secret, and yet its accurate description was heralded all over the country by a hundred different correspondents.

We had occasion to notice, a short time ago, the excellent engravings of sundry Morris Island batteries, taken by their artist, and forwarded with descriptions to Frank Leslie Paper, in which they appeared. Today we publish a full description of all the various batteries, with names, numbers of guns, &c., &c., written, as we understand, by Dr. SALTER, the self proclaimed correspondent of that virulent Abolition sheet, the New York Times. Another description of the same is published in the New York Herald. So that our people apparently have to go to New York papers to learn facts about our own affairs. Is this just; is it right? Have not the press of Charleston good reason to complain? We know our readers will think, as we do, it is a crying shame and injustice. If this be the result of our compliance, we make an end on it for the future.


April 2, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

MONTGOMERY, March 29, 1861. Despatches from Washington to the State Department have been received today, containing an announcement that the Senate had adjourned. As they have come to no definite conclusion in regard to existing troubles between the two governments, it is supposed that the course pursued for the time, at least, will be a peaceable one. Our Commissioners telegraph that they are of opinion that the Cabinet will decide upon peace and a speedy recognition of the Confederate States. There is no probability of an extra session of Congress, as that would limit the power of the Secretary of State somewhat, and curb his ambition to be the leading spirit in the affairs of Government. SEWARD is a far seeing man, knows that sooner or later the Southern confederacy must be recognized, and is now playing his hand to get every thing his own way. It is an easy matter seemingly for him to control the Senate and Cabinet, but with the turbulent House of Representatives he can have but little influence. Probably the most difficult person to manage is CHASE, who is a man of both physical and moral courage, and is withal a man of education, ability and decision. Both these men are represented as in favor of peace, and are willing, since no better terms can be made, to recognize the Government under its present policy, which is , equality and reciprocity. The report that our Commissioners had hired a house in Washington is true. They are now comfortably situated, and are prepared to enter into negotiations with the Federal Government as soon as it is ready to receive them. They are wise not to hurry matters, for day by day the longer settlements are delayed the better for us, as the Confederacy has been growing in favor and importance both at home and abroad. Two of our European Commissioners are now on their way to England. Mr. YANCEY leaves New Orleans on the 31st in the Havana steamer. It is a matter of some surprise here that the apparent treachery on the part of the Federal Government in sending messengers from Washington to Major ANDERSON in Fort Sumter, should be tolerated by the commander of the forces there, or even by the authorities of South Carolina. It was but a few days since that Col. LAMON, LINCOLN’S bosom friend, and Surgeon Fox, were admitted inside the fort, with no purpose except the avowed one of examining the state of the garrison in order to report to Republican headquarters. Unless coming with positive orders to Major ANDERSON to give up the fort to its rightful owners, they certainly can have no business there, [click to continue…]


April 2, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

We would call attention to the advertisement for proposals to supply the Postoffice Department with ‘Mail Bags,’ ‘Wrapping Paper,’ ‘Twine,’ ‘Wax,’ ‘Stamps,’ ‘Stamped Envelopes,’ ‘Printing Blanks,’ etc. Contractors will do well to look into the matter, as the time for receiving the offers is the 1st of May.


