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were then to make a rapid descent on Washington, and marching into the streets of the city, they would be joined by organized bands of traitors, armed to the teeth and ready to receive them. In the midst of the terror and confusion created by the sudden assault from without and from within, the conspirators would seize on some of the most important public buildings and convert them into fortresses, from whence they could command the city until the arrival of reinforcements from Richmond. In the meantime, the con. spirators in Baltimore were to cut off all communication with the North, by burning bridges, tearing up railroads, and cutting the telegraph. Should troops attempt to march through Baltimore to the defence of the capital, armed mobs were to attack them in the streets, and impede their progress until Washington could be strongly garrisoned by reinforcements.
The government were made acquainted with this plot just in time to thwart it and save the city. Gen. Scott quietly took possession of the capital, behind whose massive walls a few trusty soldiers could maintain a desperate defence. A party of three hundred men, commanded by General James Lane, of Kansas, bivouacked in the East Room of the White House; and the “Cassius M. CLAY BATTALION” patrolled the streets at night and guarded the public buildings. The very
limited means left at the disposal of the Secretary of War, were used to the best possible advantage to guard against a surprise. The Long Bridge across the Potomac was patrolled by a detachment of dragoons; and a battery of light artillery was placed at the end of the bridge, on the Washington side.
Lieutenant Jones of the United States army, with a garrison of forty-three men, held Harper's Ferry. On the 19th of April, at ten o'clock in the night, he received reliable information that three thousand Virginians, despatched by Governor Letcher, were within two hours march of Harper's Ferry, approaching from Winchester, and that three hundred troops from Hallstown were within half a mile of the
arsenal. The little band of defenders had heroically prepared to blow up the arsenal and destroy the arms and ammuni. tion should they find the enemy approaching in overpowering numbers. Accordingly, when convinced that over three thousand men were about descending on the garrison, Lieutenant Jones ordered the torch to be applied, and, in a few minutes, all the buildings of the army were in flames. The garrison retired in safety across the river. The secessionists at Harper's Ferry made every effort to extinguish the flames and save the munitions of war for their approaching friends. Failing to obtain the government property, in a burst of rage they rushed across the river to pursue the heroic band, whose loyalty had defeated their attempt to appropriate the arms of the government, and firing upon them, succeeded in killing three of their number. At daylight next morning about five thousand Virginia troops were holding the important post.
This action on the part of the Virginians took place while that State was still nominally in the Union. For, though a convention in secret conclave had passed an ordinance of secession, it was kept a profound secret from the community, in order that plans, not yet matured, might be adopted for seizing Fortress Monroe, the Gosport Navy Yard, and the arsenal at Harper's Ferry.
On the night of the 16th of April, by order of Governor Letcher, a large number of boats laden with stones were sunk in the mouth of James river, in order to prevent the passage out of the large ships lying in the harbor. Immediate arrangements were made to seize the navy yard. Many of the petty officers in the yard were traitors, and labored to baffle the efforts of loyal men to protect the public property. On the 18th, many of the naval officers resigned their commissions, and passed over to the rebel service, surrendering to the enemy, as far as was in their power, the most extensive and important naval station in America. The history of the world will scarcely show, among civilized men, any act of dishonor so flagrant.
It was now evident that the yard, with its immense stores of materials, could not be preserved. Not a moment was to be lost. On the 21st of April, at seven o'clock in the evening, the steamship Pawnee left Fortress Monroe with six thousand men on board to aid in the destruction of the yard and to bring off the loyal men. The steamer reached Gosport at nine o'clock. The crews of the Cumberland and the Pennsylvania received their deliverers with hearty applause. The Pawnee made fast to the dock, landed the troops, and seized all the gates of the yard that no foes could enter. All that could possibly be removed was placed on board the vessels to the extent of their capacity. Everything that could not be removed and that could prove valuable to the rebels was destroyed. Shot, shell, carbines, stands of arms, revolvers, were thrown overboard from the vessels that could not be towed over the obstructions. Nearly three thousand heavy guns, splendid Columbiads and Dahlgrens, were spiked.
At midnight, when the light of the moon had gone out, the barracks were set on fire, and the crackling flames, leaping from basement to roof, illumined the scene with a fearful glare. The trains were laid and the matches prepared to set on fire houses, shops, ships, everything that would burn. At four o'clock the torch was applied, and in less than half an hour the whole yard was enveloped in flames. Thus were the labors of half a century lost in an hour.
The traitors in Baltimore acted promptly with their friends in Virginia. They tore up the railroad through the streets, and resisted the passage of Northern troops through the city. As the troops from Massachusetts, on the 19th of April, were marching through Baltimore on their way to Washington, they were hideously beset by an armed mob bearing a secession flag. They were assailed from behind street corners, from doors, windows and housetops, by men armed with pistols, guns, stones, clubs, and all the imple. ments of savage warfare. A Pennsylvania regiment was preparing to follow the Massachusetts troops in cars. They were unarmed, and it was deemed imprudent to attempt to cross the city. The men were therefore returned to Philadelphia. The secessionists had thus effectually obstructed the passage of troops to the national capital over the only direct and expeditious route. For a time, troops were for. warded through Annapolis and up the Potomac river. Baltimore was for the time in the possession of the secessionists. It was determined, however, that the soldiers from the North should fight their way through every obstruction. As soon, therefore, as Washington was safe, United States volunteers were ordered to march by the direct route to their capital, through the streets of Baltimore, or over the grounds where the city once stood.
PREPARATIONS FOR WAR IN PENNSYLVANIA.
The People of Pennsylvania respond to threats of Secession-Gover. nor Curtin pledges the power of the State—The Legislature resolves to sustain the Union—The War excitement in the State-Mayor Henry's Address to the People, Pennsylvania Troops at Washington in advance of all others—Response of the People to the President's Call for Troops in April, 1861—Camp Curtin established at Harrisburg-Action of Public Men-Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War-Ilon. Thaddeus Stevens advisęs an Army of a million of men-Governor Curtin convenes the Legislature-His Message-Recommends the organization of a Reserve Corps—Patriotism of the People-Soldiers' Aid Societies, Refreshment Saloons-Gen. Patterson's Call for Twenty-five Regiments -Act authorizing the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps-George A. McCall appointed Major-General-Companies ordered into Camps of Instruction-Col. Mann at Easton-Captain McIntire at West Chester-Organization of First Regiment-Col. Roberts-John A. Wright, Chief of Ordnance, &c.—Organization of the Kane Rifle Regiment-Col. Biddle -Organization of the Fifth Regiment-Campaign of Biddle's Brigade to Western Virginia–Skirmishes at New Creek and Piedmont-Forced March to Ridgeville-Return of Brigade to Harrisburg.
In October, 1860, the people of Pennsylvania elected Andrew G. Curtin Governor of the Commonwealth, and in November declared, by a majority of sixty thousand votes, in favor of Abraham Lincoln for President of the United States. This was the reply of the people of this great state to the threats of the slaveholders, that if an antislavery candidate should be elected for President, the Southern States would secede from the Union and overthrow the Government. With three hundred miles of boundary lying along the borders of slave States, and open to immediate in. vasion, the people thus forcibly responded to the challenge of the conspirators.
In his inaugural address, delivered in Harrisburg, January 15, 1861, Governor Curtin pledged himself and the