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cluding Maryland, which held the national capital, showed a division of feeling which proved them one of the most important stakes to play for in the opening moves of the game.
Delaware alone of the slave states sent an acceptance to the President's call, and it was in guarded language. Some of the best officers in the army and navy were deserting, and doing it in a secret way that made the government hardly know whom it could trust. The command of the Virginia troops was offered to General Scott, who replied: “ I have served my country under the flag of the Union for more than fifty years, and as long as God permits me to live, I will defend that flag with my sword, even if my own native state assails it.” The man, however, whom General Scott had selected as the ablest officer in the Northern army to take command of the forces in the field, had helped Virginia to rebellion by saying, even while he was in the Federal army, that he would follow her right or wrong; and April 23, three days after his resignation, Robert E. Lee was in command of her troops. Nearly one-third of the commissioned officers resigned. In the navy treachery destroyed or delivered to the South several of the most efficient vessels, among them the famous Merrimac. Singularly enough the common soldiers and sailors did not follow their officers. Over a fifth of the muskets and over a fourth of the rifles in the country had been sent to the South, which had also been buying in Europe while the North lay waiting
While the attitude of the North on the whole was encouraging, the position of Washington, in its Southern location, was disquieting. On April 18 a rumor reached the city, which had not over 2500 armed troops, that a large Confederate force was on the way to attack it, and the immediate capture of the capital was a constant Southern boast. The South was as clamorous for aggressive action as the North, and it is probable that only Lee's advice now kept the Virginia troops from marching against Washington. There was but one railroad running north from the city, and within a day or two Maryland authorities and mobs had destroyed many bridges, telegraph wires, and rails. The regiments on their way to the defence of the capital from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, and Rhode Island had not arrived. The Sixth Massachusetts, attacked by a mob in Baltimore on the 19th, reached Washington demoralized, bearing the wounded, the dead having been left behind. The next day a delegation of Baltimore men came to the President at the White House to ask that no more troops be marched through their city. On the advice of General Scott, Lincoln made this concession, adding, what turned out to be true, that they would come back the next day demanding that no troops march around the city. When committees did come with this new demand, that soldiers should not march across Maryland against her sister states, Lincoln replied: “We must have troops; and as they can neither crawl under Maryland nor fly over it, they must come across it.” To one committee, whose spokesman was a clergyman, he said: “The rebels attack Fort
" Sumter, and your citizens attack troops sent to the defence of the government, and the lives and property in Washington, and yet you would have me break my oath and surrender the government without a blow. There is no Washington in that
no Jackson in that — there is no manhood or honor in that. I have no desire to invade the South; but I must have troops to defend this capital. Geographically it lies surrounded by the soil of Maryland; and mathematically the necessity exists that they should come over her territory. Our men are not moles, and can't dig under the earth; they are not birds, and can't fly through the air. There is no way but to march across, and that they must do. But in doing this, there is no need of collision. Keep your rowdies in Baltimore, and there will be no bloodshed. Go home and tell your people that if they will not attack us, we will not attack them;
but if they do attack us, we will return it, and that severely.”
On the 21st the telegraph to the North was stopped entirely and the news from the South was all about expeditions against the capital. Many women and children had been sent out of the city. The President himself began to show signs of intense nervousness.
As the troops failed to arrive he said one day to some Massachusetts soldiers, “I begin to believe that there is no North.
The Seventh Regiment is a myth. Rhode Island is another." At another time, believing himself alone, pacing the floor and straining his eyes in the direction of the expected aid, he was heard to cry, “Why don't they come! Why don't they come!” On the 25th the Seventh New York finally reached the alarmed city and was rapturously welcomed.
One little incident of the troubles in Washington during these early days throws light on the President's method of dealing with men and growing more popular the more widely he was known. An officer who had broken up a riot in the capital woke the President at two in the morning to consult him about it. Lincoln assured him that as he had merely done his duty he had nothing to fear. The intrusive officer replied that he was aware of that fact but just wanted to talk with him about the matter. The President told him to go to bed
and sleep, and added: “Let me give you this piece of advice. Hereafter when you have occasion to strike a man, don't hit him with your fist. Strike him with a club, a crowbar, or with something that won't kill him.” In such flattering humor as this lay part of Lincoln's uncommon skill as a politician.
Not only did Washington feel more at ease as the troops began to pour in, but her immediate surroundings became quieter. Both the legislature and the populace in Maryland began to subside. General Benjamin F. Butler, with a few men, without orders, daringly and suddenly took possession of Baltimore, and held it, probably without losing sleep over the reprimand he received from General Scott. Lincoln gave Scott power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus whenever it was necessary, and when Chief Justice Taney, of Dred Scott fame, said the act was illegal, the President held his ground, and the verdict of history has been in his favor.
How Lincoln felt about the general situation at this time, in its larger aspects, is well expressed in one of his remarks recorded in Mr. Hay's diary: “For my own part, I consider the first necessity that is upon us, is of proving that
popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, — whether in a free gov
ernment the minority have the right to break it