April 2, 1861; Memphis Daily Appeal (Memphis, TN),

Died, on the 4th of March, 1861, UNCLE SAM, in the 85th year of his age. In chronicling the demise of Uncle Sam, we do so with a mixed emotion of sorrow and joy. His death was anticipated for some years, having fallen a victim to an “irrepressible conflict” disease, which combated successfully and rendered ineffectual the expert skill of the most learned Sewardite and prominent physicians of the day, and after a long, protracted suffering, lingering in its progress with a slow, certain and unavoidable end, he departed this life on the day and year named above, leaving behind many to mourn this sad bereavement and others experiencing gratification who desired the agonizing and excruciating pains he endured to cease and be no more. As he lived, he died, beloved and respected by all nations. We shall, perhaps, never look upon his like again. As a model for example, no copy is now extant and none ordered. His life was frought with many eventful scenes, and the multitudinous vicissitudes through which he struggled and rendered glorious, characterized his indomitable will, honesty and bravery. Born on the 4th of July, 1776, the last century was signalized by his unprecedented advent, and as the legitimate offspring of the independence of America, his birth was hailed by freedom as a wonderful epoch in the history of the world. His terrestrial career advancing, it became evidently important that a generalisimo was required, and should be employed to superintend and guard his household affairs. George, of revolutionary fame, having established a good character, and being strongly recommended by letters of an innumerable number of brave hearts, was the chosen one. Tradition says he made an excellent and very trustworthy functionary, gained the admiration and confidence of his employer and the respect of all of his obedient servants. Then when George’s term expired, John, Tom, James, Quincy, James the second, Andrew, Martin, William, Henry, John the Second, James the third, Zachariah, Millard and Frank, were employed successively in rotation, and are said to have given partial satisfaction in ruling moderately well over the servants, and conducting the affairs of the White House with a discretion remarkable and peculiar in the times and circumstances. During the latter part of these Administrations however, Uncle Sam, laboring under the debilitating influences of the “irrepressible” contagion prevalent, was confined to his department, private, and being unable, therefore, to give an undivided attention to the things of his Government, [click to continue…]


April 1st.—On Easter Monday, after breakfast with Mr. Olmsted, I drove over to visit Senator Douglas. Originally engaged in some mechanical avocation, by his ability and eloquence he has raised himself to the highest position in the State short of the Presidency, which might have been his but for the extraordinary success of his opponent in a fortuitous suffrage scramble. He is called the Little Giant, being modo bipedali staturâ, but his head entitles him to some recognition of intellectual height. His sketch of the causes which have led to the present disruption of parties, and the hazard of civil war, was most vivid and able; and for more than an hour he spoke with a vigor of thought and terseness of phrase which, even on such dreary and uninviting themes as squatter sovereignty and the Kansas-Nebraska question, interested a foreigner in the man and the subject. Although his sympathies seemed to go with the South on the question of slavery and territorial extension, he condemned altogether the attempt to destroy the Union.

Note: This particular diary entry—a private document written in 1861—includes a term that is very offensive to many today.  No attempt will be made to censor or edit 19th century material.

MONDAY, APRIL 1, 1861.

This has been rather a wet drizzling day. Nothing new seems to be afloat. If all “Niggerdom” “Secedes” the great North and West will be United and still a great Nation. If a compromise is effected at last, it will be many long years before the North can have faith or confidence in States which have furnished so many Robbers and Traitors. Many in the office are fearing the “ax” but I am quite indifferent about being removed. Am tempted to resign if my salary is not increased to $2500 & think I shall.


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.


Washington, April 1, 1861.


U. S Army, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: You have been designated to take command of an expedition to re-enforce and hold Fort Pickens, in the harbor of Pensacola. You will  proceed with the least possible delay to that place, and you will assume command of all the land forces of the United States within the limits of the State of Florida. You will proceed to New York, where steam transportation for four companies will be engaged, and, putting on board such supplies as you can ship, without delay proceed at once to your destination. The engineer company of Suppers and Miners; Brevet Major Hunt’s Company M, Second Artillery; Captain Johns’ Company C, Third Infantry, Captain Clitz’s Company E, Third Infantry, will embark with you in the first steamer. Other troops and full supplies will be sent after you as soon as possible.

Captain Meigs will accompany you as engineer, and will remain with you until you are established in Fort Pickens, when he will return to resume his duties in this city. The other members of your staff will be Asst. Surg. John Campbell, medical staff; Capt. Rufus Ingalls, assistant quartermaster; Capt. Henry F. Clarke, assistant commissary of subsistence; Bvt. Capt. George L. Hartsuff, assistant adjutant-general; and First Lieut. George T. Balch, ordnance officer.

The object and destination of this expedition will be communicated to no one to whom it is not already known. The naval officers in the Gulf will be instructed to co-operate with you, and to afford every facility in their power for the accomplishment of the object of the expedition, which is the security of Fort Pickens against all attacks, foreign and domestic. Should a shot be fired at you, you will defend yourself and your expedition at whatever hazard, and, if needful for such defense, inflict upon the assailants all the damage in your power within the range of your guns.

Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes, military secretary, will be authorized to give all necessary orders, and to call upon the staff department for every requisite material and transportation, and other steamers will follow that on which you embark, to carry re-enforcements, supplies, and provisions for the garrison of Fort Pickens for six months. Captain Barry’s battery will follow as soon as a vessel can be fitted for its transportation. Two or three foot companies will embark at the same time with the battery. All the companies will be filled up to the maximum standard, those to embark first from the recruits in the harbor of New York. The other companies will be filled, if practicable, with instructed soldiers.

You will make Fort Jefferson your main depot and base of operations. You will be careful not reduce too much the means of the fortresses in the Florida Reef, as they are deemed of greater importance than even Fort Pickens. The naval officers in the Gulf will be instructed to cooperate with you in every way, in order to insure the safety of Fort Pickens, Fort Jefferson, and Fort Taylor. You will freely communicate with them for this end, and will exhibit to them the authority of the President herewith.

The President directs that you be assigned to duty from this date according to your brevet rank in the Army.

With great confidence in your judgment, zeal, and intelligence, I remain, respectfully,


APRIL 2, 1861.






All officers of the Army and Navy, to whom this order may be exhibited, will aid by every means in their power the expedition under the command of Col. Harvey Brown, supplying him with men and material and co-operating with him as he may desire.



On the 1st of April, while at my dinner at Willard’s, where I then boarded, Mr. Nicolay, the private secretary of the President, brought to me and laid upon the table a large package from the President. It was between five and six o’clock in the afternoon when I received this package, which I immediately examined and found it contained several papers of a singular character, in the nature of instructions, or orders from the Executive in relation to naval matters, and one in reference to the government of the Navy Department more singular and remarkable than either of the others. This extraordinary document was as follows: —


Executive Mansion, April 1, 1861.

To the Secretary of the Navy.

Dear Sir: You will issue instructions to Captain Pendergrast, commanding the home squadron, to remain in observation at Vera Cruz — important complications in our foreign relations rendering the presence of an officer of rank there of great importance.

Captain Stringham will be directed to proceed to Pensacola with all possible despatch, and assume command of that portion of the home squadron stationed off Pensacola. He will have confidential instructions to cooperate in every way with the commanders of the land forces of the United States in that neighborhood.

The instructions to the army officers, which are strictly confidential, will be communicated to Captain Stringham after he arrives at Pensacola.

Captain Samuel Barron will relieve Captain Stringham in charge of the Bureau of Detail.

Abraham Lincoln.

P. S. As it is very necessary at this time to have a perfect knowledge of the personal of the navy, and to be able to detail such officers for special purposes as the exigencies of the service may require, I request that you will instruct Captain Barron to proceed and organize the Bureau of Detail in the manner best adapted to meet the wants of the navy, taking cognizance of the discipline of the navy generally, detailing all officers for duty, taking charge of the recruiting of seamen, supervising charges made against officers, and all matters relating to duties which must be best understood by a sea officer. You will please afford Captain Barron any facility for accomplishing this duty, transferring to his department the clerical force heretofore used for the purposes specified. It is to be understood that this officer will act by authority of the Secretary of the Navy, who will exercise such supervision as he may deem necessary.

Abraham Lincoln.

Without a moment’s delay I went to the President with the package in my hand. He was alone in his office and, raising his head from the table at which he was writing, inquired, “What have I done wrong?” I informed him I had received with surprise the package containing his instructions respecting the Navy and the Navy Department, and I desired some explanation. I then called his attention particularly to the foregoing document, which I read to him. This letter was in the handwriting of Captain Meigs of the army, then Quartermaster-General; the postscript in that of David D. Porter, since made Vice-Admiral. The President expressed as much surprise as I felt, that he had sent me such a document. He said Mr. Seward, with two or three young men, had been there through the day on a subject which he (Seward) had in hand, and which he had been some time maturing; that it was Seward’s specialty, to which he, the President, had yielded, but as it involved considerable details, he had left Mr. Seward to prepare the necessary papers. These papers he had signed, many of them without reading, — for he had not time, and if he could not trust the Secretary of State, he knew not whom he could trust. I asked who were associated with Mr. Seward. “No one,” said the President, “but these young men were here as clerks to write down his plans and orders.” Most of the work was done, he said, in the other room. I then asked if he knew the young men. He said one was Captain Meigs, another was a naval officer named Porter.

