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not greet the President“ with all-hails to his face,” they beset him, many of them, to the last. Undoubtedly there was less of perfect freedom of communication between them after his annual message of the 3d of December, but they followed him up, and sought to control his action to the extent of their power, until his term expired.
And now about the removal of Major Beauregard from West Point. I wish I had the notes which passed between Mr. Slidell and the President on the subject, to insert here; but as it appeared that Mr. Holt could not find them among his papers, it is to be feared they are lost. It is amusing to observe that while the Secretary of War was arranging to ship some of his “big guns” to the South, Senator Slidell was equally diligent in having one at least transferred to a most important position at the North; and both came to grief in much the same way,-by running against “ Old Buck.” If I am not mistaken, Major Beauregard, whose rank did not entitle him to the appointment, had hardly more than reached West Point before the order for his removal was made by Secretary Holt, then recently placed at the head of the War Department, and Senator Slidell doubtless thought, when he wrote the President-as he did, I have reason to believe, in an imperious mannerthat the latter would disavow the act of removal and reinstate Major Beauregard, so that he could have the opportunity of teaching the cadets at West Point not only “how to shoot,” “ but where to shoot.” Instead, however, of disavowing it, he, no doubt, gave the Senator to understand, in no equivocal language, that he as President was responsible for it, probably without saying whether the Secretary brought the matter to his attention before the order was made or not. This, of course, was a fatal offence.
The same spirit was also manifested in reference to the postal service. Before speaking of this, however, I will refer to one other fact connected with the administration of the War Department. A short time before the withdrawal of the Florida senators, they made a communication, either to the President or to the Secretary of War, requesting to be advised as to the particulars and extent of the armament of the Government fortifications in that State. It is hardly necessary to say that Secretary Holt declined to furnish this information.
The ordinance of secession was passed in Florida on the 11th of January, and her senators withdrew about the 21st of that month; on which day the Postmaster-General made an order abolishing the post-office at Pensacola. As soon as this became known, Mr. Yulee, late senator from that State, but now a citizen of “the Southern Confederacy,” called at the Post-office Department and requested to see or be served with a copy of the order of discontinuance. Ilis request was politely refused. I do not remember whether it was on this occasion or previously that he jocosely intimated to the officer, thus unmindful of his wishes, that a rope might, at some day not far distant, be serviceable to him; but I well recollect that officer replied that he would esteem it a great favor then to be elevated in some position sufficiently commanding to enable him to proclaim to the whole country his opinion of secession and its wicked abettors.*
* This order may still possess interest as an item of history, and it is now for the first time brought to light, as follows: “Whereas, an armed body of men from the State of Al na, acting under authority of its Governor and upon the invitation of the Governor of Florida, have taken possession of the navy-yard and of parts of the forts of the harbor of Pensacola, in the State of Florida, and still retain them in defiance of the rights of the Government of the United States; and whereas, the officers and troops constituting the garrison of Fort Pickens in said harbor, and who are citizens of the United States and in the service of its Government, are by said armed body of men prevented from communicating with the shore and with the post-office of Pensacola; and whereas, the Department has reliable information that attempts on the part of said garrison to correspond with the Government at Washington have been defeated by the intervention of said armed force and by their lawless power over said post-office, whereby its freedom and integrity have been destroyed; and whereas, it is neither just nor proper that a post-office or postal service should be supported by the Government of the United States, from the use of which its own citizens, and those in its employment and obeying its commands, are excluded by the usurpations of the said Governor, or by any other cause whatever: it is ordered that said post-office at Pensacola, in the State of Florida, be and the same is hereby abolished.”
There was another instance of like character which occurs to me. A route agent by the name of West, on one of the railroads in Virginia, having been removed, the Honorable Albert G. Jenkins, member of Congress from that State, who was afterward killed at the head of guerillas in West Virginia, demanded in writing to know distinctly and specifically the grounds of his removal. In this case the Postmaster-General was more accommodating, as will be seen by his letter to the member on a preceding page.