I informed the President that I was not prepared to trust Captain Barron, who was by this singular proceeding, issued in his name, to be forced into personal and official intimacy with me. He said he knew nothing of Barron except he had a general recollection that there was such an officer in the Navy. The detailing officer of the Department, I said to him, ought to have the implicit confidence of the Secretary, and should be selected by him. This the President assented to most fully. I then told him that Barron, though a pliant gentleman, had not my confidence, and I thought him not entitled to that of the President in these times; that his associations, feelings, and views, so far as I had ascertained them, were with the Secessionists; that he belonged to a clique of exclusives, most of whom were tainted with secession notions; that, though I was not prepared to say he would desert us when the crisis came on, I was apprehensive of it, and while I would treat him kindly, considerately, and hoped he would not prove false like most others of his set, I could not give him the trust which the instructions imposed.

The President reiterated they were not his instructions, though signed by him, that the paper was an improper one, that he wished me to give it no more consideration than I thought proper, to treat it as canceled, or as if it had never been written. He said he remembered that both Seward and Porter had something to say about Barron, as if he was a superior officer, and in some respects, perhaps, out any equal in the Navy, but he certainly never would have assigned him or any other man knowingly the position without consulting me.

Barron was a courtier, of mild and affable manners, a prominent and influential officer, especially influential with the clique which recognized him as a leader. He and D. D. Porter were intimate friends, and both were favorites of Jefferson Davis, Slidell, and other Secessionists, who, I had learned, paid them assiduous attention.

When I took charge of the Navy Department, I found great demoralization and defection among the naval officers. It was difficult to ascertain who among those that lingered about Washington could and who were not to be trusted. Some belonging to the Barron clique had already sent in their resignations. Others, it was well understood, were prepared to do so as soon as a blow was struck. Some were hesitating, undecided what step to take. Barron, Buchanan, Maury, Porter, and Magruder were in Washington, and each and all were, during that unhappy winter, courted and caressed by the Secessionists, who desired to win them to their cause. I was by reliable friends put on my guard as respected each of them. Buchanan, Maury, and Magruder were each holding prominent place and on duty. Barron was familiar with civil and naval matters, was prepared for any service, ready to be called to discharge such duties as are constantly arising in the Department, requiring the talents of an intelligent officer.

Porter had some of the qualities of Barron, with more dash and energy, was less plausible, more audacious, and careless in his statements, but like him was given to intrigues. His associations, as well as Barron’s, during the winter of 1861, had been intimate with the Secessionists. He sought and obtained orders for Coast Survey service in the Pacific, which indicated an intention to avoid active participation in the approaching controversy. That class of officers who at such a time sought duties in the Pacific and on foreign stations were considered, prima facie, as in sympathy with the Secessionists, but yet not prepared to give up their commissions and abandon the Government. No men were more fully aware that a conflict was impending, and that, if hostilities commenced and they were within the call of the Department, they would be required to participate. Hence a disposition to evade an unpleasant dilemma by going away was not misunderstood.

Barron and Porter occupied in the month of March an equivocal position. They were intimate, they were popular, and the eye of the Department was necessarily upon them, as it was, indeed, upon all in the service. In two or three interviews with me, Barron deprecated the unfortunate condition of the country, expressed his hopes that extreme measures would not be resorted to, avowed his love for the profession with which from early childhood he had been identified and in which so many of his family had distinguished connection. There were suavity in his manner and kindly sentiments in his remarks, but not that earnest, devoted patriotism which the times demanded, and which broke forth from others of his profession, in denunciation of treason and infidelity to the flag. Porter had presented himself but once to the Department, and that was to make some inquiries in relation to his orders to the Pacific, but there was no allusion to the impending difficulties nor any proffer of service if difficulties ensued. As with many others, some of whom abandoned the Government, while some remained and rendered valuable service, the Department was in doubt what course these two officers would pursue.

This was the state of the case when the instructions of the 1st of April were sent me. On learning from the President who were Mr. Seward’s associates, I was satisfied that Porter had through him proposed and urged the substitution of Barron for Stringham as the detailing and confidential officer of the Secretary of the Navy. I was unwilling to believe that my colleague Mr. Seward could connive at, or be party to, so improper and gross an affair as to interfere with the organization of my Department, and jeopardize its operations at such a juncture. What, then, were the contrivances which he was maturing with two young officers, one of the army and the other of the Navy, without consulting the Secretary of War or the Secretary of the Navy? What had he, the Secretary of State, to do with these officers in any respect? I could get no satisfactory explanation from the President of the origin of this strange interference, which mystified him, and which he censured and condemned more severely than myself. He assured me it would never occur again. Although very much disturbed by the disclosure, he was anxious to avoid difficulty, and, to shield Mr. Seward, took to himself the whole blame and repeatedly said that I must pay no more attention to the papers sent me than I thought advisable. He gave me, however, at that time no information of the scheme which Mr. Seward had promoted, farther than that it was a specialty, which Mr. Seward wished should be kept secret. I therefore pressed for no further disclosures.

The instructions in relation to Barron I treated as nullities. My first conclusions were that Mr. Seward had been made a victim to an intrigue, artfully contrived by those who favored and were promoting the Rebellion, and that the paper had been in some way surreptitiously introduced with others in the hurry and confusion of that busy day without his knowledge. That he would commit the discourtesy of imposing on me such instructions I was unwilling to believe, and that he should be instrumental in placing, or attempting to place, a person more than suspected, and who was occupying so equivocal a position as Barron, in so responsible a position in the Navy Department, and commit to him all the information of that branch of the Government, seemed to me impossible.


FORT SUMTER, S.C., April 1, 1861.
(Received A. G O., April 4.)

Col. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army:

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that everything is still and quiet, as far as we can see, around us. The South Carolina Secretary of War has not sent the authority, asked for yesterday, to enable me to send off the discharged laborers. Having been in daily expectation, since the return of Colonel Lamon to Washington, of receiving orders to vacate this post, I have kept these men here as long as I could; but now, having nearly completed the important work of cleaning up the area, &c., I am compelled, in consequence of the small supply of provisions on hand, to discharge them. An examination of the accompanying report of the A. A. C. S. will show that the supply of provisions brought over would, had the issues been limited to my command, have lasted for a longer period than that mentioned in my letter of December 26, 1860. I have not made frequent mention of the question of our rations, because the Department was kept fully informed from time to time, of the state of our supply. Lieutenants Talbot and Hall gave full information in reference to it when they went on, and on the 27th of January a detailed statement was sent on, from which any one in the Commissary Department could have told, knowing the number of souls in the fort, including the Engineer laborers, the exact amount on hand at any given time.

I told Mr. Fox that if I placed the command on short allowance I could make the provisions last until after the 10th of this month; but as I have received no instructions from the Department that it was desirable I should do so, it has not been done. If the governor permits me to send off the laborers we will have rations enough to last us about one week longer.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major, First Artillery, Commanding.


FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 1, 1861.

Maj. ROBERT ANDERSON, First Artillery, Commanding:

MAJOR: In compliance with your request, I have the honor to submit the following list of provisions sold to Capt. J. G. Foster, Corps of Engineers, for the subsistence of the employees in his department at this post, and have expressed the quantities in numbers of rations, viz:

Five and one-half barrels of pork–one thousand four hundred and sixty-seven rations.

Twenty barrels of flour–three thousand four hundred and eighty-five rations.

One hundred and eighty pounds hard bread–one hundred and eighty rations.

Two and one-half bushels of beans–one thousand rations.

One hundred and seventy-four pounds coffee–one thousand seven hundred and forty rations.

Seven hundred and seventy-four pounds sugar–five thousand one hundred and sixty rations.

These provisions, which have necessarily been consumed by others, would have added to the time we have already been at this post subsistence for the following number of days, respectively: Pork–Sixteen and twenty-seven-ninetieths days.

Flour and hard bread–Forty and sixty-five-ninetieths days. Beans–Eleven and one-ninth days. Coffee–Nineteen and one-third days. Sugar–Fifty-seven and one-third days.