The postal service generally throughout the South was continued under the direction of the Government of the United States up to the 31st of May, 1861, when it was suspended by a general order of the Department. Meantime, all through the winter the leaders of the rebellion were making use of the mails, and those of them in Congress of their franking privilege also, to “fire up the Southern heart” and force the States into passing ordinances of secession, seizing the Government property, etc. One senator (Yulee), whose letter fell into loyal hands some time during the war, wrote to his State under date of January 5, 1861:
“I think by the 4th of March all the Southern States will be out, except, perhaps, Kentucky and Missouri, and they will soon have to follow. A strong government of eight States, promptly organized, with Jeff Davis for general-in-chief, will bring them to a realizing sense of the gravity of the crisis. . .. I shall give the enemy a shot next week before retiring. I say enemy. Yes, I am theirs, and they are mine. I am willing to be their master, but not their brother.”
This is a fair representation of the spirit manifested by the leading secessionists congregated in Washington during the winter and spring of 1861; and when on the 15th of April the President issued his call for seventy-five thousand men, his demand was met by the Governors of several of the Southern States in the same spirit of bravado and defiance.
I have a vivid recollection of the doubt and gloom which pervaded the city for days preceding the arrival of the first troops called for by the President. Such, at least, was the feeling among all those here who had resolved to stand by the Government. Reports were rife that rebel soldiers were moving on the Virginia side of the river—that arms had been sent forward for them; and, as the passenger-boats were plying every hour between Alexandria and Washington, there was great fear that this means of communication might be seized upon to place a hostile military force suddenly in our midst. Late one night I found myself at the telegraph-office with my friend, Ginery Twitchell, a representative in Congress from Massachusetts, and so alarming were the reports in reference to the movements of troops near us in Virginia (who, it afterward appeared, were on their way to take Harper's Ferry) that we sent to General Scott an urgent request to stop the running of the Alexandria boats. It was, I think, on the following night that, being again at the telegraph-office, Mr. Twitchell received a despatch that another Massachusetts regiment had reached Havre De Grace; and we immediately proceeded to communicate this information to General Scott. It was midnight or after when we arrived at his lodgings, and we were told that he had retired for the night. Our message, however, was conveyed to him, and, in a few minutes, clothed in his dressing-gown, he received us in his office. Calm and commanding," he looked every inch a soldier,” yet it was evident that he felt the deepest concern in view of the then threatening aspect of affairs. His greatest anxiety at that moment was for troops to protect Fortress Monroe and Harper's Ferry; and having called upon Massachusetts for these, he requested Mr. Twitchell to urge Governor Andrew to hasten forward two regiments for the purpose—the one for the former place to be sent by the fastest steamer possible direct to Old Point Comfort. This request was complied with, and the Massachusetts regiments for Fortress Monroe happily arrived there on the 20th of April, just in time to save that important post. Six hours later and it is believed it would have been captured. As General Scott apprehended, Harper's Ferry fell into the hands of the insurgents before the Union troops could reach that point.
WASHINGTON, April, 1872.
WHY WAS NOT THE REBELLION CRUSHED AT THE START?
The Southern Disunionists Prepared to Resist–Violence of the Abo
litionists and Republicans, etc.
It is no easy matter to eradicate deep-rooted prejudice. President Buchanan’s is a remarkable case in point. Called to the Presidency at a period when partisan spirit was almost at its highest pitch, he encountered from the first the bitter opposition not only of the original Abolitionists, but also of the main body of the Republican party. The Southern disunionists, prepared to resist had Mr. Buchanan been defeated, were not in the best disposition for peace or quiet; and it was natural and appeared wise for the administration to endeavor to conciliate them by all reasonable means in its power. This excited Republican opposition the more; and when Mr. Lincoln came to be elected entirely by the votes of non-slaveholding States, the public mind at the South was raised to fever heat,