Or, with what is now on hand, at least thirty-five days of comfortable subsistence for the command, including the laundresses, who were sent away about two months ago.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,


Second Lieutenant, First Artillery, A. A. C. S.


April 1, 1861, The Charleston Mercury

We have briefly indicated a few of the weighty reasons for the Confederate States rejecting all proffers of association with the anti-slavery States of the North, whether Eastern or Western. But many readers may suppose our apprehensions groundless, and our reasoning uncalled for and premature. To such we would respectfully dissent. To us the future, in this respect, judged by the signs of the times, is ominous. ‘Reconstruction,’ on the basis of the old Constitution, is, we judge, the policy of the SEWARD wing of the Black Republican party, and every day will strengthen that element. ‘Reorganization’ under the new Constitution is evidently the programme chalked out some months since by Washington leaders of the South. And to this end the policy so far pursued unquestionably tends. Under the promulgation that war, pestilence and famine impended, in case any other course was adopted, inactivity has reigned, and every cause for alienation has been studiously avoided. Delay is still going on. A Constitution, too, has been carefully made, at Montgomery, which, with a little repression of the fanaticism on the slavery question, will be sufficiently acceptable to the Northwest to constitute no permanent difficulty in the way of their consenting to adopt it. Two years ‘meditation upon the pros and cons will suffice them. Friends of Mr. DOUGLAS, including the near and dear GEORGE N. SAUNDERS, are already declaring that the Northwestern States should apply for admission into the Confederate States. Mr. BRECKINRIDGE, in the United States Senate, speaks of this being the probable result. The Border States all look to it. The New York Herald daily urges the advantages of New York doing the same thing. We might go on and mention many other facts and circumstances that lead us unmistakably to apprehend the evil effects of reorganization, as a not improbable thing. We only wish to open the eyes of our people to the danger, and to warn them at once of the drift of events. They that have ears to hear, let them hear.


April 1, 1861; The New York Herald

Our despatches received on Saturday night announced that Mississippi and Texas had ratified and adopted the constitution framed in the Convention representing the seceded States, at Montgomery, Alabama. Five of the seven States have now ratified that instrument, and in the following order:
Alabama……………. March 13, 186l 87 Yeas 5 Nays
Georgia……………. March 16, 1861 96 Yeas 5 Nays
Louisiana………….. March 21, 1861 101 Yeas 7 Nays
Mississippi………… March 30, 1861 78 Yeas 7 Nays
Texas……………… March 25, 1861 68 Yeas 2 Nays.
Two States, South Carolina and Florida, are yet to adopt the new constitution. There is little need of conjecture as to the part they will take in ratifying and endorsing the action of their brethren. The Convention of South Carolina is now in session, and that of Florida meets in a few days, and in a week or two, therefore, the final action of the confederacy will be perfected in regard to this important matter.


April 1, 1861; The Charleston Mercury

The New York Tribune learns that orders were sent last week to the naval commanders at Warrington, near Pensacola, to land the 400 troops on board the Brooklyn, and reinforce Fort Pickens. No intelligence, however, of the execution of this order has yet reached the government. The Washington correspondent of the same paper, in giving this news, adds:

It is not disguised that some apprehension is entertained here of a possible attack by the revolutionary army now encamped before Fort Pickens, under command of General Bragg, though wiser counsels are hoped.

The government does not regard this movement as a reinforcement, and if treated as such by the secession leaders, they must take the consequences. No hostile demonstration is designed, and no attempt will be made to re-take the other forts and navy yard.

In transferring these troops from a sloop of war, which has been stationed off Pensacola for two months, the Secretary of War intended to protect Fort Pickens against surprise or surrender, and if their landing is resisted, reinforcements will be immediately thrown there, be the consequences what they may.

It is not true that the government vessels at Pensacola are short of supplies, or they need not be, with Key West so near at hand. The transport containing all the necessary provisions for the home squadron was detained at New York, but must have reached Pensacola by this time.


Col. Lamon, who went to Charleston for the purpose of making personal investigation of the condition of affairs at Fort Sumter and in the city, returned this afternoon. He visited Major Anderson, and found him well, and determined on the [click to continue…]

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